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Facebook Just Made It Easier to Ask Friends for Charitable Donations

Facebook Said to Plan IPO Filing for as Early as Coming WeekFacebook Said to Plan IPO Filing for as Early as Coming Week
The tool is the latest release from Facebook's social good team.Photograph by Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook (FB) continued its quest to be a hub of charitable giving on Thursday by letting individual users set up fundraisers for non-profit organizations the way they would set up a group or event on the social network.

The new capability is aimed at streamlining charitable giving to 501(c)(3) organizations while keeping donors on Facebook. It also means friends who support charities will have an easier time hitting you up for money.

Naomi Gleit, vice president of product management for social good at Facebook, told Fortune that the social network wants to make donating to a nonprofit “seamless.” People want to contribute, she said, “some just don’t know what cause to give to.” The new capability lets users more easily see what causes their friends support, and it gives users who want to raise money for an organization a tool to personalize their efforts.


On Thursday, 1% of Facebook users in the United States will gain the ability to create fundraisers for 100 nonprofits that the social network has vetted. A wider rollout is expected in the coming weeks. Only U.S. users will be able to create fundraisers for now; users from 39 countries will be able to donate.

The new tool will let a user create a fundraiser the same way she would have created a Facebook group or event. She’ll select her preferred non-profit from a dropdown list of approved organizations, personalize the fundraiser page with photos and text, set a fundraising goal, and invite her friends to donate.

Fundraiser on desktop and mobile
Courtesy of Facebook
Courtesy of Facebook

Invitees can contribute in a matter of clicks—assuming they’ve uploaded their credit card information to Facebook in the past—without having to navigate away from Facebook to an external donation link. They will then be urged to share the fundraiser and invite their friends to give. Shares and re-shares of contributions will contain a donate button, so friends of donors could see a prompt to contribute money in their own newsfeed.

And yes, all those requests for donations might get old fast.

Gleit says Facebook wants to measure and reduce the tool’s “noise”—a nice word for what could be a rather annoying stream of pleas for money. She offers this assurance: “You’ll only see fundraisers from friends; you’re not seeing all fundraisers on Facebook.”

Gleit also said the social network has learned that the most effective way to share information about fundraisers on Facebook is through its messenger service. That means users may be more likely to hit up friends for donations with one-on-one messages, rather than through a larger invitation blast. Fundraisers will also be equipped with the normal controls that let users block the fundraiser or leave it if they’re invited to join.

The fundraiser tool for users is the latest product from Facebook’s social good team, which launched last year and is responsible for the social network’s safety check technology that’s switched on after natural disasters or emergencies and lets users notify friends that they’re okay. The team also focuses on nonprofits’ presence and fundraising on the social network. In November, it released standalone fundraiser pages for charitable organizations and improved donate buttons.

Facebook is taking a 5% cut of all donations that come through users’ fundraisers—2% covers its own operating costs and 3% covers the cost of processing payments. Graham McReynolds, chief marketing and development officer at the National MS Society, told Fortune last year that per-transaction fees on online donations tend to be in the 3-5% range.

Nonprofits no doubt embrace the idea of more seamless giving, but Facebook’s entrance into the space has raised some questions about how organizations turn contributions made through the platform into more than one-off donations since they don’t always know who’s giving the money. Facebook says organizations will receive information about users who set up fundraisers for their benefit, but nonprofits will only get donors’ emails addresses if the donor opts to disclose it.