The Social Network

In 2006, I was asked to be an advisor for a group of 10 college students who were planning to do a service project in Brazil during their spring break.

We had weekly meetings to discuss trip planning, fundraising and logistics. Between each meeting, I tried to communicate via email with the students, but received little to no response.

So, I headed over to MySpace where I thought all the “cool kids” were and tried to communicate with my students there. But, they weren’t there.

At the next meeting, I had to ask: how do you guys communicate? The unanimous response was: Facebook. My response: Huh? What is Facebook?

Literally.

I had no idea what Facebook was. Today, I am on Facebook everyday. Yep, I’m not ashamed.

Is your nonprofit on Facebook?

I spoke with Rob Hutsel, Executive Director of the River Park Foundation (RPF), who explained to me how his nonprofit utilizes Facebook. The organization has two Facebook pages.

One is a Facebook cause that has 180 members: “Folks who sign up for the cause are dedicated to supporting the cause.” Through the cause page, the organization hosts campaigns for fundraising. Top fundraisers and top recruiters are credited on the cause page along with their donation amount. Facebook allowed the Foundation to post photographs, updates and good news quickly.

The other is a Facebook group that has 320 “likes”. Hutsel says that the group page is “a broader audience so we use it for general announcements.” The advantage to having a group page is when the individuals “like” the RPF or comment about it, RPF will show up on their Facebook personal page feed.

Your Facebook homework:

  1. Set up a Facebook cause or group for your nonprofit, if you haven’t done so already.
  2. Devote time coming up with status updates. The goal is three per week.
  3. Actively seek out individuals to “like” you or join your “cause”.
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