The Facebook Fundraising Revolution

This week Facebook announced that over $1 billion has been donated through their fundraising platform…an impressive figure considering it’s only been gradually rolled out to 20 countries over the last 3 years. The figure will continue to grow exponentially as they’ve just added the likes of Australian and Canadian non-profits…with more to come.

With more plans ahead – such as a bigger emphasis on matched giving – this is the first big fundraising revolution we’ve had since…what? Maybe the internet?

A lot of fundraising products and large-necked men at conferences have promised ‘the next big thing’…but these always fall flat.

So why is Facebook Fundraising different?

Firstly, they have an audience. When tech bros set up a new charitable giving website or fundraising system or shopping add-on or whatever, they usually have a product and no audience. You’re still relying on a charity to find and ask interested supporters. If you don’t have that audience or you have an ask you’d much rather put in front of them (like a good ‘ol fashioned donation) then the fancy bit of fundraising tech gets lost.

Not only do they have an audience, but they have your credit card details.

Secondly, they ask. Fundraising only works when you actually ask. And Facebook has gone ahead and asked your followers…their users…if they want to set up a fundraiser for you, if they want to donate their birthday, if they want to complete that donation they abandoned, and if they want to support their friends. They’re doing the asking that you might not have gotten round to.

It’s only going to get better…the U.S. will see a huge chunk of Paypal money going towards matched giving this #GivingTuesday. It’ll encourage more people to give and encourage them to give more. No doubt in the future we’ll see more companies latch on to this matched giving through Facebook, and might even see it integrate nicely with company’s Facebook advertising.

It’s all wonderful, isn’t is? Sha la la la.

Well…not entirely.

Yes there’s still a few teething problems in terms of how data is being collected, how non-profits can access that data and really just how the whole thing works. But these will get better of course.

We might also be concerned that it’s Facebook…remember that whole Cambridge Analytica thing? And remember how Facebook pretty much collectively lowered the happiness levels of our whole society through a never ending thirst for dopamine while we present an edited version of our miserable lives?

It’s their data…isn’t it? And while some non-profits (check out my podcast below, for example) have been good at thanking donors and moving them off Facebook in to their own arms, we still leave ourselves vulnerable when they ‘own’ the supporters and the data that goes with them.

And finally…is this going to clog up Facebook even more? I mean…the quality of posts is rapidly declining already…are more and more fundraisers and asks without thanking going to speed up the death of Facebook? Let’s see.


It’s definitely a positive right now.

If your non-profit isn’t using Facebook Fundraisers then get on it now. Capitalise on a successful platform while you can and build the relationships you can while it lasts.

If you need help then please let me know, and do listen to my podcast below to hear how Jill and I have made it work so well.


In the latest podcast, Simon talks to Jill O’Herlihy about Facebook Fundraising and how Mental Health Ireland have made it work for them. Hear about Facebook’s big announcement this week, the good and bad things about Facebook Fundraising, and what the future holds for FB and Instagram and matched giving.

Listen and subscribe on spotify here.

4 Ways To Stop Supporters Unsubscribing

You know that feeling? When you write to your mailing list and someone unsubscribes? Your stomach turns, your eyes water up, and for a brief moment you consider e-mailing them to ask, “Why don’t you love me anymore?”

But remember, good fundraising isn’t about making everyone care about you…it’s about caring for the few that do.

Unsubscribing isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

If the alternative is for someone to sit on your mailing list indefinitely, never engaging, never taking action, then wouldn’t you rather be rid of them? In fact, Jon Lloyd at Fundraising Is Awesome said recently, “you should think seriously about actively unsubscribing anyone who’s been inactive for 3 months or more.”

While you mull that over, here’s 4 ways you can reduce the chances of your active readers from unsubscribing:

  1. Be Human
    The more human your e-mail sounds and appears, the less likely we are to unsubscribe. Nobody unsubscribes from humans…we unsubscribe from organisations. You can do this by writing from an individual e-mail address as opposed to an ‘info’ or ‘fundraising’ address. Consider sending plain text e-mails sometimes, or at least reducing the bells, whistles, images and excessive formatting (please stop centring your text). Read the content out loud before you send it…if it doesn’t sound like the way you speak then change it.
  2. Segment Your Data
    Where possible, segment your data so you’re sending relevant content to relevant people. Or at least, suppressing people who have no interest in a particular mail. For example, I’m on the mailing list of a organisation because I went to their event in Dublin. I’m interested in future events taking place in Dublin. But they keep sending me e-mails about their events being run by their chapters in places like London and Yorkland and Sandwich-Upon-Time. The chances of me being there are slim to none. But if they do insist on trying to cross-sell me then they should tack it in as part of a mail I will be interested in: “Here’s the next Dublin event…and you might also be interested in these.” But instead they’re sending me mails wholly dedicated to non-local events. It just takes one of these irrelevant e-mails to nudge me to unsubscribe…and then I’m gone forever.
  3. E-mail When You Have Something To Say
    Rather than deciding to e-mail once a week or once a month and then scrambling to find content, consider keeping a more flexible schedule where you e-mail when you have good content. When you send out fluff to meet a deadline, you’re sending sub-standard e-mails that encourage unsubscribes. And if you don’t have enough good content then let’s work to gather and create more.
  4. Offer Value
    Always ask yourself, what value am I providing to the reader? Donor-centred and #DonorLove rules. If you’ve won an award or achieved something, consider why the reader should care. Try shifting the tone from “we have won an award” to “because of you we have won an award”, or even better, “your support has been recognised and we were privileged to pick up this award on behalf of you!”

Digital Fundraising…How Do I Love Thee?

I give Digital Fundraising a hard time.

I’ve called on-line “snake-oil”.  Jen Love and I made the case at IoF’s Fundraising Convention that most, if not all, of your donors are too old for digital (blog post coming soon). I think every conference and most charities are wasting a disproportionate amount of time on digital. And I’m on a mission to destroy chat bots.

But do I mean it?

Well…like everything it’s not so black and white. Digital can be amazing when it doesn’t try to replace or replicate the human touch…but instead when it makes the delivery of that human touch more efficient. The truth is there’s a place for digital in my heart and a place for digital in your fundraising mix. Maybe there’s room for the two in your life?

So here’s my love letter to digital fundraising…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

  1. It makes giving really easy.
    Once you don’t confuse the method and the motivator you realise that digital makes donating really, really convenient. Paypal, Facebook Donate, and on-line fundraising sites are some of the ways we can allow our donors to give in one or two clicks. Sure, it’s not the reason they’re giving…but it’s one more way to do it and the easier it is the more likely they’ll follow through.
  2. LinkedIn has actually revolutionised networking
    When people say their digital product has revolutionised fundraising they’re usually selling some stupid shit. But LinkedIn has revolutionised fundraising. It makes research easy, it makes contact easy, it makes stewardship easy. If you’re not on LinkedIn and using it every day to progress your fundraising and your career then you’re missing out.
  3. Facebook is great for events
    Event invites, participant recruitment and spreading the word is definitely one of the few perks of Facebook. And beyond that, feeding back gratitude and images and video and results of your events is pretty damn easy. When you see fundraisers integrating it with the real world it becomes a thing of beauty.
  4. Buffer the Time-waster Slayer
    Scheduled posts and repeating content allows you to have a pretty decent social media presence in less than an hour a week. Thank you Buffer!
  5. Digital Makes Learning Free
    Resources like Irish Charity Lab, Third Sector PR & Comms network and Fundraising Chat on Facebook are invaluable. A place to ask questions and immediately get answers from some of the best fundraisers in the world.
  6. On-line is great for testing before you move off-line
    Put up a different story from your organisation every day. The one that gets the best result is probably the one you post out to your real-world mailing list. Simple as.
  7. Digital Makes Us Brave
    I talk about picking up the phone and face-to-face asks all the time. But the truth is it’s scary. Yes you need to do it…but while you’re working up the courage there is still a place for those safer on-line messages. You don’t feel like you’re leaving your most vulnerable self exposed.That cheeky little private message can lead to some of the most scarily beautiful real-world human interactions you can ever imagine…they’ll break your heart.