We partner exclusively with charities and progressive organisations that work to make the world a better place. So it’s safe to say that we have a conflicted relationship with Facebook ads.
Facebook has rightly long drawn criticism for allowing hatred and extremism to go unchecked on its platform. Yet for so many charities, Facebook ads are one of the most effective tools at their disposal to reach and mobilise supporters, and raise much needed funds.
The #StopHateForProfit campaign is calling on advertisers to pause ad spend on Facebook throughout July, to demand action on racism and hatred on the platform.
We wholeheartedly support the aims, approach and message of the campaign. And with many big companies already committed to pausing their ad spend throughout July, there is real potential for change.
We also recognise that for many charities and not-for-profit orgs, the issue is complex.
No matter how emphatically NGOs support the aims of the boycott, Facebook ads currently provide these organisations with the ability to target audiences, mobilise supporters and raise funds in a way that can’t be matched by organic reach or other platforms (yet).
Many NGOs are simply not in a position to give up – or even pause – such a vital source of mobilisation and fundraising.
Color Of Change, one of the organisations co-ordinating the boycott, has made this case powerfully. While they are encouraging corporations to join the boycott, they’ve explained they will not be stopping their own Facebook ads because “without paying to reach audiences on the platform our campaigns for justice for Black people would get drowned out by paid corporate advertisements.” They are also not asking other NGOs to pause their own ads.
Previous testing, by both Forward Action and other organisations, has yet to show that other platforms can replace the role Facebook plays in at-scale mobilisation and fundraising.
We are not expecting to find a silver bullet alternative overnight, and we think it’s unlikely the sector will be able to shift wholesale away from Facebook in the near future.
However, we think that shouldn’t stop us stepping up our efforts to try to find alternative solutions. So we are planning to run tests of alternative channels with our partners over the coming weeks and months, some of whom will be joining the boycott in July.
As much as possible, we’ll share our findings and results on the performance of other channels as we go.
Working in this way, we can ensure NGOs don’t lose the access to their supporters they need to fight for a fairer world, while progressing towards a future in which the sector has digital platforms that both meet its needs and better reflect its values.
To find out more about the campaign and how you can get involved as an organisation, or demand change as a consumer, visit Stop Hate For Profit.