Maximising online donations with Facebook fundraisers

Facebook fundraisers

Are you looking for a new way to increase revenue for your charity? Have you thought about Facebook Fundraisers? In this blog, I’ll share how we’re working with our clients to deliver pilot Facebook fundraiser projects. From registrants in Facebook groups increasing by 53%, to doubling the amount raised per participant, I’ll take you through what we have learnt, and how we are applying these learnings to continue fundraising success.


Since Facebook is only 15 years old, it’s no surprise that its rapid evolution into a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information has faced some problems. The power of its algorithms to serve each user more of what they like has, to date, made it a poor platform to deliver accurate and balanced news reporting. However, these same powerful algorithms are what make it so good at connecting families, friends and groups of like-minded people. Want to find others who are interested in triathlons, board games or flower arranging? Facebook’s the place to do it all.

No more so than during the spring of 2021, when a world largely locked down started to spend more and more time online. The Covid-19 pandemic was the push that made all types and generations of people finally start using video calls and social media. The spring of 2021 also marked a clear shift towards Facebook for charity events and fundraising.

Harnessing the power of Facebook

GivePanel is a fundraising platform that makes the most of Facebook’s charitable giving tools by letting charities thank their fundraisers, collect contact details and track results via a dashboard. Manifesto has been working alongside GivePanel to create the strategies and campaigns best suited for each charity, using GivePanel’s Facebook-centric donation funnel. 

While the process centres around a Facebook group created for each fundraising campaign, the donation funnel begins with the adverts which target audiences likely to rise to the challenge. Potential fundraisers are attracted by an event-related incentive such as a water bottle or t-shirt, which can only be accessed after they complete the Facebook lead generation form. This directs them to the specific challenge group, at which point they can sign up for the swag, set up their personal fundraiser page and become an active member by starting to share their fundraising news with friends and family.

While automated promotion and marketing emails are part of each campaign, they are kept at a level where the fundraiser feels encouraged rather than spammed. Similarly, post-conversion remarketing via Facebook advertising gently encourages those who have signed up for the challenge but not gone down the full route of joining the Facebook group and becoming an active campaigner.

Fundraising during the pandemic

In the first year, Manifesto has delivered Facebook Fundraiser pilot projects for the charities Fauna & Flora International and NHS Charities Together, as well as two different campaigns for Diabetes UK. In every case, the campaign covered its cost while generating revenue. For Diabetes UK, the first campaign acted as such a good learning process that the second was even more successful.

Between the two Diabetes UK campaigns, the number of registrants in the Facebook group increased by 53%, the number who then became active on their fundraising page increased by 11% and the average amount raised per person doubled. This meant that both campaigns raised over £100k within a month, with fewer but far more active individuals in the second campaign. 

This uptick in individual activity was fuelled by providing better signposting and more information within the Facebook group. People might be turned off by what they see as aggressive marketing pushes but it turns out that they love receiving information about where the money raised is going and reading good news stories.

Putting experience into practice

2021 has been a fascinating and rewarding start to Manifesto’s relationship with GivePanel that’s given us a lot of experience on how to do it even better. There have been challenges, of course, with the incentive proving to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the promise of free merchandise is a clear, strong driver that brings many people into the donation funnel. On the other hand, ensuring that a proportional amount of people go on to become active fundraisers is vital for the overall return on investment. With 63% of one campaign’s total costs going on fulfilling the t-shirt incentive, creating solutions to reduce these costs for future challenges is something we’re working towards.

What else have we learned…?

Well, that audiences respond really well to images of real people within the actual organisation genuinely doing the things each campaign is talking about. Stock photographs of perfect, smiling models? Not so much.

That putting more money into the initial ad campaign to reach more people via Facebook results in a greater fundraising revenue. In this case, bigger really is better! 

Lastly, that tech solutions that automate parts of the donation funnel also work. Anything that frees us workers to concentrate on the high value work of reaching individuals, or that makes the fundraising process more seamless for everyone, helps to create a smoother, more efficient and therefore more profitable campaign.

Finally, I’ll leave you with what our clients think:

“There were some significant learnings to take away from the 2 Facebook Fundraisers that we undertook in 2021. With Manifesto’s support, we were able to implement these changes within a relatively short timescale. It was a steep learning curve but we were very pleased with the outcome. We now feel that we have the tools at our disposal to recruit more engaged supporters to the cause and crucially to encourage them to raise more money!” Matt Lawley, Project Manager, Diabetes UK

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