Non-profit organizations admitted that they are struggling with Facebook’s registration system, as well as its inability to reach a live person.
Back in August 2019, Kara Kundert, the executive director of Bluegrass Pride, was ready to raise money for the group. Notably, Bluegrass Pride is an organization promoting bluegrass music among LGBTQ+ musicians.
In addition, the said organization just got certified as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit by the Internal Revenue Service. Now, Kundert has to face another significant task: registering Bluegrass Pride as a non-profit on Facebook.
According to Kundert, registering as a non-profit on Facebook is a natural fit for them. A lot of non-profit organizations use social media platforms in order to build a community and promote events.
Once an organization registers on Facebook as a non-profit, it will run fundraisers on the platform. Also, it will have access to a button that it can add to posts to let users donate money.
For a small non-profit such as Bluegrass Pride that only had an operating budget of less than $18,000 in 2019, every dollar counts. Kundert also said that they wanted to take advantage of all the available fundraising options for them.
Moreover, Kundert hoped that the social media giant would approve her application in time for Giving Tuesday. This event is a global fundraising day on Tuesday after Thanksgiving. However, weeks and months passed, and she received no update about the organization’s application.
Small Organizations Like the Bluegrass Pride Struggled to Register As Non-profits on Facebook
After months of not hearing back from the social media giant about her application, Kundert sent a message to customer support on Facebook Messenger. After four months and exchanging 20 messages with Facebook, her application still got no approval. Kundert even thinks that most of the messages she received from customer support came from a bot.
The customer support on Messenger failed her, so the next thing that Kundert tried was email. She exchanged approximately 30 emails with Facebook Charity Onboarding Team. She received an email saying that the social media giant was aware of the issue and worked to resolve it the soonest time possible.
In March this year, she received a message saying that she needed to resubmit her application because her documents were more than six months old. She resubmitted her application, and after six more messages back and forth, she heard nothing back from the social media giant.
For Kundert, what is frustrating is that she was completely powerless in Facebook’s system. She was talking to a completely anonymous, nameless, and faceless bureaucracy.
Getting More Facebook Likes From Your Facebook Followers
In 2015, the “ice bucket challenge,” where people poured iced water over themselves to raise awareness and money for ALS research. This challenge prompted Facebook to make fundraising tools such as the donation button and birthday fundraisers. Besides, the social media giant trumpets the accomplishments that these tools had. All organizations want to get more Facebook Likes from their Facebook followers, but don’t know-how. In February, it publicized that over $3 billion has been donated to various non-profits through Facebook.
Moreover, Facebook has not replaced traditional fundraising strategies such as in-person events and mail campaigns. However, the platform has become a regular source of funds and engagements with supporters. Such is true for viral campaigns done by huge nonprofit organizations like the 2018 fundraiser for the immigration non-profit Raices. In this case, the organization was trying to get more Facebook followers to help their campaign. This campaign raised $20 million in just a week, three times more than the organization’s annual budget. Also, the fundraising tools are also beneficial for smaller campaigns that raise a few hundred dollars regularly.
Gina Brown, the program director at Let Us Learn, said that Facebook had been a huge benefit for them. The said organization is an Indian nonprofit that teaches food literacy, nutrition, and cooking to children and families. According to Brown, their organization raised about $7,000 on Facebook via the fundraisers they launched and from community members’ birthday fundraisers. She added that the donations indeed helped them do the programming and helped them with the overhead.
However, a lot of small non-profit organizations say that they have struggled to take advantage of those tools. Like Kundert and the Bluegrass Pride, they find it hard to simply get approved as a non-profit on Facebook.
Some Non-profits Were Frustrated With Facebook, Prompting Them to Leave the Platform
Moreover, it is difficult to find out the extent of the problem. This is partly because organizations are reluctant to admit that they cannot negotiate what seems to be a simple process.
NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward says that she has heard a lot of complaints about Facebook. Notably, NTEN is an organization that helps non-profits in terms of technology. In fact, this organization is having a hard time registering as a non-profit on Facebook because it was founded under a different name.
Besides, Ward said that she herself was frustrated by the changes that the social media giant made to its algorithm in 2018. This is because those changes lowered the visibility of non-profit Facebook pages. For NTEN to reach its community, it would either have to pay for ads or boost its posts.
Last July, NTEN finally left Facebook. Ward said that the platform was not worth it for their organization and that it did not feel like a place that aligned with their values.
This year, a lot of non-profit organizations are relying even more heavily on the social media giant. The reason is that the global COVID-19 pandemic is limiting traditional fundraisers and in-person events.
Camplify’s executive director Kristin Dunn said that the platform could be a real benefit for non-profit organizations, especially now that there is a pandemic. Camplify is a non-profit that runs affordable camps for underprivileged youth in North Carolina.
Just like NTEN and Bluegrass Pride, Camplify also found a difficult time registering as a non-profit on Facebook. Dunn tried to submit a registration to the platform multiple times, but all of them got denied.