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How using Facebook groups can build inspiring communities for your supporters

1 April 2021

Community clubs and groups can provide a space to share interests, where people can encourage and motivate each other – this can prove extremely beneficial where fundraising is concerned. But when these groups cannot gather in person how do you maintain that sense of community?

It is safe to say charities have been building online communities for a while, but since the pandemic, Facebook groups have unleashed their full potential and have become a place where supporters can cheer on their fellow fundraisers in virtual and socially distanced challenges.

To spark your imagination here’s how charities are using this platform:

Teenage Cancer Trust

Teenage Cancer Trust’s online communities have played a fundamental role in their fundraising success in 2020. They had three Facebook challenges, all with a separate private group and have undertaken all of their marketing on Facebook, directing participants to join these groups and to set up their own fundraising pages. Each challenge lasted one month, with participants joining the group before the challenge started and the group then closed shortly after the challenge ended.

By creating an online community for the challenge and having a simple call to action, such as ‘3000 Push Ups In November’, they achieved huge success. Much of the supporter stewardship took place on Facebook and quickly saw the groups develop into an organic and engaged community, with members sharing personal stories, tips, their progress and motivating each other throughout the challenge.

Teenage Cancer Trust’s Facebook groups have been an enormous success and have collectively achieved almost double the income targets originally set – no mean feat in these uncertain times. They have planned another six challenges for 2021 and look forward to seeing the results.

Rachel Mackenzie – Mass Participation Project Officer – Teenage Cancer Trust

Prostate Cancer UK

At Prostate Cancer UK, their Facebook groups are incredible sources of user-generated content, run by the audience, for the audience. By creating and nurturing these groups, they have a collection of highly engaged individuals who they not only promote products to, but communicate with for rapid user testing/feedback, use as a source of genuine, emotive case studies, and hugely enhance other product users’ experiences.  

Their Cycle the Month Facebook group was not only used as an additional channel within the supporter journey, but it developed into an organic community. Members shared their personal stories, supported and motivated each other to keep cycling /fundraising and formed real friendships. This enhanced the user experience significantly and was crucial to the product’s success. 

Cycle the Month achieved over eight times its original targeted fundraising total, and over three times as many sign-ups. The Facebook group is still active, proving the importance of these online communities not only to the charity, but also to group members.   

Alice Sherritt – Product Marketing Officer – Prostate Cancer UK

RSPCA

RSPCA currently have a Compassionate Class Community Facebook group made up of teachers, parents and carers – for their education community. The group was new for 2020 and is still growing. It currently has over 400 members and the RSPCA are hoping to grow this community further in the future.

In the past they also had a group for their virtual walking event – My Big Walkies. Between April to July 2018 the group had over 1,300 active members, over 1,600 posts to the group and over 20,000 reactions, driven with a mix of RSPCA and community posts. This group was a fantastic way to promote the event – each day members were posting pictures of pets, their progress and talking amongst themselves. There was also a ‘Walker of the Week’ competition which community members loved and highlighted fundraising milestones.

Using groups creates a sense of community. It made participants feel like they were a part of something bigger, despite the dog walk being a virtual event and it provided motivation for them to complete their challenge.

Danielle Matthews – Digital Marketing Officer – RSPCA

Some other great examples to draw inspiration from:

  • Maggie’s 300,000 steps Facebook challenge is an example that is purely run through the social media platform and utilises local communities, with 25 Facebook groups for each local area, including a national one.
  • Capturing creativity Macmillan held a Mystery Knit-Along where they released a pattern each week on the dedicated Facebook group and by the end of the campaign supporters had a knitted gift just in time for Christmas.
  • If supporters wish to ask their friends and family to donate to charity instead of giving gifts, a fundraising tool makes it a simple process. National Autistic Society provide a tool to donate directly through Facebook.

Using online groups can bring supporters together in a shared goal and gives them a place to seek advice, while boosting organic engagement for charities – an approach to consider for your next fundraiser.

If you like this you may also like Innovative fundraising: What we can learn from the charities pushing fundraising forward.

Learn more about audience engagement at The new rules of audience engagement Conference.

Image: Odd Sun on Unsplash

Adel Hanily

digital content officer, CharityComms

Adel is the digital content officer at CharityComms, managing the social media channels and supporting content planning. She has a background in various sectors including event ticketing, PR, and charity content. She is passionate about communications and helping those with personal or physical barriers to succeed.

Rachel Mackenzie

Mass Participation Project Manager, Teenage Cancer Trust

Rachel joined Teenage Cancer Trust as a Project Manager at the start of March and managed the Challenge Events portfolio before managing virtual Facebook products. Before this, she worked at Macmillan Cancer Support in Challenge Events.  

Alice Sherritt

Product marketing officer, Prostate Cancer UK

Alice Sherritt is a Product Marketing Officer for Prostate Cancer UK. She has been at the charity for just over a year and works with the charity’s Product Marketing team to create communications that inspire people to adopt and love its products and services.

Danielle Matthews

Digital Marketing Officer, RSPCA

Danielle Matthews has been the Digital Marketing Officer at the RSPCA for 3 years since graduating from University. A dedicated equestrian and dog lover she has worked across paid and organic social media marketing over the last few years to develop new ways of engaging with a broad range of audiences.