Fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers

RAICES viral Facebook Fundraiser tops $20m

RAICES viral Facebook Fundraiser tops $20m

The viral fundraising campaign raising money for immigration legal services provider RAICES has raised over $20 million in 12 days, making it the biggest single Facebook Fundraiser to date.

US couple Charlotte and Dave Willner started the Reunite an immigrant parent with their child campaign on Facebook Fundraisers, originally to raise $1,500 for The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES). Their decision followed the news that at least 2,700 children have been separated from their parents when crossing the border into the US illegally, under the Trump administration’s family separation policy.

As news of the US government’s policy spread, the campaign quickly went viral. So far over 500,000 people have donated: 530,697 people in 12 days, raising $20,423,294 to date, with the Facebook page shared 480,000 times. The new target is now $25m.

According to Facebook, it is the biggest campaign using Facebook’s Fundraisers tool to date, and the biggest Facebook campaign since the Ice Bucket Challenge – both of which hit the $15 mark in their first week. It became its largest single fundraiser in four days and was at one point raising $2,000 a minute according to Facebook Comms Manager Roya Soleimani Winner, while in an interview with Dave Willner in USA Today, Willner said they had topped $10,000 a minute at its height.

Celebrities, brands and major donors have also stepped in to give, some with offers to match donations to the appeal. Talk show host Jimmy Fallon said he would make a donation in the President’s name after Trump insulted him in a tweet, while fashion brand Wildfang’s I Really Care jacket, created in response to Melania Trump’s infamous Zara jacket has raised $250,000 for RAICES with 100% of proceeds going to the cause. $200,000 of that was raised in just two days. A number of people have also pledged to match a proportion of the donations. So far the fundraiser has been matched up to 362K by several private donors.

RAICES has said that will use the funds to pay for legal fees, bond, and transportation costs, including directly funding bond to allow parents to reclaim their detained children and ensuring legal representation for every separated family and every unaccompanied child in Texas’s immigration courts. Last year, it says, 76% of kids – over 13,000 – did not have representation.

The Ice Bucket Challenge

2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised funds for US charity Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association, also very quickly went viral with participants challenging others to take part in their videos of them completing the challenge on Facebook.

This graphic from Plenty Consulting shows it at its height in August 2014:

Plenty Consulting

It went on to raise over $115m in eight weeks for the ALS Association with the impact shown in this infographic, and other charities including the UK’s MND AssociationCancer Research UK and Macmillan also benefitting from people fundraising for them through the challenge.


Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

Get free email updates

Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]

* We do not share your email or personal details.
" />