Tag Archives: Facebook Causes

Fundraising Envy

TheNew York Times’ article Utilities Turn Their Customers Green With Envy provides a few good pointers for social network fundraising, even though the article is about utility bills. The Sacramento, California utility company created a pilot program that issued personalized bills to some customers, using “smiley faces” and “frowny faces” on the utility statements in order to illustrate how a customer’s electricity consumption compares with his/her neighbors’ consumption. Those who received comparative, personalized statements cut their energy efficiency by 2% more than those who did not receive smiley or frowny faces.

The article article also cited an experiment conducted by social psychologist Robert Cialdini, of Arizona State University, and another colleague that illustrates the effect of peer pressure.  “…(Cialdini) and a colleague left different messages on doorknobs in a middle-class neighborhood north of San Diego. One type urged the residents to conserve energy to save the earth for future generations; another emphasized financial savings. But the only kind of message to have any significant effect, Dr. Cialdini said, was one that said neighbors had already taken steps to curb their energy use.”

Social network fundraising should include competition to reap higher rewards.

image courtesy of Cambodia4kids

image courtesy of Cambodia4kids

The concept of social network fundraising is leveraging one’s own social network to raise funds. Facebook and MySpace are two online social networks that have figured out that leveraging one’s peer network for good is good business…and raises funds. They utilize the concept of “people to people fundraising” — raising money from people you know, rewarding them and making it fun. Beth Kanter posted a summary of the concept in her post here, and be sure to read the comments which offer further amplification of the concept.

How can we leverage our networks to raise funds the most efficiently?  Think about what the municipality of Sacramento learned:

  • People react (and change behavior!) based on how they compare with their neighbors/friends.
  • People compete to be as good as their neighbors/friends, as long as the comparative results are public.

There are many great examples of organizations utilizing Facebook Causes, Chipin and other online donation programs and widgets which incorporate the two points. For example, the Facebook Causes application allows network friends to view who else has donated, what amount, and how close the network is to reaching the entire fundraising goal. Joe Green, founder of Facebook Causes says “Facebook and other social networking sites mimic existing relationships, making users feel more pressure to get involved.” (Beth Kanter’s Five Things I Discovered About Facebook Birthday Cause highlights all the best features of the Birthday Cause application.)

Can we quantify what difference the “public” aspect of people to people, or network, fundraising makes compared to non-disclosed givers and amounts? I’d love to hear of further pilot studies using online giving where one group knows how much its peers/network friends are giving and the other does not.

My bet? Peer pressure is just that, and it makes a big difference.

Further reading:

Online fundraising widgets at We Are Media and a toolkit for getting started linked here.

Social micro-fundraising tools: screen shots and compilation on Mashable.

Wild Apricot also compiled a List of Online Fundraising Tools to consider, many of which are peer-to-peer based tools.

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