Maybe you feel like you haven’t got enough, if any budget, to take advantage of Facebook’s fundraising tools. But what if you could raise £1,000 a month for your charity using Facebook Fundraising, even with limited budget?
Here Wendy Ahl from Safe Haven for Donkeys explains why and how you can raise money using Facebook with little, or no, budget.
Wendy Ahl has 25 years of fundraising experience, and is a diploma level member of the Chartered Institute of fundraising. She gave this talk at the Social Fundraising Summit in March 2021.
What We Will Cover:
- Our Strategy
- Benefits of Facebook Fundraising
- Tips for Facebook Page Posts
- Tips for New Facebook Fundraisers
New to Facebook fundraising? Read our Facebook Giving Tools FAQs.
Watch the Video Here:
About Safe Haven for Donkeys
Safe Haven for Donkeys is a British registered charity that has been going for 21 years. They operate a donkey sanctuary in Israel, which is home to 200 unwanted and abused donkeys. They run free veterinary services for working donkeys, mules and horses in the Palestinian territories. They also provide advice and support to the owners who rely totally on these animals, so that they can make a living for their family. Their philosophy is by helping animals, they can also help people.
I am here to talk to you today about how our charity raises about £8,000 a month with just a £10 a day budget.
There are only three of us, two full-time and one part-time, at our charity. Alongside all the other aspects of running a charity, I am responsible for all of our fundraising. We started using the Facebook fundraising tools in October 2017. Facebook is now responsible for about 15% of our income.
Like many charities, we’ve seen a huge rise in online income, especially through Facebook, during 2020, and so far into 2021.
So, how do Safe Haven use Facebook? We don’t tend to get a lot of birthday or personal Facebook fundraisers. This is something I am trying to look into because it’s basically a source of free money. We actually use Facebook fundraising in three different ways:
- We run Facebook ads, which we pay for.
- We use the donate button. We have the donate button at the top of our Facebook page. We also put it on all of our posts.
- We set up our own page fundraisers to raise money. We used this method to raise money so we could buy equipment for our vet in the Palestinian territories.
So far, we have raised around about £250,000. For a charity that is fairly small, this is fantastic. At the moment, our average monthly income from Facebook is about £8,000. And this is just from the donate tools, not our Facebook ads. It works out to be around 15% of our income.
It’s great for us because Facebook doesn’t charge any fees. It’s one of the cheapest forms of fundraising out there, and one of the easiest.
Benefits of Facebook Fundraising
Before we get started, let’s look at the benefits of Facebook fundraising for smaller charities.
The good thing about Facebook fundraising is that you can start fundraising even withzero budget. Even if all you do is set the tools up and put a donate button on the top of your page, you will probably make money. It’s very cost effective – Facebook doesn’t charge fees. The fundraising can also be instant. Later on, I’ll discuss a case study of a wounded donkey that we raised surgery costs for in mere hours. If you’ve got a sudden need, you can start fundraising straight away.
Scheduling in Advance
You can schedule Facebook posts in advance. If you know you’re about to go on holiday for a week, you can set up all your posts before you go. Although at the moment we are having difficulty getting donate buttons on posts, we still schedule in advance. To solve this, manually add the Facebook donate button once the post has gone live on our page. We’re hoping Facebook will sort this out soon. You can use programmes like Hootsuite to schedule your posts, not only for Facebook, but all your other social media as well.
Another major advantage of Facebook is the size of the audience. Around 66% of the people in the UK have a Facebook account. And everyday worldwide, about 1.6 billion people are using Facebook. Your audience is practically limitless.
When Facebook fundraising, you do need to monitor your posts. We work in Israel and Palestine, and we work with animals. So we do get some comments on our posts asking us ‘Why are you helping animals when you should be helping people?’ and political posts about the Israel and Palestine situation. You have to always monitor your posts, which is beyond nine-to-five. It can be a little unpredictable.
Sometimes you think a post is going to be really great and perform brilliantly. But then it doesn’t do so well. But conversely, sometimes there’s a post where you think ‘Oh well, I’ll put it up but I don’t think it’s going to do too good’ and then it does brilliantly. But the more you experiment, the more you’ll learn. I’ll talk more about this in a bit.
However… Lack of Data
Obviously, one thing about using the Facebook Donate button is you don’t get data about the people who’ve donated. The donate button used to lead to our website and people could donate via the site. However, Facebook has taken this option away. Now, the Facebook Donate button will only lead to the Facebook tools. This is because of Facebook’s aim – they want to keep users on Facebook, and they don’t want them going off to somebody else’s site.
This can be a drawback. But you can still build relationships with those people on your page and take them on your supporter journey. It takes a bit more time and effort, but we have built good relationships on our Facebook page. We are finding these days that more and more of our supporters like the convenience of donating via the Facebook Donate button. They like that their data doesn’t get handed over. So obviously, there’s a bit of a disconnect between what we want and what the donor wants. You have to work a bit harder to bridge that gap and convince them to go on that journey with you. But it certainly can be done.
Tips for Facebook Page Posts
Boost Your Posts
I’m going to say something quite controversial now – boost your posts. Most experts will throw their hands up in horror at the thought of boosting. They’ll say it’s not worth the money, it doesn’t work. But we have found that it works very well for us. We can do it on a budget as little as £10 a day. Our boosted Facebook posts are actually doing better than our ads. The Facebook advertising system is quite complex and they often change their algorithms, which may be behind our current performance. I’m going to go into more detail on how we boost posts in a little bit.
It’s a case of experimentation with what works best for you. For example, we have experimented with photos of cute donkeys, comparing them with broken down working donkey photos. We have found that the happy donkey photos often work better for us. But play around and see what works best for you. You won’t instantly find out what the golden ticket is. But if you take some time to experiment, eventually you will find what does well for you.
Images Over Videos
Another slightly controversial thing I’m going to say is that for us, images work better than videos. We are finding now people are less inclined to watch videos, as their attention spans are getting shorter, even if the video is a few seconds long. They’re scrolling and scrolling. So you need a really good image that tells the whole story just by looking at it.
Post Twice a Day
We post twice a day. Some people have said ‘oh, that’s far too much!’ Some charities only post once a week. But, like I mentioned, you have to find what works best for you. We have found that posting twice a day works really well for us. We usually post about 8.30am and 4.30pm – that’s when most of our supporters are on and are most responsive. You can look in your Facebook analytics and it will tell you when most of your followers are online.
Add an Ask to Your Posts
We tend to put an Ask on every morning post with the donate button. You might think that that’s too much. But as it’s a post on your page, not everybody is going to see it. The latest report suggests that only 2% of your followers are seeing organic posts on your page. So even if you post an Ask post every day, it’s not going to be too much – not everyone’s going to see it. We tend to ask in the morning, and then thank people for their support of our work in the afternoon. We don’t put a Donate button on that one.
Double Boost Your Posts
If you think that a boost on that particular post is working really well, you can boost it again. You can have more than one boost running on a post at one time. So say if you spent £20 or £10, and you’ve boosted to a certain audience, do the boost again. But this time, double your budget. So you’re actually spending twice as much money, but hopefully reaching twice as many people. Or you could spend the same but boost to a different audience. We tend to boost to two distinct audiences. Either we boost to people that already like our page. This would mean that more of this warm audience would see it. Or we boost to people who like the pages of charities similar to ourselves. They’re not as warm as our page likers, but they’re interested in the sort of thing we do. And we find that this approach is successful as well.
Engage with Reactions
My final tip – check the people who have interacted with your posts. See where the smiley and sad faces are on your posts. If you click on them, it will bring up a list of all the people who’ve interacted with your post. If any of them engage with your posts, but haven’t liked your page, invite them to like your page again. It takes a few minutes each day, but you can really build up an audience this way. In the past three years or so we’ve gone from 10,000 page likes to over 61,000. It’s taken a bit of work, but it’s been worth it. It increases the audience and, importantly, the number of people that see your posts.
Tips for New Facebook Fundraisers
So we’ve looked at how you can optimise the organic posts on your charity’s page. Now, let’s look at what you can do for your page fundraisers.
First, start small. For our first ever page fundraiser, we wanted to raise £10,000 to buy a tractor. So off we went to set up a page fundraiser of £10,000. And it didn’t do very well. This is because people thought their small donation of £10 or £20 wouldn’t make much of a difference to the total. So start small – you can always increase your target as you go along as you get near to it. People like to feel that their donations count and that it is helping you to get to that target.
Urgency and Emotion
Make sure whatever you’re fundraising for feels genuine and specific. We found, for example, that trying to do a page fundraiser to raise money to feed our donkeys wasn’t particularly interesting to people. It has to be urgent and emotive. For instance, there was a donkey that had been knocked down by a car that our team in Israel had been called out to. When the vet got there, he immediately saw that this donkey would need quite a major operation, and it would need to be taken to hospital. So the team in Israel contacted us, we were able to post a fundraiser on our page. And within a few hours, the funds have been raised for the donkey to have his operation. In fact, I think we’d actually raised the money before the donkey had even had the operation.
Focus on the Individual
Another tip would be to focus on an individual. Obviously, in our case, it’s donkeys. In your case, it might be humans. But we find that focusing on one individual enables potential supporters to feel as though they have a connection with them. That really helps to generate the funds.
Boost your Page Fundraiser
Again, consider boosting your page fundraiser. When you set it up, you should share the fundraiser to your page and then pin it to the top. Boosting it again will make sure that more of the people who like your page actually see that boosted post. Do note that boosts sometimes take a little while to kick in. But, if you’ve got a really good page fundraiser, you might have raised the money you need before the boost actually starts. That’s happened to us a couple of times. You can always switch that boost off before you start spending money. This will make sure it doesn’t cost you anything if you’ve already raised your target.
Update Your Fundraiser
Don’t forget to update the fundraiser. Tell people you know how the individual or animal in this case is getting on? Create posts like ‘Woohoo, we’re halfway to our target! Can you help us reach it?’ Do everything you can to encourage people to become involved with the page fundraiser and how it’s getting on. If you’re lucky enough to get some match fundraising that also helps push a page fundraiser up. For example, one of our trustees very kindly said he would match the first £1,000 of donations. This really helped because people felt like their £5 was actually £10. It was really encouraging to them.
Don’t forget to thank everybody that gives to this fundraiser. On the fundraiser page, it will come up with things like ‘Joe Bloggs has given £10’ etc. Underneath these, thank them and say how grateful you are for the gift. This again helps you involve people with what you’re doing.
Facebook fundraising definitely isn’t perfect, but nor is any method of fundraising. It can take a while to get Facebook fundraising setup, and it seems to be a lot more difficult than it was when we did it in October 2017. We literally just sent a couple of papers, and within a week it was all set up. You don’t get a lot of data, and you do have to work at building relationships on the page.
But, I would still say definitely go for it – you’ve got nothing to lose. Don’t be put off if you’re small, and have little or no budget. You can do great things with hardly any money or even no money. Facebook ads themselves are a little bit more tricky, but you can learn about them. Facebook has their own course about advertising called Facebook Blueprint.
But you can still just set up posts and boost them. I think boosting is much easier than Facebook adverts. Even if you don’t have a lot of knowledge, you can do it very easily. It will ask you if you want to boost the posts, you press the button, you choose your audience, and choose what you’re going to spend. That’s it.
So go for it and experiment, see what works for your charity. Don’t be put off by people saying this works or this doesn’t work. Because every charity is different. What works for some won’t work for others.