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Facebook Live users can now raise funds for charities

The social network is hoping the new feature for its streaming sessions will help nonprofits get as many donations as views.

Best Friends Animal Society raised more than $500 using Facebook Live's donation tool.
Kevin Mazur, Getty Images for Facebook

You can give more than just likes now when you watch streams on Facebook.

The social network on Thursday introduced a donation feature for its live videos, letting people host streaming sessions to raise money for a nonprofit organization of their choice.

Facebook has partnered with more than 750,000 organizations that can receive donations from the new feature. Users who want to fundraise through Facebook Live need to link the donations to a nonprofit group, which Facebook said includes "everything from a small local organization in your town to a large global nonprofit."

The majority of registered 501(c)(3) organizations will be eligible for live donations, Facebook's director of Social Good Partnerships, John Cantarella, said.

"A lot of people want to create fundraisers in real time," he said. "We know there's an appetite for it, and with these tools, it just makes it easier to tell your story."

Best Friends Animal Society had raised more than $510 while streaming from Facebook's Social Good Forum in New York shortly after the announcement.

The announcement comes just days after Apple announced its partnership with two dozen nonprofits, letting people make donations to charities through Apple Pay.

Facebook was inspired to introduce donations to live streams after seeing the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014. More than 17 million videos of people pouring buckets of freezing water over their heads were posted on Facebook to raise money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease). Thanks to the social media phenomenon, $115 million was raised in eight weeks.

Facebook decided to build its own tool for donating to charity after the ALS donation website briefly crashed from the number of people visiting its page. One of the first uses of Facebook's donation tool was for relief efforts after the Nepal earthquake in April 2015. Users could donate directly to International Medical Corps. The effort raised more than $17 million.

"The best way to have the most good is not to fundraise ourselves. It's to empower the community too," said Naomi Gleit, Facebook's vice president for Social Good.

Facebook will charge donors a 3 percent fee for all credit card transactions, which isn't for profit, but to break even, Cantarella said. For comparison, GoFundMe receives a 5 percent cut of all donations on its website.