What every nonprofit must know about the Facebook donate button

Many charity professionals use social media to get their message out – as well they should! Social networking sites are great tools for connecting with your followers.

So it must seem like a fantastic development that Facebook has taken it a step further by letting supporters donate to your cause using the Facebook donate button.

But before you add that to your fundraising armoury, there’s something you should know.

When a charity shares a link via Facebook to their fundraising page on GivenGain (or any other crowdfunding platform) and chooses to add Facebook’s donate button to the post, they will still get the donation – but with a couple of snags.


The problem with Facebook Payments


First, while you might have linked to a GivenGain campaign in a Facebook post, donations made through the Facebook donation button aren’t made to that campaign – or even through GivenGain at all. They won’t count towards your fundraising total (unless you add them manually) and they won’t show up in your analytics on GivenGain. Most concerningly for donor relations, the donor’s name won’t be recorded on the campaign page like a regular donation.

Instead, most Facebook donations go through Facebook’s own payment processing system, to which you have to sign up separately. And while the platform makes alternative methods available, they’re much slower: charities in Canada, the UK or Australia, for example, can wait up to 90 days for donations to arrive.

Furthermore, while GivenGain lets supporters around the world donate to your charity, Facebook only allows people in 46 countries to donate – compared to 193 on GivenGain – and even some of those face extra restrictions. Donors in India, for example, can only donate to nonprofit fundraisers that are also based in India.


Sharing donor data


Is it starting to sound like Facebook donations may in fact not be the boost you had hoped, but a limitation? There’s more.

Facebook isn’t generous with the data it supplies to charities. In some countries, donors can opt in to receive further communications from the charity when they donate, but that isn’t universal.

Charities rely on their mailing lists to raise money: reaching out to potential donors regularly is an essential piece of fundraising strategy. Even the very basics, like thanking your supporters when they donate, don’t work when you don’t have their contact details. And forget about segmenting your donors by location to target your campaigns better – the most you get from Facebook is a name, a donation amount and an e-mail address. When you receive donations through GivenGain, you automatically get contact details for the donor – making it easy to thank them for their support and stay in touch.


Taking back control of your fundraising


If your fundraisers are raising money for you through Facebook or you’ve already run some campaigns on the platform, what can you do to bring it back in-house?

You can start by letting your followers know about the issues with the Facebook donate button, either by e-mail or on social media. Encourage them to donate elsewhere, either on your GivenGain page, through your website using the GivenGain donate button, or even via the GivenGain livestreaming widget during your online fundraisers.

If you want to go a step further, you can deactivate donate buttons from your charity account’s Settings page on Facebook – and also prevent your supporters from starting Facebook fundraising events in your charity’s name.

None of this is to say that using Facebook is bad for you – it’s still a great place to update followers on your campaigns, share amazing upcoming events and find new supporters, and we use it ourselves all the time.


But in the end, it’s a for-profit social media platform, not a non-profit fundraising space. By helping your followers to understand that, you can direct them to donate in ways that are better for your charity – and the causes they care about.


You also keep full control of your donors’ data – which is a good feeling.


If you need any help setting up your fundraising campaign or using any of the features discussed in this article, we’re here for you. Visit our support page or drop us an e-mail at support@givengain.com to get all your questions answered.

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