June 02, 2008

Is Facebook's Fund Raising a Bust?

The announcement by Facebook last week that its Causes application has raised $2.5-million in its first year drew disappointment in some quarters.

Writing on the blog TechCrunch, some posters say that figure is encouraging, particularly given that most Facebook users are young and don’t have much disposable income. But other comments suggest that $2.5-million is a tiny number for a site that has 12 million users.

Adam Hyman points out on TechCrunch that the $2.5-million total works out to being only $0.21 per user. “How can anyone call this a success?” he asks.

A blogger who identified himself simply as “FT” adds that Facebook receives a portion of the money raised by the application, so smart donors would be better off contributing to the charity directly.

Lael writes that Facebook’s causes doesn’t provide users with enough of an incentive to donate. “Most of the people I know who have the app installed haven’t ever donated. I think it’s just too easy to feel good by adding a cause and not donating,” she says.

But other writers on the TechCrunch blog point out that the Causes application is as much about raising awareness and support for charitable causes as it is a way to raise money.

Austin Hill writes: “More important then the actual number of dollars donated (although a good thing) is the social affect of users displaying the causes they want to associated themselves with.”

Other writers suggest that Facebook Causes is just getting started, and that, as its users age, they will be able to contribute larger sums.

(Read The Chronicle’s article about Facebook fund raising.)

What do you think?