Fundraisers: Stop Blaming Facebook For Donors Not Wanting to Hear From You

Julia Claire Campbell Fundraising, Nonprofits, Online Fundraising, Social Media 1 Comment

It’s year-end giving season, and GivingTuesday is fast approaching. 

Nonprofits of all sizes are in a frenzy about the Facebook $7M match (more on that here) and whether or not they should use Facebook charitable giving tools. 

Somehow, their biggest problem revolves around the fact that donors want to give and are giving via Facebook and Instagram. 

Now LISTEN because this is IMPORTANT: I’m not saying to completely discard all other forms of fundraising, to throw out everything else, to ONLY focus on Facebook, and all of the other things I’m sure you are assuming (and getting ready to angrily tweet at me).

Imagine a world where small dollar donors are returning, P2P giving is on an upswing, and philanthropy is being democratized so that anyone, at any amount, can show their support for a cause that they care about!

Where giving is FUN, it’s normal, and it’s something everyone does, year-round!

Wouldn’t that be a fantastic world to live in?  

BUT (and it’s a BIG but) – because a big portion of these social donors don’t elect to hear from the nonprofit to which they give a gift, fundraisers all over the world are terrified. 

 “What’s wrong with Facebook? Why don’t they give us the donor information so we can cultivate these donors? Why are they acting like the gate-keeper?”

(No, I’m not defending Facebook’s data and privacy practices. I’m actually not talking about them as a corporation at all. That’s not the point. I’m talking about donors. Read on.)


Here are the questions we should be focused on. 

First of all: Who says we are entitled to donor information at all? 

One of the tenets of the Donor Bill of Rights is: “To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.”

Under GDPR laws, charities can no longer automatically add emails or other contact information to their database, just because someone gave them money, online or off. 

We aren’t entitled to their donations – so who says we are justified in getting their contact information?

Second: Donors CAN give us their contact info on Facebook and Instagram! 

It’s the dirty little secret of Facebook and Instagram fundraising that we pretend isn’t true. 

After you make a donation – and I’ve donated on both sites, via the Facebook donate button, the Instagram donate button, and the Instagram donation sticker – you have the option to click a box that says “Share my contact information with the nonprofit”. 

In fact, whenever I donate via Facebook or Instagram, I click the box. It’s super easy to do. 

Third: If a donor really wanted to hear from us, there is this little thing called Google.

They could easily look up our website, seek us out, and sign up to be on our mailing list. 

(And honestly, why is Googling our organization such a stretch? When I hear a new story about an issue that I am passionate about, I do some research to see how I can get involved, even in just a small way.) 

The question we should be asking is – Why AREN’T the majority of social donors doing any of this? 

Why aren’t donors willing to give us their contact information?

Why don’t they want to hear from us? 

As I see it, there are two main reasons – one is out of our control, and one is within our control.

1) If they came from a P2P fundraiser and a friend asked them to kick in $10 for their birthday, they aren’t our donors.

More on this from GivePanel in one of my favorite blog posts from 2019: Five reasons NOT to contact the donors of Facebook fundraisers

You can indirectly thank them – and you should – inside the Facebook fundraiser to which they gave.

2) We are terrible with donor communications. And they are sick of it. 

Years of being spammed, or knowing that your address and email were sold to the highest bidder, or not getting any information on the actual cause or problem that you helped to support. 

That is exactly why donors are opting out, every chance they get, to hearing from us.  

So let’s stop blaming Facebook entirely. 

Let’s start looking at our own communications programs, our email newsletters, our mailings, and the way we treat donors. 

Donors have been treated like ATMs. They are neglected, then manipulated into giving money or made to feel badly b/c they like Starbucks “For just a cup of coffee per day.” 

Let’s start looking inside at our own communications. 

Stop trying to convince people that they need to hear from you. 

Make it so they seek you out.

So they elect to hear from you.

So you are sending out emails and newsletters and annual reports that they WANT to get!

How to Build Your Nonprofit Email List Using Your Website & Social Media

Your email list is essentially the communicative lifeblood of your nonprofit.

Okay, that was a little dramatic, but seriously, your nonprofit needs a robust and plentiful email list to continue engaging your community and garnering support.

But how does your nonprofit go about building this active email list, you might ask?

Via your nonprofit’s website and social media profiles of course!

J Campbell Social Marketing has partnered with Elevation to bring you this free guide to building your nonprofit email list, using the tools that you already have!

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Comments 1

  1. Pingback: Mixed Links for Nonprofit Communicators November 29, 2019 - Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

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