4 things we learned during the great PayPal-gate!

What happened

On the 31st of August 2023, Facebook announced, without warning, that they were making changes to their donation process and PayPal would soon be taking over processing transactions. This had major implications for anyone running Facebook challenges or doing any sort of Facebook fundraising. No warning meant no time to prepare. 

The upshot of the changes meant that:

  • New donors were unable to donate to fundraisers between 31st August and 15th September
  • All charities needed to opt into PayPal Giving Fund to be able to receive donations from 16th September
  • All fundraisers were going to automatically end on the 30th or 31st October 
  • Donation fees were going to be applied from 31st October 

As an expert social media moderation agency who is regularly involved in Facebook challenges, this wasn’t our favourite ever news release!l For the charities that rely on the income raised through these challenges, there was a lot of fear and apprehension.  

What we did

When working with our charity partners, we make sure to engrain ourselves within their team. For us this means getting stuck in and going above and beyond at all times, especially when times get tough. As soon as the news hit (our friends at GivePanel were able to give us an early heads-up), we made sure to learn as much as we could about the ever-changing details and communicate these changes to our partners.  We then made bespoke recommendations and supported partners to put these into place.

Momentum is vital with a Facebook challenge. When situations like this occur, our extensive fundraising experience pays dividends. We are hardwired to keep working towards your target.

We:

  • Called all partners to check in and discuss concerns 
  • Adjusted our approach to Facebook challenge fundraising and supported partners through the processes to create JustGiving campaigns and amend registration forms to maintain a smooth process.
  • Created additional content to share on the group and use as the basis for email communications
  • Monitored fundraising activation and income levels and adjusted our calendar of communications for each group 
  • Developed a range of FAQs and shared amongst the team so we could continue to answer questions quickly and give appropriate advice without the need for partners to incur increased costs 

The usual pattern of income

Facebook challenge groups run for around nine weeks. The first four weeks generally cover recruitment, followed by four challenge weeks and a final ‘wrap up’ week, In terms of income we tend to see up to 50% of total fundraising landing during recruitment and the remaining 50% coming in during the challenge and wrap up.As part of this, we traditionally see an income spike at the start and end of the challenge phase. 

September challenges – impacted at the start of the challenge phase

The news was a particular concern for the challenges taking place in September. Facebook made their announcement at the end of their recruitment, with the challenges about to begin.  Restrictions were therefore placed on many participants and their donors during an essential time.

September challenges ended up following the same overall gradual increase trend as the average challenge, raising slightly less overall on average.

They did see higher spikes in week 5 and week 9 – coinciding with an increase in messaging around JustGiving as an alternative option and boosting moderation support to ensure participants could access the help they needed. 

October challenges – impacted for the duration of the challenge

The first thing to note is that these started much more slowly compared to other challenges, in terms of income. This falls in line with the giving habits of JustGiving fundraisers – they tend to be slower burners in comparison to Facebook fundraisers.

From week 3 onwards we saw a steep increase in income, with particular peaks during weeks 3, 6 and 9. 

  • During Week 3 we announced to groups that Facebook fundraising was now available and encouraged everyone to set up another page. We found that many participants fundraised on both  JustGiving and their Facebook fundraiser.
  • In week 6 we shared more key messages about creating Facebook pages which led to another increase in income. Don’t forget – Facebook fundraisers are fantastic for passive donations.  
  • Week 8/9 was focused on sharing the benefits of fundraising via both platforms and encouraging people to raise as much as possible. 

In the end, October challenges raised an average of £37.16 per group member compared to the benchmark of £28.74. 

What we learned

  • Income can increase when platforms change their processes. Curveballs are always going to be a thing in fundraising, so learning how to pivot is a vital skill. If anything like this happens in the future, don’t panic. Find your tribe to offload, come up with a plan and keep things moving. There are ALWAYS alternatives.  
  • Having expert support is invaluable during times of crisis. We are lucky to have so many fantastic working relationships with our charity partners, but never have we felt so valuable. We put our all into monitoring the situation, learning about options and crafting the right levels of responses. Our amazing moderation team went above and beyond every day, dealing with an increase in comments and queries with ease. 
  • Collaborative comms make a difference. There’s a marketing rule of 7 which essentially means people need to see a message seven times before they’ll be provoked to take action. When something out of the ordinary occurs, ensure you share this across all of your supporter journey channels so that nothing gets missed. 
  • Facebook challenges communities are awesome! We’ve always known that Facebook challenge groups contain some absolute gems. Every group will have a core percentage of people who are there for genuine reasons and truly want to make a difference to your cause. We found that the challenges impacted by the changes had groups that galvanised to help each other and the charity so they didn’t lose out because of Facebook’s decision. 

What we’re doing moving forward

It’s clear from this that Facebook fundraisers and JustGiving can work well together. With effective communication,  you can encourage supporters to have both pages. We are currently testing and working with our partners to establish how we can best promote fundraising through both platforms.

We look forward to sharing more about our findings soon. If you’d like to chat with us about this in more detail or would like to chat tactics for your upcoming challenge, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. Just click on the ‘Contact Us’ button in the top right corner!

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