SAN FRANCISCO — On the heels of a couple’s Facebook fundraising campaign that aimed for $1,500 — and then raised more than $20 million for an immigration charity — the social network is rolling out two new product features to expand the fundraising tool’s capability.
Facebook will begin allowing users to automatically make recurring monthly donations to nonprofit organizations when they make a donation or use the donate button. Additionally, Pages — entities like businesses or public figures — will also be allowed to donate directly to nonprofit fundraisers.
The new Pages feature is already being put to use — on Monday afternoon, Miley Cyrus created a fundraiser in support of KIND, or Kids In Need of Defense, and donated directly to her fundraiser to generate momentum.
The Facebook tool’s new features follow a viral fundraiser to help reunite immigrant parents with their children following the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy that had been separating children from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border. Channelling public anger that followed photos and audio of distraught kids, the fundraiser raised more than $20 million to support Texas refugee non-profit RAICES, which is providing legal services to separated families. The outpouring from half a million people from more than 30 countries around the world made it the largest single fundraiser in Facebook history.
“It’s been a pretty inspiring set of weeks,” Asha Sharma, Facebook’s head of product for social good, told USA TODAY. “It’s been amazing to see the movement that’s been building.”
Within the last two weeks, Sharma said, users have created more than 60,000 Facebook Fundraisers and donate buttons to support organizations focused on immigration advocacy such as RAICES, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the ACLU.
Earlier this month, Facebook unveiled new features for users to invite their friends to organize fundraisers together and for Pages to create their own nonprofit fundraisers.
Facebook Fundraising, which was launched last year, creates a platform for both personal fundraisers and nonprofit fundraisers. More than 750,000 nonprofits have applied and registered to collect donations through Facebook, and donation fees were waived last fall for nonprofits.
Online personal fundraisers, which allow users to raise money for themselves or their friends, have been a convenient tool for scammers on sites like GoFundMe, particularly after national events. The service promises to refund donations if it finds a campaign is misusing funds.
On Facebook, personal fundraisers must be reviewed and approved through “a combination of technology and an operating team,” according to Sharma. Facebook wouldn’t comment on the size of that team.
Personal fundraisers can only raise money for specific needs categories, such as for travel, crisis relief, medical costs and veterinary and rescue efforts. Fundraising in politically related categories such as rallies is not allowed.
The RAICES fundraiser is not the first to find success using Facebook’s fundraising tool. Following Hurricane Harvey, more than $20 million was raised by Facebook users through hundreds of thousands of smaller fundraisers. Recently, a Facebook fundraiser in Norway for Doctors Without Borders generated more than $2 million.
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