By Kat Ferreira

Five, ten, or twenty years ago, fundraising professionals could never have predicted Facebook let alone the myriad of ways nonprofits can communicate with their constituents today. As the nonprofit sector’s fundraising methods and internal processes expand, so too does the technology to support those efforts.

Whether your organization prefers the metaphor of a landscape or an ecosystem, the concept is essentially the same. There are multiple software platforms in the marketplace that your organization will use—some of these tools will complement each other while others may compete. As the ecosystem evolves, some tools gobble up others in the food chain. There is even some cross-pollination between the sectors, too, as corporate technology platforms expand into the nonprofit space.

Recent changes to the Facebook news feed have dominated the news thus far in 2018. In a scramble to beat back fake news, Facebook has experimented with promoting more content from your friends, not publishers. This change will have big impacts for nonprofits, already struggling news outlets, and the future of Facebook itself.

On January 31, 2018, founder Mark Zuckerberg announced to Wall Street investors that since the Facebook news feed changes were implemented, the time users spend on Facebook has dropped significantly.  But he remains optimistic. Zuckerberg predicts that Facebook users may spend less time on the platform overall, but their time will be spent engaging with more meaningful content (e.g. your nonprofit’s future fundraising campaign).

ICYMI Facebook Expands Donation and Disaster Relief Tools

Did you miss the other big Facebook changes in the fall? The final months and weeks of the year are often a frantic time for fundraising staff. Between juggling annual appeals or #GivingTuesday campaigns, your development team might not have had the bandwidth to follow Facebook’s second Social Good Forum or consider the implications for future holiday appeals.

On November 29, 2017, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will permanently eliminate the 5% fees for charitable organizations in the United States. This means that Facebook will absorb the 3% payment processing fees that most online fundraising platforms pass on to the end user, as well as waiving the 2% of fees Facebook previously charged to cover their expenses.

In the last few years, social media has become integral to the success of online crowdsourced fundraising campaigns. Early donation platforms may pre-date social media, but now donors primarily communicate about gifts via social media networks like Facebook. Your donors share information about your cause and direct their friends to click through to donate to an external site, whether that destination is hosted by Network for Good, Classy, or GoFundMe.

But your donors clicking through to leave Facebook for an external donation platform may soon be a thing of the past. Because the elimination of donation fees by Facebook is more than a public relations exercise to foster good will after a controversial year. It is a signal of Facebook’s broader strategy to ultimately replace other donation platforms in their endless effort to keep users from clicking away and leaving Facebook.

What this Means for Your Fundraising Efforts

So, should you give up on using non-Facebook online fundraising platforms? Absolutely not. But Development Directors should expect to see a drop in traffic from Facebook to external fundraising platforms and carve out resources in 2018 to explore Facebook’s native fundraising tools that supplement other donation solicitation and collection activities.

Individual Facebook users in the United States will find that raising donations natively in the platform will be easier than ever, too. Since late 2017, U.S.-based Facebook users have the ability to create engaging Facebook fundraising campaigns to celebrate their birthdays and bolster their favorite causes.

Plus, leadership at larger organizations should monitor closely Facebook’s roll-out of its Fundraisers API. By opening up the back-end, Facebook is allowing some organizations to sync their non-Facebook fundraising pages with their native Facebook campaigns. This would allow the total amount of funds raised via either platform to update automatically in both places.
In spring 2018, watch for Facebook testing this integrated platform with nonprofits such as Susan G. Komen, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Movember Foundation.

Facebook and the Data of Disaster Relief

In addition to the elimination of donation fees and launching the Fundraisers API, Facebook is also opening up the Community Help tool API to disaster response organizations such as the American Red Cross and NetHope.

Integrated with Facebook’s “Safety Check” features, the Community Help tool was officially launched in 2017 to allow Facebook users to ask or offer help during a crisis. Once Facebook users mark themselves “safe,” Facebook will display other users’ safety statuses with an option to “Find Help” for food, water, shelter, or transportation. Individual users with help to offer can then scroll through help requests and reply directly to others in need.

Giving disaster relief organizations access to this user data could improve the efficiency of their efforts on the ground. Plus, there is no shortage of crisis on the horizon. As social media platforms like Facebook continue to connect users around the world in real-time, the need for the platform to enable users to respond to a crisis will only grow with time.

One Platform to Rule Them All Still TBD

The various software tools nonprofits use to manage donor relationships, communications, and fundraising activities, demonstrate today’s era of seemingly endless options. But if you think navigating the nonprofit sector’s software ecosystem is dizzying, take a gander at the latest compilation by Scott Brinker and Anand Thaker of the approximately 5,000 software tools the private sector uses for communicating with their customers.

Source: ChiefMarTec.com Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2017): Martech 5000

Fans of The Lord of the Rings books and films are familiar with the phrase “the One Ring to rule them all.” The phrase refers to a powerful piece of jewelry designed to win domination over J. R. R. Tolkien’s fictional world.

As much as your nonprofit may wish for a one-stop solution to all of your organization’s software needs, there is not yet one platform to rule them all. But that’s a good thing. Because while the ecosystem of tools available to fundraisers continues to expand, it allows your organization greater freedom and flexibility.

To successfully navigate the ecosystem, however, fundraisers often need a trusted guide. While some larger organizations may be able to invest in that level of expertise internally, most nonprofits turn to consultants to help navigate the right path forward. At Cloud for Good, we partner with clients to map their organization’s processes to the best-fit software solutions in the Salesforce ecosystem and beyond. Learn how we can help you harness technology in support of your mission and contact us today to start your journey!

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Kat Ferreira

Kat Ferreira

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