Peer-to-Peer Fundraising inside Facebook vs. 3rd-Party Platforms
This article is part of our series on Facebook’s Charitable Giving Tools, which has been in existence since 2015 and has led to $5 billion in funds raised for nonprofits.
Although the initial launch of Facebook Charitable Giving Tools was years ago, the platform still gives you only minimal tools and data to oversee your fundraisers’ campaigns.
If you read our previous articles the topic, you will see that huge fundraising success is possible, but the keys to this are:
- Thanking your fundraisers
- Turning them into long-term subscribers, and
- Encouraging more people to start campaigns for you.
These are very difficult to do (and impossible to scale) using only the built-in tools from Facebook. In spite of these problems, social media is still the ideal platform for peer-to-peer fundraising (we’ll get into why this is below).
All this to say, if you want to see your organization grow significantly this year, you need to know how to take advantage of this unique opportunity in peer-to-peer fundraising.
This article can help you consider Facebook Fundraising in two ways. In it we will:
- Compare the benefits & challenges of peer-to-peer campaigns outside of Facebook to the benefits & challenges of campaigns done inside Facebook and
- Look at the common objections that nonprofits have with getting started using Facebook fundraising, and our responses to those concerns.
First, let’s compare and contrast peer-to-peer fundraising off and on Facebook.
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising outside of Facebook
There are good reasons to run peer-to-peer fundraisers outside of social media.
- Being able to use your donation software ensures your team is already familiar with it and can serve supporters who run the fundraiser
- Keeping your P2P fundraising data connected to your CRM and Marketing Automation software, allowing you to easily track progress, communicate with supporters and donors, and create automated follow ups
- Tie P2P campaigns with fundraising campaigns and having everything in one place/platform
- Having the needed tools to automatically thank and communicate with your supporters
- Capturing all data (not just the data that the media giant Facebook decides to give you)
At the same time, there are several cons to running peer-to-peer fundraisers outside of Facebook.
- Lack of network effect: with a fundraiser held on a 3rd party platform, there is no easy (built-in, native) way for people who start them to share with their network. The 3rd party platform has to make different sharing options available to cater to every users’ social media platform of choice, and your supporters have to leave the 3rd party platform to finish sharing it.
- Disconnect between community and fundraising: Arguably, peer-to-peer fundraisers are all about community: they encourage people to come together to support a cause they all care about. The more your supporters can find community, the more active and involved they will be in raising funds and sharing it with others. When your fundraiser is held outside of Facebook, your supporters will not have a built-in community element (unless they adopt the group element provided by the 3rd party fundraising platform, and as everyone knows, getting a lot of people to all adopt a new social platform is is difficult/unlikely to happen).
- Conflict of interest with the algorithm: if your audience shares your 3rd party fundraiser with their network, because the link to your fundraiser takes users off of Facebook, their algorithm is going to de-prioritize those shares. Unsurprisingly, Facebook wants users to stay on its platform, so most posts that lead people away from the platform are going to perform poorly.
- High cost per donor: if you run ads on Facebook to share your peer-to-peer fundraisers with a wider audience, a conversion rate is 5% considered very good. However, to turn this idea on its head, this means that 95% of people who click on your ad drop off and do not return. This low conversion rate leads to a very high donor acquisition cost, meaning your attempts to encourage more fundraisers or to find more supporters for ongoing fundraisers will probably cost more than the donations you receive or at best break even.
Though these four drawbacks are not small, there are still good reasons to host a P2P fundraising campaign outside of Facebook. While these reasons were briefly mentioned above, one of the goals of this article is to help you understand why you should consider Facebook as an ideal platform for this kind of fundraiser, so let’s look at the pros and cons of running campaigns inside Facebook.
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising inside of Facebook
- Network effects: users can share their fundraiser with their own networks directly inside Facebook, and those users never have to leave the platform to see it or to donate. This makes the fundraiser inherently shareable, creating visibility and therefore momentum.
- Community and fundraising connection: if your organization uses Facebook groups effectively, you can combine the peer-to-peer fundraising and community elements in one place, inspiring your audience to start fundraisers, while supporting and thank them for their efforts. Because everything is built into the platform already, community is also automatically built in.
- No conflict of interest: Facebook loves to see people using its platform to do more things, including fundraising. Because of this, the algorithm is incentivized to bring your supporters’ posts more visibility, leading to more donors and more fundraisers reaching the goal.
- Conversion rates: by running ads that keep users entirely within the platform, campaigns can achieve a 50% conversion rate – 10x higher than what was considered a solid result before! This high conversion rate leads to a low acquisition cost, ensuring that your fundraising (and recruitment) efforts have a strong ROI.
- Ease of use: finally, Facebook has made it very easy for your supporters to start fundraisers for you, reducing the friction and thereby increasing the number of people willing to run one on your behalf. On top of this, Facebook does not charge platform or transaction fees, removing the last real objections any nonprofit is likely to have toward making the most of this platform.
While the benefits of running peer-to-peer fundraisers outweigh the costs, there are still some objections organizations like yours might have to pursuing this funding strategy. Let’s look at cons when using the platform, and our responses to each one.
6 Cons (Objections to Facebook Fundraising) and Our Responses
1. Lack of knowledge
If your team doesn’t know how to turn people who start fundraisers into long-term donors, help current fundraisers to hit their goal, or encourage more fundraisers to happen, it can feel like you aren’t ready to pursue this strategy.
- Response: Thankfully, there is both information in these articles, but the company GivePanel provides a lot of help – both on their website and as a service.
2. Lack of staff or time
If you feel like you lack the time or staff to make Facebook Fundraising a success, there is good news!
- Response to lack of staff: if you’re a smaller nonprofit, it doesn’t take much time or effort to thank supporters for starting them, invite them to become subscribers, and talk to your donors to encourage them to start their own.
- Response to lack of time: If you’re a larger nonprofit, you can outsource Facebook Fundraising for a relatively low cost for a very high ROI.
3. Lack of Facebook followers
If your nonprofit doesn’t have a strong presence on Facebook or lacks followers, it might feel like you’re not going to get any results from Facebook fundraising.
- Response: thankfully, the importance of people following (or liking) your page has dropped over the years. If you can instead create groups for supporters to be inspired to run p2p fundraisers, and run ads to encourage people to join these groups, you don’t need any current page likes or followers to see huge fundraising success.
4. Platform risk
A common concern about this strategy is this: while Facebook Fundraisers are working very well right now, will the platform continue to perform? If we put a lot of effort into Facebook, what happens if this is just a trendy strategy that goes away next year?
- Response: The fact is, Facebook Fundraising is working extremely well right now. You can follow this strategy to maximize your donor growth and fundraising opportunities, while still building for the future. For example, use Facebook Fundraisers both to raise money, and more importantly, to acquire long-term donors. If you develop a multi-channel journey, you can move supporters beyond Facebook and keep them even when the platform changes.
5. Lack of tools
The tools that Facebook provides to help you steward supporters who start fundraisers (helping their fundraisers hit the goal and turning them into long-term donors) are minimal.
- Response: Companies like GivePanel provide all the software tools needed to automate supporter stewardship, turn supporters into donors, increase the amounts raised in each fundraiser, and ultimately grow the number of fundraisers started on your behalf.
6. Lack of data
The data that Facebook provides is minimal and mostly on an aggregate level. This makes it difficult to understand what’s working, what’s not working, and even makes automating some of your tasks impossible.
- Response: Once again, companies like GivePanel allow you to break it down the report Facebook provides into useful, insightful information that can help you measure how effective the strategy is and where you can continue to improve upon it.
Conclusion: use both kinds of peer-to-peer campaigns!
Hopefully, understanding the pros and cons of peer-to-peer fundraisers inside and outside of Facebook will help you to be more strategic in how you pursue your organization’s growth.
Our goal is not to discourage you from using peer-to-peer fundraising on 3rd-party platforms, but to encourage you to start using Facebook’s tools if you aren’t, or to be inspired to put effort in growing the results you’re already getting from the Charitable Giving Tools program.