Social Fundraising: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown

One question we hear a lot: How big of an opportunity is fundraising on social? Since launching in 2016, Facebook’s fundraising tools have captured our attention and our dollars. But with limited data on donors, potential cannibalization of other (preferred) channels, and increasing Facebook fatigue, what’s the best way for your organization to make the most of it?

Here are a few areas that show a lot of potential for Facebook fundraising, each with their caveats:

Birthday fundraisers

In the weeks leading up to a user’s birthday, Facebook prompts them to celebrate their birthday the charitable way. With a notification two weeks out, users are guided through an easy-to-use process of selecting the charity of their choice, setting a goal, and launching their personal campaign. When the big day rolls around, their Facebook friends get a notification, hopefully turning those “HBD!” posts into a gift for good in honor of the birthday person!

In addition to the incremental (and free) brand awareness, nonprofits have found a whole new source of untapped fundraising revenue: In its first year, Birthday Fundraisers raised more than $300 million. Knowing Facebook notifications are coming, your organization can get in on the birthday fun(ds) by collecting supporter’s birth date and lining up asks on other channels so that yours is more likely to be the charity of choice.

Executing this strategy requires you to have the data, content, and triggers in place to be able to automatically reach out to supporters when their birthdays are approaching. Since birthdays tend to be very personal moments — and since users can choose only one charity to dedicate their day to — we’d expect people to use this feature to support a cause close to their hearts, like a local organization or one with a mission that may affect someone they love (unless the birthday happens to coincide with a humanitarian or rights emergency).

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) event fundraisers

P2P events can be an incredible way to deepen relationships, expand communities, and have fun — all while raising much-needed money! Existing P2P fundraising tools have resources, personal landing pages, and more to help your fundraisers with their outreach, but Facebook fundraisers make it even easier for active Facebook users by finding their networks where they already are and making the ask feel less forced or cumbersome.

We’ve seen client events where those who fundraise on Facebook raise four times more than the average participant. Integrating Facebook Fundraiser assets and asks into your organization’s next walk, ride, bake sale, or dance marathon might be just the push your participants need.

Giving Season

There’s a hashtag in front of #GivingTuesday for a reason. Facebook Fundraisers have made one of the biggest fundraising days of the year even bigger. With platform-wide matches, the day’s success on Facebook continues to grow, with more than $125 million raised in 2018 — more than triple the year before.


Are these gifts just cannibalizing our efforts on other channels? It’s definitely worth analyzing the behavior of your donors over time to see if your digital revenue is actually increasing or just shifting where it’s coming from. Remember, while many of these donors may already be your supporters on other channels, their Facebook giving has the potential to bring in the next best thing: their friends and family (with the caveat that the data is not yours). Facebook reports that one in five new Facebook donors give again on Facebook within six months, so it’s possible that #GivingTuesday is inspiring people whose giving habits are not yet established.

With its own match, the built-in social capital of seeing friends donating, and an ever-changing algorithm that favors on-platform activity, you may want to consider highlighting Facebook donations in addition to off-platform donation pages on big giving days, at least as a secondary ask once you secure that one-time or monthly donation.

Real personal in real time

With a recent update, Facebook has added donation stickers to Instagram to make it easy for users to use Stories to raise money for their favorite charities. Instagram’s Story feature is wildly popular — and for good reason: It feels authentic, it’s interactive, and it’s easy.

Screenshot of an Instagram post with a donation sticker for Planned Parenthood
When the Blue State team attended Planned Parenthood of New York City’s #StopAbortionBans rally, Associate Strategist Gabby Greenberg made a call to her Instagram followers to show their support with a donation.

Looking for some ways to try out this new feature? Stories are short-lived, so in your next rapid response moment put out an urgent call for supporters to fundraise on Instagram. Many of your organization’s top influencers have built a loyal and passionate community of Instagram followers — tap into that by asking them to post a fundraising story on your behalf. For example, the recent abortion bans that have become a part of a larger cultural conversation have spurred a wave of donation-focused Stories on Instagram.

The big caveat

As organizations seek to deepen their relationships with supporters, the limited data Facebook provides on donors is a big obstacle. Unless donors go through the extra steps required to share their information (something most opt out of), we lose the opportunity to thank and steward them.

In order to show our appreciation for these supporters, we have to get creative. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Thank them on platform. A comment from the organization’s verified account can be a huge ego-booster and feels incredibly personal.
  • Start an invite-only club. There has been a rise in private Facebook groups where only Facebook fundraisers are invited. Use that group to cultivate a sense of community and exclusivity among your greatest Facebook supporters.
  • Boost existing Fundraisers. Sharing individual Fundraisers shows that you appreciate their help, and reminds other followers to start a Facebook Fundraiser of their own.

The most successful social fundraisers have been started by passionate individuals motivated to act. But for every RAICES fundraiser, there are hundreds that never inched past zero. With many people growing bored or skeptical of social media, social fundraisers also risk fatiguing audiences if they don’t feel authentic. We as digital fundraisers can make the most of new tools, but what will take off next is ultimately up to the donors.


Want to integrate social media into your fundraising program? Let’s talk about it.

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