Nonprofits know that it’s notoriously hard to raise money from Facebook fans. Even if you’ve figured out how you can use Facebook for your nonprofit and have managed to build up a fanbase, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to convince fans to donate.

After all, it only takes the click of a button to “like” something, so it can be harder to mobilize Facebook fans for a specific cause.

Ben Pahlow, Co-founder of Africa Family Rescue, knew this for a fact. The organization’s Facebook Page had largely been dormant since he launched it in February 2011. Until this spring, the Page itself had fewer than 100 fans.

That was around the time Ben attended a Constant Contact marketing seminar in Illinois to learn more about Facebook marketing. He walked away with new inspiration.

The fundraiser

Ben decided he needed an incentive for people to people to take action and engage with his Facebook page.

Since Africa Family Rescue is a nonprofit, Ben wanted to launch a campaign that encouraged people to Like the Page and donate to the organization.

The pieces started coming together when an anonymous supporter donated$2,900 to Africa Family Rescue and told Ben to use the money to drive awareness.

“My goal was to use the donation to boost my Facebook fan count to 290, so I offered $10 per Like,” Ben says.

The results

Ben was so busy that he hardly had time to maintain his Facebook Page, which meant the campaign was largely left to grow organically.

While we recommend actively promoting social campaigns, especially through email marketing, this is an instance where “setting and forgetting” didn’t work out too badly.

On the surface, of course, things may seem a little disappointing. Overall, the campaign netted the Page 49 new fans. That still doubled the Page’s fan count, but Africa Family Rescue’s Facebook Page didn’t reach 290 fans.

What the organization did reach, however, was one new donor who hadn’t heard of Africa Family Rescue before.

This particular donor sent in $10,000, enough to sponsor nine fledgling family businesses over three years.

“Usually, monthly donations are about $70,” Ben says.

Facebook, fundraisers, and you

One of the biggest advantages to Africa Family Rescue’s campaign was reaching a new audience. It was shared 18 times on Facebook and once across Twitter.

What both businesses and nonprofits can learn from Ben’s experience is that Facebook is not just an effective way to reach your existing audience, it’s a way to reach a whole new audience.

As organizations across the country are worrying about growth, it’s important to think about Facebook’s snowball effect. The results from your campaign may not be what you expect, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Learn more about how Facebook can work for your business on our Facebook 101 Page.