As Organic Facebook Traffic Disappears, Nonprofits Pay the Price

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February 9, 2015;Associations Now

Over the years, we have seen a significant decline in Facebook engagement, and in 2015, organic reach from the social network has officially been deemed extinct. This has left many nonprofits in a difficult position, having close to zero visibility on posts to a Facebook audience they worked hard to establish and grow. Companies can still pay for advertisements to boost posts and to attain more “likes,” but without investing in the platform, Facebook Pages have become fairly useless, and this has put a serious crunch on many organizations’ social outreach strategies.

Some nonprofits are fighting back and asking Facebook to quit limiting their reach, urging the company to make changes in their algorithm so nonprofit organizations aren’t suffering just as much as the Pages of corporations like Coca-Cola or Target. Erin Jenkins, a local volunteer at the Karuna Bully Rescue animal shelter, recently created an online petition, “Facebook: Change your Algorithm for Non-Profit Pages!” and explains how detrimental it is to leave these organizations high and dry:

“Social media has changed the way animal rescues operate (as well as all other non-profits from disease fighting foundations or conservation causes) for the better. Facebook is used as a bulletin board by non-profits. We are not selling products, but rather, exchanging vital information.”

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The petition was launched a week ago and has already reached 7,500 of its 10,000 signatures needed, so this problem clearly affects many organizations across the sector. Critics of changing the new algorithm often argue that Facebook is a free platform and so therefore owes us nothing—but as a company with integrity, Facebook should see how destructive these changes are for nonprofits, which often rely on social platforms to reach people who are in need.

Will Facebook listen? Other technology mega-platforms have created specialized nonprofit programs; for example, Google for Nonprofits gives nonprofit organizations free tools and revenue for AdWords as long as you are registered as a 501(c)(3). Why can’t social media giants like Facebook see the damage they are causing to nonprofits’ social reach and adapt a similar program for adverts?—Aine Creedon

  • PhoebaTron

    I don’t know why the directive for action is to a mechanism and automaton. Facebook is a thing. And it doesn’t have feelings, sorry. It has made Zuckerberg a very wealthy individual. Zuckerberg is the actual human behind the automaton, who has the leadership capacity, as do all his (supposed fellow human) underlings. Why is there a petition to Facebook, ffs? Why not a petition to the individuals behind the automaton?
    We have have privatised corporations that value shareholder profit maximisation over customer service- but seriously- I reckon this demonstrates how dehumanised and reprogrammed we have become enslaved in the matrix. Analogous to words of the late Utah Phillips: “The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” So it is with death of appropriate facebook algorithms. And forgetting that we are humans that have the power to intervene in Systems, following work of the late Donella Meadows.

  • Realist

    Come on guys, Facebook is a business. Let’s stop thinking that just because we are working for social change, the greater business community should stand aside and roll out the red carpet for us. It would be in their best interest as corporate citizens, for marketing purposes, to not force us to spend money on their product (similar to google grants), but to sign petitions and get militant about it is hilarious.

  • Sean Coffey

    Google Ad Words can be helpful, but I also sat in a room full of nonprofit folks who were trying to use it but are getting outbid b/c Google limits your bids to $2….Google rep. at the training essentially acknowledged that they didn’t want nonprofits competing with paying customers.

  • JOHANNA I O’KELLEY

    Our organization, Chicuchas Wasi School, provides education for 105 indigenous girls aged 4-11 in rural Cusco, Peru. We also provide them with 2 meals a day and school uniforms, dental, and for other needs, These young girls would otherwise not go to school and would be left with no alternatives, but a future of abject poverty.

    We rely on Facebook to get the word out and encourage people here in the US, the UK, and other places to give to support this school. 97% of the money we raise goes towards the school and these girls.

    Please change your algorithm so that non-profits like ours can continue to do good for young girls like these and for all the other causes that do good in the world.

    There are many nonprofits that are helping everyone working at Facebook every day, that are helping to improve the quality of the air and water, preserving the beauty of nature, providing care for the children of employees, or possibly hospice care for the parents of your employees. So maybe you could consider this a part of the benefits that your employees are receiving as well.

    Thank you from all of us out here in the real world.

  • Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums

    We highly value how Facebook enables us to reach new constituencies. We have invested considerable time and money into building our audience. However, the number of followers we are reaching is not meeting our ROI. While we have no intention of leaving FB althogther, we are looking for alternate means of communication.

  • John Hassell

    Please don’t undermine the work of non-profit organizations. Thanks.

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