In 2016 Facebook unleashed its peer-to-peer fundraising tools on the world. Reception was lukewarm and the organization was criticized for charging a hefty 5% administration fee. A year later they dropped the 5% fee and users began to wholeheartedly embrace the new giving tools, especially in the form of birthday fundraisers.
New for 2018: Matching Funds
Two years later Facebook refined their charitable giving tools even more by expanding functionality, namely the ability for users to issue matching fund challenges. This is totally new functionality in online fundraising.
Matching fund challenges work because people are more motivated to give when they see their contributions are worth more. Studies show that matching fund challenges not only increase the amount given, they increase response rate as well.
Here’s how it works:
When a user creates a fundraiser for a nonprofit they’ll be asked if they want to pledge a matching donation. Actually, Facebook lists “Match Donations” as step #3 in their three-step fundraiser creation checklist, so it’s framed as a checklist step and not a question. The task encourages fundraisers to “Motivate friends and family by pledging to match their donations up to a limit you choose.”
Fundraisers then choose to match from $5 to $2,500. With Facebook’s Pledge Now, Pay Later structure, fundraisers contribute matching funds after the fundraiser ends. Matching funds are only paid on funds raised. For example, if a fundraiser pledges $200 in matching funds and only raises $100, they’ll only contribute $100 in matching funds.
There’s also a new matching funds box below every fundraiser description that tells everyone who sees the invitation that the person who started the fundraiser is offering a matching funds gift.
New for 2018: Algorithm Changes
In an attempt to keep users happy after some scandals and turbulence, Facebook changed their algorithm so users see more friends and family posts. That means peer-to-peer fundraisers will reach more eyeballs than in the past.
Facebook’s update to their charitable giving tools is great news for nonprofits. It shows the platform is committed to being a big player in contributing to the good of the global community. It’s likely that we will see even broader and more effective functionality in the near future.
 John List: The Market for Charitable Giving, University of Chicago