Are Facebook Birthday Fundraisers a Good Thing?


Are Facebook Birthday Fundraisers a Good Thing?

Happy Unity Day everyone!
Kindness. Acceptance. Inclusion. Not bad things to incorporate in your every day life. Frankly, I didn’t even know that Unity Day was a thing until I read some of my favorite comic strips this morning (shout out to Zits, Mutts, and Baby Blues). Yep. That’s where I find out all the important info – the comics. So go out there and – just like you always strive to do – celebrate and practice kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.

On to my favorite time waster: Facebook. Here’s a little mind blower for you: one billion (that’s with a “b”) people are active on Facebook. No wonder nothing is getting done – we’re all taking a “five-minute” break on Facebook. When was the last time you checked your FB page and found yourself saying, “How did I end up being on FB for 30 minutes? But that puppy (or kitten, or sloth) was soooo cute?” Good thing that never happens to me.
No doubt, if you are one of those billion FB subscribers, you have seen or participated in the latest FB craze, birthday fundraisers. Launched in August 2017, FB allows readers to use their birthday to raise money for their favorite causes.
Being the cynic that I am, I’ve had my doubts about these fundraisers. So I decided it was my duty to delve into the world of FB birthday fundraisers. And, for the most part, my cynicism has been unwarranted. Hooray!

When it was first introduced, FB took a whopping 5% of each donation to keep for itself. After a major backlash, FB completely eliminated any fees for donations made to one of the 750,000 non-profits and charities that have been verified by FB using Guidestar.
In one year, Facebook birthdays have raised $300 million for various non-profits. One major benefit, according to FB and reported in “Do Facebook Birthday Fundraisers Work?” is that (surprise!) people have birthdays all year round. If you can inspire your donors to designate you to be their birthday beneficiary, you might have year-round donations coming in to support your favorite non-profit.
Here’s an example, “The Marine Science Center in Sausalito has received $30,000 from Facebook donations in the past year…$30,000 can pay for 15 tons of herring, or two months of food.” Who knew – that by reading this blog – you’d be getting a marine biology lesson too?
Two Tips: 1.  If you’re going to host a FB birthday fundraiser, set your initial monetary goal lower and “once you’ve made some progress towards it, up the ante.

2.  “Set your goal based on a tangible item or product, or an increment of that amount.” For example, try raising enough money to help buy 25 bags of goods for 25 refugee families.
Caveat: This is not a good model to offset your congregation’s budget. It is a way to fund some of your congregation’s favorite mission causes like Habitat for Humanity, United Methodist Committee on Relief, or Family Promise.
One down side: Since the designated organization gets a single check from Facebook, it will not get any information on who made a specific donation. That’s a bummer for non-profits who generally want to develop a relationship with donors and encourage them to give again.
I’m throwing my cynicism aside and will celebrate all you brave souls who promote and elevate
your good causes when you ask others to support your Facebook birthday fundraiser. Way to go…you’re making this world a better place. Now, only 322 days for me to think about what great cause I’ll ask support for during my FB birthday fundraiser.
Two quick things: I love The Message by Eugene Peterson. So it was with sadness that I learned about Peterson’s passing on Monday. Here’s one of my favorite videos of Peterson and Bono talking about the Psalms.
Don’t forget about the free workshop “Electronic Giving in the Church” (here's the flier) at Tigard (OR) UMC on November 10 from 9:30-12:30. Rick Beadnell, OR-ID Chair of Council on Finance and Administration, and I are hosting it. Sometimes an in-person conversation is what’s needed to get over the hurdle of trying something new. Come join us! Find out more and sign-up here.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She was disappointed that her other favorite comic strips – Bizarro, LuAnn, and Pickles – did not celebrate Unity Day. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.