Hey non-profits, is Facebook your next fundraiser?

Picture 1 If you've been on Facebook for any length of time, you know that causes run rampant there.  You can join non-profit pages, you can play games that benefit non-profits, you can declare your allegiance to a cause.  You name it, you can probably do it.

Most non-profits, if they're there at all, are stumbling around, trying to figure out how to best use the space.  But some have really got it figured out.

Over 6 million Facebook users send each other virtual plants/flowers for their (lil) green patch.  And they're told that every time they do, they're saving bits of the Rain Forest.   But what does that really mean?

How about over $109,000?

That's how much The Nature Conservancy has earned from people passing pansies.  (Say that 5 times fast!).  And they didn't even develop the actual application.

Toby Bloomberg has an eye-opening interview with the Digital Membership Manager of The Nature Conservancy that should be must reading for non-profits looking for a fresh fund-raising idea.

If you're a non-profit or involved with helping one — how are you using Facebook to date?  How COULD you be using it?

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9 comments on “Hey non-profits, is Facebook your next fundraiser?

  1. Jason Kiesau says:


    Great post. Have you considered or do you know of any resources that provide a once over on how Facebook can benefit businesses in general?

  2. John Haydon says:


    Excellent post. The interesting thing about the The Nature Conservancy is that each person donated only a couple of dollars. But, the viral nature of their cause added up exponentially.

    This online connections of our friends is what makes social media such a powerful tool for non-profits.


  3. Jason,

    There are several excellent books on the topic and even more books that touch on Facebook but don’t devote the entire book to it.

    Check out Jason Alba’s book. Or Steve Holzner. They both wrote entire books on the subject.

    The reality is….it’s all still a big experiment. Many of us have had success with Facebook for our business clients. But, there’s no definitive answer yet, in my opinion.

    The good news for that is it’s still easy and inexpensive to experiment.


  4. John,

    Another interesting aspect is if you had sent a direct mail or e-mail solicitation to those same people, most of them probably would not have made a donation.

    That’s something we really need to keep in mind. Consumers today, more than ever before, react out of their own motivations.

    But what social media networks like Facebook do is leverage the peer pressure/word of mouth aspect of human nature to help us influence those motivations.


  5. Amy Jussel says:

    Ironically, FB is teaming with Network for Good this spring to do a nonprofit charity drive and http://www.ShapingYouth.org will be one of the 20 orgs featured as a focal point! (finally, a way to get some cashflow, fingers crossed)

    Also, I agree with the comments above on the ‘less is more’ scalability and can point to the Sweet Relief example of the .99 SMS donations at a rock concert fueling up the coffers for retired musicians, etc.—A buck is doable; and scalable…and when multiplied by many it can keep little guys like me goin’! Also, along these lines:

    Britt just wrote a great post about the $1.99 iphone apps for nonprofits too: http://havefundogood.blogspot.com/2009/01/iphone-apps-for-nonprofits.html

    I love the idea of getting a collaborative group together to pay it forward for social change with micro funding momentum, so am REALLY hoping we can ‘make this happen’ come March 1st.

    I’ll fill you & Gavin in on what I’m up to w/Shaping Youth via email to see if there’s an AOC2 angle to ‘do good’ as a two-fer with this opp, so do ping me offline to run some ideas by you guys, ‘k?

  6. Amy,

    I’m anxious to hear more about all of this. maybe there’s a way to get some WOM going around the marketing blog community and give it a boost.

    Let’s talk off line sometime soon, eh?


  7. Amy Jussel says:

    Sounds good. I’m still Skype-less until my main system is returned; on a loaner. But the ol’ phone works too…Back atcha next week. Amy

  8. Toby says:

    Drew – thanks for the kind shout out. In addition to the huge success of TNC Facebook app what was interesting to me was TNC was approached by a developer – they didn’t initiate the strategy. Great example of how doing good can do good for more than the non profit. I have to think the development firm has gotten lots of mileage out of this one.

  9. Toby,

    I agree — and I think the other message in this story is that non profits shouldn’t be afraid to look for partners, rather than trying to develop or buy the expertise.


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