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The Potential Impact of a TikTok Ban on Nonprofit Fundraising and Growth

TikTok has become an indispensable tool for nonprofits to connect with their audiences, raise awareness, advocate, and secure funding.
Givepact Staff
March 13, 2024

Social media platforms like TikTok have become indispensable tools for nonprofit organizations to connect with their audiences, raise awareness, advocate, and secure funding. TikTok's remarkable ascent since its inception in China in 2016, achieving a user base of over 1 billion people worldwide, including 150 million in the U.S. (its largest audience), underscores its significance. The platform uniquely engages a younger demographic, with approximately 41% of its users aged between 16 and 24. This engagement is crucial for nonprofits aiming to reach and mobilize younger generations towards philanthropy and activism. Especially, given the do-it-yourself strategy of production TikTok videos, which doesn’t require a large budget to go viral to reach millions of people. However, today’s legislative developments threaten to reshape this landscape dramatically.

The Latest Legislative Move

Today, the House passed the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which targets China's tech giant ByteDance, the owner of TikTok. The legislation mandates ByteDance to divest TikTok within six months of the bill enaction, or the app will face an effective ban in the U.S. This decision propels the bill to the Senate, where its future remains uncertain amidst divided opinions among senators. This legislative move underscores growing concerns over data privacy and national security but simultaneously poses significant challenges for nonprofit organizations leveraging TikTok for engagement, storytelling, and fundraising.

Implications for Nonprofit Organizations

Diminished Reach to Younger Audiences

TikTok's appeal to younger demographics, notably with significant portions of its global audience are between 18 and 24 years-old, has been a win for nonprofits. A ban could severely limit these organizations' ability to engage with this critical audience segment, and potentially impacting the mobilization of young supporters and donors crucial for sustaining social movements.

Loss of a Powerful Storytelling Platform

TikTok has enabled nonprofits to tell their stories compellingly and authentically, facilitating connections with audiences at an emotional level. The potential loss of this platform could hinder nonprofits' ability to share impactful narratives, thus affecting their visibility and fundraising capabilities.

Reduced Innovation in Fundraising

TikTok's has released fundraising tools like the donation sticker to help nonprofits experiment with creative campaigns, reaching audiences in dynamic ways. The platform's algorithm has also democratized visibility, allowing smaller organizations to be seen alongside larger ones. A ban could stifle this innovation, pushing nonprofits towards more traditional, potentially less effective fundraising methods.

Hindered Community Building and Engagement

Nonprofits have utilized TikTok not just for broadcasting their messages but for building communities. The interactive nature of the platform has fostered a sense of participation and belonging among users, crucial for long-term support. The inability to use TikTok could make it challenging for nonprofits to engage and mobilize their communities effectively.

Diversify digital platforms and strategies

Take advantage of other video-forward platform 

With TikTok’s presence in the U.S. in doubt, it’s important to diversify your organization’s reach on multiple platforms. Take advantage of Instagram Reels and YouTube to share videos. Instagram also has fundraising tools for nonprofits to utilize. Instagram and YouTube are the largest social media platforms after Facebook, and are increasing stickiness of video engagement.  

Meet new donors on crypto native social media platforms

Twitter and crypto native platforms like Lens Protocol and Farcaster are the preferred social media communities for millions of crypto investors, founders, and builders. As a nonprofit, start to build your organization's profile to connect with the Web 3 community and prospect donors.

As the situation unfolds, it's imperative for organizations to diversify their digital strategies and explore alternative platforms to continue their important work. Adaptability and innovation will be key as nonprofits navigate this changing landscape, striving to maintain their impact and reach in a world where digital platforms play a crucial role in shaping social movements and philanthropy.