Facebook 101 for nonprofits

I wrote the following in response to a request to give an overview of how board members can use Facebook Causes to help the organization where I work, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). I thought it would make a handy reference for other organizations taking baby steps on Facebook.

This advice is intended for people that are already using Facebook (or who want to use it). The power of this tool is through your own social networks (friends, family, colleagues) and you will find it takes time and energy to develop your Facebook network, if your friends are on Facebook at all. Please do not join just for the purpose of helping FOR, but instead use your personal networks wherever they may exist (church, organizations, work, neighbors, friends, etc.).

Starting with the simplest, here are three easy ways to promote an organization on Facebook:

  1. Be our fan.

    Go to FOR’s Facebook page and click “Become a fan” at the top right of the page. This will add us to a section of your profile called “Pages” and more importantly will put a message in the news feed of your friends that says “Jane became a fan of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.” (The news feed is the stream of information about your friends that you see at http://www.facebook.com/home.php.) This will offer links for your friends to visit our page or become our fan directly. This is very helpful for spreading awareness for FOR, and this page is a central place to find related Causes, new blog entries, upcoming events, and more.

  2. Support causes that benefit FOR.

    Causes is a Facebook application that allows users to organize around any issue they care about. The two currencies of Causes are supporters and donations. The user that creates the cause may designate any 501(c)3 organization as the beneficiary of the group’s donations, and several have selected FOR as the recipient. These range from official causes created by us to complete strangers who felt we were aligned with their concerns. Recently some members of an upcoming Iran delegation started causes to raise money to cover their participation costs.

    The two places to find Causes that benefit us are through our Causes beneficiary page and through FOR’s Facebook page. Most people find Causes through their friends profiles and news feeds. You can support as many causes as you like by joining them and by making donations to them. Here are some highlighted FOR-connected causes. After you join a cause, you can invite friends to the Cause as well.

  3. Start a cause that benefits FOR.

    If you would like to fundraise around a specific campaign, and you think you have a big enough network to get the word out about it (think friends, friends of friends, etc.) then you can create your own Cause on Facebook and select FOR as the beneficiary of its donations. This is only worthwhile if you can put some sustained effort into promoting it and you think your friends will help.

In addition here are some interesting guides and articles:

http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/archive/2007/08/16/interview-with-carie-lewis.aspx

What it Takes to do Effective Facebook and MySpace Advocacy


http://www.frogloop.com/care2blog/2007/7/25/the-long-long-tail-of-facebook-causes.html

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