2 Arguments for Why Nonprofits Should Stay on Facebook
Ever since Facebook was invented by a Harvard student in 2004, it seems as though it’s been making headlines in a controversial manner. First, because it was used as a ranking system for fellow students. Then, because people were worried society spent more time connecting on screens than chatting in person.
When the platform created fundraising tools, it was an exciting new innovation for nonprofit organizations. However, this too was eventually regarded in a controversial manner.
This article does a great job of summarizing some of the key critiques of social fundraising on Facebook. While some critique social giving more generally — believing that fundraising on social media is somehow less genuine — the bigger criticism is of how Facebook uses the donor data it acquires. The worry is that it’s hard to know how Facebook uses the data it collects and some suspect that parent company Meta is selling that data to outside organizations.
Let’s discuss two arguments for why your nonprofit should continue using Facebook despite these criticisms.
1. Collecting Donor Data Isn’t As Alarming As It Might Sound
I mentioned how much of the worry surrounding using Facebook for nonprofits is that the platform collects donor data and sells it for a profit to advertisers. For nonprofits, it can feel unethical to ask donors to engage on Facebook while knowing what is happening on the backend of the site.
Now, I’m not arguing that Facebook doesn’t collect and sell donor data to advertisers. I’m arguing that it’s not as scandalous as some might think.
Think of it this way: Have you ever performed a Google search? If you’re like many people, you’ve probably searched for many things today alone. Perhaps you searched for medical symptoms, recommendations for an upcoming purchase or a specific organization’s website you wanted to visit. In fact, if you use Google Chrome, everything that you type into the address bar that isn’t a full website address is a Google search.
Similar to Facebook, Google collects and sells data about its users. And, you’ve probably seen the impact through targeted ads that align with your search history.
The point is that, if you’re using the internet regularly, in any capacity, your data is being collected and sold. For modern tech users, data collection is a simple fact of life.
Beyond that, Facebook users can read about what data the platform collects and who it shares it with, as well as access, rectify and erase that data if they so choose. Each of your supporters who are Facebook users are already accessing the platform — and accepting any risk — of their own volition. They’ll be on the platform whether or not your organization interacts with them on it, so it makes sense to make the most of the channel that already exists.
2. It’s the Stage for the Third Shift in Giving
Beyond the fact that the main criticism — data use — may not be as worrisome as first thought, nonprofits should remain on Facebook because the platform itself is where fundraising, more generally, is moving toward.
Consider the history of nonprofit fundraising. The first wave took place through direct mail and handwritten checks. Then, the second wave was through the internet and online fundraising pages on nonprofit websites, with organizations following up after the fact via email. We’re now observing a third shift in giving — in-channel engagement and social fundraising tactics.
Between Twitter-driven crowdfunding campaigns, Facebook fundraisers and TikTok creator-led philanthropy, donors are looking to give to nonprofits through the channels that they’re already spending significant time on — social networks. Even further, the entire transaction from the initial gift through the nonprofit’s followup takes place in-channel on the network itself, thanks to conversational messaging tools like Messenger.
This shift makes sense for a number of reasons. For one, in-channel engagement presents a more convenient and cohesive experience for supporters who no longer need to toggle between apps on their phones to engage with nonprofits and one another. Further, social media has become a main avenue for interpersonal connection, especially during the pandemic.
As a result, social fundraising service providers and platforms are creating functionality to support the third shift in giving. Challenges on Facebook have emerged as a way to host peer-to-peer campaigns directly on the platform. If you partner with the right social fundraising services provider, you can access full P2P functionality directly on Facebook — including team signups and participant referrals.
And, major nonprofit organizations are leading the way with embracing the new age of fundraising. In just 2020 and 2021, Susan G. Komen, the American Cancer Society, Best Friends Animal Society and No Kid Hungry all hosted Challenges on Facebook to connect with social supporters.
It’s time to accept that social giving on Facebook is the future of fundraising. For your nonprofit, you likely have a number of supporters on the platform — who will be on the platform whether your organization is or not and are eager to engage with your organization.
Cassie Losquadro is a sales leader at GoodUnited, the social giving solution. Cassie has spent the last five years in the fundraising technology space. Cassie is energized by working with nonprofit leaders and changemakers who are to a person, saving the world through their initiatives. Hailing from Rhode Island, Cassie lives and works from Charleston, South Carolina, with her husband, two children and a rescue pup Bella.