Facebook for Nonprofits Underwhelms

Over the past month, you may have heard some chatter about a brand new tool Facebook has rolled out. Not surprising.

Since 2013, Facebook has been trying to assert itself as a force for social good. In November of last year, they launched fundraiser pages and improved donate features. (See a past Dowitcher blog on this very topic!) In December, they even created a Social Good Team, dedicated to social good initiatives and products.

Now, the company is introducing Facebook for Nonprofits. This new website caters directly to nonprofit organizations and NGOs. It gives groups the “tools and ideas to engage people in their causes and amplify their goals.”

As with any change to the social media world, people are wondering, “Will it help promote and grow my organization?” and “Is it worth my time?” The short answer is yes. The long answer is complicated. Let me explain why.

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Facebook for Nonprofits is a virtual toolkit for how to successfully manage an organizations Facebook Page. It walks you through the basics of getting started (setting up a page), raising awareness (share and connect), activating supporters (engaging audiences), and raising funds (donate now!).

Great in theory, right? But in practicality? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong, a few of the resources on the site can certainly be of use. It is definitely worth your time to check out the featured success stories for inspiration or read up on how to set up CTAs that work.

But much of the website focuses on rudimentary steps, such as the basics of setting up a page, and reads like an instruction manual. Facebook seems to disregard what we already know: Since its inception in 2004, people all over the world have used Facebook to raise funds and as a tool for spreading awareness during crises (think Japan earthquake of 2011). By now, 98% of nonprofits and charities have created a Facebook page and are utilizing it to reach new audiences.  The majority of nonprofit Facebook users are not platform novices and should not be treated as first-time users.

Why is Facebook under the impression that nonprofits are behind in the game? Haven’t marketers understood, for almost a decade now, that social media is critical in establishing a presence? And don’t we all agree that social media is now the number one way to engage people where they spend their time online? Millenials are, as-to-yet, an untapped group of potential donors; nonprofits know this and are engaging with them on social.

The resources then jump from beginners tips to in-depth pages detailing how to advertise on the social network. As you progress through the site, it reads as an advertisement for Facebook’s own advertising products. Scrolling through the pages, it is evident that Facebook is treating nonprofits like businesses, guiding them to spend their marketing money on Facebook. Overall, the targeting just seems off: organizations that need help in setting up Facebook pages probably are not in a position just yet to allocate significant money to social media marketing. They are likely looking for free resources, such as Google’s YouTube for Nonprofits. And those who do have larger budgets are likely in need of deeper, more nuanced resources than what Facebook has made available so far with this new website.

As of now I’m not overwhelmingly impressed with what Facebook is offering the nonprofit sector with this website. However there’s always room to learn and maybe there is hope after all because, as Facebook says, new resources and features will be continuously added. I look forward to checking back and seeing if they’ve added tutorials on how to embed a donation form or how to link the “Donate Now” button to a mobile-friendly form. Nonprofit organizations might also benefit from tips on how to promote keywords and shortlinks on photos and videos. More help on how to engage supporters and motivate donors is always welcome, too!


Have you used Facebook for Nonprofits? If so, what have you learned? If not, what is holding you back?

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