Meta’s EEA withdrawal of its charity fundraising capability – Is the UK next, and what could it mean?

Posted: 29th May 2024 Ellen Jurczak, Senior Fundraising Manager

The recent announcement by Meta to discontinue its suite of fundraising products across the European Economic Area (EEA) from 1st July has sent ripples through the non-profit sector. This decision aims to streamline operations and encourage direct donations through charities’ websites, representing a significant shift in how digital fundraising could evolve in the near future. The UK – having departed the EU and EEA – currently remains unaffected by these changes. However, the implication of Meta’s deployment of a similar strategy in the UK deserves urgent discussion and strategic foresight.

Meta’s platforms, notably Facebook and Instagram, have become pivotal in the fundraising strategies of numerous UK charities. As of early 2021, over 7 million people in the UK had engaged with Facebook Fundraisers, illustrating the platform’s critical role in mobilising and engaging supporters.

High-profile cases like the RNLI’s fundraising campaign during Storm Ciara, which raised significant amounts, emphasise the effectiveness of these tools. Though Facebook Fundraisers are not as popular or seeing as high a return as they were at the height of the pandemic, they continue to be hugely successful for many charities.

Indeed, of the Massive Top 25 fundraising events of 2023, 4 of them were Facebook challenges. Integrating fundraising features directly within social media interfaces simplifies the donation process, potentially increasing donor engagement and contributions and spotlighting charities to new audiences.

Strategic implications of potential withdrawal

  1. Shift in fundraising dynamics: Removing integrated fundraising tools would necessitate a strategic overhaul for many charities. The direct effect would be the need to enhance their own website’s capability to handle donations efficiently and securely, which could involve significant investment in technology and user experience design. An alternative would be to utilise and optimise other existing digital fundraising platforms, such as JustGiving and Enthuse, and think about how potential donors can move from a Facebook ad to a third-party donation platform as seamlessly as possible.
  2. Identifying new donors: While Meta’s data analytics for fundraising participants have always been limited, platforms like GivePanel have enabled charities to capture valuable data from Meta fundraisers that help charities optimise campaigns and manage donor relationships. Losing this source of new donors will impact donor growth and retention strategies.
  3. Potential decrease in impulse giving: The convenience of donating directly through social media platforms facilitates impulse giving, which could diminish if donors are required to take additional steps to visit external sites.

Adaptive strategies for UK charities

  1. Enhancing digital infrastructure: Charities should consider maximising their pages on third-party donation platforms and investing in their own website donation pages to ensure a seamless, secure, and engaging user experience that can handle increased traffic and facilitate easy donations.
  2. Diversifying fundraising channels: To mitigate the risk of over-reliance on any single platform, charities must diversify their fundraising strategies to include multiple channels such as email marketing, crowdfunding platforms, and traditional fundraising events. The end of Meta fundraising products doesn’t necessitate the end of Facebook Challenges and Facebook Fundraisers: test running these campaigns with participants being directed to set up their fundraising page through a third-party provider instead to see what impact this has on the retention of potential fundraisers and number of donations they receive.
  3. Building stronger direct relationships: Enhancing direct communication and building relationships with donors can compensate for the loss of integrated social media tools. Personalised communication and engagement strategies could deepen donor commitment.
  4. Advocacy and collaboration: Charities could collaborate to advocate for sector-friendly digital fundraising policies from platforms like Meta and negotiate collectively for better terms or alternatives that suit their needs.

While Meta has not yet indicated a withdrawal of its fundraising tools from the UK, the possibility exists given its actions in the EEA. UK charities must, therefore, proactively prepare by strengthening their digital fundraising capabilities, diversifying their fundraising approaches, and enhancing direct donor engagement. By doing so, they can ensure resilience against potential disruptions and maintain, if not increase, their fundraising success in an evolving digital landscape.

Discover how Altair can support you

We help charities achieve their strategic and fundraising potential. Our team support you to create stronger, more robust organisations, increasing your organisational performance and unlocking new capabilities to increase your impact. To find out more, contact Ellen Jurczak, Senior Fundraising Manager at ellen.jurczak@altairltd.co.uk.

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