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A quick guide to launching an Emergency Response Facebook Challenge

You can’t plan for a disaster, but you can plan your response. Ensuring your nonprofit has the toolkit in place to deliver a Facebook fundraising campaign for an emergency appeal can help raise much-needed funds for your cause, and is possible in a few simple steps.

Emergency Response Facebook Fundraising Challenges Explained 

Social media helps causes all over the world to raise awareness and vital funds in times of crisis. Over $73 million has been raised alone for bushfire relief in Australia – all via Facebook, which launched its donations tools in Australia in late 2018. 

One way to respond to an emergency is to launch a Facebook fundraiser and share this directly via ads and social posts. But, for potentially greater return you can also launch an Emergency Response Facebook Challenge. This method uses the tried and tested Facebook Challenge fundraising model – a virtual fundraising event that utilizes Facebook features to sign up participants, provide an online community and raise funds. With a unique task at its heart, involving meeting an achievable amount of daily exercise or other challenge, it can easily be adapted to fit the criteria of the crisis. 

Rather than a nonprofit simply appealing for funds, participants create a fundraising page and ask their connections to donate as they meet the expectations of the challenge. The Facebook ecosystem thrives on fundraising pages so prompts and reminders mean participants can easily share their pages with friends and family and gather donations.With fundraisers entered into their own Facebook group, they encourage and motivate each other to achieve the challenge. By using GivePanel you can then easily track the funds raised and thank the fundraisers with minimal effort.

Let’s take a look at the key considerations for adapting the challenge model to deliver a successful emergency response campaign. 

1. Timing is everything 

A national or international emergency is likely to generate an influx of news reports, social media posts and IRL conversations, so launching a campaign in those early days is crucial to capture the interest of supporters when they’re actively looking to help.

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the funds that are desperately needed to support those fleeing, the USA for UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) used the Facebook Challenge model to launch their emergency appeal ‘300,000 Steps for Families Fleeing Ukraine’ within 2 days.

One of the UNHCR’s top performing Facebook ads used in the challenge

2. Keep it simple

Develop a succinct and easy to follow concept, so supporters grasp the idea and sign up as quickly as possible. By simply asking participants to complete 300,000 steps, USA for UNHCR raised over $61K.

Like the concept, you’ll also want to keep the journey your supporters take as simple and as easy to follow as possible. From Facebook ads through to fundraiser creation, by keeping them on Facebook and tailoring each touchpoint with your messaging, you can guide your supporters into fundraising in just a few simple steps. 

Interestingly, when tested in the US, the ads that went directly to create a fundraiser versus the group resulted in zero pages created. This showed the essential part the Facebook Group plays in a Facebook Challenge so make sure to have your messaging primed and ready for when supporters enter the group. 

3. Be prepared to adapt

Don’t apply the parameters of your standard Facebook Challenge campaigns to an emergency response campaign. The sensitivity of such situations mean offering an incentive like a free t-shirt on sign up could be tone deaf, although a wristband with a more generic message such as #WithRefugees, as suggested by USA for UNHCR could work. The same applies to the content you post in your Facebook group. Motivational and persuasive posts will need to be subtle and less jovial, according to the emergency. 

It’s also beneficial to remove the time cap, allowing participants to join the challenge at any time, not just for a given amount of pre-stipulated days. Additionally, a bank of easy to implement challenges to have at the ready, in the event of a crisis will make launching a last minute campaign easier.

One of the most engaged posts in the ‘300,000 Steps for Families Fleeing Ukraine’ Facebook group

4. Tailor your content

When promoting a typical Facebook Challenge you’ll likely use words and imagery that relate to the challenge taking place, making the outcome of the challenge key. 

When it comes to social fundraising in a crisis situation, it pays to use messages that exemplify the cause, with the challenge itself becoming secondary – removing incentives such as the benefits to getting active. The same goes for imagery. In the days after the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian flag quickly became a recognisable emblem of support, and it was this icon that potential fundraisers would recognise as a prompt to donate – rather than images of those taking part in the challenge. 

Another successful Facebook ad used by the UNHCR during the challenge

5. Focus on stewardship

We talk about stewardship a lot in fundraising: to us it’s the right thing to do, it’s nurturing those donors that have given time and funds and communicating with them appropriately to build a lasting relationship. Effective engagement can come in a number of ways: communicating with participants at sign up, thanking them for taking part, encouraging them to invite their connections to do the same and ensuring that communication within the Facebook group is constant. As your emergency response Facebook fundraising challenges may see supporters joining at various times, you don’t need to worry about keeping track of who’s where on their fundraising journey – our handy email journey feature (currently in beta) means you can trigger emails to reach them at various points, with all the tracking and delivery managed by us. Considered communication will help keep them engaged and more likely to meet their challenge target.

Book a demo

Like the sound of straightforward software that takes the frustration out of Facebook fundraising? Book your 30 minute demo with one of our in-house Facebook fundraising experts today to see how we can help elevate your digital fundraising campaign. 

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