Facebook advertising can be a powerful tool for nonprofits to reach more supporters. One key feature is the ability to upload your own list of supporters, so that you can target them directly or find a "lookalike" audience from that data.

Lookalike audiences are potential supporters who “look like” your current supporter base (as far as types of content they like and support). In other words, if you're reaching out to people similar to those who've enjoyed your content in the past, there's a much more promising chance you'll enlist new supporters for your cause.

A Missed Opportunity

The idea of handing over supporter data often raises a red flag for many nonprofits, and understandably so. How secure is this system? Does Facebook now own my list of supporters? Will they use this list to target them with their own advertising?

The problem is, these misconceptions are holding many nonprofits back from using Facebook's powerful tools to the best of their ability. So let's take a true look at Facebook's security around uploaded lists and help put those fears to rest... so you better reach those valuable potential supporters!

Security Specifics

First of all, yes, your supporter list is absolutely safe to upload to Facebook. This list is still entirely yours. They do not own it. Nor will they use it in anyway.

According to Facebook's online business center, when you upload your supporter list, it is “...hashed locally on your browser and then sent to Facebook. There, it's matched against our existing list of users' hashed IDs, and the matches are added to your Custom Audience."

Hashing turns the data in your supporter list into a sort of fingerprint that can't be reversed. Or, in other words: 

"Hashing is the transformation of a string of characters into a usually shorter fixed-length value or key that represents the original string."

This all happens before your data is sent to Facebook.

Here's are the steps:

  1. You begin uploading your customer list to Facebook, and it's hashed locally in your browser before it's uploaded. 

  2. After your hashed data is uploaded to Facebook, they match it against the data they already have.

  3. The matches are then added to a Custom Audience for you.

  4. Finally, the matched and unmatched hashes are deleted.

Facebook also provides the following assurance:

“...Facebook will not give access to or information about your custom audience to third parties or other advertisers, use your custom audience to append to the information we have about our users or build interest-based profiles, or use your custom audience except to provide services to you, unless we have your permission or are required to do so by law.”

So there you have it. Not only is your list secure and safe, but it remains entirely yours to use. So use it! You have new supporters waiting...

Have questions? We’re here to help. Reach us at info@actionsprout.com. 

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