Fundraise Smarter

How to Respond to False Attacks on the Nonprofit Sector on Facebook

Posted by Su Sanni on Nov 14, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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Ah, Facebook.

That land of political arguments and memes of questionable factual backing, all shared from people you haven’t spoken to in 15 years.

Anytime a post ends with “Please share this with anyone you can,” it should usually set off alarm bells.

Every now and then, a variation of this gem will make the rounds:


Yikes. There’s a lot to break down here.

Arguing on Facebook can be a hopeless endeavour. Most of the time, you’re unlikely to change the person’s mind (after all, they wouldn’t have shared it if their mind wasn’t already made up). But stuff like this can be hard to ignore.

So how do you set people on the right track? The best thing you can do is share some basic information with them to help them understand.

Here’s some things to share to help educate your friends who don’t quite get how the nonprofit world works.

1. Dan Pallotta’s Ted Talk - “The Way We Think About Charity Is Dead Wrong.”

One of the most convincing takedowns against the “Overhead Myth” is Dan Pallotta’s Ted Talk on the subject. Pallotta is not without his fair share of critics, and you may not agree with everything he says, but he makes a thorough case against the idea that the nonprofit with the lowest overhead is always the best.

2. Snopes - “Charitable Compensation”

Snopes has been shutting down false viral narratives for nearly as long as they’ve traveled online, and they’ve even got this topic covered.

One of the primary issues with charity compensation memes is that the information presented is misleading, incomplete, or just plain false. This Snopes article does a good job of presenting factual information that should make people think before they share and shame.

3. Vu Le - “Why the Sustainability Myth is just as destructive as the Overhead Myth”

Vu Le’s Nonprofit With Balls blog has several great posts on this topic, but the one linked above outlines the flaws in two common nonprofit myths: the Overhead Myth and the Sustainability Myth. Le’s writing is definitely aimed at the nonprofit crowd, and may come off flippant to those outside the field, but he uses great analogies in that post that highlight the absurdity of these concerns.

4. 990 Forms

This one is a bit trickier. No one likes reading IRS forms.

But walking someone who is unfamiliar with nonprofit funding models in a friendly way can really help open their eyes to the challenges and understand why their fund distribution looks the way it does. You can use sites like GuideStar to look up just about every organization’s 990 form, and it lays out all the important details (but you already knew that).

5. Charity Defense Council - “I’m Overhead”

Pallotta’s Charity Defense Council seeks to be the voice for nonprofits who come under unfair attacks. Part of that is their “I’m Overhead” campaign, which puts a face on overhead. People working in administrative duties for nonprofits share their story about their work and its importance, helping people to understand that just because a portion of their donation goes to “overhead” doesn’t mean it’s not supporting the mission.

Approach Them Kindly

Remember, the best way to change someone’s view is to approach them with kindness. When you come in heated, people get defensive and no one learns. Keep your cool, stick to the facts, and help show the world how to effectively research a nonprofit.

Topics: social media, nonprofit advocacy

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