The Role of Facebook in Your Peer-to-Peer Strategy

How has your nonprofit’s peer-to-peer fundraising programming fared in the past year and a half?

There’s no shame in admitting that your P2P revenue may be down. In fact, if you’re like many nonprofits, your P2P fundraising may have taken quite a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even the largest programs across the country reported major declines in revenue and participation— with revenue declines ranging from 16.1% to 58.9% in the top 10 programs.

For organizations that rely on peer-to-peer fundraising to bring in the bulk of their revenue, declines such as these can be devastating. That’s why so many nonprofits focused on diversifying their revenue streams over the past year, seeking out new grant, major gift, and donor-advised fund-related opportunities.

But, what if you could diversify your peer-to-peer fundraising revenue stream itself? And, with that, insulate your nonprofit’s funding (and mission!) from future crises?

If the past year taught us anything, it’s that nonprofits need to do their due diligence to de-risk their missions. So, let’s discuss Facebook and the role it can play in diversifying your P2P strategy. We’ll cover the following points:

  • What is the role of Facebook in peer-to-peer fundraising?
  • What are Facebook Challenges?
  • How can you incorporate Facebook Challenges into your P2P strategy?

Before we dive into de-risking your mission with social fundraising, let’s first discuss the connection between Facebook fundraisers and the peer-to-peer fundraising ecosystem overall

What is the role of Facebook in peer-to-peer fundraising?

Inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Facebook released its first fundraising tools in 2015. Not long after, in 2016, the platform released functionality that allows individuals to create standalone fundraisers on behalf of their favorite charities.

In 2019, the platform celebrated $2 billion raised for nonprofit and personal causes; in 2021, that number has risen to over $5 billion. And now, according to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, “Of the donors who are inspired to give by social media outreach, 56% of them say Facebook has the biggest impact on them.” 

Functionally, Facebook fundraisers are social-media-based peer-to-peer fundraisers. When a user creates a fundraiser on behalf of your nonprofit, they share it with their friends, family members, and colleagues and ask those individuals to donate to the campaign.

However, where there would be dedicated peer-to-peer fundraising software in a traditional campaign, there is instead a dedicated Facebook fundraiser. Also unlike traditional peer-to-peer fundraisers, your nonprofit’s supporters can start fundraisers on your behalf whenever they want, independently of any fundraising campaigns your organization is hosting overall.

All of that said, while social fundraising has been a clear force for good, some nonprofits are hesitant to embrace Facebook in their peer-to-peer fundraising strategies. These organizations worry that:

However, these worries are hardly reason enough to forego the benefits of social fundraising as a tool to de-risk your mission— especially because Facebook Challenges defy each one.

What are Facebook Challenges?

Facebook Challenges are time-bound peer-to-peer fundraisers that take place entirely on the social network.

During a Challenge, participants complete a specific task or activity, such as walking a specified number of miles or completing an exercise for a certain number of repetitions. Participants complete this activity on each day of the Challenge, reporting back on their progress in a shared Facebook group to which all participants are added. At the same time, participants use a Facebook fundraiser to raise funds for your nonprofit from their networks. These gifts may be made due to an interest in your cause, or simply to support the participant in their pursuits!

To help you visualize, consider this example Facebook Challenge:

Participants are tasked with walking 10k steps each day, for a total of 30 days. During this time, participants “check-in” with their fellow participants in the Facebook group, encouraging one another toward their goals. Throughout the Challenge, each participant has the goal of raising at least $250 for your nonprofit through a Facebook fundraiser. 

How can Facebook Challenges de-risk peer-to-peer fundraising?

We started this article by discussing the idea of using Facebook to de-risk your overall peer-to-peer fundraising strategy. Then, we discussed a quick history of social fundraising and an innovative new way to use Facebook fundraising— Facebook Challenges. Now, let’s combine the two ideas.

Research has shown that Facebook Challenges are an additive fundraising method.

This essentially means that, rather than pulling resources and support from your other fundraising campaigns, Facebook Challenges enhance your strategy overall.

For example, consider if you chose to host a traditional fundraising event. You’d be marketing the event to existing and new supporters alike, but your existing donors and volunteers would be the most likely to attend and give. You’d need to schedule carefully to ensure the event doesn’t fall too closely to your other fundraising efforts, because your supporters could experience donation fatigue after being asked to give to your organization twice in a short period of time.

On the other hand, Facebook Challenges reach an entirely new audience that your nonprofit likely hasn’t engaged with previously. Just consider the results in this GoodUnited resource. During its Facebook Challenges, American Cancer Society:

  • Added 443,078 leads to its database at a $3.12 cost per lead.
  • Saw 61,000 new fundraisers started in conjunction with the Challenges.

Most interesting, however, was that over 95% of the Facebook Challenge participants were new to the American Cancer Society. Rather than diverting supporters from other ACS campaigns, Facebook Challenges brought new supporters into the nonprofit’s audience.

Because Challenges take place online, they have unlimited reach. As of January 2021, the total number of active internet users in the world was 4.66 billion— so your digital campaign can really make an impact when it comes to bolstering your donations and audience. In a year where both fundraising and participation were down, this is invaluable.

Even further, we know that both in-person and hybrid events can be complicated and expensive to plan and coordinate. But, that’s not the case for Facebook Challenges. So, you can de-risk your P2P strategy without much disruption to your current fundraising calendar.

Let’s walk through the Facebook Challenge planning process so you can see this for yourself.

How can you incorporate Facebook Challenges into your P2P strategy?

If you’re ready to embrace Facebook Challenges as a way to de-risk your peer-to-peer fundraising strategy and mission overall, start planning your first campaign with the following steps:

  1. Outline the parameters of your Challenge. Consider the task or activity you’ll want participants to complete, the dates of the campaign itself, and your fundraising goals both for the overall fundraiser and individual participants.
  2. Create the tech infrastructure to support the campaign. This is essentially the Facebook group that participants will join when they sign up for the Challenge. Write a clear description of what the Challenge will entail and ensure the cover photo is branded to your organization, both of which will build trust in your new supporters that the campaign is legitimate.
  3. Use Facebook Ads to spread the word. With your paid Ads campaign, target both known supporters of your nonprofit (i.e. those who have “liked” you on Facebook) and lookalike audiences that have similar characteristics and interests as your known supporters. This is how you’ll engage with a new audience of support.
  4. Engage with participants for the duration of the campaign. Once users follow the ads, sign up for your Challenge, and join the corresponding group, the fundraiser is underway. Interact with participants in the group to ensure it’s an engaging experience, such as sharing discussion posts, updates about the progress of the campaign, and fundraising tips to help them reach their goals.

Last but not least, consider ways that you can continue engaging with your new supporters long after the campaign ends.

For example, you can use Facebook Messenger to hold one-on-one conversations with new supporters throughout the year. Simply post thank-you comments on each Facebook fundraiser, thanking the participant for their efforts in your Challenge. In that message, invite the participant to begin chatting with your nonprofit in Messenger. Then, you can keep the conversation going!

Facebook Challenges are the ideal tool to de-risk your peer-to-peer fundraising revenue, providing an additive fundraising channel for times when P2P revenue is down. This means that regardless of future crises, your mission is funded.

However, if you’ve read through this guide and are worried about your team’s capacity and ability to manage yet another fundraising channel— don’t fret! There are now social fundraising solutions providers that can manage the process for you from start to finish, from planning the initial Challenges to communicating with participants long after the fundraisers are complete. This means that even if your team is busy, you can still experience all of the benefits of Facebook Challenges in your peer-to-peer strategy.

Author: Maria Clark is a nonprofit executive and technology evangelist with 30+ years of industry experience. Today she serves as Executive Vice President of Partnerships and Chief Evangelist for GoodUnited, the social fundraising solution. Maria is a champion of the new and has fearlessly led change management efforts throughout her career. 

Previously, Maria spent 33 years at the American Cancer Society, a top #20 US nonprofit and the leading cancer research nonprofit with an annual $800+M budget, in roles spanning all aspects of nonprofit communication, operations and fundraising. Most recently, as Senior Vice President for Peer to Peer Development, Maria led strategy development, planning and implementation for name brand ACS events like Relay for Life, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a robust gala and golf portfolio and the Raise Your Way DIY platform, as well as championing new digital strategies that support community fundraising. 

Maria lives with her husband Derek in Dallas, Texas, where she has a deep history with the nonprofit community. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Notre Dame School, a special needs Kindergarten through post high school in Dallas, and remains active in the Leadership Dallas Alumni Association. Maria is mom to two adult daughters, Devin and Corrie, and her fur baby, Ozzy. 

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