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The Facebook Page Donate Now Button Is Dumb and I Hate It

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Update: Facebook has announced a new suite of fundraising & donation pages for charities >>

When the new Facebook Page Donate Now Button was released globally, one blogger opened up her announcement article by saying: “This new Facebook feature is hard not to like.”

Well, I’ve got some bad news for you. I’m going to be that guy.

Readers of this blog may already know that I’m not crazy about Facebook marketing for nonprofits in general. In my opinion, the dangers of digital sharecropping are too great, and ad grants represent an unnecessary and dangerous distraction.

While most charities use the network as just another promotional bullhorn, Facebook remains a woefully underutilized method of donor and volunteer appreciation.

And now we have yet another digital acquisition tool in the form of the “Donate Now” call-to-action button that nonprofits can now place on their Facebook pages.

Here’s how it works: the next time you, as the page admin, visits your page, you’ll be prompted with this message:


After clicking “Create Call to Action,” you can select the type of button from a drop-down menu. Pages categorized as a “Non-Profit Organization” can select “Donate Now.”


Finally, you can designate a URL for the button to point to (paste in your donation page URL):


And, voilà, you have a Donate Now button on your Facebook page.

In my mind, this button is problematic for two reasons:

1) This is an obvious ploy by Facebook to get you to buy ads

Look what you’re prompted with right after you set up the button:


Your new button now beckons you to create an ad:


Not exactly a shining beacon of altruism from Facebook.

It’s no secret to marketers that their Facebook posts remain unseen by a majority of their intended audiences without a paid boost.

Will your ad generate enough donations to offset the cost? Don’t forget, the button only gets them to your external URL – there’s no guarantee they’ll follow through and complete the donation form.

Is this the best use of your budget?

2) There is no organic path to the donate button that makes any logical sense or has any basis in reality

Let’s say you don’t buy any ads that drive clicks directly to your Facebook page. To click the Donate Now button, they would have to arrive on your page organically within the social network, or by an outside referral.

But why would you direct people to your Facebook page in order to make a donation? Why not just direct them to your donation page via a compelling post or shared link?

Maybe you’re thinking “Well, someone might end up on our Facebook page for whatever reason, and then make the decision right then and there to make a donation.”

But would that ever really happen?

Would someone see a post (either from your Facebook page or one that mentions you), click-through to your page, and read or view something there that is so compelling that they would click the Donate Now button?


I don’t buy it. It’s the equivalent of a coffee shop putting their tip jar outside and around the corner.

And to assume that having this button there suddenly breaks down a barrier to giving that was previously there is a stretch.

At best, it signifies a lack of imagination and understanding of the fundraising profession on the part of Facebook. At worst, it’s a cash-grab that flies in the face of the fundraising expertise built up over many years by practitioners who have mastered the craft of compelling, heartfelt appeals and effective donor stewardship.

So should you set up the button?

Probably. There’s really no downside per se and the whole process takes less than a minute.

If someone, somehow stumbles to your donate form through that button and makes a contribution, well golly, good for you. I’ll eat my hat. But I wouldn’t bet on it, and I certainly wouldn’t spend any time trying to drive prospective donors through that giving path or purchase any ads.

What do you think about the new Facebook Page Donate Now Button? Have you set it up? Have you gotten any donations? Let me know in the comments below!


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    […] The Facebook Page Donate Now Button Is Dumb and I Hate It. Amen, Steven Shattuck, amen. […]
  • Charles Franklin

    I can definitely understand the argument here. As a marketing and P/R freelancer, I can attest to the "increasing wall of silence" that organic posts gather. Facebook is a good place to reach an audience (because A LOT of people are there), but it may not be the best place to ask for donation money. People often take their time (except in a few situations) when making a donation. Giving money is a much more complicated process than what it appears.
  • John Haydon

    Steven - excellent summary of the Donate Button for Pages. The fact is that almost noone visits Facebook Pages. All the action is in the newsfeed. So yeah, actions driven through the page CTA are generally pretty dismal. That said, the "Donate Now" CTA in Facebook ads can be quite effective - but it's certainly no silver bullet either. What's required is solid messaging, great storytelling, good timing, and of course a mobile landing page. In general, Facebook is a much more effective environment for list-building, engaging current supporters, and creating awareness around an issue or cause. John
  • Steven Shattuck

    Thanks, Carolyn! Would love to know how the paid boost goes.
  • Carolyn M. Appleton

    You make some excellent points! I am currently working with a nonprofit that is low on the Facebook "button" notification list. We know it will take time to get to us. What I did yesterday as an interim step was to create a "call to action" on our Facebook page, and I selected the "donate" wording. The call to action button provides a link that takes clickers directly to the donate page on our website. Really, I think that is all we need. We prefer that donors go straight to our website and contribute there. No donations have been received as yet, but we just got it up-and-running. We might "boost" our call to action on Facebook at some future point at a cost of perhaps $5 a day during a select time frame (perhaps during the end-of-year giving timeframe). But we need to think this through further. Best wishes! Carolyn M. Appleton, CFRE
  • Is the Facebook “Donate Now” Button: Dumb or Helpful? | Michael Rosen Says...

    […] Steven Shattuck, Vice President of Marketing at Bloomerang, outlined his issues with this new feature in his post “The Facebook Page Donate Now Button Is Dumb and I Hate It”: […]
  • Jonathan Assink

    We talked about this in our office the other day. We certainly plan on using the button, but only when we are in the midst of an active campaign. Since the button is just a link, I really, really wish Facebook would allow more customization. As a private school, "shop now" or "use an app" doesn't really make any sense for us, but "enroll now" would be great. I do think you're right though about this being more of a longshot than a new, valuable channel.
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