Revised with new information as of April 5, 2016

A free resource for nonprofit organizations, NGOs, civil society organizations,
public sector organizations, and other mission-based agencies

Jayne Cravens,

How Nonprofits Should Use Facebook

Every web-based online community evolves, and Facebook is no exception: what Facebook is now is not what it was even two years go, and not necessarily what it will be in two years. What started off as an online dating site for college students (IMO) is now the most popular online community in the USA, and in several other countries as well. It won't be forever, (remember back in the 1990s when commercials said "Find us on America Online!"?), but its popularity will continue for enough years to make it worth using for any nonprofit organization, non-governmental organization, school, government program or other mission-based organization interested in engaging with a very large number of people.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of nonprofits creating a profile on Facebook and posting excerpts from press releases. That's not now to use Facebook (or your web site, for that matter). If that's how you are using Facebook, you are missing out on most of the benefits you could gain from such.

Let me be blunt: if your Facebook page is pretty much just announcements of gift shop hours, new items for sale in your gift shop or through your organization, requests for donations, and the usual, boring press releases about where your Executive Director is today, your Facebook profile is NOT worth following!

What your organization absolutely must do on Facebook - no excuses!

Those are things your organization absolutely, positively should be doing on Facebook - no excuses. There are also things your organization should consider doing, if you have time or if you feel it's appropriate for your organization.

What you organization should also consider doing on Facebook

Note that, if your organization wants to use Facebook successfully and engage in the aforementioned activities, you have to allow multiple people to lead your organization's social media activities - not just the person in charge of fundraising, not just the marketing director, but also the person that supports and manages volunteers! She or he must be allowed to use Facebook at work, no excuses!

Here are some organizations that "get" FaceBook, in my opinion:

What do all these FaceBook users have in common? Their status updates are so compelling that I want to read them! They are using FaceBook to micro-blog about "wow" things. And I feel like there is a caring human writing their posts, not a cold PR person trying to manipulate me. I feel like they are my "friend."

What happens when these organizations post to FaceBook? People respond: They click "like". They post glowing comments. They repost to their own status on FaceBook. They blog about it. They tell their friends. My guess is that these organizations see greater attendance at events, greater numbers of volunteers signing up to help, and probably an increase in donations - tangible results that make online activities worth doing.

Here's a blog I wrote about what nonprofits I think do a great job with Facebook.

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