The social impact of Facebook is beyond doubt. Almost 57 million Americans used it as of March 2009, and that number has since doubled. Facebook itself claims that over half its members are engaged with their 100-plus friends at any given moment of the day. The largest growth is seen among women over forty, and in greater percentages in all age groups (a topic we shall explore soon). They also tend to give more often to charities. The juggernaut has changed our language and our understanding of social networking, and this blog has often discussed its impact and uses.
But when it comes to using Facebook to raise money, charities often see a disconnect between action on their site and income through their calls to donate – especially for smaller charities. How do the heavy hitters leverage their Facebook presence into charitable activity? Sometimes they work around their Facebook pages, rather than on them, as John Karr, digital-media director for the Asia Foundation in San Leandro, CA discusses in a guest blog post at The Chronicle of Philanthropy. The AF’s “Books For Asia” program recently raised $10,000 and send thousands of copies of The Tales of Peter Rabit to children in Mongolia studying English. How did Asia Foundation turn its Facebook presence into big bucks?
The effort to do so is not easy, and one must expect some investment of thought, time, and perhaps consultation with programmers. Mr. Karr starts with some sobering statistics: “Despite anecdotal evidence to the contrary, recent research suggests that social-media fund-raising campaigns bring only a small return on investment, if at all. A 2009 survey by the Non-Profit Technology Network, Common Knowledge, and The Port found that 61.1 percent of respondents reported no results for fundraising through social networks, and 37.8 percent report raising “$0 to $10,000”. According to a November 2009 Philanthropy Action survey, 70 percent of 256 midsize nonprofits surveyed indicated that they had raised less than $100 or were not sure whether any money had been raised from social networks.”
What Asia Foundation is to keep those new people engaged and informed, not necessarily donating each time they get to their Facebook ‘walls.’did was turn to the interactive gaming environment that has grown significantly since the past winter. The strategy drew people to vote, and to campaign among their friends, for certain books. Each vote was in turn a call for an anonymous donor to give $1 (up to $10,000, which was easily surpassed). Thus, the voting application got people engaged, it raised money indirectly, and it encouraged those already following the Asia Foundation to get their friends involved. The task for
True, not all charities have the resources to develop Facebook apps for each campaign, but a creative use of Facebook can draw outside philanthropists ready to help your cause. And the community your charity develops through social media is the basis from which participation and fundraising can begin: “Social media connects you with your greatest asset: a large audience of sympathetic individuals willing to engage. Many private donors are beginning to understand this value, and wish to partner with organizations that demonstrate skill at cultivating social networks. So while a nonprofit group might not find success through a direct online appeal, there is real value in developing relationships on social networking platforms like Facebook.”