How it pays to LOVE on your Facebook Fundraisers

Facebook fundraising has been a game changer for both large and small charities. But how do you learn more about your fundraisers? And what can you do with these insights?

Athar Abidi is head of social and digital activation at the British Heart Foundation (BHF). In this  talk at GivePanel’s Social Fundraising Summit, they give an insight into their journey with Facebook fundraising. And how, by taking time to understand their fundraisers, they could increase both income and support for their cause.

What We Will Cover

  • Social Media at the British Heart Foundation
  • Why We Started Facebook Fundraising
  • Digging Deeper into the Data
  • Our Five Top Learnings from Facebook Fundraising
  • How To Message Facebook Fundraisers

Watch the Video Here

About the British Heart Foundation

Our vision is a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory disease. We’re well known as a research charity and fund over 100 million pounds of research every year. 

We’re also one of the top 10 retailers in the UK. We’re an event organiser, including London to Brighton bike ride, that has up to 20,000 cyclists a year.

As well as doing research, we do provide quite a large amount of Patient Support online via helplines and BHF nurses. 

Social Media at the British Heart Foundation

We use social media to showcase the work of the BHF and are keen to bring research to the front. A lot of people don’t fully realise that the BHF is a Research Organisation. And surprisingly few people even really think of us as a charity. A lot of people don’t understand what research looks like, or whether or not they can make an impact on it. 

We like to show that our researchers are real people in real labs. And of course, we want to thank our supporters, encourage our fundraisers, and build that personal connection with people. 

Building that type of connection is something that we do in a quite time consuming, but very high value, way. We have a low volume, high impact approach to messaging. 

That doesn’t mean that we don’t message many people. But what it does mean is that we really focus on personalising and tailoring our messaging. So if someone is doing an event, or a marathon, if we’re going to thank them for taking part. We will also try and take the time to dig into their profile, to find out a little bit about them. 

It might be what football team they support, or what their favourite show is, and then pick a gift that’s appropriate. Things like that make such a huge difference to how that individual will perceive you as a charity. 

A little goes a long way in that respect. 

That’s a core to the ethos of what we do and how we treat social media. This kind of attitude goes across everything that we do.

Why We Started Facebook Fundraisers

With Facebook fundraising, we weren’t necessarily the earliest adopters. It had been live for quite a few months before we turned it on. 

We were planning to turn it on for three months to see what happened. We wanted to see what the income looked like, how many fundraisers we got and what sort of feedback we received. Through this process, we got to see if people were happy using Facebook for fundraising, or whether there were any sort of teething issues that we should be aware of. 

It was a pretty resounding success. Those first three months we were bringing in around £30,000- £40,000 pounds a month, purely from birthday fundraisers. 

With that income, internal interest went up. So we started to think about how we could maximise income. Specifically, how could we do something that could be properly embedded? When we first turned it on, there was no stewardship. All we did was look at the transaction reports, and that was really all there was to it.

Digging Deeper into the Data

Once we knew that it was something that the BHF was interested in and could see a return on investment, we put time into it. We dedicated some internal resources, and got somebody in on a one year contract. 

We asked themto really dig deep into the data to give us a really good indication of:

  • How many fundraising pages are there? 
  • How many people were fundraising? 
  • What was the average gift per fundraiser page?

Basically, all the key metrics you would look at for any fundraising products. Many of these aren’t built into Facebook itself. 

We spent time developing an initial stewardship journey. This had to be within the fundraising pages themselves. Prior to GivePanel we worked out a way of doing this, but it was very time consuming. There were a lot of spreadsheets and it involved a lot of manual work. 

A note: doing this type of analysis doesn’t have to be complicated. A lot of this is stuff that you can do using spreadsheets or manually. You need to act on the number of fundraisers you have. We have at least a1,000 Facebook Fundraisers a month. But smaller organisations could be looking at 10s, or up to 100. We use GivePanel because of the scale.

Our Five Top Learnings from Facebook Fundraisers

  1. Scaling with GivePanel

A year into this project, we got in touch with GivePanel.

We wanted to see what the options are. What opportunities were there to help us banish all of our spreadsheets? How could we get a decent admin panel that could give us the information that we actually needed? How could this work towards simplifying the stewardship journey? 

We’re less than a year into working with GivePanel, but we have been collaborating closely to develop a new stewardship journey. And so far, so good. We’re seeing results in income and monthly growth.

We’re actually getting more fundraiser income than we expected. Especially when bearing in mind that a lot of fundraising has taken a hit. But Facebook fundraisers, for us at least, really kept ticking over. 

  1. Understanding our Fundraisers

One of the key issues that we had was having no information about the fundraisers themselves. We got the data of the people that were making donations to those pages. But there was a very low opt in rate for them to receive further marketing. 

We wanted to know more about the people that had chosen to fundraise for us. They would have a stronger connection to our cause. We recognised that this could be the first step in the stewardship journey. 

Using GivePanel forms, we added a data capture element to our stewardship journey of our active fundraisers. 32% of them filled in the form, and of those people 62% opted in. 

The real killer stat is that, of our top fundraisers, 22 out of 25 filled in the form, and 16 of them opted in. This is great – it shows they’re proud of their connection to the cause. And they’ve obviously brought in a lot of money for us. 

Another reason we wanted to have more information about our fundraisers, is that there are people that we want to contact. We might want to put them in contact with their local community fundraising manager. Or we might want to point them to another product or another way of joining us (such as a fundraising group). 

We can’t accurately say why we’ve bucked the trend, and why our income has gone up steadily. But we think it’s a combination of the following two points (3 and 4).

  1. The Knock-On Effect of Organic Social

There’s a halo effect of organic social and brand activity, which keeps the BHF front of mind. There is a good use case for investing time and effort into building your organic Facebook audience. 

Facebook fundraising lists charities to choose from when you set up a birthday fundraiser. This is algorithm led – if people follow your page, you will be higher up in the list of options.

We have quite a large, organic following. We have more than half a million people that like our Facebook page. We also run considerable amounts of advertising throughout the year. 

From this, there are opportunities for people to engage with us. And so, a lot of people will choose us from the fundraising list.

  1. Improving Platform Messaging

One of the other things that has improved, and possibly affected our results, is in platform messaging. We’ve been working with GivePanel to apply best practice and deliver a strong messaging strategy. We post a thank you message twice on a Facebook Fundraisers page throughout theirjourney. We’re always working with GivePanel to continue totest and improve our messaging.

Whatever you do on social media, there’s always room for improvement. You should never sit on your laurels, even if the numbers look good. 

  1. Investigating $0 Fundraisers

We also used GivePanel to look at $0 fundraisers. Facebook Fundraisers (on whatever platform you use) will only appear in your admin or transaction reports if they’ve received a donation. But that doesn’t reflect all the pages that have been set up for your cause.

We were really keen to get an idea of how many people set up fundraising pages, but don’t receive any donations. This is an untapped audience, and we want to understand if there’s anything we can do with them? Is there a way that through stewardship we can convert them into fundraising and increase our overall income?

We looked into it and did a test in December. We were really surprised to find out that we had more $0 fundraisers than active fundraisers. It was a bit of a shock. 

However, they don’t present the opportunity that perhaps you might think of. Of these 1,800 people, we messaged all of them. But only 185 (10%) of them went on to become fundraisers on the back of that. 

The average gift of these fundraisers was also much lower than the average gift from those that had already received an initial donation. And of all those 1,800 people, less than 1% of them filled in the GivePanel data capture form. 

The initial donation is almost a filtering process, a bit like lead gen. We look at remittance rates, and looking back at these figures, there’s only approximately a 30% remittance rate.  But, the income from those remittances is really good. So, there’s nothing really to worry about. 

How To Message Facebook Fundraisers

Let’s talk about how we engage with our Facebook fundraisers.

So, we post a message on a Facebook Fundraiser page as soon as possible. This is really key. It’s important that people get engagement with the charity. Before our analysis, we saw that users frequently asked if the fundraising page that they’d set up, or that they’d donated to, was legitimate. And that’s fair enough. Getting that message on their fundraiser pages mitigates this fear, and really helps uplift donations. Following up on this, we send out the second message after ten days. This is only for people who haven’t filled in the form after the first message.

It’s important that fundraisers should receive a message that is sensitive to their situation. They often personalise their story, or might replace the cover photo with one of their lost loved ones. Treat them nicely, just as you would any fundraiser anywhere else.

You shouldn’t look at Facebook fundraisers as one kind of amorphous whole – they’re all different. They’re all individuals. Some people choose to set up a birthday fundraiser on a whim, other people just do it. Often, because they’ve got a really close connection to your cause.

Depending on your volume and resources, try to thank your new fundraisers with a message every day. This doesn’t mean messaging every fundraiser every day. Rather, check for new fundraisers and post a welcome message every day. 

If you want people’s data, you want them to come onto your CRM and become your regular fundraisers. So obviously, you can create a form on your website that you steer people towards. 

We did do this – we had to go through all the usual compliance stuff internally, but the actual form itself is pretty easy to do.

If you have a form, make sure your message copy is short. And the link to the form does not fall below the fold. You don’t want people having to expand the post to see that there is a form. And, I can’t can’t stress enough, how you should prioritise including data capture. This is a high proportion of people whowill be new to your CRM. 

To Sum Up

Facebook is a very different acquisition channel. It’s so instant and most people can use it. The journey from users making a decision is much less protracted. 

This is especially compared to other routes to becoming part of a supporter base, whether it’s signing up for a mass participation event or running a 10k. 

So think of your Facebook fundraising audience as a new audience, and don’t assume that these are people already on your CRM.

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