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How Facebook Can Help Nonprofits Raise Money And Awareness


PKDFoundation650Like most nonprofits, the PKD Foundation aims to raise awareness of the issue it seeks to solve. Greater awareness leads to greater interest from scientists, politicians, and potential donors in working for a cure.

Polycystic kidney disease — a condition that has no cure — is one of the world’s most common life-threatening genetic diseases, affecting thousands in America and millions worldwide, although few people have heard of it. Working with BLiNQ Media, the PKD Foundation held a social media campaign that resulted in raising that awareness very effectively. The campaign increased interaction with foundation content by 439 percent, with total reach — the number of people exposed to our message — skyrocketing by 1,158 percent.

BLiNQ promoted the PKD Foundation’s Facebook campaign throughout March — National Kidney Month — pushing daily page posts to our existing fan base, friends of fans, and people who had expressed interest in kidney issues. BLiNQ also used its proprietary algorithm to find other people who seemed likely to engage with the PKD Foundation’s message. Because of this, our circle of influence increased, and we reached new people with our message.

The campaign resulted in 16,000 clicks on PKD promoted posts, and more than 14,000 engagement actions with PKD Foundation content. The response was remarkable. While the average click-through rate for mobile Facebook ads is no more than 1.6 percent, depending on who’s measuring, our campaign’s average CTR was 5.1 percent.

Facebook serves ads to the placements that are giving the best results. In this case, almost all of the impressions were served on mobile, because mobile impressions were yielding a higher CTR. In fact, mobile engagement made up more than 95 percent of total engagement actions.

Moreover, the campaign generated a high number of shares per post. A typical campaign might inspire shares of 5 percent of all engagement actions. This campaign, though, resulted in shares of 12 percent of engagement actions. Sharing is one of the most vital social media actions. It spreads content widely and quickly. Sharing both demonstrates and increases interest in PKD from those who may want to learn more, volunteer, or donate. So we were thrilled that BLiNQ was able to help increase sharing so dramatically.

Our most successful post came from singer Sara Mann, who lost her infant son in 2011 to Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease. Her emotional story promoting the sale of her CD, Lullabies (with all proceeds going to the PKD Foundation), received a CTR of nearly 7 percent — five times the expected CTR for mobile ads on Facebook.

Other highlights from the campaign:

  • The PKD Foundation had 32,220 visits to its website in March, up from 21,363 in February.
  • The foundation received 238 online donations in March compared with 125 in February — an increase of 90 percent. Of these donations, seven came directly from Facebook, which is the most we’ve ever had from the social network.
  • We received 311 requests to be added to our email list, versus 76 in February — an increase of 309 percent.
  • The foundation received $ 540 from our text-to-donate challenge, nearly doubling our goal of $ 310.

Moreover, the March campaign continued to pay dividends long after it ended. From the beginning of March through mid-October, the foundation gained 2,967 Facebook followers, taking us from 11,379 to 14,346.

The followers and exposure the March campaign garnered helped make National PKD Awareness Day Sept. 4 a huge success. On Sept. 4, our posts received 3,600 likes, and one of our posts earned more than 1,000 comments. We know that the March campaign played a big role in raising those numbers far beyond what we had experienced before.

BLiNQ CEO Luis Caballero said:

Every day, we use Facebook to serve commerce to the best of our ability. We certainly enjoy doing that, but it’s also terrific to use our expertise effectively to raise awareness and money for a social good.

Nonprofit organizations like ours lack the resources to initiate broad public-relations campaigns. BLiNQ’s social media initiative gave us something different: a cost-effective means of targeting our message to those most likely to be receptive to it. Effective Facebook targeting offers nonprofits a way to amplify the power of individual stories and strong content and turn them into viral engagement. Combining BLiNQ’s promotion capabilities and algorithm with the foundation’s engaging and relevant posts was a highly effective approach that resulted in much greater outcomes than we expected.

The interest generated by the campaign, and the viral behavior it inspired, show us that with the assistance of social media, the donations and awareness we seek are just a few clicks away — bringing our ultimate goal, a cure for PKD, that much closer.

Angela Connelly is the PKD Foundation’s chief marketing officer.

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