The ReesSpecht Life Foundation owes a great deal of its success to Facebook. Facebook’s open platform and ease of use, combined with its almost universal appeal, gave our fledgling movement a chance to grow that would be impossible anywhere else. From our first “pay it forward” card experience, to our early fundraisers, Facebook was there to share our ups and downs as my family came to grips with loss of our 22 month old son, Richard Edwin-Ehmer Specht, in October of 2012. Indeed, the foundation of our entire movement is rooted in the over fifty thousand people who hit that “thumbs up” button and decided to follow what we were doing. Each month saw us growing by leaps and bounds thanks to the ease by which Facebook allowed us to share with our followers in a way that no other platform before or since could hope to match.
My love affair with Facebook grew on a daily basis as my family and I watched “Like” after “Like” pop up on our screens. It was a welcome distraction to see our like tally burgeon on a daily basis. With each new “Like” our following expanded and so did our ability to help people. The bigger our following grew, the more good we seemed to inspire and, up until relatively recently, facebook was the primary vector by which we accomplished it. Not anymore…
For many pages like us, Facebook is a mere shell of what it once was. I don’t want to be the person who immediately starts to complain about corporate greed, but it certainly feels that way regarding the detrimental changes Facebook has implemented in the past year or so . Whereas once our posts used to reach the majority of those who liked our page, we now find less than 10% see our posts today… with that number rapidly declining on a daily basis. Of course it is not a coincidence that this lowering of our reach coincided with the introduction of the ability to “boost” our posts by paying to have Facebook share them with the people who already decided they liked what we were doing in the first place. Now if I want the foundation to reach that same number of people I am forced to spend money to do so. For a non-profit organization, especially a small one, this is simply not feasible. The money we raise is meant to help others through adversity, to promote kindness, and reward the young men and women in our community who demonstrate a commitment to community, compassion and respect. I understand the necessity of Facebook to raise revenue for their investors, but distributing the load equally among non-profits and big corporations alike is at best greedy, and at worst destructive.
I cannot tell you the number of fellow non-profits who have told me that they are giving up on Facebook because it just does not work for them anymore. Unless they post a picture of a baby, or funny meme, their posts are seen by so few as to make the time it takes to put a post together with actual information worthless. Why bother sharing about your fundraiser or charity event if no one can see it anyhow? In fact, it was my own experience with trying to share information for our own fundraiser to raise funds for drowning prevention that inspired me to write this. What good is having 52,000 “likes” if those people can’t see the posts I making in the first place? It is incredibly disheartening that the very people who could stand to benefit the most from the potential of Facebook (and what it used to be) are giving it all up because of something that is easily addressed and correctable.
As of this writing, Facebook offers no discounts, benefits or other “perks” that help a non-profit reach their user base. The rate Facebook charges our 501 (c)(3) charity to share a post about our fundraiser to prevent drowning (the cause of the death of our little boy) to 52,000 followers is the same they would charge the likes of Coca-Cola to advertise their newest soft drink. Other social media outlets, such as Google, offer discounts/reduced fees to non-profits, but Facebook, it seems, cannot be bothered. As the President of a foundation that is all about community, compassion and respect I find the apparent apathy on Facebook’s part regarding this issue particularly disturbing.
The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel
Facebook has the power to correct this. With just a little bit of coding they can easily implement a system that alters their algorithm that artificially limits the reach of registered non-profits. If I ‘Like” a page, especially that of a non-profit, it is because I am interested in what they doing and wish to be a part of it. The people who like our page our interested in making this world a better place. Others who like a page for a foundation battling diseases like cancer and alzheimers do so because they want to be a part of something that makes a difference in their lives or the lives of their loved ones. We cannot make a difference if no one can hear our message. Facebook, you represent a venue that can make it possible for those of us who dedicate our lives, with little or no remuneration, to making the world we share a better one. It is my sincere hope that someone who is responsible for making the “big” decisions sees this. Imagine a world where those who dedicate their lives to making it better are heard loud and clear and don’t need to break the bank to do it! Facebook, you can make that happen. The world is waiting…
Please share this post with others and ask them to share it. The power we have in our collective will is something we often overlook. Help us make a difference. Request that Facebook consider changing its policy regarding non-profits.
ReesSpecht Life Foundation, Inc.