Using Facebook and Email for Online Fundraising

Raise More Money, Communicate More Personally Using Email and Facebook

Social media used well can allow us to listen closely and communicate personally with your ministry partners. The more they know about your ministry, and about you, in the manner in which they prefer (email, websites, Facebook), the longer they will stay on your team, and the better the chance they will increase their giving and refer friends.

A major barrier to effective online communication for many staff who use Facebook and email is sharing the same update, in the same format, in a multitude of places. Instead using online tools to complement one another and communicate one message they are each used as a microphone to broadcast the same message over and over again.

Many of today’s ministry partners are receiving a prayer letter in the mail, reading what you share on facebook, and viewing your website on a regular basis. For these ministry partners it’s possible they are seeing the same message in four different places.

Additionally people are experts at tuning into only what they want, and tuning out everything else. Facebook recently made it even easier to unsubscribe and block updates from people–now our staff risk more than just being annoying, but ignored altogether.

What’s needed is more tailoring–not more time. There are certainly some extra investments of time you have to make to set up your online communications, but the biggest opportunity is tailoring your online communications to match the way people use online tools.


The greatest opportunity to improve your email communications lies in connecting it to your prayer letter instead of duplicating your prayer letter inside your email or as an attachment.

The downsides of attaching your prayer letter as a PDF and sending the email from your personal email account:

  1. Cannot track who opens the email or clicks on links.
  2. Inconvenient for people viewing the email on a smartphone.
  3. PDF requires a person to click on the attachment and wait for it to download.
  4. Difficult to keep the email list up to date since you cannot determine whether or not the email addresses are still in use.

A powerful alternative is an email service, such as Mailchimp, that enhances, personalizes, and analyzes your emails.

  1. Mailchimp allows you to bring the content of your PDF inside the newsletter, and enhance the design to make it easier to read.
  2. Mailchimp reports the names of each person who opens your email, how many times they open, what time of the day they open, and whether or not they clicked on any links in the email.
  3. Mailchimp emails will look better on a variety of devices including smartphones, desktop computers, and iPads.

When you are seeking to raise additional support from existing supporters the only statistic you have is how much they give. Mailchimp provides additional measurements of a ministry partner’s interest to help you determine their interest in your ministry beyond their financial gift.

Recommendations When Coaching New Staff on Proper Email Use:

  1. Do not substitute email for direct mail prayer letter but use them to complement one another
    1. Example: Send email out at the beginning of the month, and direct mail at the end of the month. Share part of a story in an email and the follow-up to that story in your direct mail piece.
  1. Make sure email has a “real time” feel. Encourage them to include stories or information that is no older than 1 week. Words such as “tomorrow, yesterday” are great signs that your email is relevant and will increase the reader’s attention.
  2. Facebook is NOT an email supplement.

Recommendations for Senior Staff Who Have a Large Number of Ministry Partners Who Only Receive Email Updates:

  1. Include at least one link in every email to give readers an opportunity to interact with you or your ministry more deeply.
  2. Make sure you have both husband and wife’s email address.
  3. Start using Mailchimp as soon as possible so that you can track how many people are actually opening your emails, and take action to engage those who are not (especially those that give significantly).

General Email Tips

  1. Keep the title short so that it can be viewed easily on a mobile device or tablet.
  2. Change the title EVERY time.
  3. Alternate the focus of the email between you and your ministry (consider ⅔, ⅓ as the ratio)
  4. Link to your ministry website as often as possible.

Beginner Email Tips

  1. Try Mailchimp with your top 20 ministry partners.
  2. Link to your ministry website once per email.
  3. Spend two additional minutes writing an interesting title.

Intermediate Email Tips

  1. Create one additional segment in Mailchimp (either for those new to your team or for the 10 highest financial investors).
  2. Enhance the design of the email by including a high-resolution picture of your family.
  3. Increase your open rate by 5% within three months.

Advanced Email Tips

  1. Create two additional segments in Mailchimp (those new to your team and the top 10 financial investors).
  2. Increase the click-rate of the links in your emails by 10% within 3 months.
  3. Use the information you learn from your open and click rate to tailor your emails to your ministry partners preferences (example: a link to a family photo album earns 2x as many clicks as a link to a YouTube video. Use that information to share family photo albums much more often than YouTube videos.)


The #1 mistake people make when using Facebook is thinking of it as a website instead of a newsfeed. People do not interact with Facebook the way they interact with websites in general.

“Surfing the web” is a term that describes how people click on links, visit websites, return or discover other links, and visit those websites, the way surfers ride waves.

“Scanning the feed” is the way most people use Facebook. The open up Facbeook on their phone or computer, scan the newsfeed for interesting information, “like,” “comment,” or “tag” their friends, and then log off.

Research has proven two patterns:

  1. 90% of people who like a page on Facebook never return to the page, and only view the information from that page through their newsfeed.
  2. On average 1/500 updates from a Facebook Page shows up on a person’s newsfeed. There are a variety of reasons why but it demonstrates that people are most interested in interacting with people on Facebook, and that Pages on average do not share information that’s interesting to it’s users.

Recommendations for using Facebook for ministry purposes:

  1. Do NOT create a Facebook page for your ministry.
  2. Create a Facebook list of your ministry partners, and share information with them through your personal profile, using this list so that your friends at large do not see these updates (especially non-Christians who may be offended/confused by these kinds of updates).
  3. Share updates in the following manner:
    1. Upload a photo first.
    2. After the photo has been uploaded click “comment” and write your update.
    3. “Like” the update
  1. Over 250 million photos are uploaded every day on Facebook, and photos take up 4x as much space on people’s newsfeeds as do text updates. Using photos as the primary media content is essential to being effective.

Coaching New Staff/Interns on Proper Facebook Use

  1. Avoid using Facebook for transactions (especially asking for a financial investment). Use email first, SMS second, and Facebook third.
  2. Encourage them to not use Facebook regularly to communicate with their ministry partners until they use Mailchimp once a month.
  3. Do not create a Facebook Page or Group.

How to Create and Share Updates with a  Facebook List:

  1. Go to once you are logged in.
  2. Select “Create List”
  3. Name the list.
  4. Add your ministry partners (you must have added them as a friend before you can add them to a list).
  5. Before you publish an update on Facebook, select the “Custom” button, which will reveal your lists. Choose the appropriate list and then click “Post.”
  6. You can also use this list to “listen” to your ministry partners.
    1. Before you communicate with them check Facebook to see if there is any relevant information that may improve your communication (Are they on vacation? Have they had a bad day?) This information provides tremendous opportunity to connect meaningfully with them.

 2 Things You Must Remember About Facebook

  1. Share 2x as many things about you and your family than your ministry. People “like” and comment on personal items such as family pictures and what you are having for dinner much more than a Bible verse or update about your prayer letter.
  2. People scan information on Facebook, they do not read it. Keep your updates as short as possible and use a picture as much as you can. You will see a dramatic increase in the number of likes and comments you receive.

 Beginner Facebook Tips

  1. Add every ministry partner (husband and wife) as a friend.
  2. Create a Facebook list of your ministry partners.
  3. Like and comment on your ministry partner’s updates using your Facebook list (start out with 5 total likes or comments per month, and increase appropriately from there).

 Intermediate Facebook Tips

  1. Include a photo in EVERY update you send to your ministry partners.

 Advanced Facebook Tips

  1. Like and comment on your ministry partners updates a total of 10x per month.
  2. Create additional lists for new, potential, and your top 10 ministry partners.
  3. Use updates to complement and enhance direct mail and email communications.