Translating Loyal Fans into Donors

Cassie Dull (@cassdull) is the online communications specialist at Park Tudor School, an independent school in Indianapolis, Ind.

Our Park Tudor planned giving committee is trying a new approach to identify prospective donors—starting with a list of our most active Facebook fans.

The existing donor database is perfect for identifying major donors who may be interested in making a planned gift to the school. But, there may be people out there who have never given, or occasionally give, but are otherwise loyal to the school. How do we identify those people?

Enter Facebook. People put their names out there on Facebook. It's a giant database of people. By simply liking your page, people tell you that they have some sort of affinity to your institution. By going further and liking and commenting on your posts, they tell you just how loyal they are.


Starting this year, we began cross-referencing the names of people who like or comment on our page with our donor database to create a targeted group of prospective donors who have a clear loyalty to Park Tudor.

To begin, I went through every post on our page in January and tallied up each like and comment. I ended up with a table of names including the number of likes and comments each person had made that month. I calculated a score for each person. Since comments take more effort than a like, I gave them a weight of three. I added likes and comments*3 to get a cumulative engagement score.

# Likes + (# Comments * 3) = Engagement Score

Identifying a list of our most engaged fans each month has many purposes including planned giving, alumni giving, volunteering, leadership roles and school groups. The goal is to identify people who are loyal to the school and turn them into lifelong advocates and donors.

Have you used your Facebook fans to identify prospective donors? What other ways can we leverage the loyalty of our Facebook fans?

4 responses to “Translating Loyal Fans into Donors

  1. Cassie – great information on cross-referencing databases and traditional development techniques with those afforded by social media!
    My agency works alongside colleges and development units on campus to help with specific fundraising and/or student-facing social campaigns. The combined network – relationships that are cultivated from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – is an impressive force in higher education fundraising efforts. Our blog has some information that dovetails nicely with this CASE:
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. @Holly – It’s early in the game, but for now, we’re just using this as a way to identify prospective donors and existing relationships. I would advise that it would be a good idea to steward these relationships slightly differently, especially if you’re reaching out to people who have not given but still show loyalty to the institution. It’s up to the Development team to use that loyalty to an advantage and turn it into actual dollars.

  3. What a timely post, Cassie—this is my next step, so it’s great to see someone ahead of me. I would be interested to know if you steward these relationships and/or solicit them differently, or if it’s just another way to identify them?

  4. We have been using LinkedIn to do much of this type of data mining, but have started combing through FB as well. I love the idea of creating an equation by which to measure someone’s engagement, very creative. For us, the hardest thing is the shear volume of people that are interacting on our FB page, but I think your approach is a great first step at proving the ROI of FB.

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