High Holy Day Appeal:Facebook

I admit it. I am an avid user of Facebook. Perhaps 2-3 times a day. I catch up on my children and their posts – although I sometimes think that they don’t share all of their posts with me. Friends and colleagues, too – some of them share too much. And various groups that I am a part of, including our synagogue.

And this sponsored ad popped up in my Newsfeed.  I haven’t had an opportunity to work with the leadership of this synagogue.  I am sure that Congregation Beth Shalom, an Orthodox synagogue located in Providence, RI purchased a Facebook ad so that the ad about the synagogue’s Kol Nidre Appeal would appear in all of the newsfeeds of the 425 members of its Facebook community (one of them is a friend of mine).

Years ago, when the internet was in its infancy and direct mail was the primary means for grass roots fundraising, direct mail consultants would always stress a few specific goals: for the recipient to open the envelope, for them to read the letter, to write a check, and put it in the mail. And you were excited to get a 3-5% response rate to a prospect (never gave before) mailing. And a 10% response rate for prior donors.

Email philanthropy follows a similar game plan. A catchy subject line so that the people open up the email. My view has always been that you have the size of a screen – perhaps 3 paragraphs for a laptop, and 1 for a smartphone – worth of prose to tell your story and make your case for people to give. A couple of links to a donation page, and a “radio button” that reads “Donate” also has to be a part of what is before the eyeballs of the readers.

I like this Facebook approach. I hope the leadership of Congregation Beth Shalom also sent a regular letter along with 1-2 emails to its congregants about its Kol Nidre Appeal. The more communication/marketing channels you are utilizing as part of the approach for the High Holy Day Appeal, the better.

In a few paragraphs, the message is clear: the Kol Nidre Appeal is important to the synagogue and they need to raise $30,000. And gifts of all sizes – $18 to $1800 – are important.  And 2 DONATE “radio buttons”, along with other check-off options – pay by check, pledge, multiple payments – all that is readable without a lot of scrolling effort.

And think of the reach of this ad through Facebook. If each person in the synagogue’s Facebook community has just 200 FB friends, this ad is appearing on the Facebook feeds of 85,000 different people.

I am sure that there are congregants who are not on Facebook. I know at my synagogue, there are less than 10% of the congregants who don’t use email, primarily octogenarians.  Over time, these numbers will lessen.  Twitter and Instagram are social media platforms that continue to grow and should be considered as additional synagogue channels.

Technological advances move pretty quickly, so in 5 to 10 years, there may be other social media platforms down the road that we will be using that have not yet been invented.

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