Facebook is adding a ‘personal fundraiser’ feature today, taking on services like GoFundMe head on. The new tool will allow people to leverage their friend networks to collect charitable donations for emergencies and other important issues.
You may recall that Facebook previously added a fundraising feature back in 2015, but this only applied to non-profits. The new feature lets almost anyone start a fundraiser (if they live in the US). However, you can’t go around asking your friends for money to buy some diamond-studded taco or whatever you found on eBay just yet. Facebook is limiting you to just six actually-important categories:
- Education: such as tuition, books or classroom supplies
- Medical: such as medical procedures, treatments or injuries
- Pet Medical: such as veterinary procedures, treatments or injuries
- Crisis Relief: such as public crises or natural disasters
- Personal Emergency: such as a house fire, theft or car accident
- Funeral and Loss: such as burial expenses or living costs after losing a loved one
Facebook has a distinct advantage over other fundraising platforms in that it can directly leverage your friend network. You can see people’s real profiles when they ask for money, as well as other friends who are contributing to the cause.
As for Pages and organizations, Facebook is adding a “Donate” button to livestreams. It’s a direct call-for-action that will make it easier for pages to collect donations while streaming some video related to the cause.
It’ll be interesting to see how far Facebook wants to take fundraising. Emergency causes and education expenses make sense to start with because those are things that are genuinely worth investing in. But what about indie films, cool tech, or potato salads? At risk of cluttering the platform and people abusing the system, Facebook might be better partnering with existing services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Chances are Facebook is testing the waters with meaningful causes for now, and will assess expanding the feature depending on how people respond. For now, personal fundraisers are only available in the US, but it’s only a matter of time until it hits other regions.