Facebook Fundraising: The Good & The Bad

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

In recent months Facebook has expanded the ways its users can support their favorite charities. The company announced a $50 million match in support of communities rebuilding after disasters. That’s very helpful. Further, they waived the processing fees on donations collected for nonprofits that use their platform. This too is very helpful. However, there are a few caveats you should be aware of. I’ll start with the good news.

The DONATE Button:

The DONATE button on Facebook is an easy way for your registered nonprofit to increase revenue. However, it’s a bit more complicated than it may seem at first glance. The DONATE button itself can activate a URL which routes the donation through Facebook, Network for Good, or another third-party site, including your agency’s own donation page. Using your agency’s donation page ensures that no fees will be taken from the donation and that information about the donor will be received in full. That’s a significant issue, as you’ll soon see.

If you route the donation through Facebook or Network for Good, you can qualify for matching opportunities that may be available, such as those launched by Facebook for #GivingTuesday. To take advantage of such opportunities, you should apply to qualify for use of Facebook’s fundraising tools. There’s no charge for this application, nor is there a requirement that the agency uses the tools once approved.

Facebook Fundraisers: 

Also new is that individual Facebook users can now launch their very own fundraiser for their favorite nonprofit. This is a great way to make others aware of the work of your agency and to turn your donors into fundraisers. The process is simple and is described by Facebook here.

Again, there are a few crucial caveats. Facebook processes the funds through the nonprofit Network for Good, and it takes time for the latter to disburse the donation to you – upwards of 30 days in fact. That’s not too bad, you can probably live with that; but here’s the really weighty caveat: Facebook does not share the names of the individuals that donate! That’s right, you won’t know the donor’s name or contact information.

This should not make any fundraiser happy! Without the names of the donors and their contact information, our ability to cultivate them for on-going giving is thwarted. Not good at all. The identity of the individuals who donate appears in Network for Good’s report as “Anonymous.” This means that you will not actually grow your agency’s donor base from this method! There’s no direct way for your agency to follow up with the donors directly and thank them for their contribution. As a workaround for now, you’ll have to ask your Facebook friend who initiated the fundraiser to thank them on your behalf and ask those donors to sign-up for themselves at your website. That’s an inefficient process guaranteed to result in lost donor prospects. Also, you can ask the friend to share the names of the people with you because they’re on his or her own Facebook page.

In summary, Facebook has made giving easier for donors but has not done all that’s necessary to make fundraising easier for nonprofits. We’ll keep monitoring this for you.

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

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