How We Raised $11,585 in 7 Days for a Nonprofit Using Facebook and Email

How We Raised $11,585 in 7 Days for a Nonprofit Using Facebook and Email
  • Facebook is one of the best platforms for audience reach and has some great analytics tools to create effective campaigns.
  • Email is regarded as the best channel for return on investment, both for commercial enterprises and non-profits. How We Raised $11,585 in 7 Days for a Nonprofit Using Facebook and Email
  • Keep reading to learn how a non-profit organisation managed to raise over $11 thousand in just seven days.

Last week I was invited to work on a nonprofit project to raise $50,000 in 50 days. The funds were being sought to make a documentary about an inspiring Australian who over 40 years has had a major impact on Australian society.

When the organisers contacted me they were 6 days in and had raised approximately $3,000 toward their goal. They went down the crowdfunding road and had started a Pozible campaign. At this pace they knew they were not going to meet their goal except by a miracle. And while a miracle is entirely possible, it was not the most strategic approach.

The proposal was compelling. I felt there was great value in telling this story so I jumped on board and offered my support to raise the profile and hopefully the necessary funds.

With the clock ticking we had to get down to business fast. The key team were in Melbourne and I was in Sydney so we arranged a google hangout to sketch out our approach. We had 44 days to raise $47,000 and we had no clear strategy. We launched 2 days later, leaving us with 42 days.

Before I outline our approach let me say a word about Facebook and email.

Why did we use Facebook and email?

We had had limited time and resources in which to go live and raise the money, so the campaign had to be simple and streamlined. Realistically, we could only manage a few platforms well. So we chose the two platforms most likely to get the best results in the shortest time and least amount of effort.

We chose Facebook because it has great reach. It’s easy to set up, has great tools, and very helpful analytics built right into the system. Email because it still has the best return on investment. This is true for nonprofits and well as a commercial enterprise. Email seems to remain the king of return. In addition, we added in a simple blog for longer-form content.

What was our approach?

Before we hit the ground running I wanted to make sure everyone involved was approaching the campaign in the same way. So we quickly sketched the following approach.

1. Follow The Marketing Conventions for This Product Type

This was a film project and we needed to market it like one. This approach is not only consistent with what people expect, it’s also what works. So with Hollywood as our guide, we created design assets that were key to launching a film, such as a movie-esque logo, a one-page campaign website, trailers, photography, posters, merchandise, and so on.

We had to build excitement and expectation that this film was going to be one to watch. And we knew we had to deliver compelling content regularly. It’s what people expect.

2. Tell One Story With Many Small Stories (Multi-step)

Again, common to pre-film launches, as well as most successful marketing campaigns, we had to construct one key story made up of a collection of small stories. Each “small” story had to create excitement and expectation, adding to the depth and breadth of the larger story.

3. Tell The Story Across Numerous Platforms (Multi-platform)

Thirdly, it was important we tell this story across a number of different platforms. Due to a limited time frame it was important that we not go too wide. Depth was more important than breadth. So Facebook, email, a campaign website, and blog, all pointing to the Pozible donation site was all we could do. If we added any more platforms we would lose depth. And if we had time, once we gained traction online we would go offline and seek out traditional media and initiate a PR campaign. But only if we had time.

4. Build a Community of Engaged Fans

The goal here was to find organisations and people who could spread the message fast and wide. We needed to inspire them, then provide them with great content and a megaphone.

We categorised these fans into two main categories.

  1. Partners: organisations and people with distribution power (those with large engaged audiences)
  2. Ambassadors: individuals who were people of influence and who could spread the word quickly and widely 

5. Be Clear On The Call To Actions

The key question we needed to ask was, “What action did we want people to take at each point?” We needed to make that action super clear and easy to do.

At this point in the campaign, we knew the most important call to action was to get people to make a pledge on pozible. If we didn’t hit this goal the campaign was dead in the water. But, we also knew there were other key steps and call to actions such as sharing, engaging, and contributing content. We factored these call to actions at every level possible.

So here’s what we did.

6. Clarified What Story We Were Telling

We needed to be clear on what story we were telling and how we were going to tell it. This included identifying both the macro and the micro expressions of the story. The big picture - the key story, and the small pieces that would help us tell that story. So we created a value proposition based on the key story which would be the foundation on which we would build all communications.

7. Identified Who We Were Telling The Story To

It was vitally important for us to be clear on who we were hoping to engage with this story. Due to the limited timeframe if we were off target here we would have very limited time to refocus.

We identified one key audience with four key segments. We then wrote down the elements of the story each segment would connect with. This was pretty important as even though we were dealing with one key audience, the segments had unique values and interests. We had to connect with them at those points.

8. Created a Visual Campaign Identity & Website

When I was first contacted about this project there was no logo and no website. These were two key assets we would need in order to profile this project. We jumped on these tasks straight away.

I wrote up a clear but succinct design brief and contacted a graphic designer and web developer. There was no time for quotes from numerous agencies so I went to the guys I knew could do a great job quickly with little supervision. I understand the industry saying, “There’s good, cheap and quick - you can only choose two.” Well these guys delivered all three!

9. Developed A Content Strategy

Next, we needed a clear but simple content strategy. What content would excite people about the project? What content would communicate its value and importance? And most importantly, what content did we have access to?

From there the team gathered the content we identified as key. In a very short time we had a library of images, videos, stories, and articles. It was a content marketer's dream - a repository of inspiring and relevant content.  

10. Cobbled Together an Email Database

Lastly, recognising that email was still king we needed to make the most of this medium. In order to do that we needed a central database. We jumped onto google docs, opened up a spreadsheet and started. Before we began we made sure we arranged the data in a format that was easy to upload to an email marketing program.

Again, due to time we limited the database to just two contact types. Those organisations and individuals who had the first-hand experience of the documentary subject. Secondly, those who had first-hand knowledge but not necessarily experiences of the documentary subject. These were the likeliest people to get on board, spread the word and make a pledge.

We would email an invitation letting them know about the campaign and using the call to action hierarchy already established, invite them to get involved. Depending on their reply and permission would we continue to send them updates via email.

At the time of writing, we’re just over a week into the 44 days since the official launch. Here are the results so far:

  • $11 585 raised in the first week
  • 635 stories created by other people on Facebook
  • 533 people currently engaged on Facebook
  • 7 277 people reached on Facebook
  • 17 383 weekly viral impressions of Facebook posts (number of times users saw posts via stories published by their friends.)
  • 26 340 weekly impressions of Facebook posts (number of impressions that came from all of the posts.)

All in 7 days. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. And out of interest I spent about 25 hours on the project.

Let’s hope the rest of the project goes as well as the beginning.

If you want any help regarding a campaign or any marketing related activity please let me know.

The Learning Community 

Here are a few screenshots if you are interested 

How We Raised $11,585 in 7 Days for a Nonprofit Using Facebook and Email

How We Raised $11,585 in 7 Days for a Nonprofit Using Facebook and Email

Darryn Altclass

Brand & Marketing Consultant at

I am very lucky to work as a Brand & Marketing Strategist for a number of small businesses in Sydney - XYZ, The Learning Community and Website in a Weekend. All my work is focussed on telling the right story to the right people on the right platforms to get the right action. And I feel very blessed as I absolutely love what I do.

Comments (4)
Darryn Altclass

Darryn Altclass, Brand & Marketing Consultant at

Hi James. Thanks for your great Qs. I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment about needing a great story. Totally agree it really is all about compelling content. But marketers need to know how to tell that story over time to the right people at the right times on the right platforms. re Facebook advertising discounts for nonprofits. I am sure they do, but I always try the organic route first, then add paid advertising if required. Across the board email still shows up highest in return on investment. Calls are great also but they are a little more time consuming and we have had very little time for this campaign. Usually I would advise following email up with a phone call as well. I like email because it allows people to access it when they have the time. I also usually schedule emails out of hours when no one else is emailing - that seems to work really well. It's my little secret so don't steal it! Just kidding, do with it what you will. Thanks again James for your questions and comments. Enjoy the discussion. Darryn

James Norquay

James Norquay, SEO Director at

A few questions: 1. Does Facebook still offer advertising discounts for non - profits, I remember doing some advertising via it in 2009 and they were giving discounts?? 2. Did you try and use your EDM list to target Facebook users who are already on the email list with Facebook ads? 3. Funny you say email is the best converting, I have tested heaps of email vs calls ect in the past it seems from most niches I deal in people do not read email yet if you make a professional call they are more willing to deal. Overall good results from Facebook, in the end of the day you just need a good story for users to follow to drive results.

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