It was the summer of 2014 that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became arguably the most viral video campaign ever. Facebook was its main platform. The National ALS Association collected $115 million in donations (nearly six times its annual budget) while 440 million viewers on Facebook watched 17 million videos of participants dumping buckets of ice on their heads.
Most of the country stood in awe at those staggering figures. But the leaders at Facebook said, “It could be better.” At the time, there was no way for donors to contribute to the ALS on the Facebook platform—they either had to mail a check or go to a third-party site to make a donation.
That, in part, prompted the launch of Facebook’s new social good team and the introduction of new tools for nonprofits, which the social network rolled out last fall: fundraisers and improved donate buttons.
In case you weren’t aware, nonprofits can launch standalone fundraiser pages on Facebook—in addition to their general profile page—to promote special giving campaigns. A fundraiser page serves as a dedicated place to collect and track donations for a specific cause. For example, if you’re an organization whose budget increases during the holiday season, you could create a fundraising page in November and/or December that’s specifically focused on boosting your holiday and end-of-year revenue.
Perhaps even better were the donate buttons they introduced, which you can add to both pages and posts that appear in your followers’ newsfeeds. Once users enter their credit card information, the donate button allows them to contribute right there on the Facebook platform. When a user donates, he can share that with his friends, and that post features a donate button as well.
Now Facebook has expanded its fundraising tools to let individual users set up fundraisers for their favorite nonprofits. The new functionality lets users more easily see what causes their friends support, and it gives people who want to raise money for an organization a tool to do so without much effort. Only qualified U.S. and certain European users can create fundraisers for now.
The new tool lets a Facebook user create a fundraiser the same way he would create a Facebook group or event. He simply selects his preferred nonprofit from a dropdown list of approved organizations, personalizes the fundraiser page with content, sets a revenue goal and invites friends to donate. Shares and re-shares of contributions include a donate button, so friends of donors can contribute easily from their newsfeed.
While these tools provide an opportunity for seamless giving that your organization may find helpful, there’s one caveat: Facebook will provide you with information about those users who set up fundraisers on your behalf, but you will only receive donor email addresses if the donor opts to disclose it. In other words, you may receive several donations with no way of tracking down (or more importantly, thanking and stewarding) the donor.
Social media is a terrific tool for engagement and potentially, even fundraising. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Facebook is leased land. You don’t get to set the rules of engagement; Facebook does. And those rules could change at any time. That’s why your website should be built with the right tools and functionality that make it your main marketing and fundraising hub.
Want to take your nonprofit organization’s video marketing and social media to the next level? Firespring offers helpful webinars on how your nonprofit can market itself to further its cause.