Charitable givers around the world have used Facebook’s fundraising tool to donate more than $2bn over the past four years to support the causes and people they care about, the company has announced.

To highlight the landmark, Facebook released a video showcasing some of the organisations and people who have been helped since the launch of the tool in August 2015.

Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s VP of product development, also used a blog post to thank the 45 million people who have donated or started a fundraiser using the tool since it was created in response to the worldwide success of the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.

That campaign went viral in the summer of 2014 as people endured having ice-cold water poured over their heads to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as motor neurone disease (MND) or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Gleit revealed that the sums being raised for charity on Facebook has more than doubled since last November and that half of the total, $1bn, comes from birthday fundraisers alone.

“Five years ago, many of us drenched ourselves in ice water to raise awareness and money for ALS, spurring major developments to fight the disease,” she wrote.

“Not only did the Ice Bucket Challenge inspire millions of people to help those with ALS, it was the inspiration behind our first fundraising tools in 2015.”

She also provided some examples of non-profits that have benefitted from Facebook’s fundraising tools, including St Jude Research Hospital, which received more than $100m, and Veterans Matter, which raised money to help with the housing costs of some 100 veterans in 21 states.

The ALS Association, which inspired the original Ice Bucket Challenge campaign, has raised more than $5m for new research, while Fisher House Foundation is another charity specialising in the support of veterans and their families.

Elsewhere in the world, Cancer Research UK reported that it has raised £6m through Facebook fundraisers, while Help Refugees raised £2.7m and Movember, the moustache-themed campaign to raise awareness of men’s health issues, raised £2.5m.

“It’s great to see innovative, new technology like this that makes it easier for people to donate, in a way that suits them,” said Nicola Smedley, director of individual giving at Cancer Research UK.

Nancy Frates, a board director at the ALS Association, agreed, telling USA Today: “It’s a win for the donor who can give within the platform, it’s a win for the non-profit because the amount raised can be quite substantial, and it’s a win for the people being served.” 

Sourced from Facebook, Civil Society, USA Today; additional content by WARC staff