This article was originally published on Nonprofit PRO

Reading through different nonprofit blogs, articles, and newsletters, you’ll likely come across something about fundraising on Facebook or Amazon. The corporate philanthropy efforts of Amazon Smile and Facebook Fundraising have certainly made a splash in the nonprofit world, but how effective are these fundraising tools for nonprofit organizations?

With all the mixed reviews out there, it’s difficult to know what the right move is for your organization. That’s why we’ve compiled all of the important information in this article. We’ll analyze the negatives and positives of various aspects of fundraising through the third-party companies, Facebook and Amazon. We’ll cover the fundraising topics of:

  1. Donation Amounts
  2. Campaign Effects
  3. Public Perception
  4. Who Comes Out On Top?

After a thorough analysis, we’ll give you our verdict on this controversial topic. From there, your nonprofit should be armed with the information it needs to make an informed decision about whether or not Facebook and Amazon fundraising should be a part of your fundraising strategy.

1. Donation Amounts

Benefits

One of the biggest benefits you’ll probably read about regarding Facebook and Amazon donations is the massive number of donations that go through the platforms. These numbers make it incredibly tempting to jump on board and start fundraising using this method.

In fact, the Raices Facebook Fundraiser has raised over $20 million from over 530,000 donors. These numbers give promising indication about the potential and reach of social media.

Most nonprofits already use social media to expand their supporter pool, get their brand name out there, and even market events. It makes sense to take this platform a step further and begin collecting donations right away when you make these connections.

Drawbacks

One of the major aspects missing from Facebook and Amazon fundraising is the personal touch it takes to develop a relationship and land a larger donation. The well-known 80-20 rule explains that 80% of the donations made to nonprofits comes from 20% of the supporter base through mid-level to large-scale donations. These donations are not submitted online through these types of platforms.

The donations made on these third-party platforms are a result of an impulsive desire to do a good deed. Due to the nature of these impulses, these donations are more likely to be smaller in size, comprising a part of that remaining 20% of nonprofit funding. Although this is not a bad thing, it should not be a major fundraising priority for nonprofits.

Too many nonprofit organizations have focused so much of their attention on platforms, such as Facebook and Amazon, that they allow their other (more prosperous) fundraising efforts to slack. For instance, in order to see an ROI for registering with Amazon Smile, the nonprofit is required to constantly market the opportunity to their supporters.

Not only are these donations small, but they also don’t offer potential to become any bigger. Because donor information is collected by a third-party platform, it does not flow into your CRM. Therefore, you cannot reach back out to donors to build a relationship. These relationships are what convert to major donations down the line.

2. Effects on Fundraising Campaigns

Benefits

Fundraising on Facebook and Amazon can give your current campaign the little push it needs to cross your desired fundraising threshold. While the hard work is generally completed in the other phases of your campaign, that little bit of additional revenue from a broad audience on a social media or shopping platform can push your campaign to meet your current target.

Impulse donations, as discussed briefly in the last sections, require a lot less thought from your supporters. Facebook donations provide quick satisfaction for your donors who feel good about contributing to a noble cause.

On Amazon, it’s easy for donors to simply give through Amazon Smile rather than simply using Amazon. The ease of this giving method makes it a simple way to get the additional push you may need for a fundraising campaign. Facebook and Amazon donations can be incredibly helpful when it comes to short-term thinking for your fundraising strategy.

Drawbacks

While Facebook and Amazon can give your current fundraising campaign the final push you need to meet your goals, it can actually hurt your future fundraising campaign efforts.

When donors give on your nonprofit’s online fundraising page, that fundraising page directs their important demographic, contact and donation information directly into your CRM. From there, you can conduct prospect research on your donor and reach back out to them with future engagement opportunities and repeat donations.

Access to important information regarding your donors helps you build relationships  and retain their support. Donor retention is already a challenge for many nonprofit organizations. But building a strong foundation with existing donors is how you come up with prospects for major fundraising efforts in the future, such as an upcoming capital campaign.

In the short term, the extra boost from Facebook and Amazon for your fundraising campaign may help you reach your goal. However, in the long-term, these donors are lost due to the lack of information collection available to your organization on these platforms.

3. Public Perception

Benefits

As stated earlier, marketing your nonprofit using social media is likely already a part of your nonprofit’s strategy. Traditionally, these marketing efforts are used to link your supporters directly to your website to learn more about your organization and eventually donate.

Fundraising directly from these social media pages takes a step out of this conversion strategy. Instead of leading people to your website through a link in order to give, directly asking for donations within the same platform increases the chances that an interested person will go through the entire donation process.

In addition, when someone begins a donation on Facebook, but for some reason or another leaves, Facebook recognizes the shopping cart abandonment. The platform will then remind the almost-donor about their missed opportunity in hopes of getting them to return to the gift.

While Amazon Smile does not offer a service like this, registering with them can help verify the legitimacy of your nonprofit to more hesitant donors. The unfortunate fact is there are so many scam networks online, it can be difficult to recognize which organizations are truly helpful and which are a scam. When someone sees that a nonprofit has been verified by Amazon, it will boost their confidence in the authority of that organization.

Drawbacks

If you’ve read at all about the pros and cons with Amazon and Facebook fundraising, you’ve probably also read about the scandals and breaches these companies face.

Facebook has had an especially difficult time recently concerning the use of user data. When donors give through Facebook’s platform, they provide valuable payment information to the site in addition to the personal information already stored from their profiles. It could prove to be an ethical dilemma for your organization to be affiliated with perceived security risks related to these breeches of information.

Similarly, Amazon has a history of improper treatment of employees and responsibility regarding their corporate taxes. While this may not bother some organizations, it is something to keep in mind before you begin working with them. Registering for Amazon Smile provides free advertising to Amazon. If you’re uncomfortable being perceived as supporting the organization, their platform may not be the best fundraising method for you.

4. Who Comes Out On Top?

Benefits

One of the major benefits that nonprofits see from working with platforms like Amazon and Facebook is the popularity of these sites. Facebook remains the most popular social media site by far with three in five adults having an account. Similarly, Amazon is the leading online store in the United States with about $178 billion in sales in 2017.

This popularity factor is especially important when we consider a young adult audience. Nonprofit organizations everywhere are scurrying to try to capture the attention of younger audiences, and considering the popularity of these sites, this seems like the way to do it.

By fundraising on Facebook, your nonprofit is spreading its name on a site that has already captured the attention of these young audiences. In addition, Amazon Smile provides an organic marketing excuse to nonprofit organizations. It creates a valid and simple call-to-action for supporters.

Drawbacks

Despite these compelling benefits, Amazon and Facebook are truly the ones who come out on top when it comes to their approach to nonprofit fundraising. While we would love to believe their platform for fundraising has the sole motivation of assisting nonprofits like yours, it is difficult to come to this conclusion when the platform receives the majority of the benefit.

With all of the negative media attention that Facebook has received in recent years, positive attention about fundraising and helping others is especially helpful in boosting their reputation. Nonprofits may experience drawbacks such as the lack of saved information about donors, a lack of major donations, and others; but Facebook only stands to gain from nonprofits using their platform.

As mentioned briefly in the last section, Amazon benefits from additional marketing attention through their nonprofits registered on Amazon Smile. These nonprofits are encouraging people to purchase using Amazon so that they can receive the donation from the purchase. Therefore Amazon receives the free marketing material as well as the same reputation boost that Facebook receives.

With so many donation tools geared toward the use of nonprofits, don’t make the mistake of thinking that popular sites such as Facebook and Amazon are your only options. Double the Donation lists some top online donation tools that can also be used to expand your online presence.

Our Verdict

As nonprofit consultants working with mid-sized to large nonprofit organizations, we recommend steering clear of fundraising through Amazon or Facebook. While the numbers may seem great at first, taking a closer look at the drawbacks to such fundraising techniques shows that these benefits may not be worth the disadvantages.

If you want to know more about crafting an effective strategy for your nonprofit, try consulting a professional. Aly Sterling Philathropy’s guide to hiring a fundraising consultant can help you find a professional to help guide your organization in the right direction. Then, you can boost your fundraising strategy in a sustainable way that best meets the unique needs of your organization.

Aly Sterling Philanthropy
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