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Facebook raised $300M during first year of birthday fundraisers

More than 750,000 nonprofits have access to the social network's fundraising tools.


Facebook's birthday fundraising tool turns 1 this month.


Facebook is celebrating one year of birthday fundraisers this month, a feature that has raised more than $300 million dollars for over 750,000 nonprofit organizations on the platform, the company said Wednesday.

Birthday fundraisers let people rally friends and family to raise money for a nonprofit they care about. Facebook users get a notification two weeks before their birthday asking if they'd like to create a fundraiser. After choosing a nonprofit, they can invite their friends to donate. In April, Facebook announced a feature that let people pledge to match donations to their fundraiser.

At an event at Facebook's San Francisco office on Wednesday, the company announced a new Nonprofit Selection Tool that surfaces when users search for an organization to raise money for. When a person clicks on an organization, they'll see information such as its mission, location and how many people like that Page. The tool will also include a feature with popular search terms, which will show a list of nonprofits that might be relevant to a person based on factors such as Pages they've liked, where they're located and organizations they've expressed an interest in on the platform. Recommendations will be based on an organization's relevance to a user, not how big it is, said Asha Sharma, Facebook's head of product for Social Good. The tool will launch in the fall. 


The new Nonprofit Selection Tool will launch in the fall. 


Social Good is Facebook's branch focused on helping people with features like fundraisers, mentorships and emergency responses. Facebook has been working to highlight its positive impact on the world after being plagued by scandal after scandal. The social network has been hammered over the past two years for not doing enough to prevent election meddling and the spread of misinformation. The company is also still reeling from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a UK-based digital consultancy with ties to the Trump presidential campaign misused data from up to 87 million Facebook users.

Since then, Facebook has touted do-gooder features like fundraising and mentorship tools. Last week, the company introduced a feature for Facebook groups that connects mentors with mentees. With the new feature, people are set up one on one and go through a step-by-step digital program to get to know each other.

In November, Facebook waived fees for fundraisers, so that 100 percent of proceeds go to the organizations. The top beneficiaries of birthday fundraisers include St. JudeAlzheimer's Association, the American Cancer SocietyShare Our Strength - No Kid Hungry and the ASPCA, according to Facebook.

"Facebook is developing a new way of philanthropy for young people that didn't exist before," said Braden Lay-Michaels, chief development officer at The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. Before birthday fundraisers, the organization used to raise about $1,000 a month through other donations on Facebook. A year ago, after the launch of birthday fundraisers, The Trevor Project raised over $10,000 for the first time. During Pride Month, the organization raised over $200,000.

"It's so much easier to give that $5 and $10," Lay-Michaels said. "We're creating a generation of philanthropists."

Facebook has had some prior success with its fundraising tools. In June, former employees started a fundraiser on the platform to help reunite families affected by the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" approach toward undocumented immigrants. It has raised more than $20 million. Both CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg donated to the cause.

CNET's Richard Nieva contributed to this story.

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