My goal with this article is to convince you that there is a right and a wrong way to fundraise on Facebook. Will you believe me? Probably not, but let’s try anyway.
You probably use Facebook every day like everybody else. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer to use it in your next campaign, right? This article is to share with you what I’ve learned about how to actually raise money using Facebook.
I do want to warn you. I’m not writing as an authoritative expert on this subject. I’m writing based on what’s worked for me, and what’s worked for the Catholic causes that I’ve helped. I’m still learning how to use this massive social media platform because it is so influential. With so many Catholics using it every day, you’ve got to consider it a part of your fundraising.
Lesson 1: Numbers don’t matter as much as you think
You might think that you need thousands of followers for a campaign to be successful. I’ve found you can raise thousands of dollars with just a few hundred followers.
As I write this article, I have 264 followers on my Facebook page, fb.com/catholicfundraiser. Not a lot, right? Yet I’ve been super successful with using this platform in my fundraising.
Well, numbers don’t matter as much as you think. I’ve been slowly increasing my followers over the past year, and I’ve learned that numbers don’t matter. It’s quality of content and engagement that are key. I know Catholic organizations that have thousands of likes and followers, yet they struggle to bring in a few thousand dollars?
Why is that? It’s because they don’t know how to use the followers that they do have already.
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ – Matthew 25:23
I am reminded of the Parable of the Talents: You take care of the small amount God has given you and He’ll bless you with more. This has been the case for me. As a small apostolate, I’ve been learning what works to attract people. I haven’t spent a single dollar to buy Likes, yet I’ve grown my followers between 0.5% and 2% each week.
Though the cards look to be stacked against me because of my small audience and small growth, I do it week by week. It’s consistent growth that’s making the difference over the long run.
Think of the story of the turtle and the hare. We know who wins in the end.
Sure, this might not sink in with you now but watch this blog and see where I am in a year. I know that I’ll hit the cherished 1,000 mark and when I do, I’ll be on my way to 10,000 because I’ve learned what it means to “grow” my followers.
Plus, if I can have the fundraising success I’ve had with 264 followers, I can only imagine what I’ll be able to do with 10,000. So watch this space.
Lesson #2 – Quit whining that Facebook doesn’t “Like” you
Join the club of wanting more people to Like and click your posts. The reality is that everyone is engaged in the same uphill battle trying to get attention. You’ve got to remember that your organic reach will only be 3-5% of your audience and this my friend is the case for everyone. The Facebook algorithm works like this for everyone, and, just to appease the conspiracy theorists, let’s assume there is favoritism, but by how much? If the average reach is around 5%, even if some pages get double the preference, only 10% of their audience sees those posts.
The fact is everyone’s newsfeed is flooded daily with posts and ads. On average, people Like and Follow 300 pages on Facebook. With so many posts passing through a newsfeed, you really are competing with 300+ pages to get a person’s attention. This might be the reason why it’s such a struggle to be seen and why Facebook has to lower everyone’s reach.
Therefore, my advice is to quit complaining how you aren’t getting a fair voice on the platform.
My recommendation is to create micro-content worth the time and energy it will take to reach donors, followers, and advocates. You cannot take for granted that you have the ability to reach 100’s, if not 1,000’s of people, while sitting in front of your computer.
Just think: If 1,000 people see your post for just 5 seconds, that means your post was seen for 5,000 seconds. That’s 83 minutes. So my advice is to take a few extra minutes to create content that maximizes your time.
Lesson #3 – Be consistent with the quality of your Facebook content
Looking back, I am shocked at how long it took me to figure this out. Though what shocks me more is how I still struggle to create quality content.
Creating quality content on Facebook is something everyone has to learn, and the only way to learn is to do it over and over again. Also, you have to agree that, because thousands of people can see your content, it’s worth the time and effort to make something that stands out, right? Practice making great micro-content every day and see where it takes you.
You have to get in that habit, and that habit may take a few months. But to get there, you need the right system in place to automate your thinking and piece your content together.
I’ve learned that there are five levels of making great Facebook micro-content. Master one level at a time and watch your audience and reach grow with it.
Level 1 – Ask yourself two questions before posting: (1) How can we make this interesting to read? (2) What’s the one thing we want to share?
Level 2 – Include a photo or video. Make sure you format it so it is striking, high-quality, and attention-getting. Use Canva.com to help create pictures that stand out. And make sure your logo is visible.
Level 3 – Add text. Make sure your copy is short, simple, direct, provocative, entertaining, and surprising. Don’t burden your content with too much text, keep it to under two lines.
Level 4 – Always include a clear call to action. I’ll go into further detail about this in the next section but every post doesn’t have to ask for a donation. You can ask for other things and always include a link.
Here are a few examples:
Read the full article here:
Take action here:
Level 5 – Manage your comments. This is where the real magic in Facebook lies and in your fundraising. Make sure you respond to comments and control Spam. I’ll get into why in the next section.
Here’s an example of a religious order that is taking the patient route and mastering all levels. These religious sisters did more for their religious cause by sharing this story than by asking for donations. Thousands of people saw their photos, and it automatically got their attention.
Lesson #4 – How to actually raise money on Facebook
Successful fundraising will come after you master all the levels. I say this because there are two important characteristics you need to develop in people before you can ask them for money. The first is their attention, and the second is their engagement. This means that if you can get them to interact with you, you are on your way to getting them to trust you.
Trust comes when you build a relationship. This might sound cheesy, and you might want to just go the crowdfunding route or just post content asking for donations, but you will turn people off in droves. It’s much harder to gain someone’s trust after you’ve annoyed them. So my recommendation is, take the patient approach.
Patience is a virtue, so use it to your advantage in fundraising.
Now you have to continue building that relationship, and with that comes the final part: the ask.
My best advice for getting people to donate through Facebook is to find a way to collect their email. Facebook is a great way to attract people’s interest, while email is a personalized approach that offers much more privacy when it comes to asking. Here is a great example of one religious order doing exactly that.
For more details on how to fundraise using email, I recommend you join the waiting list for my Catholic Fundraising Boot Camp, where I will walk you through the steps of how to run a campaign from beginning to end using social media, email, phone, events, meetings, and letters.
Again, I wrote this article to document my current experience and success. Check back in 6 months when I share with you how far I’ve gone.
Question: What has been your experience with fundraising using Facebook? You can leave a comment by clicking here.