Few charities have successfully used Facebook to raise funds, delegates at the International Fundraising Congress have been told.
Nick Allen, founder of the digital agency Donordigital, told delegates at the fundraising conference in the Netherlands that charities found it challenging to raise money on social networking sites such as Facebook.
"I think as fundraisers we want to use these tools to raise money, but sometimes they are more useful for donor cultivation," he said. "There are very few fundraising success stories on Facebook."
He presented figures from a recent study by the software services firm Blackbaud, which asked not-for-profit organisations in the US which fundraising channels they used. More than half – 52 per cent – said they did not use Facebook.
Thirty-five per cent said they had raised less than $1,000 on Facebook, and only 0.4 per cent said they had raised more than $100,000 on it.
Roland Csaki, a member of WWF International’s fundraising development department, who was also speaking at the session, said one of the problems was the lack of an inbuilt payment method on Facebook. This meant charities had to take people to another web page, such as their own website, to get donations.
"Just having a big Facebook fan base means nothing," he said. ‘You have to build a strategy to drive them to your site."
But Allen said that Facebook was an "ever-evolving ecology" and he thought it would be in the site’s interests to introduce an economic element to people’s experience of it, in addition to the social element.
"I think eventually investment in Facebook will pay off," he said.