Table to Table Facebook page republished months after being taken down erroneously

Table to Table’s Facebook page was republished early in the morning on Giving Tuesday, one of the biggest social media fundraisers of the year for nonprofit organizations.


Kate Heston

The Food Pantry at Iowa, located in the Iowa Memorial Union, serves the Hawkeye community one meal at a time. Wednesday was distribution day, so the pantry will restock before the next distribution.

Claire Benson, News Reporter

Local food rescue-distribution organization Table to Table has relied on fundraising from Giving Tuesday, a national giving campaign held the first Tuesday of December each year, to provide financial support for the organization. Table to Table has used its Facebook page to promote this day and its annual fundraising efforts for many years, however, this year was different.

Table to Table Communications and Development Coordinator Anne Langebartels said the group was alerted that its Facebook page had been removed due to violating community guidelines, however, no specific examples of violated guidelines were given as to why the page was taken down.

“The funny thing is, we go to our page quality tab on our Facebook page, and it says, ‘you currently have no restrictions and have not made any violations’,” Langebartels said. “So, that’s why we think it’s an error. We think it’s like their automated review system, just something maybe in the algorithm, they took our page down, and then they haven’t reviewed it in order to put it back up.”

In the weeks leading up to Giving Tuesday, Table to Table still had no concrete response from the Facebook support team, affecting its social media presence as well as its usual fundraising promotional efforts.

Langebartels said early in the morning on Dec. 1, Facebook republished Table to Table’s page just in time for Giving Tuesday, however, the financial support the organization will receive from it this year will be less compared to years past because of the delay.

“While we’re fortunate that they’ve done so early in the morning on Giving Tuesday, we likely will still not have the same reach as we have in years past,” she said. “Most organizations begin Facebook reminders about Giving Tuesday at least a week in advance.”

The coordinator said the Facebook page has a following of over 1,800, whereas the number of people signed up to receive their email newsletter updates is less than half that amount. Last year, Table to Table was able to raise $5,000 on Giving Tuesday, but Langebartels said she expects a lower outcome because of their recent lack of a social media presence.

“We’ve really been depending on our Facebook page here just because the best and safest way to reach people during the pandemic is virtually, and without our Facebook page it’s a lot harder to do that,” she said.

Table to Table Executive Director Nicki Ross said although the Facebook page being taken down presented many problems, the organizations they distribute food to work directly with community members and can relay important information to them through their individual social media platforms, email newsletter, or when visiting in-person.

Related: Iowa City food pantries adjust services to combat food insecurity during COVID-19

“I think what’s fortunate about the situation is that we are a direct service agency so we deliver food to other nonprofits or hunger relief agencies and they really reach the folks that have the need directly,” Ross said. “At a time when Facebook is also the primary way that people who need the food might find out about the services, you know that hasn’t impacted that as much.”

Langebartels said this process of having their page taken down for months has encouraged the staff to redefine Table to Table’s social media presence.

“We will definitely proceed with caution in the future and diversify our social media outreach from now on, so we don’t rely solely on Facebook for our online presence,” Langebartels said.

Coralville Food Pantry Executive Director John Boller said Table to Table is one of the pantry’s main food suppliers, providing the organization with almost half of the foods it distributes to community members. Boller said without Table to Table’s social media presence, this forces the group to miss out on several fundraising opportunities, which was something that he said worried him.

“I definitely was nervous about their ability to fundraise for a couple months there because that’s a huge presence that you lose when you just suddenly have that taken away,” Boller said. “I don’t think we saw any effects immediately, but I think we’re all worried that longer term if they missed some key fundraising opportunities for a couple months there, that will not just hurt them but all of their partner agencies.”