Is Facebook Supporting the Nonprofit Sector with Their New Donate Button?

by Mordecai Holtz

Facebook recently announced they’re rolling out a new Donate feature. This feature is aimed at increasing contributions to the nonprofit industry as people will now be able to give directly on the Facebook page.

While theoretically, this new update should be an absolute game-changer for the sector, is it possible that the coveted ROI of social media efforts seems more like a goodwill gesture when what the industry really needs/wants is a huge donation?

After discussing the topic with some colleagues, here are some of the main questions about Facebook’s new Donate feature.

Why is this different than Facebook Causes from 6 years ago?

Great question! I think that at the time when Causes was rolled out, the nonprofit industry was still new to the entire concept of social giving. And, while the app was never intended to be a major revenue stream for any organization, it was probably a bit premature. Over time, the web has become more sophisticated, a lot more social and organizations have accepted and integrated social media into their marketing mix.

Another difference is the seamless integration in the donation process. While the original Causes offered a less direct and clunky donation process, the Donate button eliminates any unnecessary steps involved. Once a donor clicks on the button, the donation is complete in only a few steps.

donate_3

Another bonus: The organization keeps 100% percent of the funds raised via the Donate button! No transaction fees.

So if the Donate button is so good, what are some of the drawbacks?

  • Unlike typical donation processors, which provide the organization with critical information to maintain a relationship with their donors, to date the Facebook Donate button will not release contact information to the nonprofit. So while Facebook is encouraging online giving, it is slamming the door to developing a nonprofit’s lifeline and main source of revenue – the database.

life-preserver

  • Facebook’s new algorithm has decreased overall organic brand reach across the board, which essentially means that nonprofits have to work even harder to gain the attention of the decreased audience they are reaching. Having a Donate button may detract the few fans that actually see a post.

Won’t this essentially eliminate the entire process of engagement and online cultivation?

This is also a very valid concern with such an app. In short, yes. Incorporating a donate button on the Facebook page could shift the critical relationship between donor and organization to being more of a business transaction. If every post is focused on asking for donations, then fans and followers will quickly detect this change and find other causes to support.

Social media should focus on community building and brand awareness not donations.

Are all nonprofits eligible to register for the new Donate Now button?

For now, charity donations via Facebook are limited to users in the United States and only if the nonprofit’s preferred currency set as USD. See here for more information about the limitations to the new Donate Now button. Since the roll out is still in its initial phases, I imagine that these limitations will expand over time.

Another issue is that foreign viewers of charity Facebook pages whose IP address are non-US based will not see the Donate Now button.

Should we sign up?

I think it’s a bit too early to determine what effects Facebook’s Donate button will have on a nonprofit’s online giving strategy. Right now, until more than 19 organizations opt-in to Facebook’s new app, I’ll continue to recommend that the key is relevant and engaging content that fans will want to share and hold off on advising nonprofits to take advantage of the new donate button.

Here’s an interesting article from TechCrunch about Facebook’s true intentions.

What’s your take on the Facebook Donate button? Would you support a nonprofit that has integrated it onto their Facebook page?

Mordecai is the NonProfit Division Leader at Pixel/Point Press. After working in the industry for almost eight years, Mordecai has merged his passions for social causes and social media by applying online marketing principles to the nonprofit sector. Beyond engaging people online, Mordecai loves applying his creative flair and passion to help clients succeed in the digital space.

Mordecai is an occasional contributor to eJewish Philanthropy. You can follow Mordecai by reading his blog noholtzbarred.com or on twitter @mordecaiholtz

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Comments

  1. Great points, and I concur with each one of them. For me, the inability to view or own the donor data outweighs the no-fee fundraising. The fact of the matter is that this is likely here to stay, and there will certainly be nonprofits (for now, US-based, as you astutely mention) who will figure out a good way to utilize the button without losing people who like the page. What nonprofits need, more than a Donate button, is an equivalent to Google Grants for nonprofits. With the depression of organic post reach, the need for Facebook Ad Grants to reach more people is more and more important.

  2. What do you think about leveraging it for peer-to-peer giving? per campaign?
    Example – I participate in a bike-a-thone and I advertize my cause/charity and I have all my netwrok donate using this functionality?

    It may actually solve a major issue of spamming later many one time donors, while actually achieving raising the money.

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