Tuesday, June 3

Bloggers react to the first year of fundraising numbers from Facebook Causes App

I've been reading several blog postings about the fact that May 30th marked the first anniversary for Facebook's toolkit that enables the development of 3rd party Applications (Apps) that integrate directly with Facebook user data.

The Giving in a Digital World blog provides some interesting statistics on the biggest non-profit Facebook App, ‘Causes’ from Project Agape (now also available on MySpace). The allure to nonprofits is strong since they now have a total of 12 million registered users supporting over 80,000 US and Canadian non-profit organisations.

Over the last 12 months, $2.5 million has been raised through Causes for 19,445 organisations - equating to an average of just $126 per organisation. No donations at all have been made to 75% of the 80,000 organisations being ’supported’.
This leaves blogger Bryan Miller wonders if there is a greater potential. Caroline Preston at the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Give and Take blog also wrote about the underwhelming response to the news from people over at TechCrunch.
Adam Hyman points out on TechCrunch that the $2.5-million total works out to being only $0.21 per user. “How can anyone call this a success?” he asks.
The TechCrunch reaction is likely to shape the industry's reaction to the fundraising news because Michael Arrington published this article at the Washington Post. However, Allan Benamer at the Non-Profit Tech Blog took issue with the idea that the fundraising revenue was low. Benamer reminds readers:
"...the amount is actually greater than the first year revenue for Kiva, GlobalGiving and DonorsChoose COMBINED."
My own personal reaction is that the success of the Causes App should not be judged based on the dollar amount raised. Rather a more important metric should be the number of users who agree to share their name and contact information with their favorite nonprofits through this feature. That's why this is a revolutionary development.

For too many years, nonprofits have settled for the "cash bucket" mentality of fundraising where they failed to see the future value of collecting the names (and contact information) from people who threw donations into a bucket.

I'm happy to see social networking sites recognize that it's not enough just to raise money as a one time donation... the question for me will be whether nonprofit fundraisers figure out how to develop appropriate follow-up strategies to continue engaging this new breed of donor.

1 comment:

Phil Deely said...

I often tell organizations that their annual fund is their 'de facto' research department...if you add up all salaries for development staff it often nets out what's being raised in the annual fund. 'Recency' and 'frequency' of donations are still important measures of success. It's up to the non profit to take an on-line donation and convert it into a relationship.