Facebook has announced a range of new fundraising and community support initiatives in preparation for Giving Tuesday (11/30), which, interestingly, also includes the expansion of its Nextdoor-like ‘Neighborhoods’ feature, which, up till now, had only been available to Canadian users.
As explained by Facebook:
“People are increasingly using Facebook to help the vulnerable in their local communities, support small businesses and share information in local groups. So, we’re expanding tests of Neighborhoods, a single destination to build and strengthen local communities on Facebook, to an additional 132 cities in the United States.”
As you can see in the above screenshots, Neighborhoods is a separate element within Facebook, which enables users to join specified local communities, in order to better facilitate connection within your immediate vicinity. Users can set up a Neighborhoods profile, which includes a separate Neighborhoods bio, along with your Facebook name and image, which then enables you to connect with local community groups and causes, while also finding new interaction opportunities and tips.
Facebook launched the first test of Neighborhoods in Calgary last October, before expanding it to more Canadian regions in May this year. And now, it’s coming to US cities too – which will no doubt be less than welcome news for Nextdoor, which has become a key community connection tool for many.
Indeed, early in the pandemic, Nextdoor saw an 80% increase in users, with more and more people looking to connect with local communities in order to better support their neighbors and local businesses. Facebook groups also saw a significant surge, and putting two and two together, Neighborhoods could be a powerful tool for local connection - while Facebook’s also adding a new ‘Giving Exchange’ element, which is really a more systematic version of local ‘Buy, Swap and Sell’ groups.
It’s a logical expansion, which could become a significant element. Already, 1.8 billion people utilize Facebook Groups each month, with many of these related to local news and events, and with more local publications also forced to shutter due to the pandemic, it seems likely that an increasing number of people will now become even more reliant on Facebook for local news and connection.
It’ll be interesting to see, then, how Neighborhoods is adopted by US users, and how Facebook looks to maximize usage and membership as means to become a more critical tool for local engagement.
Which also leads to questions about Facebook’s algorithms, and how they can amplify angst and division. We’ll have to wait and see if the wider launch of Neighborhoods leads to similar impacts on a smaller-scale, but it’s definitely an element to watch, as Facebook seeks to extend its influence into more levels of civic interaction.
In addition to the expansion of Neighborhoods, Facebook has also announced a range of charitable initiatives for Giving Tuesday, including:
- Matching up to $8 million in donations made to eligible nonprofits in the US
- Matching the fundraisers of seven Instagram creators, up to $50,000 each, through Giving Tuesday
- Expanding the range of nonprofits that people can fundraise for on Instagram
- Running a Warzone tournament on Facebook Gaming, with funds raised going to charities as chosen by Gaming creators
Facebook will also be hosting its #BuyBlack Friday campaign once again, which will help to raise funds and awareness for Black-owned businesses.
“In the US, Black-owned businesses continue to be among the hardest hit by the pandemic, and this holiday season will be make or break for many of them. More than a third of US Black-owned businesses expect to make at least half of their annual revenue in the last three months of the year.”
The #BuyBlack Friday show will air every Friday in November on Facebook, while Facebook will also share various #BuyBlack Friday gift guide collections, which will be available all month long in both the Facebook and Instagram Shop tabs.
Facebook has also shared this overview of how people can show their support on Giving Tuesday.
While many regions are now shifting into a recovery phase, the impacts of the pandemic will be felt for some time yet, which is why initiatives like Giving Tuesday are important, as they provide more opportunity to highlight charitable causes and needs that require more focus and attention.
Though it is interesting that Facebook is using the event to expand the roll-out of Neighborhoods, which could also have negative impacts. By using a more positive push for the expansion, that could mask some of these less-desirable effects, and it’ll be interesting to see what the broader rollout means, longer-term, for local community engagement in the app.