Facebook and peer-to-peer fundraising: pair them up to raise more money

publication date: Dec 4, 2012
author/source: Claire Kerr
If you feel Facebook has been a tough nut to crack for fundraising, you're not alone! Many studies have pointed out that as a single channel, social media has not been a top performer for donations. Claire Kerr photo

Feeling discouraged? Don't be! There's one big exception to these experiences - peer-to-peer (or "crowdsourced") campaigns. 

In situations where organizations ask individual supporters to raise money from friends and family for a cause they care about, the data shows that social media does impact fundraising success. 

We explored two case studies illustrating the impact of Facebook on solicited donations in our Association of Fundraising Professionals Congress 2012 session "Beyond the Buzz Words: Social & Mobile Fundraising." Here's a fuller examination of those examples from our upcoming Social Fundraising Whitepaper, soon to be published on Artez.com.

Why Facebook? 

We could see the rise of Facebook as an important trend for charities and nonprofits simply by looking at traffic patterns across our own software system. With over 20 million unique visitors a year clicking on donation and fundraising pages belonging to hundreds of charities on our platform, we have access to a lot of data. 

After direct and search referral, Facebook is the top referrer to our donation forms. Currently, 14% of traffic is coming from Facebook. Seems unusual? Don't take our word for it! If you are diving into your organization's own metrics, you are probably seeing similar patterns. 

Charitable organizations typically face two big questions when exploring the use of Facebook for social fundraising campaigns. 

 First: How does Facebook affect our donors? 

Second: How does Facebook affect people fundraising for our cause? 

Our large-scale audit of the impact of Facebook on charitable fundraising set out to answer these questions. 

Case study #1: Impact of Facebook on solicited donations 

We examined a sample group of 645,400 individual donations in 135 peer-to-peer campaigns across North America in 2012. These events included runs, walks, cycle-a-thons, climbs, hosted parties and challenge campaigns. All events had over 100 registrants who were asked to reach out to friends and family for donations. 

What we learned 

In these campaigns, we discovered that 15-18% of the donations were directly referred from Facebook. The insight is clear: Your organization's supporters are already using Facebook to ask for donations, and donors are responding to those requests. 

The highest percentage of Facebook-referred donations we saw in a campaign was 33%. Campaigns with an associated registration fee, a "minimum to fundraise" requirement, or events that included team fundraising all topped the list for high percentage of Facebook-referred pledges. It seems that registrants who are highly motivated to bring in donations are more likely to make solicitation requests through Facebook. 

Wondering about Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other networks? In peer-to-peer campaigns, Facebook appears to be the social network of choice. We found that 90% of all visitors referred by a social networking platform came from Facebook. Approximately 5% came from Twitter, and the remaining amount of traffic was divided between other social networks. 

Case study #2: Impact of Facebook on participants 

In this study, we wanted to learn how the "social login" trend affects fundraising success in peer-to-peer campaigns. Social login allows your supporters to use their existing social media credentials to register, donate, purchase, comment or login on a website. 

For instance, websites like Pinterest.com allow you to use your Facebook user name and password to sign in. The benefit for users is considerable; you don't need to remember yet another user name and password combination. 

For this data set, we looked at campaigns on our platform that offered event registrants the ability to log in and log out of their fundraising accounts with Facebook. 

The data pool included 25 national events across Canada and the United States. There were over 60,000 participants in total, generating over $5.7 million in solicited donations. Each campaign had over 100 registrants who used Facebook to connect their accounts. 

What we learned 

In these campaigns, an average of 16% of fundraisers chose to use social login through Facebook to register and then later log back into their accounts. The highest percentage of "Facebook fundraisers" we saw in an event was 27%. 

To understand more about these participants, we compared the fundraising success of "Facebook fundraisers" to those who did not connect with Facebook (choosing instead to use a user name and password to log in). 

The group of participants who connected with Facebook raised on average 40% more than those who used traditional registration. That's a significant lift! 

Do people who like social login happen to have richer friends? Not at all. We found that "Facebook fundraisers" brought in 30% more individual pledges than the traditional group. 

Do social login tools make it easier for people to fundraise for your cause, or are your most passionate participants also big fans of social media? Either insight is useful when planning your next campaign! 

To learn more about what we discovered from our fundraising data, connect with us on Facebook to be notified about our upcoming Social Fundraising Whitepaper. 

Claire Kerr has worked for organizations in the economic development, education, and fundraising sectors. As Director of Digital Philanthropy at Artez Interactive, Claire works with Canadian and international charities as they fundraise through web, social and mobile channels. 

She writes about issues related to digital media for international social marketing blog Osocio.org, Canadian charitable sector hub CharityVillage.com, and on her web site Nonprofity.com. Follow her on Twitter at @snotforprofit.

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