Facebook is getting some deserved credit for using its massive platform to help raise money for the earthquake relief effort in Nepal.
But let's not fool ourselves into thinking that the social-networking giant's effort was a home run.
In the wake of the earthquake, Facebook urged users to contribute to the charityInternational Medical Corps, which is one of the many relief organizations offering help in response to the disaster.
Its simple appeal -- which appeared on news feeds for one week -- raised $15.4 million from 754,000 donors. Facebook also matched the first $2 million in donations, bringing the total raised to $17.4 million.
The money will certainly help. And it represents a great first step for Facebook -- especially if it wants to become a touchpoint for those who want to help during times of crisis.
Putting the Numbers in Context
But for a network that boasts more than 1.44 billion active monthly users, the response actually seems to be quite low.
The 754,000 people who donated represent just .05 percent of active Facebook users. That's less than one donor per 1,000 active users (and hardly the type of conversion rate that Facebook would achieve for sponsored ads on its platform).
By comparison, last week's one-day Give Local America fundraising campaign -- in which community foundations across the country hosted giving challenges to raise money for nonprofits in their communities -- tallied $68.5 million.
In Seattle alone, the community foundation raised $16.3 million during Give Local America -- generating more money in one day for one community than all of Facebook's users raised for Nepal over the course of a week.
And it pales in comparison to the money raised by the Facebook-fueled Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised an estimated $220-million for ALS charities in 2014.
In the future, Facebook would be well served to pay closer attention to the type of fundraising efforts that succeed on its platform -- efforts that are centered on highly personal peer-to-peer appeals.
Imagine if, instead of being confronted with a static appeal on your Facebook timeline, you were instead getting personal appeals from your friends telling you that they were donating to the relief effort and challenging you to do the same.
Facebook wouldn't have to do much to encourage those who were making donations to create their own calls to action within their networks.
It might also more actively enlist companies, charities, and individuals on the platform to become ambassadors for future crisis-related fundraising efforts.
For a passive effort, Facebook's Nepal campaign did some real good.
But imagine how much more Facebook could do if it actually treated the campaign less like a banner-ad effort and more like a something that actually acknowledges that it's a social network.