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Why Most of Your Facebook Followers Aren’t Going to Donate, and It’s Okay

A lot of people follow your nonprofit organization because they believe in your mission. Or they enjoy seeing some good in the world, and your feed delivers. Or they know someone touched by the work that you do, or they’re the aunt of the intern currently managing your profiles. The list goes on…

The thing is, most of these answers don’t put these followers into the “want to give money” bucket. That doesn’t mean we should ignore them, or that there aren’t some latent donors lurking in there somewhere. We can get excited from this large pool of untapped development potential without taking into account that, well, it might not really be that.

Build it, they will come

Some organizations take the strategy that they’ll build the following and then work on monetizing it. It’s the old ‘we’ll build it, they will come’ mentality. But the trick is, it’s much easier to get people to hit a ‘like’ button than to really take an action.

There are strategies for this of course. Promote a small call to action. If we work our way up from the one time share, to the one time $5 donation, to the $10-15 monthly donations – we call that success. A lot of grassroots organizations and political campaigns have done this nicely.

But for many others, it simply doesn’t click. Ask the audience to donate $5 and people are liking the post, but not actually doing the action.

What gives?

It could be a number of things. That audience might not be ready to give. They might not be as invested in your organization’s mission and work. They might not have the means (though often our asks can be low enough to at least partly eliminate). They might be lazy. I know, I know. We’re not supposed to say that but seriously, you were thinking it.

The point is they’re not taking the action. And that’s when we have to ask ourselves, does it matter? The answer, of course, is it depends.

If your organization is on these platforms to bring in donations, and people aren’t donating, then I’m going to go out on a limb to say yep – it matters.

But if you’re on these platforms to communicate with various types of supporters (people who are already donating, partner organizations, volunteers, media outlets, foundations and other types of funders), then the fact that you’re not generating revenue might not matter here. It’s not the strategy you’re pursuing.

That doesn’t prevent us from putting up the occasional donate button or encouraging people to hold a ‘friendraiser’ for their birthday. In fact, those will probably perform better than any direct ask we do on that platform anyway, and that’s awesome.

Many nonprofit organizations find great success with peer-to-peer fundraising. Why? Because people are more likely to take an action (and part with their money) if someone they trust (friends, family, influencers) asks them to. Hearing from a Facebook friend why they like a particular nonprofit legitimizes the organization and can help drive them to donate.

We can enjoy how people naturally interact on these platforms and take advantage of the community nature, rather than try to force something in and frustrate ourselves, our supporters, and those who just want to tap 👍.

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