Carla Ankiah is Head of Fundraising, Partnerships and Supporter Relations at Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland.

At Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland, we switched on our Facebook Giving Tools back in March 2018. Our financial year runs from 1st September to 31st August inclusive, so our Facebook Giving Tools were switched on for the latter 6 months of our last financial year.

We raised over 12% of the whole year’s total income from Facebook Giving Tools in those last 6 months alone! In the first half of the current financial year, our revenue from Facebook fundraisers was up 17% on the previous financial year, which equated to over 14.5% of all our income in those 6 months. And in the last quarter our Facebook Fundraisers were up nearly 56% on the previous quarter and equated to over 22% of our total income for the quarter.

When we turned on the tools, we had approximately 13.5k Facebook followers and now we have 16.5k. We have worked hard to increase our Facebook followers and perhaps this has positively attributed to our increased success of Facebook fundraising. Although, it is also worth noting that we have gained followers from the increased awareness that Facebook fundraisers provide.

“I think Facebook Giving Tools are great.”

They have certainly made a huge difference to our organisation and have enabled us to begin implementing a plan to scale up our fundraising. The best thing about them?  They are free! There’s no transaction fees, processing fees or subscription fees for the nonprofit or the donor.

“My journey with Facebook Giving Tools though has not been without its trials and tribulations.”

As with anything, it can take a bit of time to get to grips with it all. In the beginning it took a bit of trial and error to figure out how best to steward fundraisers, how to onboard them onto our donor journey, how best to thank them and how to reconcile the income from the fundraisers. By no means do I think I have harnessed the full potential of Facebook Giving Tools for my organisation yet, but I can certainly share some tips and resources that have helped me achieve what I have to date.

Spend time getting to grips with Facebook Giving Tools in the beginning

Facebook’s own resources and guides have gotten better over time and I will openly admit that I am long overdue a visit to them to read up on the more recent additions, which you can find here.

In the early days I stumbled across a Facebook group called ‘Facebook Giving Tools for Non-Profits (unofficial), which is run by Nick Burne of GivePanel’. Although it’s an unofficial support group, it has over 1600 members. I would definitely recommend you join this group if you manage Facebook Fundraisers or are thinking about switching on Facebook Giving Tools for your non-profit. There is a wealth of experience and knowledge within the group and I have found the answer to many a question on the topic from within this group.

Thanking a fundraiser goes a long way

All fundraisers know the value of #DonorLove, however GDPR and fundraising best practice limits our ability to do this with Facebook donors. This is one of the reasons other fundraisers tell me they are hesitant to switch on their organisation’s Facebook Giving Tools. Whilst it’s not ideal having numerous donors that we can’t contact, is it not better to have numerous anonymous donors than to not have them at all? In fact, you can contact some of the donors as Facebook offers them the option to ‘opt-in’ to contact from you and you can identify these donors on the ‘Transaction Report’, which is a CSV file that is downloadable from your Facebook page. And, if you use GivePanel, you can access GDPR-compliant data too. Also, if your charity hosts its own fundraiser you can drop a comment to each donor on your fundraising page to thank them.

Onboard Fundraisers onto your donor journey

I mentioned how donors have the option to ‘opt-in’ to contact from you when they donate and how you can identify these but what about the fundraisers themselves? After I have posted my initial post thanking a fundraiser for their support and I have noticed the fundraiser is on their way to reaching their fundraising target I pop another post on their page. I congratulate them on their success and thank them and their supporters for their generosity. I then give them the option to share their contact details with us (I provide a link to GivePanel’s data capture form) so I can put a little thank you in the post and they have the option to ‘opt-in’ to future contact from our organisation.

Manage your time more effectively

Unfortunately, whilst Facebook Giving Tools are free, my time isn’t. I hate being anything but efficient with the way I spend my working hours and the amount of time I was spending trying to steward, thank and generally manage Facebook fundraisers was a bit of a sore point for me for a while. That said, when you consider the amount of income they generate for us, and compare it to the time I would spend organising a fundraising event and compare the time invested vs return it is still time well spent.

Anybody who has attempted to thank and steward all of their Facebook fundraisers will know that it is a slow tedious process that can easily eat up hours of your time each week. I will also mention that trying to find fundraising pages that have not yet made the equivalent of $50 is challenging. It can be done via the ‘Transaction Report’ CSV file but it is even more time consuming than trying to thank those fundraisers that Facebook show on your page. The key to stewarding your fundraisers well on Facebook is to contact them as soon as possible as this gives them the opportunity to read and implement your top tips for a successful Facebook fundraiser.

I kept thinking ‘there must be an easier way’ and I eventually found it. I was invited to begin using GivePanel when it was in its Private Beta stage of development. It is an online tool that takes the data from your ‘Transaction Report’ and basically enables you to thank fundraisers, manage the data, view analytics and capture contact details a lot quicker and easier. I have been using this tool for a couple of months now and it is a godsend so thank you Nick Burne and team for developing this! They have just moved into Public Beta and while they are still developing and improving the tool, as it stands it saves me hours of time every week, has improved data capture and I am seeing positive results from being able to contact fundraisers sooner.

Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to hear them. Tweet me at @Carla_Ankiah