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Facebook's Ability to Process Donations - A Good Thing for Nonprofits?

facebook donationBig news in the nonprofit world. Facebook is processing donations for organizations so that supporters never have to leave Facebook. That's a great thing right? Numerous studies have showed the reluctance of Facebook users to click on links that take them out of the Facebook environment to complete transactions. This latest development eliminates that problem 100 percent.

But have nonprofits taken the time to understand how this impacts them?

Facebook is not passing the supporter information to the organization. They are simply passing the funds. Granted it is ALL of the funds with no fees or transaction costs and that is great. However, the information is as valuable (if not more so) than the dollars. 

* The donations are still a great thing, but nonprofits will need to put this in the right perspective.
* Online marketing is about building relationships - it’s about engagement, not just transactions. 
* While these funds are certainly welcome, and can result in an increase in direct support, it becomes very hard to build upon this support.  To plan, execute and measure the results.   
* Getting potential supporters to see, know and click your Facebook donation button will require many of the same techniques utilized when driving a traditional online campaign. The difference is when this effort is completed, nonprofits will have additional dollars but no additional supporter base to build on. 

Taken as it’s own element, the Facebook donation button is a wonderful development. Taken as part of an overall marketing approach, we need to weigh the time, energy and budget that will be used to drive awareness and traffic. If the donations that come through this new and exciting channel are truly incremental, then all is well. Cannibalizing our direct support by misallocating resources could be a dangerous path to go down. Worse, if we have poor communication practices in place which make our donors prefer to donate in a method that restricts follow on communication, then we risk cutting off our nose to spite our Facebook. 

Blake Groves, vice president of strategy and business development for Salsa Labs has spent more than 10 years helping nonprofits raise money online and is the author of this blog. 

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