Is social persuasion the next hot tactic for digital fundraising?

publication date: Jul 8, 2011
author/source: Jonathon Grapsas
What if Facebook could serve your donors, directly on their cell phones, an ad like this: "I know you and your friend Jimmy like running, and the work of the Terry Fox Foundation. Their local run is at High Park this week, just around the corner. Why don't you get your running shoes and help in the fight against cancer?"Author photo

Facebook will be able to connect those two "likes" very soon!

Public radio, TV, had it right all along

If you want proof that this sort of social persuasion works, look no further than the use of the telephone in US public radio fundraising.

"I just spoke to Sophie who lives around the corner from you and she pledged $120. I was hoping you could do the same." It's been tested, and proved, that the behaviour of others "in the same area", or "people like you" increases significantly how much people give.

And that's referring to people those donors don't even know. It's not difficult, therefore, to see why Facebook is so excited.

Influenced by our friends

Let's face it, the fact that our best friend "likes" that show we were thinking about seeing, or that holiday destination we've been dreaming of, changes the way we see things. It places a new slant on our purchase decision.

Think about the power of search and social advertising. You're offered a $50 discount on your first cell phone bill if you "like" company X on Facebook. This means that as well as searching for a great deal, you're also able to see which of your friends are attached to this same provider. That's certainly more powerful than traditional search when you're combining intent with your friends' preferences.

Charities slow to get on board

In this column in August last year I got pretty excited about the power of digital data, behavioural data, re-targeting and the like. At the time it was cutting edge stuff. Now it's par for the course. In fact for many folks in the commercial world, it's old hat.

Sadly the take-up of this technology has been minimal, almost non-existent, in the charity sector. And I'm not simply talking about Canada. I've been keeping tabs on this around the world and the examples of really sophisticated data targeting online are lacklustre at best.


Fear of the unknown, aversion to risk, lack of knowledge. Understandable, though a little frustrating for me.

But perhaps not as gloomy as I've just painted it, because things are about to get even more interesting, and the power of social persuasion may render online behaviour (past and present) yesterday's story.

Note, I say, "may". It also may not.

And the "may" is exactly what the clever people at Facebook are banking on.

Just "like" it!

The biggest thing stopping us from tapping into the digital targeting goldmine is inertia. Don't be afraid to call a media buyer in your area or track down someone who knows their stuff.

Back in August 2010 I said, "Targeting in the digital space is getting a lot more interesting."

Boy has that statement reached new levels. Just ask your friends...

Jonathon Grapsas is the founder, and director at flat earth direct, an agency dedicated to fundraising and campaigning for good causes. Jonathon spends his time working with charities around the world focused on digital, direct response and campaign stuff.

If you you'd like to chat to Jonathon you can drop him a line, follow him on twitter @jonathongrapsas or check out

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Copyright, Hilborn Stanois Inc., © 2011-Current. All rights reserved.

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