How to make the most of Facebook Charitable Giving Tools
Michi MacLennan at The Air Ambulance Service shares his top tips for maximising donations through Facebook Charitable Giving Tools
Running England’s national air ambulance transfer service for children without any government funding is a costly feat – each life-saving transfer costs around £2,800, with two new helicopters planned for 2018. This year, Children’s Air Ambulance has pulled out all the stops to meet its goal of raising an extra £32m over 7 years.
The charity was one of the first in the UK to make use of Facebook Charitable Giving Tools after they were launched in the UK in September 2017.
Now free for charities, Facebook Charitable Giving tools offer them the chance to:
- Add a donate button directly on their pages, and also on any posts they create, so people can donate directly to charities without leaving the site. These donate forms hold donors’ credit card details so it’s easier and quicker to give.
- Alongside this, Facebook users can now launch their own fundraisers and are prompted to start one on their birthday for a charity of their choice.
- Charities can also add a donation button to live video events through Facebook Live.
Facebook’s scale means charities can reach as wide an audience as possible, without having to justify a hefty investment of time or money. As a result of using the tools around its campaign, Children’s Air Ambulance raised almost ten times as much in 2017 than in the same period the previous year.
Michi MacLennan, Head of Digital and Innovation at The Air Ambulance Service – the organisation which runs Children’s Air Ambulance – shares his top tips for making the most out of the platform.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
Facebook’s new toolset for charities had just been launched in the UK when Children’s Air Ambulance was set to also launch its first TV advertising campain – ‘Their Life Above All’ in November, so the team had only a couple of months to prepare.
While other fundraising sites such as JustGiving famously charge a 5-6% transaction fee on donations, Facebook made the move of eliminating fees for non-profits soon after the launch of its Charitable Giving Tools, making it easy for charities to jump onboard and get stuck in.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t use it in a way that harmed the campaign, so we did think about best use,” says MacLennan. “We wanted to make sure we were able to get people to the landing page to find out more about us, instead of just having people donate on the main video post and not explore further.”
“Something such as the main video ad and behind the scenes videos might be the first time people are aware of Children’s Air Ambulance, so instead of grabbing donations I thought it made more sense to take them to the landing page find out more about us, then take the next steps, whether to sign up for donations or other forms of getting involved. So we put the donate button on main facebook page, before starting to experiment with it on individual posts.”
A lot of money from the campaign came through the fundraisers, where individuals choose to fundraise using Facebook of their own accord.
“This kind of organic fundraising is one of the strongest generators of income,” says MacLennan. “But users can now donate to any charity that’s signed up with the tools – when they go to create a fundraiser, the list of charities appear in a drop-down menu, with many of the biggest, most popular charities first.”
“We have to make sure when they wish to fundraise on birthdays or Christmas they are thinking about us and want to search for us. So we have posts that specifically mention that capability, and the fact that they should think about us whenever going to fundraise on Facebook.”
The charity also created downloadable step-by-step guides for people to create their own fundraisers.
Make the most of Facebook’s #GivingTuesday campaign
#GivingTuesday is a global event on November 28th that sees millions of people come together to support and champion the causes they believe in by donating and fundraising on their behalf.
Facebook and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation promise match up to $2 million in funds raised on the social media platform ($50,000 per nonprofit), and waive all fees on funds donated on the day.
Children’s Air Ambulance had about a week to prepare after finishing promoting its Their Life Above All campaign.
“As soon as we saw Facebook were doing #GivingTuesday, we shifted focus onto the campaign,” says MacLennan. ” We looked at how to create something making it as a simple as possible for people to be aware of what giving Tuesday was, both externally and internally.”
As well posting across all channels on the day and involving their corporate partner to boost the main post with a custom graphic, the charity created an internal awareness campaign for staff and volunteers, ensuring the steps were clearly outlined for everyone.
“It was important for people to know that it was that specific day and channel, because in essence it would double the money we recieve. We wanted to avoid people seeing a post on Facebook and then donating through our website, or some other mechanism. So we went for a static graphic that people would take their time looking at and decide what to do.”
Fundraising results for the single day in 2017 were ten times more than any single month from the previous year.
“The campaign period overall was enormously successful,” says MacLennan, “but donations outside the campaign period are more important in a sense. #GivingTuesday focused our efforts to get as much funds as possible out of the day, but the more impressive results were outside the campaign period, in terms of the awareness and ongoing boost to donations.”
Be aware of the limitations
“There are some obvious downsides to Facebook fundraising tools that charities need to be aware of,” says MacLennan. “But at least if we have those tools we can choose whether or not to employ them, experiment and remove them when needed.”
Facebook’s Charitable Giving Tools shouldn’t be relied on as a main method of income, as charities will miss out on valuable data and the ability to build long-term relationships with supporters. Minimal data about the donors, such as their location or address is given to charities – they will only receive the donor’s Facebook user name and an email address, and there is no option to sign up for regular giving on Facebook itself.
Facebook’s features, services and algorithms are also subject to last minute changes and they may not be around forever.
However, used in the right way, Facebook’s Charitable Giving tools can be a great way of grabbing one-off donations at a specific time and encouraging further long-term engagement.
Follow Michi MacLennan on Twitter @MichiMaclennan