Earlier this month, a new Facebook site geared toward nonprofits debuted to fanfare and media exposure.
This new website, aptly named Facebook for Nonprofits, aims to help organizations by making it easier for nonprofits to set up and manage a Facebook page.
Social media can be a great tool in any nonprofit's fundraising arsenal, creating more opportunities for generosity. Peer-influenced giving in general plays a significant role in driving fundraising for nonprofits.
Online fundraising, promotions, hashtags, and other efforts not only raise the profile of the nonprofit, but they help do more good by spreading the message of the nonprofit far and wide.
However, some in the nonprofit community feel that Facebook may be overreaching with its latest digital creation.
The most obvious glitch with Facebook's most recent attempt to court nonprofit organizations, of course, is the fact that it solves a problem that nonprofits do not have.
Unless a nonprofit's social media manager is brand new (or has been living under a rock for the past decade) chances are excellent that not only have they already created a dedicated Facebook page, but they are well-versed in how to "get started", "raise awareness", "activate supporters", and "raise funds"—Facebook's own self-professed set of aims.
So why did Facebook create this new website? The answer lies in that last (deceptively helpful-sounding) goal: to "raise funds."
But for whom?
New Facebook Tactic, Old Facebook Strategy
Under the guise of instructing nonprofits how to navigate a site that is currently used by over 1.5 billion people each month — including nearly three-quarters of all Americans — Facebook is not-so-subtly trying to hock its new line of platform-specific fundraising tools.
Like most shifts Facebook has made in the last year or two, this newest feature is designed to keep users from navigating away from the Facebook website—ever.
Some of you may have noticed that when you click a link on Facebook, you are taken to the site for that link… inside Facebook. This scrambles web traffic numbers because it allows you to access the content of the link without ever leaving the Facebook website.
The result? Higher traffic to Facebook, no boost for anyone else.
With the launch of Facebook for Nonprofits, the same phenomenon is predicted to affect nonprofit web sites as well.
More Facebook Ad Revenue
As part of this "Facebook for Nonprofits" initiative, Facebook is also dialing up the pressure it puts on nonprofits to purchase ad space.
Brand pages as we know them were only introduced to Facebook in 2010.
However, it wasn't until 2012 — around the time the IPO went public — that Facebook really started squeezing brands (and nonprofits) for ad dollars to generate revenue. At the time, it seemed like the visibility algorithms changed from week to week.
Nowadays, as many nonprofits can attest, posts often get lost in the crowd if Facebook isn't paid to "boost" them.
If Facebook really wanted to help nonprofits, it would donate some of its considerable wealth. Facebook's market capitalization is currently valued at over $300 billion and Mark Zuckerberg himself is worth over $47 billion.
But Facebook simply doesn't value 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. As we've seen from the recent launch of the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative, nonprofits are just another moneymaking scheme for Facebook.