Facebook has been slowly taking over the world since its inception as a networking site for college students in 2004. In May 2017, it was reported that Facebook was nearing 2 billion users. For perspective, the estimated population of the United States is 326.4 million. Facebook has also become an important tool for nonprofit organizations, with 9 out of 10 nonprofits in the United States utilizing the social media platform to connect with supporters. Nonprofits use Facebook to share news, quickly mobilize their supporters, engage the public in their work, and even fundraise. But recently, Facebook has been positioning itself as a competitor to platforms dedicated to nonprofit fundraising like Mightycause and aggressively marketing its new nonprofit fundraising tools, like the Facebook donate button.

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Here’s what your nonprofit needs to know about enabling the Facebook donate button.

The Problem with the Facebook Donate Button

If your nonprofit is registered as 501(c)(3) tax exempt with the IRS, you will see the option to add a “Donate” button to your page and your posts. When you’re posting a link to your latest Mightycause fundraiser, this may seem great . Another spot for donors to click to donate to your fundraiser, right?

Screencap of prompt to add the Facebook donate button

Unfortunately this is a rather sneaky trick. It forces users to donate through Facebook instead of your nonprofit’s chosen fundraising platform.

This has proven confusing for not only nonprofits, but donors as well. We’ve had donors contact us, wondering why their name wasn’t displayed on a fundraiser’s donation timeline and why they didn’t receive a receipt from Mightycause. When our staff dug into these situations, we found that the donors only thought they were contributing through Mightycause . They had actually made their donations through Facebook. So, the donors had a poor experience donating to the nonprofits, and the nonprofits missed the opportunity to straighten things out and thank their donors quickly.

Where the Funds Go

If you want to collect donations made through Facebook quickly, you must apply for Facebook’s donation program, Facebook Payments. The application process requires verifying your page with your phone number, and if that doesn’t work, providing a laundry list of documents. Their application even asks for your CEO’s date of birth. If your nonprofit successfully signs up for Facebook Payments, you’ll receive your donations via direct deposit, but those funds will be held until your donations total $100 — which means that the $30 donation someone made through your page might be held for quite some time unless you manage to collect more donations through Facebook.

If you’re not signed up for Facebook Payments, you’ll receive the funds through Facebook’s partner platform. Funds will be sent to your nonprofit through their partner’s donor-advised fund. Disbursements are received 60–75 days after the donation is made, which is quite a difference from Mightycause’s twice-monthly disbursements for electronic funds transfer (EFT) and monthly check disbursements through our own donor-advised fund.

And if you get your check and want to pull a report with your donor’s information so you can thank them? You’ve got to sign up to use the platform.

Reading the Fine Print

Facebook has come under a fair amount of fire for its data collection, and just as signing up for a Facebook account requires surrendering a certain amount of control over your personal information, signing up for Facebook Payments means agreeing to a Terms of Use with some troubling implications. We combed through their Terms of Use, and found that nonprofits that use Facebook’s fundraising tools agree to:

  • Provide any information about your organization that Facebook requests, for any reason
  • Grant a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use, modify, and translate any Charity Content in connection with the Charitable Donation Features”
  • Give Facebook exclusive rights to issue press releases about your nonprofit’s relationship with Facebook, and surrender your right to issue your own press release
  • Indemnify Facebook from any legal liability whatsoever — “indemnify, defend, and hold us harmless from and against all damages, losses, and expenses of any kind”

Using Facebook to fundraise means relinquishing control of your nonprofit’s information. It means signing away the rights to the content your team works so hard to produce. You lose ability to control the public narrative about your nonprofit through press releases. Most notably, the ability to hold Facebook accountable for any losses or damages.

Targeting Your Supporters

At Mightycause, we’re obviously big believers in the power of peer-to-peer fundraising. One of the most powerful things a supporter can do for your nonprofit is create a fundraiser that helps raise awareness about your nonprofit’s work, brings in new supporters, and raises money to help your nonprofit continue doing good in the world. So it’s no surprise that Facebook is also courting your supporters to start fundraisers using their fundraising tools.

One of our employees saw this appeal in her newsfeed over and over again in the weeks before her birthday.

A prompt to create a birthday fundraiser with the Facebook donate button

We love birthday fundraisers at Mightycause! But here’s the question: did you know that Facebook was targeting your supporters in this way? It’s not just close to their birthdays that they’ll see these prompts. If they share a link to one of your fundraising pages, or even use words like “donate” or “fundraise” in their posts, they will see similar suggestions to start fundraisers on Facebook for a nonprofit.

An ad to create a fundraiser with the Facebook donate button

And if they share your Mightycause page on Facebook to help give you a boost, they’ll see this button, which means they could unknowingly divert donations to Facebook instead of the page they linked.

Facebook, it seems, is doing everything possible to corner your nonprofit into signing up for Facebook Payments and use their fundraising tools.

Their New Nonprofit Template

If you’re a Page Admin for your nonprofit on Facebook, you’ve probably gotten an email from Facebook prompting you to move over to a new page template for 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Here’s what that template does:

  • Requires you to agree to their Terms of Use
  • Requires you to set up a Facebook Payments account
  • Puts their Donate button front and center on your page
  • Makes it easier for supporters to start fundraisers for your nonprofit through Facebook

If your nonprofit wants to use these tools, this is a great option for you. However, if you’d prefer to stick with your chosen online fundraising platform, this will pull your nonprofit’s Facebook page away from your platform of choice and steer your followers toward donating through Facebook.

What to Do

We know that choosing your online fundraising platform is one of the biggest fundraising decisions your nonprofit must make. There are so many factors to consider: fees, customization options, donation reporting, user experience. Your nonprofit makes the decision about what platform to go with after careful consideration. You’ve spent hours discussing your needs, researching what various platforms offer, perhaps even sitting through demos with multiple platforms. Your nonprofit’s decision is important. But with Facebook’s aggressive marketing of its own tools, they can end up railroading you into using them for fundraising.

So, what can you do? Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Don’t use the Donate Now button on posts (unless you want to). Now that you know how that button works, don’t add it to your posts or your page unless you’re on board with all of Facebook’s terms. If you’d like to use a CTA button on post, the “Learn More” button will take your Facebook followers to a page you choose. Unfortunately if you’ve added the Donate button to a post, there’s no way to remove it once it’s published — you must delete the post.
  • Opt out of the new nonprofit Facebook page template. If you don’t want to use Facebook’s fundraising tools, you can simply opt out of upgrading. Don’t upgrade to the new template that requires creating a Facebook Payments account and stick with your current page.
  • Inform your donors. Make sure that donors’ hard-earned money goes to the place they intended. Give clear instructions to follow the link in your post to make their donation.
  • Steer supporters to the peer-to-peer platform of your choice. While you can’t control whether someone starts a fundraiser for you on Facebook, you can make it known what platform you’d prefer. Include that information on your website, your Facebook page, and in emails.

The Mightycause Difference

We like Facebook at Mightycause. We use it to market our platform and help your fundraisers get exposure. We’ve designed tools on our platform that make it easy to share your fundraisers on Facebook. But make no mistake: Facebook is not a fundraising platform. Its main goal, and how it collects profits, is collecting and utilizing user data. While Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg is extremely philanthropic in his personal life, philanthropy is not part of Facebook’s mission — profits are. The company’s foray into nonprofit fundraising is a business decision that aims to divert funds processed through platforms like Mightycause to Facebook instead.

Mightycause is a small employee-owned business, staffed by mission-driven individuals, over half of whom come from a nonprofit background. Your nonprofit’s unique needs are at the center of every decision we make. We aim to provide a service for your nonprofit that helps you further your mission and keep your programs funded.

We also provide technical and strategic support to you, your donors, and your peer-to-peer fundraisers. Facebook’s Terms of Use make their limited role as a payment processor very clear. But Mightycause is so much more than a payment processor. We know how important it is for your nonprofit to be in control of your donors and your data. We’re focused on giving you even more options to customize your fundraising efforts and donation management on our platform.

We also believe in transparency. That’s why we’re sharing this information with you. We want you to be in the driver’s seat of your fundraising efforts. Mightycause will never intentionally confuse your donors, or sell their data to market researchers. We will never, ever hold donations hostage. We will never ask you to sign away your rights to your own content. You will always have the right to hold us accountable.

Have questions about Mightycause and Facebook? Feel free to contact us at support@mightycause.com.

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16 thoughts

  1. I unknowingly added the funding button to my post, thinking that someone from my non-profit had created it. As far as I can tell, only one person has used it to make a donation; but, now, we don’t know we’re the funds went. What can we do?

  2. Good post and informative. We us d the button and raised over $1500 for our work to build tiny homes for homeless in our community. 3 weeks later we are ready to build but don’t know where he money is. I am concerned that those who donated ended up giving money to FB instead of us. Not looking forward to telling them their money didn’t go to us.

  3. Our non profit I know has at least $800 we’re waiting on and I can’t figure out how to get it out. Nothing direct deposited or paper checks. Can you help? Maybe we’ve signed up wrong to pull the money. I don’t know where to start.

  4. I clicked on something, thinking FB was donating to my cause. Didn’t know it would be on my page, asking my friends to donate? Tried to delete the message. Not sure that worked. Embarrassed!

  5. Is it enough to simply opt out of the non-profit template to then avoid having the Donate button appear when people share our posts? Or does Facebook actually pick up on words like “donate” and “fundraising”?

    1. Hi Melanie! Unfortunately Facebook does pick up on keywords like “donate” and “fundraising” and prompts users to start a fundraiser through Facebook. It’ll also pick up on links to other fundraising platforms like Mightycause. There’s not really a way around it, so it’s best to simply remind your donors where you’d prefer they make their contributions.

  6. folks donated quite heavily to my wife’s birthday 6 grand… And she never personally received the money but in turn the money was sent to 503 b directly in my wife name can my wife ride it off as a gift if she did not receive anything for the donation..??

    1. Hi David,

      Thanks for reaching out! You’d need to talk to a tax professional about whether you can write that off, we’re not able to give you tax advice. Good luck!

  7. Hey! Any chance you are aware of if Facebook allows for a single nonprofit to setup Facebook payments on multiple accounts with the same EIN? I work for a place that has different divisions under the same EIN, and separate Facebook pages for each division.


    1. Hi Mary! We’re not really sure about this one, so you may want to check out Facebook’s support library (or, better yet, use Mightycause, because we can let you do this!)

  8. Hi, I made an accidental donation to an organization through Facebook (I didn’t even realize I had a credit card attached to my account) and I immediately wrote Facebook and they said I would get my money back in 7-9 business days. It’s been two months and 38 messages between me and their “donations specialists” and I am looking to see if anyone has a phone number so I can speak to an actual person. Facebook scammed me and I want my money back! They keep telling me they are “investigating” it and I’m over their false excuses for taking money.

    1. Hi Jennifer! The team at Mightycause has heard a lot of similar stories from donors. I wish we had a solution, but we don’t have any inside information about how to get through to Facebook’s support team or expedite the process. You may have better luck contacting your bank about the charge. Unfortunately Facebook’s support makes it very hard to get in touch with a real person or even follow up with the same person. We wish you the best of luck in getting Facebook to return your money.

  9. I loved your blog and thanks for publishing this about facebook donate button!! I am really happy to come across this exceptionally well written content. Thanks for sharing and look for more in future!! Keep doing this inspirational work and share with us.

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