Coming: charitable donations with Facebook Gifts

Today, Facebook announced the ability to make charitable donations (to one of 11 nonprofits at this point) through the Facebook Gifts program that is still rolling out to users.

Because you probably haven’t seen it, Facebook Gifts is e-commerce baked into Facebook that lets users buy gifts from Facebook and announce the gift through the Facebook platform.

The charitable donation program will let you make a donation in someone’s name to the charity of your choice or let the person you are gifting choose the charity.

Facebook gifts donation screen

At this point, Facebook seems to have rolled the program out using pre-selected non profit partner organizations, including:

  • American Red Cross
  • Blue Star Families
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • DonorsChoose.org
  • Girls Inc.
  • Kiva
  • LIVESTRONG
  • Oxfam America
  • RAINN
  • St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
  • Water.org

By and large, these are all well-established, high visibility organizations.  Wired reports that gifts are limited to $25. It is unclear how much, if anything, Facebook or 3rd parties are taking for processing fees.

Will donations through Facebook Gifts empower a new revenue source for non profit organizations? That seems unlikely but, really, it’s too soon to tell if (or even how) the Gifts program on Facebook will work. Offering a donation portal makes sense from Facebook’s perspective.

We think there are two potential upsides to this. First, it may raise awareness of the organizations involved. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it may make people more aware of or comfortable with the idea of giving to organizations through Facebook.

The onus will still be on organizations to actively engage supporters and move them to donations or other appropriate interactions. While this may make more people aware of the idea that Facebook is a donation platform it won’t make marketing and communications easier. Keep an eye on how these 11 organizations communicate with their Facebook audiences for insights into what works (or doesn’t).

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