Are Nonprofits Now “Stuck” With Facebook? | npENGAGE

Are Nonprofits Now “Stuck” With Facebook?

By on Apr 16, 2014


Perhaps you saw last month’s news that Facebook posts are now reaching just 6% of fans?

An Ogilvy & Mather analysis of 100+ brand pages found the organic reach of Facebook posts has declined 49% since October.

Facebook admitted an impending drop-off in organic reach last December. There have even been reports that organic reach will be further reduced to 1% to 2% of fans.

From Time’s post on the free marketing gravy train is over to Eat24’s popular Facebook break-up letter, there’s been no shortage of reactions to the news (this post, now included).

Michael Lazerow wrote Facebook is simply following the path of similar digital advertising breakthroughs. As Facebook’s popularity has increased – with more businesses/organizations competing for attention – “free” is being replaced by “paid” distribution. He cites similar paths previously taken by Yahoo and Google.

How Declining Facebook Reach Affects Nonprofits

Nonprofits have largely been told they need to be a part of Facebook over the past 5+ years. Most have spent time and resources building up and engaging a fanbase.

The thought that they’ll need to advertise to continue reaching their fanbase may be tough for nonprofits to digest, especially compared to brands or companies. Reasons include:

  • Budget: Many nonprofits don’t have an advertising budget for Facebook – or anything else – like brands and companies do.
  • Expertise: Nonprofits may just be perfecting how to engage constituents, convert them to subscribers or use it as a retention tool. They’ll now need to learn the mechanics and best practices of Facebook advertising.
  • Resources: It’s more difficult for many nonprofits to simply hire someone who knows Facebook advertising, especially smaller shops.
  • Decisions on Smaller Fanbases: Some nonprofits haven’t built up a substantial Facebook fanbase. Should they now advertise to build up a fanbase, then advertise more to engage them? Or shift efforts to other free social media platforms like Instagram or Google+?

Are Nonprofits Now “Stuck” with Facebook?

As the shift from free to paid distribution occurs, some nonprofits may feel like they’re now “stuck” with Facebook.

Many nonprofits have built up a fanbase – possibly substantial – that has become an important piece of promoting their mission, including acquiring, cultivating and retaining constituents. Even though Facebook ads offer tremendous targeting capabilities, nonprofits will now likely need advertising dollars to continue reaching them.

For large and savvier nonprofits, this transition may have already occurred. But for many smaller and less sophisticated nonprofits, the challenges and learning curve will be much steeper.

Will Facebook Give Nonprofits a Break?

The nonprofit world has already started calling for Facebook to provide free advertising options for nonprofits, similar to Google Grants. There’s even a #FacebookAdGrants petition you can sign. For now, though, nonprofits need to think about whether they’ll start using Facebook ads to continue reach their fanbase.

Do you have thoughts on how Facebook’s declining reach will impact nonprofits? Please share them below.



Mike Snusz brings 18 years of fundraising experience to his role as a Senior Team Lead on Blackbaud’s Professional Services team. He leads a team of digital consultants and works with nonprofits to improve their digital fundraising, monthly giving, email marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Prior to Blackbaud, Mike managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell from 2003 to 2005 in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. When he’s not contemplating fundraising, Mike enjoys hide and seek, tag, and dance parties with his two kids.

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