Facebook’s “Donate Now” Button Gets Mixed Reviews

While the social network’s new donate feature could boost fundraising efforts, many are asking who will benefit more: nonprofits or Facebook?

Fundraising through social media just got a whole lot easier for nonprofits, but not without some concerns.

A new feature launched this week by Facebook will allow any of the social network’s more than 1 billion users to contribute directly to a nonprofit that displays the “Donate Now” button on its homepage and news feed—so long as the user allows his or her credit card information to be stored on Facebook’s servers.

“In November 2013, in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, we partnered with the International Federation of Red Cross to let people donate directly to the Red Cross’s relief efforts in the Philippines,” Facebook said in a statement. “After seeing the generosity of people around the world toward this effort, we’ve been inspired to help everyone donate, at any time, to the organizations they care about most.”

At launch, 19 nonprofits had partnered with the social media giant. The American Red Cross, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society, and World Wildlife Fund, among other groups, began displaying the “Donate Now” button at the top of their Facebook pages.

The tool received high marks for its potential impact in the nonprofit community, especially from the participating groups, but others expressed concern over the fact that Facebook will be storing users’ payment information.

“It’s a touching sentiment, and the donate option could certainly help rally people to give in times of crisis, but it’s not an entirely altruistic move on Facebook’s part,” wrote CNET’s Jennifer Van Grove. “Should you choose to donate, you’ll help Facebook build out its database of members with credit cards attached to their accounts.”

Tech Crunch noted that having a credit card linked to your Facebook account enables an autofill feature that speeds up the online shopping experience in mobile apps that integrate with the social network. But, at the same time, it helps Facebook show advertisers just how much revenue their ads on the site generate, boosting Facebook’s own business.

Further, participating nonprofits won’t receive any information about the individuals who donate through Facebook.

“Many nonprofits dedicate considerable resources to track supporter’s multichannel donations and activities,” Rob Manix, senior web director of Rad Campaign, told marketing blog Frogloop. “Donor history is integral to strategically targeting advocates with relevant campaigns, avoiding donor fatigue, and stretching limited resources. Without this data, the potential for multiple solicitations and angry supporters is inevitable.”

Might your organization use Facebook’s new donate feature to help with fundraising? (If so, here’s the form to sign up.) Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Associations Now illustration)

Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!