Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the Facebook and Instagram community has raised over US$5 billion for nonprofits – and guess which group is the most generous.

Facebook Fundraiser popular womenFor Debbie Sage-Morison’s birthday this year she launched a Facebook Fundraiser for The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital in lieu of presents.

“I’m not a presents person. I’m not materialistic. So many people were coming up and asking me, ‘what do you want, what do you want?’ Well, I think, if you’ve got some spare change why not give it to something worthy?” says Debbie.

“It was a great way for people to go, ‘oh, okay, we want to give you something. This is something you’re really passionate about, so we’ll donate to that. And it worked really well.”

The Gold Coast resident had first learnt about the Hospital through her workplace, Attwood Marshall Lawyers, who had supported the organisation with workplace fundraisers and donations for years. Just this year, they have come on board as a corporate sponsor.

“I chose Currumbin because there’s a lot of deforestation that’s happening on the Gold Coast which has been quite devastating. And they’re desperate [for funding]. They’re main source of income was coming from overseas visitors and Victorian and NSW tourists. They’ve really had to get all of us locals to dig deep and come and support them,” says Debbie.

This was only Debbie’s second Facebook Fundraiser – she had run one for her birthday last year for an old dog sanctuary – but it seems the beginning of a long tradition using the social media platform to raise money for causes close to her heart.

When asked if she plans on running a Facebook Fundraiser again, Debbie answers: “Oh, every year.”

Facebook Fundraiser popular womenDebbie is not alone. In March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the Facebook and Instagram community hit a milestone, raising over US$5 billion for nonprofits and charitable causes through Facebook Fundraising tools. This means more than 85 million organisers and donors who have chosen to support an organisation through Facebook.

On our soil, this translates to 2.3 million Australians who have given through this platform since it launched in 2018.

For Debbie, many of her friends and colleagues on social media were running Facebook Fundraisers.  The experience, for her, was extremely positive.

“It goes really smoothly, it keeps giving me little updates every now and then. I think it’s fantastic; really easy [to set up],” says Debbie.

Like any good fundraiser, Debbie donated to her own page first. But she wasn’t sure what to expect after the difficult year that had just passed.

I just thought, anything that I could fundraise [was good]. If there was anyone out there that can afford it then, happy days. If not, no pressure,” says Debbie.

“I was overwhelmed by the amount of support.”

What has surprised Debbie was that it wasn’t just her close friends and family who donated, but others in her social media network who she hadn’t necessarily spoken to in a while.

“It’s just so lovely because it clearly struck something within them as well. It was nice to see not just really good friends, but people I haven’t seen in forever, donate something.”

Debbie’s workplace has a strong culture of giving back. Outside of the office, Debbie is a generous supporter of a range of charities. There are the ones her and her family donate to on a regular basis, and she regularly chips into other friends’ and family members’ causes and fundraisers. It’s all about what tugs at the heartstrings for Debbie.

But before her Facebook Fundraisers, Debbie had never organised a fundraiser or an event for a charity before. This channel seems to be a simple and effective way for people to get a taste for peer-to-peer fundraising.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Facebook Fundraiser popular women

Lorikeet feeding at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Nestled on the Gold Coast, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been conserving native wildlife for over 70 years. Home to a range of native mammals, reptiles, birdlife and amphibians, it attracts visitors from all over the world. Attached to the Sanctuary, the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital treats, rehabilitates and releases sick, injured and orphaned native wildlife.

As international and domestic tourism dried up last year, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, was left with a hole in their income. And with increasing natural disasters, they’ve seen an increase in admissions. So donations through Facebook and Instagram are more than welcome.

“The Currumbin Wildlife Hospital relies on the donations from our global community via Facebook and Instagram. It is one of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world and our global followers recognise and support our mission,” says Michael Pyne, Senior Vet at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

“We absolutely love people choosing Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation as their charity of choice and via Facebook Fundraising.  Just the other day, for example, we posted a photo of a koala suffering from chlamydia on our Facebook page and within around 24 hours we had raised $276 that will be going straight to the care of our patients.  We are so thrilled to be supported by people all over the globe and Facebook has made this possible.”

Surprise, surprise … women are also more generous on Facebook

It seems that women are more generous than men on social media, as well as real life. In Australia, women contributed 63% of the total amount fundraised on Facebook. And while the gender split of Facebook users by is skewed towards female (numbers vary but it seems to be around 56% female, 44% male, and 51% female, 49% male on Instagram, according to Statistica), women are also taking on brunt of the work in other areas.

According to Facebook, in Australia last year, women created 70% of groups on Facebook. They also lead the charge in creating supportive communities and rallying resources during the pandemic. 66% of COVID-19 groups were created by women with 71% of group members also women.

But will times change? Rising animosity against social media and a belief that it negatively affects lives on an individual and community level has led to a slew of data-protected, secure apps gaining more popularity in the market.

And with the Apple iOS 14 privacy update slated for this year, there’s no doubt that nonprofits’ – and the world’s – relationships with Facebook will change. But when it does, let’s not forget about people like Debbie and the other 85 million who want to give to causes close to their heart, one birthday at a time.

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