Facebook’s New Policy Is Damaging Nonprofits


Facebook Damaging Nonprofits

August 13, 2014;McClatchy-Tribune News Service

As Facebook moves toward becoming increasingly more profit-oriented, nonprofits are feeling the brunt of these changes. Throughout the last year, Facebook has been making major alterations in how users’ newsfeeds display content, moving away from organic reach to allow more space for personal connections to have visibility. But Facebook’s real motives have becoming rather clear; these modifications were mainly a strategy to generate more advertising revenue on the social network as more and more businesses are spending the money to restore their presence.

Earlier this year NPQ reported on how these news feed changes were starting to impact nonprofit brands who have worked hard to gain followers on the social media giant – only to discover the new algorithm is now working against them. Nonprofit organizations simply don’t have the advertising budgets to reach their audience and have the same impact they once did on Facebook. The president and cofounder of the Global Healthy Living Foundation, Seth Ginsberg has written an article with similar sentiment:

“But the transformative power of Facebook — like the popularity of the site itself — is neither preordained nor guaranteed going forward. If nonprofit groups are no longer able to effectively reach the communities of followers they have worked hard to cultivate, they may be forced to look to recreate these communities elsewhere. How can you have a revolution if no one shows up? In the midst of a pivotal moment in patient engagement and empowerment, our microphone has been turned off. We recruited an audience to fill the room and then suddenly, only those in the first few rows can hear us.”

How can you have a revolution if no one shows up? This could be very damaging to nonprofits or any groups looking to generate momentum for movements through online activism.

Nonprofit organizations are now seeing the same decrease in reach as any brand, plummeting to 1-2 percent of all followers. This means nonprofits are suffering just as much as Target and Coca Cola—only these wealthy companies can afford to pump as much money into promoting posts and increasing visibility as they so desire.

Ginsberg urges Facebook to stop penalizing nonprofits and treating them like any other company with a Facebook Page, and Nonprofit Quarterly loudly echoes this request. Just as Google has strived to provide opportunities and resources for nonprofits as it expands and changes its algorithm, Facebook should be creating some sort of program for nonprofits to be registered as a separate entity so we are not fighting against every brand on the network to be seen by our supporters. –Aine Creedon

  • Bill Tibbitts

    There should be a difference between liking a cause or organization you support and “liking” a fast food chain so you get a free cheeseburger. Non-profits encouraged their networks to join Facebook and be part of a conversation about an issue, or issues, that they care deeply about. Those conversations are part of why people use Facebook. Those same people, however, are going to be annoyed if they see their favorite non-profit spending money on Facebook ads.

  • Seth Ginsberg

    Thank you for your support. The Change.org petition we launched already has 17,500+ signatures. Please sign it and pass it along to your various networks!


  • Steph

    Just signed the petition and shared!

  • Andre

    Do we know what percentage of nonprofits utilize Facebook?

  • Karen Campbell

    I’m grateful for the confirmation that this article gives to my assessment. I work with nonprofits and have recently seen a huge decline in one client’s reach. I’m contemplating advising the client to no longer invest in FB as an outlet. Another idea is to approach sponsors (like we have for fundraising events) and ask them to cover the costs of boosts/ads so that content can be seen. We could then use cover art and photos as a means for recognizing the sponsors. What would be great would be if FB noted that nonprofits are different and created an option by which we could choose to post advertisers on our nonprofit pages — even being the one to enlist those advertisers. Seems like that could be a win/win.