Facebook for social good

Facebook has launched Fundraisers, a new tool to help non-profits to solicit and receive donations directly through the platform.

Facebook has made good use of its billion-strong audience to raise awareness and funds in times of crisis, such as the Fukushima earthquake, the ALS Association, Ebola and others.

Facebook’s new social good team has been working on building a set of tools to help its community make the world a better place:

  • Since January 2015, Facebook has pushed Amber Alerts to its users who might help locate a missing child.
  • The Safety Check tool, first experimented in the wake of Nepal earthquake in April 2015, helps Facebook users connect with friends and loved ones during disasters.
  • Facebook also used the existing Donate Now button to encourage its users to contribute to the relief effort in Nepal and committed to match every dollar donated up to $2 million.

Facebook claim it will now be easier for users to donate to any non-profit organisation, directly from their news feed.

While traditional call-to-action buttons sent users to external donation pages, Facebook’s new integrated Fundraisers allow charities to build their community, raise awareness of their cause and collect donations all in one place.

 


Introducing New Tools for Nonprofits from Facebook on Vimeo.

 

Social media to the rescue of charitable causes

Facebook isn’t the only technology giant to act as a Good Samaritan. Google launched a public fundraising campaign to fight Ebola as well as its own Person Finder search engine. Twitter helped organise and promote relief operations in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake.

But Facebook may well become the key actor in driving support for charitable causes because to its users, it feels more personal and friendly.

It is a great place to tell a story, bringing it to life by adding photos and videos, and to start a discussion. Compared to more narrowly-focussed platforms, on Facebook there are still more calls to action and a rich social graph based on friends and interests to tap into.

Worth noting is the potential nudge effect: when making a donation on Facebook, donors are encouraged to share it in the form of an update that will pop-up in their friends’ newsfeeds, encouraging them to hit the ‘Donate’ button as well, potentially driving more donations.

 

What’s the benefit for Facebook?

With this latest development, Facebook is reinforcing its reputation as an actor in global civil society, and not simply another Silicon Valley corporation.

It is also a step forward toward a fully integrated customer experience. Facebook has been making efforts to keep its users within its platform and convince marketers that Facebook pages drive conversations:

  • Earlier this year, Facebook gave its integrated blogging platform Notes a makeover
  • The company partnered with publishers to make media articles available directly on its platform, through ‘Instant Articles
  • It launched Trending in an attempt to counter-balance Twitter’s attraction for breaking news

 

What are the potential risks?

Data. As stated on the Q&A for Fundraiser, donors’ personal information is stored by Facebook – including bank details to make repeated donations easier – and shared with receiving charities. It raises concerns for the protection of the data of some of its 1.55 billion users.

Reputation. As a corporation, Facebook has actively supported some controversial causes, including gay marriage. But opening up to all non-profits means the social network won’t get to pick and choose charities based on whether or not they align with Facebook’s own stance.

How will Facebook avoid some of the awkward situations JustGiving has found itself in from time to time, in terms of being seen as a fundraising platform used by more divisive causes, as well as those with broader support?

 

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