Facebook app developer Causes, which allows non-profits to set up fundraising profiles, is launching two new initiatives today. The first will take the sustained communication about a donation’s impact that charities typically only give to big donors, and bring it to all the app’s donors in the form of rich media emails. Second, Causes has released an updated version of its Facebook Page tab app that now allows any Page to create a custom tab that encourages its fans to donate to a campaign of its choice.
Causes hopes that by bringing the compelling stories of the organizations it hosts to the audiences of all Pages and its own 150 million total users, it will be able to significantly increase the volume of donations it processes and make the app a destination for giving.
Causes has already helped raise $30 million for 27,000 non-profits since its launch in May 2007 when the Facebook Platform opened. There much work to be done, though, so it has now hired 25 employees in hopes of increasing donations and signing on more of the 500,000-plus non-profits in existence. Interviews that Causes has conducted with users indicate that they want more and better communication about the impact of their donations, which the new initiatives aim to provide, the company tells us.
Telling Stories to Increase Donations
The revamped donor communication program sees Causes hand-picking organizations that are producing especially compelling success stories and promoting their goals via email to swaths of its install base, such as those who’ve expressed interest in a related type of non-profit, such as animal rights or civil rights. These sets of users, whether active or ones who made a donation to a similar Cause years ago and haven’t returned, will receive opt-out emails that specify the progress being made and how their donations have or could make an impact. This contrasts with the traditional small donor experience where contributors never hear about the impact of their donation, or only receive a content-less follow up asking for more money.
The program launches today to convey the long-term success of a campaign headed by Not For Sale, an anti-human trafficking organization. The campaign seeks to raise $50,000 to bring food, clothing, shelter, education, and job training to 50 victims of human trafficking in Romania. Causes users that have expressed interest in human rights or international development will receive impact narrative updates about the fight against modern slavery via emails with photos, videos, and stories from NFS’ workers on the ground. There will also be opportunities for two-way communication, allowing donors to request more information about specifics.
Causes Vice President Mat Mahan says “NFS exemplifies the kind of donor experience that we want for all of our nonprofits.” Mahan tells us “We not only want to be on the cutting edge of impact work, but on the cutting edge of donor relations.” He concludes that the initial response to tests of its revamped donor communication program have been positive, with very low unsubscribe rates to the emails and almost no spam reports. He syas NFS will be the “first in a growing pipeline of partners” for the enhanced communication program.
Any Facebook Page Can Now Highlight a Cause
Previously, the Causes Facebook Page tab application just directed users to a Causes profile and let users leave comments. Now the app’s default view includes a description of a Cause and big “Give” and “Share” buttons, allowing it to instantly raise money or increase awareness — the two core goals of most non-profits.
Pages can also design a custom view allowing them to announce that they want to raise ‘x’ amount of money for ‘y’ cause within ‘z’ amount of time and display a donations progress bar. they can specify that a certain level of donations will produce a certain impact, such as “Donate $50 to save one dolphin”.
While non-profits can feature their own projects, Mahan is excited about the potential for traditional businesses and public figures to highlight Causes that are important to them. For instance, Cory Booker, the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey recently helped raise $35,000 for an animal shelter through a Causes tab app on his Page. When current events stir emotional reactions, such as a dog being left in a dumpster in Booker’s case, Mahan tells us he hopes Pages can channel the energy of their fans towards a productive end by installing the Causes app. Mahan says that Causes’ next step may be to improve the quality of its widgets for third-party websites so even those without a Facebook presence can promote Causes they believe in.
Incentivizing the Long Tail of Donors
Despite a major shift of non-profits online, high-quality donor communication is still often reserved for donors who write big checks as if the organizations still had to pay for physical mail shipping costs and phone calls. But with digital devices allowing non-profits to easily produce rich media content that conveys their progress, and by using email as a distribution medium, there is great potential to make all donors feel appreciated for their contributions and keep them engaged so that they donate more in the future. With these updates, Causes is positioning itself to handle this communication and allow third-parties to promote non-profits as well, freeing the organizations to concentrate on best applying donations for the betterment of the world.