publication date: Jul 16, 2012
been blogging now for just over four years, I recently looked back at my very first
post. It's entitled, "Social networking: the next big thing for
raising lots of money... OR an unwanted distraction?"
In it I pontificated that "Right now I would
argue that social networking as a way to raise money is an unwanted
I went on to say, "In time I may be proved wrong. But the point is, let's
(as fundraisers) stop getting distracted or torn away from the stuff that ‘helps
us help our beneficiaries.' Let's get better at thanking our donors, let's meet
more donors face to face, let's develop more brilliant stories to be able to
tell our donors or others we may reach out to for support."
The point of the rant was about focus, or lack thereof - too many folks
seeing social media as the answer to all of their prayers.
So was I right or wrong?
A bit of both. There are still very few organizations making a stack of
money here, but conversely we've now reached a point where we see the residual
impact of social platforms on other areas of our program.
One area where we're seeing Facebook having a significant impact is in
driving event registration and participation. Paid Facebook ads, along with
some paid search engine marketing (Google AdWords), can reap great rewards if
We ran a campaign recently with a hospital foundation in Australia looking
to drive registrations to an upcoming five-kilometer walk. The main difference
between the recruitment drives of 2011 and 2012 was investing in Facebook and
A modest four-week campaign (spending less than $4,000) generated 222
new registrants for the event.
Through Facebook we found 193 new participants at a cost of $17 per
recruit. They generated around $55 in fundraising activity per participant: an
ROI of 3.2.
Google helped us locate 29 new participants at a cost also around $17
per recruit. They generated around $177 in fundraising activity per
participant: an ROI of a staggering 10.0.
What to remember
Facebook and Google are very different beasts. Their
advertising has some similarities but more differences.
The user experience is completely different. We "Google"
because we're looking for something. Something very specific.
We "Facebook" for many reasons: to chat with friends,
reconnect with schoolmates, waste time. Or just because we can.
These very different platforms have users in very different
mindsets. One is focused, the other is distracted. It's important to remember
that when crafting ads for each.
I'd argue that in some respects my views of four years ago
have rung true. Fundraisers still do get distracted with stuff that doesn't
help our beneficiaries. We should spend more time working out how to better
look after our supporters.
On the flip side, I got it wrong. There are some ways to
make money from Facebook (and other advertising mechanisms like Google).
But the balance needs to be right. So too does the offer.
Jonathon Grapsas is the founder and director at flat
earth direct, an agency dedicated to fundraising and campaigning for good
causes. Jonathon spends his time working with charities around the world
focused on digital, direct response and campaigning stuff.
If you'd like to chat to Jonathon you can email him, follow him on Twitter or check out www.flatearthdirect.com