What’s not to Like about Facebook Likes?

Rather a lot, according to this video by the smart folks over at the YouTube educational science channel Veritasium.

If you’ve got ‘Volume of Likes’ as a KPI for your digital activity but don’t know about the murky world of click farms and the impact they’re having on engagement and organic reach on Facebook, then sit back and invest a few minutes watching their interesting video report.

It’s a really clear explanation of a pretty complex challenge facing digital marketers and fundraisers – and may well change just how much you like your Likes, for ever!

(Hat tip to @harveymckinnon of Harvey McKinnon Associates in Canada for spotting it)



Guess2Give aims to generate new online fundraising income from sponsored events

While I don’t have hard and fast data to prove it I strongly suspect that, after Emergency Appeals, Sponsored Event fundraising is the largest generator of online donations in the UK – with leading sponsorship fundraising site Justgiving recently announcing that its users have passed £1billion in funds raised since it launched 10 years ago. As such, I was particularly interested when I came across Guess2Give, a new fundraising site which is aiming to complement traditional sponsorship sites by adding a £3 per entry sweepstake element to any type of event – with a proportion of the money raised being given to the winner and £2.50 for each entry going to the event organiser’s chosen charity.

Launched in beta last year, and to consumers just this month, the site has already attracted a range of big and small brand charities as well as picking-up a handy financial boost in the shape of a £50k award from NESTA. The heart of its refreshingly distinctive proposition is that far from competing with traditional event sponsorship fundraising it will actually generate additional income from events as supporters fundraising for their chosen charity set-up both a sponsorship fundraising page and a Guess2Give sweepstake fundraising page.

I love the innovative thinking here – such a wonderfully simple fundraising idea and yet no-one seems to have come-up with it before (unless you know better?). However, I’m not so sure about the idea that event participants will set-up two types of fundraising pages and then promote both to their networks of friends and colleagues.

What I suspect might actually happen is that people who have asked their friends for sponsorship before and who like the sweepstake idea will go to Guess2Give so they don’t have to send around yet another sponsorship ask – which could have quite an impact on the amount raised. Assuming that the average sponsorship fundraising page generates around £600 (which doesn’t seem too far off, based on this presentation from Jonathan Waddingham of JustGiving (p8)) then the sweepstake fundraiser needs to secure something like 240 sweepstake guesses to generate the same amount. That’s a lot of friends doing a lot of guessing.

However, on the up-side, new income may well come from people taking part in less challenging and more fun events where a Guess2Give sweepstake is more applicable than traditional sponsorship. For example, one of the site’s promotional videos involves a charity paper plane challenge.

Only time will tell both whether event participants take to the sweepstake idea and whether the innovative approach generates additional funds for the sector or cannibalises traditional sponsorship fundraising by offering a novel but lower value way of raising money. The team at Guess2Give are certainly working hard to get their name out into the public arena – with quite a bit of media coverage related to last weekend’s London Marathon and a spoof face-to-face fundraising promotional video. So, it’s definitely worth keeping track of their progress.

If you think Facebook isn’t for fundraising you should perhaps think again about just what fundraising is

I’m just catching-up on a bit of an email backlog after spending a few days over in Holland at last week’s 30th Annual International Fundraising Congress (a great event with almost 1,000 attendees from over 50 countries taking part), and a headline in one email news bulletin happened to catch my eye…


That’s pretty eyecatching – so I read on to the subhead…

“Facebook is not a useful tool for fundraising but rather should be utilised for donor stewardship and building interest, according to a top Facebook Exec.”

You can read the whole article here (although I note the headline has now been changed following the comments you can read beneath it regarding its misleading nature). In short it’s a summary of the Convention session given by Elmer Sotto (@esotto), Facebook Canada’s ‘Head of Growth’ – which happens to be one of the sessions I attended.

However, I certainly didn’t come away with the message that “Facebook is not for fundraising”.

Perhaps that was because Sotto opened his session with the story of the We Day Facebook campaign which has raised over $350k for the Canadian charity Free The Children since launch just a few weeks ago, by leveraging Corporate donations – $1 is donated for everyone who clicks ‘Like’ on the We Day Facebook page – while also raising awareness of the Charity’s big ‘We Day’ events across Canada.

Or perhaps it’s because over the last year or so I’ve also heard other great Facebook fundraising stories like that of the 93 Dollar Club (now at $112k in just over a year) and reports of Facebook overtaking Google to become the primary driver of donors to the fundraising site JustGiving.

All of which kind of counter the “Facebook is not for fundraising” claim.

Admittedly, Elmer did talk about how Facebook is not primarily a ‘giving mechanism’ (in the way that JustGiving is a ‘giving mechanism’) but essentially a ‘consideration building mechanism’ – raising both awareness and positive consideration of causes as they are promoted through Facebook users’ newsfeeds. This positive consideration then has the potential to be turned into donations if a relevant and engaging giving mechanism is then presented – perhaps a Friend’s JustGiving page, a special interest group’s community fundraising page, or even a corporate funded ‘Like’ campaign as for We Day.

Thinking it through, perhaps it is the challenge of presenting a relevant and engaging giving mechanism that lies behind any concerns over Facebook’s place in the fundraisers toolkit. If someone has come to consider you because of a personal connection with another Facebook Friend but the giving mechanism offered is your standard, one size fits all, generic £3/mth regular gift ask – then I’d imagine the donation rate you’ll see is likely to leave you in the “it’s not for fundraising” camp. However, if you craft your giving mechanism to better fit the word of mouth-style consideration building seen on Facebook, then there is every chance that you’ll find the site has a very useful role to play in your online fundraising programme.

Great turn-out at the Fundraising Ireland 2010 National Conference

I’m just back home after a flying visit over to the Fundraising Ireland 2010 National Conference in Dublin, where I was presenting a session about online community fundraising – the slides from which are available to view above or via Slideshare.

The conference was a sell-out event and the sessions I got to, as well as my own, were characterised by some really great interaction and questions – which reflected the great atmosphere at the whole event. Add to that the best conference lunch I’ve had in ages and the whole thing was a great success. So, many congratulations to the organisers at Fundraising Ireland. They’re a pretty new network for Irish fundraisers, and just announced that they are about to re-vamp their website as an Irish fundraising information portal as well as introduce a membership scheme. Without a doubt, well worth getting involved with them if you’re a fundraiser in Ireland.

One of the topics that was returned to a couple of times in discussions was the lack of useful Ireland-specific research on everything from giving trends to online usage. To help-out with the latter, here are the links to the latest freely available Irish online usage research I’ve been able to find – and which I quoted from in my session:

> Latest report from ComReg (the Irish Commission for Communications Regulation) a bit of a heavy read but does include the latest data on internet access in Ireland – published just this month: download it for free here

> Amarach Research Irish Life Online Report from Feb 2009: downloadable here

> Barry Hand’s blog post on the top Irish websites for Feb 2010: read it here

> Information on facebook user numbers in any country around the world: Checkfacebook.com

If anyone comes across any other recent research into the Irish online market – especially if it relates to social media use – then do let me know.


Wired Magazine praises Cancer Research UK’s MyProjects crowdfunding site

It’s not often that a charity gets a mention in the science and technology magazine Wired, but the forthcoming edition of Wired UK includes a great write-up on Cancer Research UK’s project crowdfunding site MyProjects – heralding it as a ‘radical approach to transparency in charities‘.

To be honest I’m not sure that MyProjects is quite as radical as the article suggests. But it is certainly the best project crowdfunding site that I’ve seen from a medical research charity and it does provide a level of transparency, through project-specific funding, that most other charities still shy away from.

Building on the understanding that many people want to be able to focus their donations on one particular type of cancer, MyProjects lets potential donors choose to support a specific project – with details of the work being undertaken provided through video interviews with the scientists involved. Once you’ve chosen a particular project, you can then set-up a ‘giving group’ through which you can get friends and family involved, with tools provided to help promote fundraising activity and to show progress being made towards the fundraising goal. It’s got a nice clean site design which is easy to navigate and 73 giving groups have already signed-up during the site’s Beta test stage.

All in all, well worth a look if you’re thinking of developing online project crowdfunding for your own organisation.


The 93 Dollar Club – a fantastic example of online donors doing it for themselves

93 Dollar Club

I’ve had a manic few weeks since mid October, mostly related to my starting-up my own Marketing and Fundraising Consultancy (called Strategy Refresh – do take a look when you have a spare moment) with a bit of house moving thrown-in for good measure. All of which means that things have been very quiet on the Giving in a Digital World Front – so apologies for that. Normal service is close to being resumed as I’m starting to get into the swing of working as an independent consultant.

One think I’ve been meaning to post about but have only now had the opportunity to get to was the great response to the presentation Jonathan Waddingham from JustGiving and I gave at the International Fundraising Congress over in Holland last month. It was all about ‘The new breed of digital donor‘ and sparked all sorts of post presentation discussions – both online and offline – which was great. You can see the full presentation in the Slideshare embed below.

One part of the presentation that got a lot of folks interested was the story of the 93 Dollar Club – so I thought it worth repeating that here for anyone who hasn’t come across it before (you can see more about it in the presentation).

The 93 Dollar Club all began back in August this year through a chance meeting and act of personal kindness in a Trader Joes grocery store. Jenni Ware was shopping there when she realised that she had forgotten her purse. Fortunately, next in the line was Carolee Hazard who, on seeing Jenni’s situation, kindly offered to cover her $207 bill. Jenni gratefully accepted and as the two left the store she reassured Carolee that she would mail her a cheque later that day. However, as Carolee drove away she couldn’t help wondering if she would ever actually see her $207 again. Being an active Facebook user, on arriving home she shared the story with her online network of Friends and they started to add to it, reassuring her that she had done a good thing and that it was sure to be repaid.

And so it was – with a check arriving not just for $207 but for $300, including a $93 ‘thank you’ gift. Carolee was surprised by this and at first intended to return the $93. However her Facebook Friends, who were by now an active part of this story, proposed she donate it to a non-profit instead. They even suggested which – the local Second Harvest Food Bank. Carolee liked this idea so much that she decided to match the $93 windfall donation with $93 of her own. Then, as is the way with social networks, her Facebook Friends agreed to follow-suite and by the next morning they had together collected over $1,000.

Encouraged by this, Carolee set-up a Facebook Page – entitled the 93 Dollar Club – and so the story continued, not just on Facebook but being picked-up and given massively greater reach by traditional news media too. Indeed, so much did the story grow that if you take a look at Carolee’s 93 Dollar Club page today you’ll see that the total raised has now gone from $93 to over $23,000 – and they’ve now set themselves a target of $93,000!

Do take a moment to visit the 93 Dollar Club Facebook page. On it you’ll see contributions from an incredibly vibrant community of donors, sharing ideas for fundraising and plans to expand the whole 93 Dollar Club concept to help achieve their great $93,000 target. A true community, focused on fundraising yet entirely inspired and organised by the donors themselves – a fantastic example of just what the new breed of digital donors can achieve when they get to grips with doing it for themselves.



Second International Twitter Fundraising Festival coming-up in September

Twestival Local

On the back of the phenomenal growth in usage of the Twitter microblogging service, there has been much discussion over the last year about the potential for its use by charities and other non-profits for both supporter communications and fundraising.

The case for using it as an addition to your online supporter communications now seems pretty clear – if your supporters are users of the service and you have someone available in your organisation who can manage your day-to-day Twitter communications (monitoring tweets relating to you and fielding the inevitable questions that will start to come through if people actively engage with your Twitter feed).

Quite how best to raise money direct from Twitter is less clear at present. Micro-transaction initiatives like Twollars are interesting but have not, as far as I know, yet started to deliver significant income for anyone, and few organisations are as yet showing real income coming from other Twitter-specific testing.

However, where it certainly is proving itself as having a fundraising role is when used to bring people who are usually only connected online together offline for a ‘real world’ fundraising event – known in Twitter parlance as a Twestival.

The first ever Twestival – entitled Harvest Twestival – was organised in September 2008 by a group of Twitter users here in London and set the form for future events – being organised entirely by volunteers, in a very short timescale, using Twitter as the primary communication and co-ordination mechanism. Originally intended for 30-40 people, their event ended-up attracting 250 and raised money for a central London homeless charity called The Connection.

After such a great start, the first Global Twestival was held in February this year with people from over 200 cities worldwide taking part and raising some $250,000 for charity:water.

Building on this success, a second international Twestival is taking place next month – from 10th through 13th September. But this time, rather than all events around the world focusing on a single charity, it is being described as Twestival Local with groups of volunteers voting for the charity they would like their local city’s event to raise money for. There’s a Google Maps mashup on the site showing all of the registered city Twestivals and their chosen charites – with the London Twestival raising money for the children’s charity Childline.

London Twestival

This is a fantastic example of online community fundraising in action – with freely available social media tools being used by groups of volunteers to run events on behalf of specific charities that they select as being most worthy of the resulting funds. No involvement from community fundraisers employed by specific charities. Just Web 2.0 empowered volunteers doing it for themselves, in the way that works best for them, and with all money raised going to their chosen charity.

So, do take a visit to the Twestival Local site; see where your local Twestival is taking place next month; and have a think about what this type of Community Fundraising 2.0 initiative might mean for the future of fundraising as it continues to grow in popularity.