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Facebook adds Donate Now button for some US nonprofits

Howard Lake | 18 December 2013 | News

Facebook has added a ‘Donate Now’ button to 19 US nonprofits that lets people donate directly via Facebook. It means that Facebook users can donate within Facebook, and not have to leave to visit a donation page on a nonprofit’s website.
The feature appears at the top of participating nonprofits’ Facebook pages, and beside posts in the News Feed that they share. Facebook users who click on the button are invited to choose the amount and enter their payment information and “immediately donate to that cause”, according to Facebook.
The donation can be made in as few as two clicks if the donor has already used its credit card on Facebook. Otherwise donors will need to enter their credit or debit card details.
Donors can then share the nonprofit’s post with their friends on Facebook, with the aim of encouraging others to give. “We hope this will help increase donations as people encourage their friends to donate to the causes that are important to them”, explained the company in a news release.

Not available to UK charities yet

At launch the facility was not available to UK charities, but Facebook is inviting expressions of interest. The contact form asks for the organisation’s country, and implies that it is open to receiving enquiries from around the world. The UK is listed.

Typhoon Haiyan

“Every local cause can become a global one — and every global cause can become a personal movement” Facebook
Facebook explained that the ‘donate now’ button was inspired by the success of the company’s partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross last month in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan. Facebook users were able to donate directly to the Red Cross’s relief efforts in the Philippines.
But there have been calls for a ‘donate now’ version of the Facebook ‘like’ button for some years.


Why your supporters are wealthier than you think... Course by Catherine Miles. Background photo of two sides of a terraced street of houses.

Counter to slactivism?

The launch of the donate now button follows the publication of a study by the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business which found that “if people are able to declare support for a charity publicly in social media it can actually make them less likely to donate to the cause later on.”

Facebook Donate Now participating US nonprofits

First 19 US nonprofits using Facebook’s Donate Now button


Benefit to Facebook?

Even though Facebook is passing 100% of donations to the nonprofits, it does stand to benefit commercially from this initiative, simply by gathering more billing information from its users. Josh Constine at Techcrunch commented:

“The button will collect credit card numbers and other billing info for Facebook that could aid its ecommerce and gaming initiatives”.

Benefit to charities?

Is this a major step forward that will increase giving to charities? Simply adding a ‘donate now’ button is not effective online fundraising, as many charities have learned over the years. Just because you can add a button now on Facebook does not change that.
Indeed, the button simply generates donations to participating charities. Those charities do not receive the donor’s contact details, so there is no way of developing a relationship with them. The data stays with Facebook.
In Facebook rolls out Donate button. “Gee thanks,” sigh charities, Carmel Deamicis argues that the donate now button, even rolled out so soon to Christmas, is “It’s the social giving equivalent of getting socks for Christmas. Sure, you may wear them, but it’s no shiny new bike.”
She added:
“The gift charities really wanted was an Ad Grants program akin to Google’s, where Facebook would give accredited non-profits $10,000 worth of promoted posts monthly. That way, non-profits could get their pages in front of more eyeballs, garnering more supporters”.

Benefit to your charity?

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