Fundraising and Unrealistic Expectations:

at We Demand from Non-Profits

Animal rescues and rehabilitation non-profits fill a lot of my social media time. They are the causes I am most likely to donate to and that I want updates on.

And I’ve watched over the years as they get hit with more and more unrealistic expectations and stupid demands from social media to be able to get the word out.

Social media continues to place unrealistic expectation on non-profits and that burden is hurting animals and a lot of other charities.

One of my favorite recuess, Big Fluffy Dog Rescue is a Tennessee-based rescue for — you guessed it — big fluffy dogs, especially pyrs and other large working dogs, has had to change up their daily posts about rescue events, animals in need of homes, and fundraising on a regular basis to be able to get the word out to the people who have chosen to follow them.

Facebook keeps changing the rules. For awhile, it helped to add certain words to the posts, thus the evolution of their posts about drunk, pregnant kittens who spent a lot of time pre-pandemic going to Vegas.

I went to their page, followed it, and even told FB “I want to see this first.” They publish updates daily. But I usually don’t see them unless I go specifically looking for them because FB has decided it knows better than I do what I want to see. Instead of the pages I have said I want to see, FB fills up my feed with ads and a bunch of nonsense that is the exact opposite of the things I want to follow.

Instead of seeing that BFDR had a rash of intakes with serious injuries and needs some cash to pay the vet bills, I see ads for Orlando Studios a week after I bought the tickets to go there.

Just an FYI Facebook, sending me ads for things I’ve already bought is really dumb.

But it’s also dumb to make it harder and harder to see the things I have specifically asked to see. It’s why people are flocking to TikTok. TikTok understands the concept of how to curate a timeline. It sends me things like other things I have previously liked.

It alienates me and it alienates the organizations that listened to you and built up their following over the years.

Take, for example, my author friend Nancy. Nancy listened to all the Facebook tutorials and built a following under her author page. In all her books she had readers opt in to follow her page on Facebook for updates on when there would be new books.

And now, when she posts something on that author page, most of those followers don’t see it because Facebook wants her to buy an ad for the book instead.

The company seems to have forgotten the original ideas they touted and then wonder why people are fleeing, desperately searching for a social media alternative.

While asking the author to pay for an ad might just seem like legitimate commerce, the issue is that many of these authors aren’t making huge amounts on these books. They make a few hundred dollars a year and Facebook ads are unlikely to generate new sales. So they are asking people who worked hard for months to get a book ready to publish to sacrifice a large part of their tiny income instead of doing what they promised and spreading the word to the page’s followers.

It’s even worse for non-profits like BFDR.

A tiny ad campaign on Facebook for the self- storage facility I run costs us between $100 and $300 a month, depending on how often we want to run the promotion.

For BFDR, that same amount of money would get their ad seen by maybe a thousand people. Or, they could use that money for vet bills for a dog rescued from backyard breeders or for dog food or for gas to transport the animals they rescue.

So most rescues opt to spend the money on the animals.

If they spend the money on animal care, supporters wonder why they aren’t getting more updates and information on the rescue. If they spend the money on ads, auditors and supporters look at the administrative costs — advertising is usually considered admin — and critique the organization for that.

Worse yet, when these organizations also adopt out animals, supporters and would-be adopters are often shocked, and angry, about the cost of adopting an animal. Most rescues charge at least $600 for an adult dog, possibly more for a puppy.

And people just don’t seem to understand why. They see that the organizations transport the animals from where they are to the adopter, often with a stop-off at a foster family for a bit. The dogs are all vetted, spayed or neutered, personality tested, and caught up on their medical care.

While adopters expect non-profits rescues to do all those things, they then gripe about the price it costs to do all those things.

As a society, we need to examine our expectations for non-profits and be realistic about what we are getting from them. When I finally have a place to adopt a BFDR, I will need to accept that my adoption costs are not just about my dog, but about what it costs to keep the rescue going.

And as consumers, we need to start demanding that organizations like Facebook either keep their promise to let us follow those we want or get out of the way for a new social media site that will.

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Lucinda Gunnin

Lucinda Gunnin

Lucinda Gunnin is a commercial property manager and author in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She’s a news junky, sushi addict, and geek extraordinaire.