Flash Fundraising on Facebook—Looney Tunes for Charity

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Decmber 13, 2010; Source: Third Sector | This story reveals the power of social media and its sometimes-unintended effect on online giving.

A Facebook fan page that encouraged users to replace their profile picture with a favorite cartoon character to flag their support for an end to violence against children has had quite unexpected results. Despite the page having no affiliation with existing charities or any mechanism to accept donations, Britain’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)—which said it had no involvement with the initiative—saw its Facebook fan base almost double, increasing from 65,000 to 115,000 supporters. In addition, because the source of online donations is trackable, the charity determined it received £100,000 (about $150,000) in gifts directly from the Facebook campaign.

After going viral, the campaign even managed to have an effect on Google. Almost every one of the top 20 most actively searched terms this past Saturday referred to “old cartoons,” as users trawled through images of Bugs Bunny, Foghorn, and Captain Caveman.

The original fan page poster is still unknown, and their motives remain a mystery. But for one nonprofit, the effects are all positive.—Timothy Lyster