From July 16 through August 6, 2018, I participated in the Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge, a 10,000-mile ride winding throughout the U.S. As part of this endeavor, I launched a social media campaign not only to participate in the ride, but also to raise funds to provide 10,000 meals with Feeding America. The campaign tagline was “10,000 meals for 10,000 miles.”
I’m proud to say we doubled our initial goal. Funds raised by the “Hoka Hey Y’all” campaign will provide hungry families with 20,000 meals.
How were we able to achieve this? I say “we” because more than 70 individuals contributed to the campaign– and some donated multiple times. I cannot thank everyone enough!
First, I researched non-profit organizations to identify one that could best leverage our donation dollars. I learned of Feeding America, a national, non-profit organization with top-ratings from Charity Navigator. Ninety-eight percent of donations to Feeding America goes to programs. This level of efficiency is exceptional in the non-profit world. Furthermore, Feeding America can produce 10 meals for every dollar donated.
I then scoured the Feeding America website to determine the various ways to donate funds and otherwise support their cause. There I discovered a matching grant from a Feeding America partner (Tony Robbins) that will give the organization an additional dollar for every dollar donated. By leveraging this matching grant, each of our donated dollars will now produce 20 meals. Wow!
Finally, I sought to maximize participation in the fundraising campaign by using multiple online platforms. These were: Facebook, GoGetFunding, and Instagram. I was careful to research these platforms to incur the least amount of fees possible. I encourage everyone to do his or her own research on fundraising platforms at any given time, as terms may change.
No matter how one slices it, the recipient of electronic funds transfers will pay fees. Payment processing fees are rolled into the percentage a given fundraising platform will retain for its services. The use of a platform does facilitate and lend legitimacy to online fundraising campaigns. At the same time, it is important to know just how much in flat fees and/or percentages will be retained for platform services and to calculate whether these deductions are justifiable fundraising costs. Some platforms may retain as much as 15 percent of funds received. My goal was to keep costs below five percent.
On the back end, I established a dedicated PayPal account to receive funds for fundraising sales of #Badass patches and from individuals requesting to donate directly, while still paying applicable fees. PayPal processing fees are presently 0.29 percent plus $0.30 per transaction. Finally, I opened a dedicated bank account to accept and easily track fund transfers. I made sure this online bank account was free of charge. In short, I wanted to keep the gap between gross donations (before costs) and net donations (after costs) to a minimum.
Of the platforms used, Facebook provided me with the broadest reach, in large part because I had an established network of followers and group memberships. Some of my posts were about the fundraiser and others strictly about the Motorcycle Challenge, but all created branding and name recognition surrounding the campaign.
Other recommended best practices for social media fundraising include:
- Be specific about what you what you need and exactly what donations will pay for. I published a simple itemized budget as part of the fundraiser description.
- Put a face to your campaign. Whether this is your face or the face of a beneficiary, people want to support people.
- Know your audience! Identify group(s) of people with similar interests and values. Join and participate in their groups (without self-promotion) to learn more. And don’t be afraid to reach out to individuals.
- Post frequent updates about your progress with donations received and what remains to reach your goal. This includes making repeated “asks.” Sometimes all people need is a reminder and/or to see that others are supporting the campaign.
- Educate people about your cause. Let them know what impact they will have and just whom they will be helping by pitching in.
Finally, a contributing factor to the success of this fundraiser was the modest request for donation dollars: $20, $5, $1. My message was that every single dollar counted and was deeply appreciated. After all, one dollar would provide 20 meals! Any contribution was significant, and this made giving do-able for individual donors.
If you have additional tips or questions about online fundraising, please share them!