Online Fundraising Challenges & How to Solve Them

Nonprofits have had immense success fundraising on Facebook, raising billions of dollars since the platform’s fundraising tools emerged in 2015. So, if you’re:

  1. An organization with hundreds, thousands, or tens-of-thousands of “likes” on your nonprofit’s Facebook page.
  2. Seeing regular engagement with the information you post.
  3. Seeing some engagement with the platform’s fundraising functionality.
  4. Giving supporters the option to hit the “Create Fundraiser” button whenever they want.

Then why aren’t you seeing impactful results through the platform?

The truth is, social media is much more than followers, birthday fundraisers, dashboards, and donations. To truly make the most of Facebook fundraising, you’ll have to inspire and grow relationships with each and every supporter on the platform.

In this guide, we’re going to discuss two pervasive obstacles for nonprofits when it comes to making the most of online fundraising on Facebook, as well as solutions to help you overcome them. We’ll cover the following obstacles:

  • Communication & Relationship-Building
  • Zero-Dollar Fundraisers

Surpassing your Facebook fundraising challenges will set your team up for success during the pandemic-fueled era of predominantly online fundraising, as well as when you strategize for beyond this crisis. After all, Facebook fundraising is going to be thriving long beyond the pandemic’s end.

With that said, let’s dive in.

Communication & Relationship-Building

One of the most prevalent online fundraising complaints from nonprofits is how challenging it can be to communicate and build strong relationships with donors from afar. When you’re not hosting fundraising events and having one-on-one meetings with supporters, it’s hard to express your gratitude and understand who they are, why they’re supporting you, and how they want to engage with your organization going forward.

This is especially true when it comes to Facebook fundraising campaigns, simply because they’re often user-led. This means one of your nonprofit’s supporters chooses to create a fundraiser on your behalf. Your organization doesn’t receive a notification when these fundraisers are created and it can be easy to let fundraisers slip by without any acknowledgment.

However, people that start Facebook fundraisers are going out of their way to garner support for your organization publicly— they’re championing your cause on a public platform. It’s crucial to acknowledge this support and grow these relationships for years to come.

Solution: Make the most of Facebook’s built-in engagement tools.

When it comes to supporter retention, thank-you notes, surveys, and regular communications are key. Facebook’s built-in engagement tools, such as Facebook Messenger, can help with this. Here are a few ideas:

  1. First, you’ll want to navigate to your nonprofit’s page and click on the “Fundraisers” section. You’ll be able to view all fundraisers started on your behalf and “Sort & Filter” those fundraisers to discover those most recently started.
  2. Then, you’ll want to comment on the most recently started fundraisers and thank those users for their support. At this point, you can invite them to continue engaging with you via Messenger and publicly “Share” the fundraiser on your nonprofit’s page if shareable.
  3. Through Messenger, you can send encouragement and tips for success as well as ask questions to learn about how the user wants to engage with your nonprofit going forward. This is how you can forge a strong connection between your organization and that particular supporter.

For a large nonprofit with many followers, this may seem overwhelming— if there are tens to hundreds of fundraisers started on your behalf each week, conversing with each one can be a large administrative ask.

In that case, consider partnering with a company that provides managed services for Facebook fundraising (such as GoodUnited). This partner can help you understand who your supporters are, why they care about your organization, and how you can build a personalized relationship with that supporter through Messenger and beyond. This can be instrumental in growing your relationships with supporters on Facebook at scale.

Zero-Dollar Fundraisers

Zero-dollar fundraisers are Facebook fundraisers that run out of time without raising any funds. So, let’s say a user pledges to raise $500 for your nonprofit with a deadline of one week. If it’s a zero-dollar fundraiser, the user will reach the one-week mark without raising a single donation.

These fundraisers are damaging for many reasons. First, they’re embarrassing and disheartening for the user that starts them and can deter the user from fundraising again.  Second, they cast a bad light on your nonprofit and the amount of public support you can garner. Any Facebook user can see the fundraisers that are started on your behalf directly on your fundraising page. If many users are starting fundraisers, but they’re not raising any funds, it will seem as though you don’t have significant public support.

The biggest reason that zero-dollar fundraisers are so prevalent on Facebook is that many users aren’t fundraising professionals and therefore, they don’t know how to reach their goals successfully. That’s where you step in.

Solution: Share tips for success with users.

The solution here is to educate users to raise donations successfully through Facebook. This includes sharing tips such as:

  • Make the first gift yourself. Did you know that 94% of fundraisers that don’t raise their first gift within 24 hours end as zero-dollar fundraisers? Users should kickstart their own effort by making the first gift.
  • Include a personal message. While your nonprofit’s Facebook page cover photo and mission statement will auto-fill, users should add an additional message about their personal connection with your organization.
  • Regularly share the fundraiser. They should share the fundraiser multiple times and provide updates about how the gifts raised so far have helped progress toward their overall fundraising goal.
  • Align with your nonprofit’s branding. If you’re hosting a full peer-to-peer campaign for users to create Facebook fundraisers alongside, participants should use the familiar branding for the overall campaign (cover images, naming conventions) to benefit from brand recognition.

There are a few ways to share these tips with users. First, you can share them via Messenger. For example, you can communicate with the user throughout their campaign and share encouragement and reminders to re-share their fundraiser. Further, you can create a Facebook fundraiser user guide that shares these tips and post it on your nonprofit’s website and Facebook page.

The goal here is to show users that you’re invested in their success and willing to help them reach their goals. This will create a positive experience for fundraisers and grow relationships between your organization and those users one-on-one.

Since the platform’s fundraising tools emerged in 2015, nonprofits have raised over $1 billion through Facebook birthday fundraisers alone— this doesn’t include Facebook Live fundraisers, nonprofit donate buttons, or Facebook Stories fundraiser stickers. When you consider the full range of Facebook fundraising tools, the potential of this channel is booming.

However, successful Facebook fundraising is dependent on much more than the platform’s fundraising tools. Communicating with supporters in-channel on Facebook is what will build relationships that have a lasting impact and overcome some of your biggest online fundraising challenges. With these tips, you’ll be off to a great start.

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