A One Million Strong Facebook moneybomb!

I posted an earlier draft of this on October 4.

One Million Strong's fundraising goalThe Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack) Facebook group is in the midst of its October moneybomb to scare McCain fundraising drive, with a goal of raising $15K by October 15th to push the group’s total to $40K.  It’s an ambitious goal; while the group has over 760,000 members (up 40,000 since the last time I checked a few weeks ago), nobody knows how many follow the discussion board actively.  So please, if you’re an Obama supporter, get involved and help out!

As calibration, here’s how some well-know progressive blogs did with their September fundraising.  It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, because they’re raising money for Congressional elections, but it’s still a real eye-opener.   (See the first comment for details and sources.)

  • myDD originally set a goal of getting to 120 donors and $10,000 raised via their Road To 60 ActBlue page, and beat it handily: 136 donors as of the end of September, and somewhere around $13,000, for an average of about $90/donor.
  • OpenLeft’s Crisis Moment set a goal of 100 new donations via their Better Democrats page in 24 hours, and met it.  This pushes the total of their fundraising drive over $25K, and with an average donation of roughly $100, probably means they raised around $10,000.
  • Daily Kos somewhat nervously set a goal of $100,000 for their end-of-quarter Orange to Blue fundraising drive and then proceeded to blow it away … no, really: 3524 donors, $364,397.  Wow!  Miss Laura’s Deadline 12:00 EDT highlights that this brings Orange to Blue’s totals to $800,000.  Wow!  Or did I say that already?

So yeah, a $15K goal is indeed ambitious: if successful, it would be at #2 behind the Kossian juggernaut.  And while there’s still a long way to go, the combined contribution of the various Facebook efforts is steadily mounting.

Things are off to a good start for One Million Strong for Barack, with Tim Chambers doing a great job of keeping people informed in the $15K for the 15th thread: over 65 donations, and $3000 raised.   At $45/donation, this is higher than the group’s historical average donation of $30; my guess is that means that students, who usually make smaller contributions, were tapped out in September with school starting up and couldn’t give.  If a flood of them start tossing in $5/$10/$20 a pop over the next ten days, we’ll see the average decrease as the totals start to climb.

There are a couple of major challenges for One Million Strong’s fundraising.  First is that there are a lot of other ways for people to give money to Obama — many of which offer goodies like free t-shirts or a chance to meet famous people.  By contrast, there’s no economic reason for people to give via One Million Strong’s page.  On the other hand, as with the progressive blogosphere’s campaigns, there is a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself: the sense of shared accomplishment working with the people in your community to achieve a difficult goal.

facebook logoAn even bigger challenge, as anybody who’s ever been in a large Facebook group could probably guess, is communications.  Once a group reaches 5000 people, the admins can’t send a message to all members … so there’s no good way to alert everybody.  To catch people’s attention, it’s highlighted on the group’s Recent News at the top of the page, and the thread on the discussion board gets bumped pretty regularly … but very few first-time visitors don’t spend much time exploring, and most long-term members check back very rarely.

Fortunately, there are other options.  For one thing, there are a lot of groups of Obama supporters on Facebook with less than 5,000 people, and Tim’s been messaging the administrators and asking them to send out information to their members.  This needs to be timed judiciously — good admins are careful to message-all-members very infrequently — but with luck this will result in a lot of reminders in the next ten days.

Also, there’s the Million Strong Money Bomb event.  Events propagate very quickly on Facebook: it’s easy to invite 50 or more friends at a time.  If I’ve done the math right, all we need is each person to respond to invite 50 friends, and we’ve got a good shot at beating the $15K goal (see the math in a comment).  And if network effects start to kick in, and people start to see it in their friends’ feeds and new arrivals start to invite their friends … oh baby.*  The 1,000,000 AGAINST THE NEW FACEBOOK LAYOUT! group has close to a 20% acceptance rate and has invited over 10,000 people invited to their Make an impact! event, and as Jessica Guynn reports they’re asking people to boycott Facebook for a weekend.  For many Facebookers, our call to action of “kick in however much you can, even $5!” is asking a lot less 🙂

As with any online fundraising campaign, something else that could make a difference is attention from blogs and media — even a short blurb with a link to the event would be a big help .  It seems to me that it’s a pretty interesting story that One Million Strong for Barack now has fundraising potential on roughly the same level as well-known progressive blogs like OpenLeft and myDD — especially in an election where there’s been so much focus on Obama supporters “looking like Facebook”, the campaign’s innovative use of the my.barackobama.com social network site, and Obama’s huge advantage with the youth vote.  In the draft version of this post, I commented

Who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky.  Campus Progress and pushback.org get excited about this, and the Afrosphere partner with historically black colleges and universities and their alumni networks to get the word out.  Or imagine if OpenLeft, myDD, and Daily Kos each devoted a front-page post to the One Million Strong Money Bomb … or, for that matter, if the large sites like TPM and ThinkProgress that didn’t do their own fundraising campaigns decided to highlight this one instead.

…  but also talked about how I’m not holding my breath.  As I discussed in Reflections, the progressive blogosphere in particular seems to have an aversion to Facebook.   Sure enough, even though Nancy Scola featured an earlier version of this post at the top of Monday’s techPresident Daily Digest, we don’t seem to have gotten any attention.  Oh well.  I’ll save the ranting for another post.

Like most fundraising campaigns, it’s going to take everybody rolling up their sleeves and getting to work: getting the word out and asking people to give via Facebook, email, and blog posts — like this one.

That One '08 logoPlease donate now. As the group’s Recent News says:

One KEY advantage Barack could have is a MONEY advantage. Money equals more commercials, more ground forces in more places, and a stronger message.

Even with the RNC getting HUGE checks from big donors, Barack has been out doing them on PEOPLE POWERED checks of 20 bucks or less. As we move towards what may be as close an election as Bush/Gore we need to give Barack every possible tool to win.

Let’s make ONE MORE BIG MONEY BOMB at the END OF THIS MONTH, and then FINALLY AT OCT 15th. In time to be of REAL USE for the last weeks.

So far this group has raised $25 thousand dollars for the campaign. That is pretty amazing. Our average donation was 30 bucks.

Give here to be counted in this group money bomb:


Facebook graphic from AJC1’s flickr site, licensed under Creative Commons

* And a great thing about events is that Facebook tracks whether or not you’ve been invited, and doesn’t notify you each time a different friend of yours invites you — this helps keep inboxes from getting overwhelmed.  For a quick overview of the functionality difference between groups, pages and causes, see the in-progress How to Use Facebook Groups, Pages, Events, and Causes for activism on the Wired How-to Wiki