For many people, Facebook has become the department store window of the web. Their reach is unbelievable, with a whopping 191 million users (and counting) in the United States alone. Imagine then, the power of their platform when fostering good. This past Giving Tuesday, Facebook teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to bolster the movement’s focus on end-of-year giving. 2015 was a standout year for the movement, but with Facebook in tow, this year was sure to be a watershed.
Facebook rolled out their donations feature in June of 2016. Once previously reserved for nonprofits, the feature sought to bring regular users into the fold. The inspiration actually came from 2014’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, according to Mashable. The ALS Association told Facebook they could neither handle the flood of people to their website, nor could they accept foreign currencies. Facebook, however, could do both. And combining their enormous network with thousands of charities has made for significant successes.
One fantastic story is that of Big Hearts for Big Dogs, a local Florida-based 501(c)3 that rescues large-breed dogs, especially those they call “throw away dogs,”—dogs who are older, broken, and in need of significant care. Their focus on the most vulnerable breeds means they face an uphill battle, but Trinity Hansen, the co-founder of Big Hearts for Big Dogs, is up to the task. “We have saved thousands of dogs,” beams Hansen. “We do all kinds of crazy things for the community.”
Through Facebook, they’ve managed to far exceed their initial goal of raising $500. “That was my first experience with the Facebook fundraising,” said Hansen. “And it was literally shockingly successful.” The charity ended up raising a little over $11,000—and with Facebook waving fees up to $500,000—100 percent of their donations are now going to saving large dogs all over Florida. Not only has Facebook enabled the average person to donate and fundraise, but Hansen thinks they’ve tapped into a brand new market. “We were able to reach 80 percent of the people on my friend list,” she stated.” “People who know that I’m really active in rescue, but who I’ve never really reached out to directly to say, ‘Will you donate?’” When she did, she found that a lot of people stepped up to donate that perhaps wouldn’t have in the past.
These kinds of success stories put a human face on the social behemoth. The numbers for the donations are also deeply encouraging. By their count, Facebook helped raise $6.79 million throughout Giving Tuesday. The site featured 106,000 donors donating to 15,000 fundraisers and supporting 9,800 charities. To double the good, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation offered to match each charity dollar for dollar, up to $1,000. And, while initially the foundation was committed to doing so up to $500,000, the demand Giving Tuesday initiated saw them raise that commitment up to $900,000.
That means fundraisers like Big Hearts for Big Dogs could add an extra $1000 to their take, which is a lot for a small organization. Just a day after Giving Tuesday, Big Hearts for Big Dogs received an urgent call. A dog had been hit and killed by a car and there were 11 newborn puppies to raise. They dispatched someone right away. “So we kind of made a joke that we raised $11,000 on Giving Tuesday and we received 11 newborn puppies in return,” said Hansen. And that’s why giving matters.