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The strategic opportunities of Facebook’s suite of donation tools

Facebook hand holding a heart
The strategic opportunities of Facebook’s suite of donation tools

A growing number of charities are taking advantage of online tools to connect with a broader audience and raise funds, and with recently joining the movement with its ‘Donate’ button, this transformation is only set to gather pace.

Since 2015, US Facebook users have been able to donate directly to charities using the ‘Donate’ button, which has had fantastic results, including $16m raised in just one week for the Nepal earthquake. In September, Facebook made the fundraising function available in the UK and Europe, meaning that its 35 million UK users can now mimic their US counterparts and donate to their
chosen causes without having to leave the site.

Making fundraising simple

The arrival of the ‘Donate’ button will undoubtedly make Facebook a highly effective fundraising tool and a very competitive one at that. Until recently, UK charities had to pay a 5% fee on each donation made through Facebook; the same price as JustGiving.

However, Facebook recently announced that donations to non-profits would be exempt from fees, meaning that 100% of funds
sent through the ‘Donate’ button will go directly to charity. The implications for JustGiving could be huge; the 5% fee is their entire business model, whereas for Facebook the donation tools are a CSR project on the side and easily able to undercut JustGiving’s offering in the long term.

Using exactly the same strategies and tactics employed by marketers in recent years, charities can now place the ‘Donate’ button directly in front of the most relevant users through Facebook’s multitude of advertising tools.

However, while Facebook’s shiny new button might sound all singing and dancing, charities should be careful not to rush in or risk doing more harm than good.

Creating positive engagement

With so many charities vying for attention, it’s perhaps unsurprising that apathy poses a problem, with recent research* revealing that four out of five charity donors feel ‘neutral’ about their level of engagement with charities. For fear of overloading and irritating potential donors, charities should be clever about where and how often they use the ‘Donate’ button. In this case, less is most definitely more; it’s important that charities use the button within relevant content, rather than plaster it on every post.

For an advert to resonate, users must understand the story the charity is telling and the difference a potential donation could make. A great way to do this is through story-telling campaigns, which have the power to both increase audience engagement and introduce the ‘Donate’ function in a more natural setting. Taking a staggered approach allows a brand to feel less invasive and more personable. An added bonus of story-telling campaigns is the use of immersive visual aids, which, when combined with charities’ highly emotive content, can create powerful user experiences.

Research has shown that when users become emotionally engaged with an organisation, they’re much more likely to donate larger sums and this is where Facebook could really come into its own for the charity sector in helping to reignite people’s passion for worthy causes.

Direct donations can also be taken via Facebook Live events, teeing up countless opportunities for charities to offer real-time insight into their work, deepen engagement and raise vital funds.

If used correctly, Facebook could prove a powerful tool for charities to increase donations. With only a handful of UK charities actively using the function, there is still an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and start testing the applications relevant to your niche.

*Research carried out by agencies Amaze One and Harvest, together with market research consultancy Boy on a Beach.


Tom Chapman is Director at Manifesto, the agency of creatives and technologists who collaborate with exceptional organisations to change things for the better.

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