10 Tips for Non-Profits on Facebook

Facebook can be a valuable tool for non-profits worldwide, as the recent Haiti earthquake fundraising has illustrated, yet many non-profits may be unsure how to proceed with social network marketing. Millions of dollars were raised in the immediate aftermath of the January earthquake after Facebook users populated the network with status updates imploring friends to donate money with text messaging.

But you needn’t wait for a natural disaster to make Facebook work for your non-profit. There are many different ways to utilize the service for your non-profit, from creating an application to setting up a store or even buying Facebook ads.

If your non-profit is already on Facebook, or if taking your non-profit’s message to Facebook is something you’re planning to do, these tips can help you strengthen your social network presence.

Facebook has directly catered to non-profits present on the social network with a resource page, facebook.com/nonprofits, specifically to help them use the site. It includes the latest examples of how many organizations are using Facebook today. Be sure to take a look for more information.

1. Create a Facebook Page

You may or may not already have a Facebook Page, but there are a few good reasons to create a Page as opposed to a Group. First off, Pages allow you to publish directly into the news stream where you can engage your fans with a variety of different media, such as videos, polls and status updates. Secondly, Pages allow you to analyze how fans are interacting with your page via the Insights Dashboard, giving you instant feedback to help you adjust your method. You can also do things like buy advertising on Facebook for your Page to increase your number of fans (more on that below).

2. Use Causes

Causes launched in 2007 to help Facebook users be able to make a difference without having to leave the social network. The application markets itself as a way for anyone to make a difference using Facebook to tell friends about causes, ask them to donate and generally get the word out, according to their page, “Causes was founded on the belief that in a healthy society, anyone can participate in change by informing and inspiring others.”

Anyone can create a user-created advocacy group on Causes and administrators of those groups post announcements and communicate with members of that cause through email and Facebook notifications, foster discussions, share information, sign petitions and fundraise. Its Nonprofit Partner Center includes features to help organizations with multiple chapters better manage the app.

3. Make Your Facebook Page Unique

If you’re just going to duplicate what’s already on your web site on Facebook, you’re missing the point of taking your message to a social network. The idea is create content that’s Facebook-specific and build a community there. It’s easy to just point fans back to your web site, but these Pages tend to be less interesting than ones that keep users engaged on the same page with unique content that’s not on their web site.

The Facebook Page for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, for example, posts almost daily content that is Wisconsin-specific. This includes stories about local politician’s state income taxes, national stories about Wisconsin’s political battles in Washington, a commuter rail project and much more information not found on the party’s web site.

Depending on what your organization does, this could mean anything from sharing fun facts about a political cause to posting pictures of rescued animals to offering a special t-shirt to Facebook fans.

4. Be Active

Use your Page to give Facebook users an idea of what your organization does in real life.  Plug events, fundraisers, meetings and other activities. Publish insightful and interesting information in your status updates, ask your fans what they think with polls or when you post videos, photos or other links. Ask your fans to utilize the Share options when you publish to your Wall, so that friends in their networks can also find out about your organization.