Facebook launches Workplace for Good, a free version of its enterprise product for non-profits

Workplace is making a push into the non-profit segment. Today the enterprise communications app from Facebook is launching a new tier of the product called Workplace for Good, which will let non-profits use the product for no fee.

To be completely clear, Facebook has never charged non-profits to use Workplace, and it’s already used by over 2,500 of them out of the 30,000 or so organisations using Workplace. The ranks include Oxfam, Save the Children, and many educational institutions, who use it to link up their employees, contractors, students with teachers, stakeholders in their groups and more. There is even a Workplace group started by non-profits for all the nonprofits to access to swap stories, advice and so on. But, as of today, Facebook is going to be making a bigger push to open the product up to charities, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations, regardless of their size.

(Pricing for regular, for-profit businesses is on a freemium basis, with a premium tier that gives access to some 52 apps and services starting at is $3 per active user, per month up to 5,000 users.)

Facebook been increasingly focused on non-profits and how it can work with them in recent times. The company now has a fundraising platform that they can use to collect money for charitable causes, and most recently it has been promoting it by encouraging people to raise money for causes on their birthdays and other occasions.

That user-led fundraising push is actually in the middle of a major viral campaign at the moment: three people (all of whom happen to be former Facebook employees) are raising money to give legal support to families detained and separated at the border between the US and Mexico by way of collecting donations for RAICES, a legal organization. Originally aimed at raising $1,500, it’s now at $8.5 million and counting.

More generally, courting non-profits also fit into the company’s bigger strategy to refocus the site not just as a place to get your entertainment and news fix, but as a place to find and build out your community, and so a turn to accommodating and providing a space for non-profit groups is also a strong connection to that.

Julien Codorniou, who heads up Workplace out of London, said that one of the reasons why Facebook is also interested in working more with non-profits is that they have proven to be some of the best testers of all the product’s features.

“When we look at how they use the product, non-profits really push it to its limits, using it in scenarios and ways we never imagined,” he said. One example was a migrant rescue operation that was filmed in the Mediterranean Sea using 360, with the organisation on the boats livestreaming everything as it happened for people to monitor elsewhere. “We want to serve these scenarios,” he said. “We learn a lot from them. Who could have guessed that 360 video would be such a big thing in Workplace? We want to keep learning with them.”

For the organisations, oftentimes employees and those working with them are in far-flung places, and so they rely on platforms (and network connectivity) that can help bring them into closer communication.

“Workplace has made a huge difference in the way our staff can communicate with each other, visually and in real time,” said Ric Sheldon, Interim CIO at Unicef, in a statement. “This means that anyone can share important information instantly, crowd-source answers or opinions at the touch of a button and live stream from every corner of the world. It’s helped our colleagues to stay in the loop and engaged with different parts of our work and find the information they need when they need it. And all of this ultimately helps us to work more effectively and make even more of a difference for children in danger who are in desperate need of Unicef’s help.”

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