NEW YORK – Meta Platforms Inc., the social media giant formerly known as Facebook, plans to celebrate Earth Day by expanding its offering of fundraising tools and making them more easily available to 1.5 million nonprofits on its Facebook and Instagram platforms, including those involved in fighting climate change.
Starting Tuesday, Instagram users can attach donation buttons to their Reels, turning the short videos into fundraisers. As it does for donations on Facebook and other Instagram content, Meta will collect and pass along the donations to the nonprofits at no charge, paying the processing fees itself.
More than $6 billion has been donated on Facebook and Instagram since fundraising began on the platforms in 2015, according to Emily Dalton Smith, Meta’s vice president of product management and social impact. Donations jumped $1 billion in nine months in 2021, with 100 million creators and donors taking part in fundraising on the social media platforms.
The bulk of those gifts are coming from small donors. The majority of donations on Instagram in 2021 were under $20.
“It’s just lots of people coming together and giving whatever they can to causes," Dalton Smith said.
Expanding fundraising to new platforms has created some surprising results. On Instagram, the environmental nonprofit that has received the most donations isn’t a household name. It’s The Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit founded in 2013 by a then-18-year-old inventor, Boyan Slat in the Netherlands, who wanted to rid the oceans of plastic.
Dalton Smith said The Ocean Cleanup has succeeded because it is “Instagram-first,” building its communities on the platform. The eye-catching images and graphics, along with weekly updates on its plastics-removal missions and its partnerships with Coldplay, have helped the group build a following of nearly 700,000.
“We don’t have data yet to back this, but we do see early signs that this is actually going to help grow giving and help grow support for a more diverse set of organizations and help new causes emerge,” Dalton Smith said.
Rue Mapp, founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, an Oakland-based organization that connects Black people with nature, said her group wouldn't have grown as fast as it did without Facebook and Instagram connecting her with donors and volunteers. And she has developed a strategy for how to use Reels to raise money for the group’s initiative to teach more Black people to swim.
“Fundraising is supposed to be fun, right?” Mapp said, laughing. “People give to people. They don’t give to vague ideas or concepts. People really want to connect to what they’re giving to.”
Outdoor Afro’s new Reels campaign of videos showing Black people enjoying swimming, she said, will showcase her group’s work as well as provide a reason for continuing it.
“It taps into something that comes with social media — that is collective impact,” Mapp said. “We were able to grow our organization because we brought together this group of people who didn’t know other people who had a similar interest.”
Outdoor Afro considers Meta’s use of its platforms to raise funds for the group without charging a processing fee another helpful donation. Depending on what platform is used and whether other third-party apps are used, processing fees typically range from 5% to 15% of the donation. Though some experts said that larger nonprofits may prefer to use social media to send people to the nonprofits’ own sites to make donations, smaller groups may find Meta’s system useful.
“For fledgling organizations like Outdoor Afro, it can have a really big impact,” Mapp said.
Meta has some Earth Day plans of its own, with Dave Burd (a.k.a. Lil Dicky), Zyahna Bryant and Nate Evans of Beautiful Destinations set to create special Reels for the day.
Dalton Smith said Meta has heard from users who enjoy being able to raise money.
“They have a really strong sense of fulfillment and felt that they were able to make a difference by being able to take an action themselves by fundraising,” Dalton Smith said. “Rallying support is really something that’s unique to our platforms and makes people feel like they were actually directly able to participate in making a difference for the cause they care about.”
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