Facebook offers new way to give to causes

Friends can help spur donations to their favorite non-profits

- Jessica Guynn

New to your Facebook News Feed: friend-raising.

As of Thursday, some Facebook users in the United States were able to create campaigns to raise money for personal causes from their friends. They can share their personal story and set a fundraisin­g goal on dedicated pages so that friends can donate to 501 (c)(3) non-profits in a few taps or clicks without leaving Facebook.

Facebook, which began allowing non-profits to raise money on the giant social network late last year, has signed up some 50 nonprofits and will continue to enroll more.

The initiative comes from the “Social Good” team run by early Facebook employee Naomi Gleit. Gleit says Facebook noticed people were raising money on Facebook for causes they care about, from breast cancer walks to cli- mate change, and wanted to make it easier.

“The inspiratio­n for this is that it was already happening on Facebook,” says Gleit, Facebook’s vice president of product management for social good.

For years the promise of harvesting donations on social media has dangled out of reach, lagging direct mail, events and other more traditiona­l ways of soliciting donations. Three-quarters of visitors to charity websites came via a search query or by typing in the URL, with only 3% hailing from social media, according to Adobe Digital Index.

In 2007, Internet entreprene­ur Joe Green and Facebook billionair­e Sean Parker created a Facebook app called Causes. Their theory: People are more likely to donate to help a cause that is important to someone close to them. Friends who respond to that social pressure receive something in return: social recognitio­n.

What is emerging as a potentiall­y powerful force: peer-topeer fundraisin­g, appeals for small sums directly from friends.

One notable success hints at the potential for this type of fundraisin­g on Facebook: the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge in which friends and celebritie­s dumped buckets of ice water to raise $115 million for ALS research.

In fact, that campaign was so successful that The ALS Associatio­n, convinced it could have raised even more money directly on Facebook, asked Facebook for the ability to do so.

In testing personal fundraisin­g campaigns on Facebook, Gleit says Facebook learned that friends are moved to open up their wallets by personal stories and photos.

“Giving is really personal. It’s one thing for American Red Cross to raise money for American Red Cross. It’s another for a friend to raise money on behalf of American Red Cross,” Gleit says. “We tend to give to people that we care about.”

With the fundraisin­g campaigns, Facebook users can make their appeal on Facebook, Facebook Messenger and by email. Each time someone donates to the campaign, they are prompted to share the campaign and invite friends. Shares and re-shares also contain the “donate” button.

 ?? FACEBOOK ?? People will be able to share their fundraisin­g campaigns on Facebook.
FACEBOOK People will be able to share their fundraisin­g campaigns on Facebook.

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