When I first read the Washington Post piece titled “To Nonprofits Seeking Cash, Facebook App Isn’t So Green, Though Popular, ‘Causes’ Ineffective for Fundraising,” I got pretty fired up and was ready to blast off a post, but I thought it would be more interesting to hear from you. I polled several online networks (the blog, twitter and linked in), and here’s what you had to say:
“Facebook Causes are great for raising visibility and finding people passionate about your cause/org. It’s also free, so why wouldn’t you?
Also, a lot of organizations have had success using the cause to fundraise with specific drives. You can’t expect ANY fundraising initiative to work without a call to action and sense of urgency. People who think you can just create a cause and have cash come rolling in are seriously misguided. That’s my two cents.”
“It certainly is effective – it just depends on how you’re looking at it -
The Causes application isn’t offering you a magical portal to an untapped fundraising goldmine…and neither is any other online or social media application.”
“All the social networking platforms including Facebook are part of a new social revolution that is initiated from the Internet. This revolution is still in its initial stages, and it is likely to move towards a concept of “instant democracy” where the expressions, choices, and associated impacts are expected to be “instantaneous” and far reaching.
In this context, these platforms and its users are going through an initial exploratory and evolving period, followed by a somewhat “disenchantment” for a while, followed by gradual maturity, leverage, and proliferation.
Looking from bigger perspective, none of these are going to be waste, but from a local perspective of an individual and associated priorities, it can be total waste of time.
- Nataraja (Nats) Upadhya
I use it for a global-type awareness. It is easy to reach my constituency and then it takes old fashioned asking and methods to receive the funds. For example it is easier to tell your friend about the cause and have them pay through Facebook Cause or paypal.”
- Orletta Caldwell
“Some how we (non-profit and for profit organizations) have all been sold on the idea of passive income from the Internet. The internet doesn’t mean less work, It means more efficient work. NO FREE LUNCH!”
- Napoleon C. Birch
“Waste. Everyone adopts the cause because it’s as easy as clicking the mouse, yet I haven’t seen any case studies or analyses illustrating that Facebook Cause pages actually produce action or contributions.
If my client wants a Facebook page, we’ll set it up, but we’ll also manage expectations and point them to other, more effective means of promoting the cause.”
- Kevin Mercuri
So what do I think? I agree with most of you who say that Causes is not a waste. Causes, ESPECIALLY when you’re talking about fundraising, is a tool. When I look at Causes, I am personally more interested in how you can use it and other tools, like the Facebook petition, to raise awareness, rally people around an issue and share information about actions people can take to address the issue. That’s just me.
On the fundraising note, this is a little bit more complicated than “If you build it, they will come.” If you build it, they MAY come, and there’s a CHANCE that they will give, but you have to develop a relationship (between you and them or a least a link between them and the cause) and make the ask. It’s a lot of work, but it’s possible if there’s someone working with you who understands three things:
- How to use social media to connect the two.
In the case of Facebook Causes vs. Washington Post, we the jury find the defendant, Facebook Causes, effective…for those with realistic expectations and an online strategy tailor-made for their organization and supporters.