Fundraiser Report: Using Facebook to raise 5288€

by rannilo 3 min read2nd Apr 20201 comment

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Here’s a Facebook fundraiser report from EA Estonia. This campaign was directly inspired by similar posts on the EA forum [1] and made possible by my abundance of free time and general boredom at the end of 2019.

I brought together members from the EA Estonia group to help me with strategy, marketing (promotional video) and contacting people for donations. Through personal connections, we got a donor on board to match donations up to 2000€ through and another to match the rest.

In total, we managed to raise 2644€ over 11 days, which was matched to 5288€. However, when taking into account tax deductions and counterfactuals, actual money raised is somewhere around 2000€. This is in large part due to both large donors claiming they probably would have donated the money to effective charities anyway.

The biggest success of the campaign was the choice of platform - Facebook. The fundraiser reports I have seen on the forum so far have used CauseVox as their fundraiser platform and used Facebook to promote it [1] [2]. We used Facebook for everything and it seemed to help us gather more donations than we otherwise would have. In fact, more than half of all our donations came from people who saw the fundraiser through Facebook and not by us contacting them directly.

In the future, I would use Facebook to promote my fundraiser even more: give out books to random people who shared the fundraiser, use Facebook ads and urge influential people to share.

Although the campaign was fun to organize and we were quite successful, I am not completely sure how I feel about the impact of these projects. Doing them is definitely good publicity and creates fuzzy feelings for all parties involved. However, it could be argued that there are more effective ways of gathering donations. For instance influencing rich cities’ policy to give out more money for foreign aid [2] or getting in contact with rich individuals through mutual acquaintances (start-up founders, poker players) and introducing them to EA. Also, it would possibly more effective to campaign for people to take the Giving Pledge instead of doing a one time donations.

If the alternative is that the organizers spend their December aimlessly listening to 80k podcasts or getting upset about yet another Make-A-Wish campaign, then I think organizing something like this is worth their time. But it is definitely possible in theory to do something even more productive than a campaign like this.

In any case I can now say to myself that I have played a major role in saving approximately one life from malaria. And that’s pretty cool. :)

If you have any additional thoughts, questions or comments, feel free to get in touch in the comments section or at richard.annilo@gmail.com.

The link to our now finished fundraiser can be found here.

The figures

Facebook campaign for Malaria Consortium organized by EA Estonia.

Preparation began: 4th December 2019.

Campaign began: 20th December 2019.

Campaign ended: 31th December 2019.

Campaign duration: 11 days.

Money raised: 2644€

Money raised (including matching): 5288€

Actual money raised (taking into account the counterfactuals and tax deductions): 2111.04€

Marketing:

  • Video introducing the campaign
  • Got graphics from Malaria Consortium (thanks!)
  • Using “donating smart” as a marketing phrase
  • 4 local EA volunteers writing to their personal acquaintances
  • People contacted: 119
  • Raised amount per person: 8.06€
  • Money raised from directly contacting people: 960€
  • Money raised from people seeing the campaign on Facebook: 1684€

Takeaways (in more detail)

Here are the main things I learned from organizing this campaign.

It’s worth choosing the people you contact. One of our volunteers (Risto) is a Master’s student. His friend group includes many employed people who have the desire to do good. He raised on average 11€ for each person he contacted. Another volunteer (Andri) is an undergraduate student whose friends are also undergraduates. He raised 3.74€ for each person he contacted, which is substantially less than what Risto raised. Therefore, more important than writing to everyone you know, seems to be finding people who have the money to donate (or finding people who know people who have the money to donate). However, it needs to be said that in a fundraiser like this, every cent counts. Even the small donations contributed to the final sum.

It’s worth making the campaign more visible on Facebook. 60% of our donations came from people just seeing the campaign on Facebook. We got a lot of 50€ donations when the campaign was shared by an influential start-up founder in Estonia. That seems like an opportunity we could squeeze more out of. In the future we could award people who share your campaign with prizes (EA-related books), invest in Facebook ads, make influential people share our campaign.

Counterfactuals matter. I did a survey after the campaign to figure out how much people would have donated without our campaign. The results show that 80% of the amount raised on Facebook would not have been donated otherwise (excluding one donation of size 141€). However, when I asked the same question from the two donors who matched our donations, they were fairly confident they would have donated the same amount to equally effective funds. If we say “fairly confident” means 80% likely, that would mean our counterfactual impact is 2111€. This figure is less than twice the total money raised (5288€), which is quite a drastic decrease. In the future we might want to increase this by making people take long term giving pledges.

The calculations

In case you want to check my calculations for the “actual money raised” figure, here’s how I did it. I got the 80% counterfactual impact for individual donations by asking donors whether they would have donated without our campaign and finding that on average 80% would have indeed donated to an equally effective charity.

Total money raised

2526€ through FB.

118€ directly to Malaria Consortium.

2000€ matched funds from Donor 1.

644€ matched funds from Donor 2.

5288€ in total.

Actual money raised

2526 * 0.8 (tax deduction) * 0.8 (counterfactual impact) = 1616.64 (€) through FB.

118 * 0.8 (counterfactual impact) = 94.4 (€) directly to Malaria Consortium

2000 * 0.2 (assuming there was a 20% chance that amount would not have donated otherwise) = 400 (€) from Donor 1

644 * 0 (it is very likely this would have been donated to an equally effective charity without our campaign) = 0€ from Donor 2

2111.04€ in total


Again, if you have any thoughts/questions too long for the comments section, feel free to write to me at richard.annilo@gmail.com.

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