Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fundraising on Facebook

The chart above is from an article on CrunchBase about Facebook, showing the growth in subscribers since the service was opened up to the world beyond students. Amazing quote: "Facebook users’ passion, or addiction, to the site is unparalleled: more than half use the product every single day and users spend an average of 19 minutes a day on Facebook. Facebook is 6th most trafficked site in the US and top photo sharing site with 4.1 billion photos uploaded."

I became intrigued with the idea of using the Facebook cause feature as a possible fundraising tool for our hospital after I saw that a neighboring hospital had raised over $50,000 for one of its cancer programs in this manner. So last weekend I set up a cause, called Healing Music, to raise funds for our harp player and other musicians and sent a notice to some friends. It is has been fun to literally watch the viral marketing that results. I don't know if it will raise much money -- although it is a good cause and you should feel free to donate! -- but it is also an excellent way to inform people about a worthwhile feature of our hospital and to share a nice idea with other medical centers as well. (By the way, the fee taken by the people who run the fundraising application, less than 5%, is very reasonable, especially since it costs nothing at all to set up a cause.)

But, beyond this, the wall-to-wall conversations on Facebook can be really entertaining and illustrative of important cultural differences throughout the world. Here, for example, is a post-Super Bowl note from a Boston-bred relative to her good friend in New York:

You know what?! Fine. You won. Good playing. Catch a ball on your head and all that crap. But sending me an invite to join the "Giants fan club"? Not cool.


Anonymous said...

Great idea. Signed up immediately and recommended to 4 other clients. Interested to hear if BIDMC foundation can cost effectively handle small ($10 to $25) donations via Facebook - break even or better?. My guess is establishing a donor relationship via Facebook has a far lower cost than the golf tournament, fashion show and other (typically printed/mailed) fundraising collateral I get as a consultant to healthcare providers.

Anonymous said...

It looks like I have to join facebook in order to donate.

I don't particularly want to do that -- it'll be just one more company with my name, date of birth, email address, etc. It'll be one more password to manage (and who knows how that data gets linked between their other ventures). Besides this one donation, I don't otherwise really want to join.

Is there a way to support this cause without having to become a facebook member?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, tom. I am guessing that you are right.

Anonymous said...

Dear anon,

We are also happy to take checks in the mail, sent to Development Office, 330 Brookline Avenue, Boston, MA 02215. Just put "Healing Music" in the memo line. Many thanks!

Medical Quack said...

One could always donate and delete their membership later down the road...just a thought if one did not want to maintain their membership beyond the donation process...great idea and I have been trying to encourage hospitals out here to make use of FaceBook too, so this was nice to see and also wrote this up on the Medical Quack... the RSS feed gets emailed to my hospital contacts! Nice work.

There is a little add on for people using FaceBook at HOME who use Outlook for their HOME PERSONAL EMAIL called FB Look and you can do a search to find out more information. If nothing else it reminds me to check the "wall" now and then.

Allie אלה said...

Facebook Groups are also an effective way of raising money. My mom (a former BIDMC nurse), my sister and I have also turned to facebook in an effort to raise funds for this year's Boston Marathon which we will be running together. We are running for an organization called Women of Means, , which provides free healthcare for homeless and needy women and children in the Boston area. Check out our group: or the WOM website:

EB said...

The NY Times had an article talking about the "stickiness" of Facebook, yet also warns of once you create an account, Facebook will not delete it. That's enough to prevent me from signing up!

Here's the article:

Anonymous said...

Our hospital system's proxy server blocks access to facebook altogether. Can't get there at all from a work computer.

Anonymous said...

Fundraising on Facebook is a great idea! It's quickly become a highly influential social force, and having relatively young folks get used to using that venue to donate to BIDMC could serve you well as donors age and have more disposable income.

Facebook is 6th most trafficked site in the US

I'd be interested to see the source for that claim -- the data to support it does not exist. It may be a good, educated guess, but most websites make little or no information about their traffic volume available, and the funding and technical capability to reliably measure the destination of Internet traffic in the US (let alone tell for sure how much of it is web traffic), even for one day, to collect an unbiased answer does not exist either. But I bet 'Facebook is the 6th most trafficked site in the US of the twenty I thought would be big and who agreed to give me an estimate of their daily web traffic, an estimate I have no way to validate' doesn't really have the same ring to it.

I hope that one day we will be able to have scientific answers to questions like how many people use the Internet on a given day, what applications they use, and what sites are the most popular destinations. Unfortunately, we're nowhere near that.

Anonymous said...

ducknet services, deleting your membership in no way guarantees that your name and contact information is no longer on record with a company. It doesn't stop you from receiving email ads, and it doesn't protect you from having your information compromised if an unauthorized person gains access to them at a later date. Generally all that happens is that a flag on your account changes from active to inactive. Eventually to save disk and database space, a mass cleanup of accounts might occur that would delete your records, but even then, there are usually backups and copies. Once you give out a piece of information and it is stored by someone other than you, you have no control over what happens to it.

Anonymous said...

This can help budding fundraisers too:

It's a totally free ebook on the 7 Secrets to Facebook Fundraising!

Anonymous said...

I sell Usborne Children's books and we have a great program where we give 50% back in free books. I have been trying to find hospitals that would let us set up a display and sell the books off the shelf. This way the hospitals could give all the free books they earn to the children's ward or waiting areas. Does anyone have any suggestions? My website is Thanks