What Fundraisers Can Learn From the Facebook Outage of 2019

Marketing and Social Media

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On March 13th, 2019, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp went down globally for most users. The outage lasted for over 14 hours, with Facebook users getting error messages that read “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on getting this fixed as fast as we can.” #FacebookDown and #InstagramDown quickly became the top-trending topic on X.

I’m going to be honest here: I was extremely frustrated, too. As someone whose main job is managing my company’s social media platforms, I could relate to hysterical tweets like these:


While scrolling through X and obsessively checking for an announcement that these platforms were up and running again, I noticed LOTS of nonprofits freaking out. Their main concern? Losing out on fundraising dollars from their social campaigns. As I was lying in bed later, digesting the emotional roller coaster that is social media, it got me thinking. Nonprofits shouldn’t rely on just ONE medium for fundraising.

I know I preach about the importance of social media for fundraising and connecting with donors, but guys: social technology isn’t always going to work. It will have problems and outages, and you’ll need a plan to deal with them. This is especially true if a particular platform is one you depend upon heavily for communication or income.

Here are some ways you can reduce your dependency upon social media for fundraising.

Keep your mailing lists current

Your fundraising arsenal should include a few different methods of donor communication. Between social media, your website, and email, you’re a powerhouse of information and communication!

Mitigate the damage of social media outages by using email. Reach out to donors and let them know that they can visit your website if they’re having issues accessing your donation form on social channels. If they have any questions and couldn’t message you on Facebook Messenger or Instagram, let them know they can still call or email your support line.

Pro tip: update your website to reflect appropriate messaging in times like these. Encourage donors to give directly through your website. After all, you should always drive traffic back to your website. What better time than during social outages?!

I rely on Facebook for my P2P campaign…Help!

Peer-to-peer teams often raise money on Facebook, and that’s great. But, when social outages occur, this could interrupt fundraising efforts. Someone at your organization should reach out to team captains and give them an alternative strategy to use, especially if you’re unsure how long the outage will last.

Encourage team captains to reach out to their participants to share ways to raise money without depending on social posting. Instead of posting to social media, for example, they can email appeals to their friends and family, set up individual fundraising events, or set up a text-giving keyword. You can even offer participants email templates that will make asking for donations even easier.

Peer-to-peer captains are your first line of support and communication for your campaign. If they display their leadership skills and share ways to raise money outside of social channels, other team members will be able to stay engaged in the fundraising process without interruption.


The biggest thing to remember during a social media outage is this: don’t panic! These issues are always temporary! Tech problems will always happen. Companies resolve outages as quickly as possible, but you should still be prepared! If you’ve got plenty of ways to collect donations and communicate with donors and fundraisers alike, social outages should just be a small, temporary inconvenience.

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