Money

Facebook users raised $300 million in birthday donations thanks partly to Steph Curry, Madonna and cat-lovers

Imitation Facebook T-Shirts are displayed for sale inside a shop in New Delhi on March 28, 2018. 
Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images
Imitation Facebook T-Shirts are displayed for sale inside a shop in New Delhi on March 28, 2018. 

Last year, social media giant Facebook unveiled a new feature that allows users to create fundraisers for their birthdays and ask their friends to donate money to a specified charity or nonprofit. Today, on the one-year anniversary of that feature, the company announced in a newsroom post that users have raised more than $300 million for causes they care about.

Some of the most notable fundraisers were set up by NBA star Stephen Curry, who raised more than $82,000 for Nothing But Nets, a charity dedicated to raising awareness and funding to fight malaria; music icon Madonna, who raised more than $200,000 to benefit the humanitarian nonprofit she co-founded, Raising Malawi; and Yuriko Shotter, a Facebook user who raised more than $7,200 for 13th Street Cat Rescue, a local cat shelter in San Jose, California.

"Birthday fundraisers are one of our charitable tools that help people support the causes that matter the most to them," Asha Sharma, Facebook's Head of Product, Social Good, tells CNBC Make It. "It's incredible to see how people have come together to raise over $300 million."

Among the top beneficiaries overall, according to the post, are the Alzheimer's Association, American Cancer Society, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, No Kid Hungry and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Here's how the platform works: Two weeks before your birthday, Facebook shows a prompt in your news feed that gives you the option to create a fundraiser for one of 750,000 available nonprofit organizations. You can set a goal amount and create a custom message and, on your birthday, your friends receive a notification inviting them to donate to your chosen cause.

After someone donates, they receive a receipt via email. Their name and the amount of their contribution will be shared with the charity as well as with the creator of the fundraiser.

To make the process more efficient, Facebook added new features, including a tool that could simplify the process of finding a charity or nonprofit and another that lets you match donations and add organizers to your fundraiser. "Pages — including those run by brands, public figures and nonprofits — can now create and donate to fundraisers," Sharma says in the post. "And we added a tool so people can make recurring monthly donations to organizations and causes."

The company says it waived processing fees on donations as of November 2017 so now 100 percent of funds go to the causes users are supporting.

While users who dedicate their birthdays to charity may not always be able to bring in large sums of money like Curry or Madonna, the donation feature could make it easier to act on philanthropic impulses.

"We're excited to see the impact that people will make over the next year," Sharma says, "and we're inspired to make future fundraisers and birthdays even more memorable."

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