Facebook, fundraising

Social Fundraising On Facebook: What’s New and What’s Next

5 Comments 29 February 2016

Raise funds on FB

Every few years I write about fundraising on Facebook. To give credit where it’s due, the company was among the very first to develop a native social giving implementation.  Facebook launched Causes, a giving and advocacy platform, in 2007. While it had promise, the uptake wasn’t strong enough, perhaps due to the social culture of the time (Causes spun off from Facebook and reinvented itself in 2012).  Then…nothing else from Facebook until it rolled out the Donate button to a limited number of nonprofits in 2013, and a newer version of the button in 2015. Change is in the air, and it seems that the time is right for the same-side network effect to power fundraising on Facebook. Yet Facebook isn’t quite offering the tool that people need.

This may be the Facebook fundraising tool that sticks. (Though I have written that “social media fundraising has finally arrived,” and I was wrong before!)  If it’s going to work on any social network, it is most likely to be on Facebook. But this is a blog, and thus I will also offer my opinion:

 Facebook users must be able to raise funds for any organization, at any time.

There must be a fundraising version available to individuals. The world isn’t institution-based anymore, and neither is fundraising. One of the nine key trends affecting the charitable sector, as reported by Independent Sector, is “swarms of individuals connecting with institutions.” As individuals become increasingly sophisticated at swarming, they will sidestep institutions. Enough said.

We need to have a Donate button on individual Facebook profiles (not Causes). This is how we live now.

In addition, a native Facebook donation app must meet these basic platform requirements:

1. It all happens without leaving Facebook. Leaving the site is a huge disincentive to donors.

2. Show payment security. Donors need to see a payment trust logo, such as VeriSign. This is a basic online fundraising “must have.” Facebook Payments was never going to be the way to go – who would trust Facebook to manage your credit card information securely? Facebook Fundraiser accepts Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and other trustworthy payment options.

3. It must be available to any organization that meets Facebook’s nonprofit status requirements, at the same time.

4. The mobile donation experience must be ideal. There are more mobile-only active monthly users on Facebook than any other type of Facebook user.

Read on for my review of Facebook’s Donate and Donate Now buttons, and a Facebook fundraising tool called Fundraiser (only for orgs).

You’re Either In or Out: Donate vs. Donate Now

Not all Facebook donate buttons are alike. A handful of nonprofit partners have been selected to accept digital payments. Approved partners display a Donate button on their Facebook pages. All other nonprofit organizations that wish to collect donations – but are not approved Facebook partner organizations – display a Donate Now button on their pages.

Mercy Corps Approved Donate button option

The difference? The Donate button allows you to donate to that approved nonprofit without leaving Facebook. The Donate Now button displays a “Not endorsed by Facebook” popup (easily scaring away first-time donors), before inviting the donor to continue. After that message, donors are sent to the nonprofit’s own website donation page.

If you want to add the Donate Now button, it’s simple and easy to do.

Cancer Research UK Donation Now button collage

In other words, it’s much better to be “in” than “out.” If you want the “in” Donate button for your nonprofit, complete a request form through Facebook. One caveat: your organization must be based in the United States. No news when Facebook will roll out the native Donate option to other organizations, but my sense is that it will move in tandem with a greater Facebook fundraising roll out. Keep reading…

Facebook Fundraiser: A New Project-Based Fundraising Tool Through Facebook

There are over 1 billion daily active users on Facebook. It’s not crazy to think that Facebook would offer a tool enabling nonprofit organizations to raise money using Facebook. In mid-November, Facebook soft-launched a new product, called Fundraiser. Three international organizations, Mercy Corps, World Wildlife Fund, and National MS Society launched Fundraiser projects at the end of 2015.

Facebook Fundraiser mobile version

If it looks familiar…it’s because it is. It looks like almost every other crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising app out there. It’s clean, simple to use, and heck, it’s on Facebook. Once you join an organization’s Fundraiser on Facebook, whether or not you donate, you should receive fundraiser notifications in your newsfeed (unless you opt out). That’s a huge plus for organizations that are competing to be seen in the newsfeed without paying for it. Organizations can post updates that include video and other media, provide updates through notifications, and of course collect donations.

Mercy Corps Syrian fundraiser on FB

Mercy Corps was the most successful of the three organizations, raising $36,415 for Syrian Crisis Refugee Response during the final two weeks of November. The other organizations raised less than $2,000 with fundraisers in December. Mercy Corps’ success speaks to two cardinal rules of project-based fundraising: urgency and timing. Mercy Corps did a fantastic job of showing urgency and value to those who cared to donate.

In conclusion

Over 1 billion active monthly users represents a huge potential donor base. Facebook is still acting like they are the owner of us all, determining who’s “in” and who’s “out.” Until Facebook enables individuals to raise money using Facebook, I don’t think it will gain the trust and uptake that it needs to become a fundraising superpower.

  • Great overview. You/your readers might also want to check out Good World, a service that lets users give using #donate on Facebook and Twitter. https://goodworld.me/how-it-works

    Just another option out there I’ve seen more groups experimenting with.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Farra – I didn’t know about Good World, but it seems SUPER easy for donors. I am going to dig into that. Do you have a case study or blog from Big Duck about it? What do you find are the benefits and challenges of using #donate?


  • I haven’t managed it personally but I know folks at Conservation International and Catskill Animal Sanctuary use it. Email me directly if you need introductions.


  • Facebook is providing different platforms for its users. They started as Social Network. Now they have become, local search engine, advertising platform and now providing fundraising platform.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Akshaya – good observation. They are indeed a platform with multiple offerings, rather than a linear product. This is definitely part of their strategy to grow and be nimble in an ever-changing digital world.



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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