Here’s some Monopoly, er . . . Facebook Money. Don’t Mention It.
I’ve written before about how important it is that non profits stick to promoting their mission above all else when raising funds, promoting awareness, educating constituents, and so forth. A knowledgeable, supportive donor base is built from cultivation, not sensational tactics or quick fixes.
Social media has a wonderful, essential place at the table in achieving this: Never before have we been able to converse with our supporters in so many ways, receive feedback so immediately, and respond so quickly to the feedback, the market and current events in general. These are truly fabulous tools to have at our disposal!
With every new device, though, we also inevitably see more people looking to scheme, connive, deceive and generally get something for nothing – or at least minimal effort on their part. For example, aside from the online ads that users see, people are creating such things as quizzes, apps, posts and tweets to target others en masse. These are today’s spammers, and they can be seen trolling such places as freelance job sites, looking for workers. I’d classify Facebook Credits in the wanting something for nothing category. (The non profit does all of the heavy lifting, while Facebook takes their standard 30% cut of the donation.)
Because Facebook is announcing a new way to purchase their credits (via a gift card at Target), they are also promoting their generosity in waiving their typical fee with all donated credits going to Stand Up For Cancer, as is plainly stated on their Facebook page. However, this publicity stunt can be seen for what it is, when Nothing But Nets is profiled by Facebook Credits the previous month . . . and no such statement can be seen about 100% of their gifts going to the organization.
All fund raisers have a limited amount of time, energy and budgets. Among the X amount of contacts I will make with a donor, I’ll ask for a gift during Y percentage of those times. While there are good examples of combining social media and solicitations, I’m not going to spend one of those Y asks on software points! Spend virtual money instead of real money?!?! I don’t think so!
Credits normally redeem at a $0.10 to 1 credit rate, but certain payment methods sometimes extract a larger fee that reduces what users get. This is reminiscent of when people were asked to collect the tops off of soda cans to buy ____, instead of donating money to buy the item! Which would you rather collect?
I’ll Take One of Everything
Consider another avenue of solicitation for a moment: Direct Mail. Many organizations have purchased or swapped lists from list brokers or other organizations. What’s the best way to do this? There are certainly thousands or millions of names and addresses to be purchased – easily, in fact. Emails, too – and phone numbers. Adding to your list simply to have a large list is pointless, however.
If you are able to find a list of like-minded individuals with a tendency and/or history of supporting similar organizations, you’ve made a good buy (or swap). Otherwise, you’ve merely cluttered your database with data. You can also further refine and target your database with such tools as wealth screening before and careful tracking after. The same principles apply to social media.
Who Wants To Play A Game?
Of course, Facebook Credits were born out of the popularity of their online games, and the idea that people could “donate” some of these credits just sitting in their “virtual banks.” If the circumstances are right, the right corporate sponsor can be beneficial, certainly, and it’s clear that the gaming industry has a much wider market penetration than ever imagined previously. However, Facebook has never shown itself to be philanthropic.
In August 2009, it was announced that Facebook Credits would be offered to four non profit test partners: World Wildlife Fund, Kiva, Project Red and Tom’s Shoes, trumpeting the news that this would open the doors for non profits to expand into this realm.
A year later, not one of these four has Facebook Credits available on their Facebook pages.
Nothing But Nets, which is currently paying the 30% rate, actually does have an online game – but it’s available on their site, instead of their Facebook Page. It would seem that once organizations give Facebook’s various donation apps a try, they wisely conclude that control of their messaging – and driving traffic to their site is most successful.
Fans For Sale, Cheap
With Facebook in particular, we half a billion users are bought and sold again and again in more ways than most people realize.
Since I work in a marketing field, I anticipated this somewhat, refusing to give Facebook much demographic information at all, and actually tried to mislead them whenever possible. I entered my grandmother’s birthday when DOB was required: 1903. Facebook responded, “Enter your real birthday.” Hmph. Well, I yielded on that, but not much else.
Whenever I go to a friend’s wall to wish them a happy birthday, Facebook already knows why I am there and defaults with a larger “wall window,” offering me a plethora of items I can purchase, to go along with my birthday message. (No thanks.)
Friends of mine – women in particular – lament that their ads are irritatingly stereotypical. If they are single, they are bombarded with various dating service ads. Engaged? Wedding planners and bridal boutiques. Married? Clearly, you’re trying to get pregnant, then. And on it goes. One thing is consistent for all women, however: You desperately need to lose weight!
What Message Do You Want To Send?
When your organization allows most transactions to take place on another site such as Facebook, not only are you giving up contact information and the ability to further cultivate that relationship, but you are also relinquishing all control over the messaging about why someone should contribute, what happens to the gift, and so on.
Mark Zuckerberg has stated outright on several occasions that he doesn’t really see the need for privacy any longer. The platform that your constituents spend the most time on wields the impression that will stay with them the longest when they think of you.
Social media can be a powerful means, but your message about your mission should be the end.
Keep the base of the pyramid strong