Facebook's Donate Button Spurs Social Giving
It's one thing to donate to your favorite cause. It's another to do so on Facebook, telling your friends all about it and encouraging them to join in. By making it easy for users to give generously, Facebook is likely to gain more than good karma. Users may be inclined to store their credit card information there, a first step in making Facebook e-commerce a habit.
Facebook has announced a new feature that allows users to donate money to nonprofit organizations through the site, a move designed to help raise both funds and global awareness for the charitable causes.
Facebook was inspired to launch the donation feature following last month's successful partnership with the International Federation of Red Cross. After Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in November, Facebook let users donate directly to the Red Cross' relief efforts.
Facebook is now making the feature permanent and extending it to other organizations. A Donate Now button will appear next to posts on the Facebook pages of participating nonprofits. Users can click, enter their payment information, and choose the amount they would like to contribute. They also can choose to share the organization's post with friends, encouraging others to pull out their wallets.
Users can donate to 18 organizations, including the Red Cross, World Wildlife Fund, RAINN, Girls Inc., Water.org, UNICEF and the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Facebook plans to add more in the future, and it invited interested nonprofits to contact the company for information.
Facebook already has established some e-commerce partnerships with its Gifts feature. Expanding it to include nonprofits is a creative way to use its platform for a greater good, said Judy Vredenburgh, President and CEO of Girls Inc.
"For us, this was a natural and exciting way to strengthen our partnership with Facebook and our supporters," she told the E-Commerce Times. "We have been a part of Facebook Gifts since its inception, and it's been powerful to see how our supporters demonstrate their commitment through a platform they're already using."
The donation feature could motivate users to do more than simply post links or status updates about charitable causes or tragic world events, said Katherine Hull, spokesperson for RAINN.
"People are already using Facebook as a way to engage with friends about the things happening in their lives, and this presents users with an opportunity to make an impact with just a few clicks," Hull told the E-Commerce Times. "It's a great way to respond to something like a major news story -- you can take action and encourage your friends to do the same."
Hitting the Right Crowds
It's also not hurting Facebook, said Paul Gillin, social media marketing strategist.
"It's a win-win proposition," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Facebook gets credit card numbers, which can be useful in furthering its e-commerce initiatives, and charities get an easy way to accept small donations."
For Facebook to ensure that win-win situation, it will be critical for the company to make it convenient for mobile users to give, said Mike McCamon, chief community officer at Water.org.
Water.org's mobile traffic during the past month accounts for nearly 20 percent of its total traffic, he noted, and that number has increased dramatically over the past few months.
"So many people are experiencing the Web through mobile," McCamon told the E-Commerce Times. "Facebook will need to establish a mobile commerce relationship with users, just like they have with their carriers or like Apple has through the Apple store, so that it can be convenient for mobile users to give easily and for organizations to capitalize on this opportunity."
Even greater than the convenience advantage could be Facebook's ability to increase global awareness about the organizations that need funds, McCamon added.
"The great thing about this is that when you make the donation, you're still within the context of Facebook," McCamon pointed out. "When you donate through our site, it's kind of a dead end, but when you make a gift on Facebook, you can tell friends about it and hopefully help them discover some great new things through this social platform."