Updated: Aug 31, 2019
In 2018 I hosted several fundraisers on Facebook, but it wasn't until I created a fundraiser for Save a Gato that I really saw the process from every angle - from going through the quick and easy steps on my phone, to seeing the actual distribution list e-mailed to the organization. Facebook makes it so easy. Everything is right in front of you in the days (weeks?) leading up to your birthday, you click a button, select an organization, choose the amount you would like to raise, and you're done. You don't even have to write a description because they do that for you too.
If it's not your birthday you simply click Support non-profit, choose the organization from their pre-filled list or type your own, and click Share. You don't even have to enter an amount or a description and the fundraiser is posted for all of your friends and family to ignore.
Because I'm often asked for help or tips in creating online fundraisers, I'm going to share what I do in order to be as successful as possible.
You must actually care about the organization for which you wish to raise money. If you don't, it will show.
Do not use the standard template Facebook provides. If you use the standard description Facebook automatically enters, I can promise that I (and most people) will skip right over it. If you don't care, why should I?
Make it personal. Why is this fundraiser important to you or your family? Why do you have a desire to raise money for them?
Talk about what the organization does with the money raised. Be specific and don't hesitate to pull information from the organization's web site. They already know how donations affect their day-to-day. Use it.
What are you contributing? Have you volunteered your time to the organization? Have you donated money yourself or are you expecting your friends and family to raise all of the money? Be involved.
Thank those who donate when they donate. A lot of folks will say to you "I don't need to be thanked for doing a good thing." Or, "Etiquette dictates you shouldn't want to be thanked for being charitable." Bullshit. People want to be acknowledged for the good they do - and they should be - so thank them publicly on the donation page regardless of the amount. Every little bit helps and if someone contributes you should show your appreciation.
Post updates. If reaching a certain amount of money means the organization can do x, y, and z, tell people about it. Let them know a milestone was reached and then provide the next goal. I've been known to donate to the same fundraiser more than once because of this.
If you have friends and family who donate to your fundraiser, be sure to donate back when they host one. You know as well as I do there are a lot of Petty Bettys. If you've never donated to mine, I probably won't donate to yours unless I need a tax break or it's an organization I really care about myself. If you support me, I'm going to support you.
Reach out to the organization to let them know you're raising money for them. In a lot of cases, the people working there can and will provide you with even more information than their web site. They can make it more personal and in turn, provide you with a deeper understanding of what donations mean.
Don't be afraid to utilize the tax aspect of donations. Donating to a non-profit does have the benefit of being tax deductible, so a lot of people save their receipts and use them for their taxes. Remind people of this. Even if the reason they are donating is because they want a write-off, it still contributes to your overall goal of helping an organization you care about.
When it's over, be sure to thank everyone again, provide a tally, and list the things to which the money will contribute. People want to know how their donation has helped. The more specific, the better.
Most people believe that only GoFundMe keeps a percentage of the money raised. That's not true - Network for Good does as well. This is the organization that handles these fundraisers. For Save a Gato, my goal was $500. The final amount was $1,620, plus $60 in cash people had given me before I went to Puerto Rico to visit the facility.
It took just over a month for the money to be deposited in their account, and the final amount they received was $1,211.50. I was shocked, but then realized that this is indeed the best way to go for the following reasons:
People directly receive their receipt for tax purposes.
It's less of a percentage taken than GoFundMe.
Using your own PayPal or Venmo account to collect money can be sketchy and a lot of people will not trust it - or you.
Not everyone has a PayPal or Venmo account.
If donators want a receipt, you will have to obtain individual receipts from the organization directly to give to each person who requests one. This is a pain in the ass not only for you, but for the organization. Their time can be better spent.
I hope this helps those of you who want to take advantage of the simplicity of hosting a Facebook fundraiser, and I hope I've provided some tips that will help your next one be successful. If you have any tips or experiences you would like to share, please do!