Over the years, Facebook has become a valuable platform a wide range of businesses, including nonprofits. A recent survey found that nearly half of the largest foundations across the U.S. use social media, and among those, 65 percent are using Facebook. But unlike most companies, nonprofits face the unique challenge of asking consumers for money without a product to give in return. With that in mind, Facebook has released specific tools to help nonprofit organizations be just as successful as other businesses using the social network.
Most recently, Facebook introduced a “Donate Now” button which makes it much easier for nonprofits to accept contributions. In essence, the button made contributing money to charities as easy as Liking a Facebook Page or a post. “Donate Now” will appear beside posts in News Feed for participating nonprofits and at the top of their Facebook Pages. When clicked, supporters will be able to choose the amount, enter their payment information, and immediately donate to the cause.
Currently the button only works with a handful of nonprofits, including the Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, and Water.org. Other charities can sign up to have “Donate Now” added to their Facebook Pages by filling out the application on the company’s website. But while you wait for approval, there are a number of ways nonprofits can use Facebook to their advantage right now.
In addition to its Non-Profits on Facebook page, the social network released a best practices guide earlier this year to help nonprofits connect with its user base — which is currently made up of more than 1.15 billion monthly active users. The guide details the best ways nonprofits can use Facebook Pages and Instagram, and also highlights examples from social good initiatives like World Vision USA and Unicef.
We’ve already taken a look at several nonprofits, including DoSomething, St. Jude Children’s Research, and PBS, and how each one successfully integrates social media into their overall strategies. Now let’s focus on how nonprofits are currently using the Facebook features and tools available to them, and how your cause or organization can also benefit from following in their footsteps.
Something that Make-A-Wish America excels at is establishing an identity through its Facebook Page. With a compelling cover photo and recognizable profile image, the organization not only demands attention, but also helps people easily identify the group when they see its updates in News Feed.
Additionally, the page includes a clear and concise mission statement in the About section and makes good use of its tabs. Facebook tabs provide quick buttons for visitors looking to take action. Through tabs, Make-A-Wish visitors have the option of perusing uploaded photos, donating, subscribing to an email newsletter, and connecting on other social networks.
The organization also does a great job of keeping the focus on the lives of the people it’s helping through daily wish posts, as well as giving thanks to the supporters who helped turned those wishes into reality. Each post serves a purpose, is relevant, and engages the page’s followers.
Similar to Make-A-Wish, the Invisible Children page does an incredible job of establishing its identity through vibrant and compelling images. From its cover photo to the creative images shared within posts, the organization capture a viewer’s attention and provides him or her with easily shareable visuals.
Another thing Invisible Children excels at is building relationships through storytelling. The organization tells incredibly candid and personal stories through its Facebook posts, and often speaks in the first person. This latter tactic is important because supporters want to hear from you, not a robotic or canned message.
And finally, the organization does a great job of highlighting members of the organization as well as its supporters. Invisible Children takes the time to celebrate milestones and thank its audience through posts, images, and links to relevant media.
National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation’s Facebook Page not only shows off what the organization as a whole is doing, but what individual parks across the nation are doing as well. This is a great opportunity to make supporters the stars of your page. If someone posts something or does something great, re-post it, respond personally, and mention them by name. An solid example of this can be seen in the above post.
Because the organization is spread across the U.S., it can sometimes be challenging to consistently publish relevant information. However, The National Park Foundation can certainly use that diversity to its advantage. For example, it can use targeted publishing to share relevant posts with people in specific areas or families planning summer road trips.
Facebook has undoubtedly played a huge role in marketing campaigns for nonprofits. For example, the social network helped Movember — a grassroots advocacy movement around men’s health — raise $17.6 million in 2012. While not all organizations can expect the same results, the ease-of-use and access to supporters is a great example of why Facebook should play a role in your social media strategy.
As recommended in the company’s best practices guide, know your story, your audience, and your goals before launching your presence on the social network. Once you have those in place, you can take advantage of tools like Facebook Ads, the “Donate Now” button, and apps to build awareness for cause.
[Image credit: WishIllinois]
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.
Great article! Thanks for focusing on social media and nonprofits. I would suggest also taking a look at the Facebook page of CFCA, the largest nonprofit in Kansas. We tell stories of children living in poverty and ask our supporters to sponsor a child or share our posts to help find a sponsor. We also do a monthly Birthday Week campaign. We have successfully found at least 92 sponsors in 2013 through social media - primarily through our Facebook page. We are able to track these sponsorships through specific landing pages and those URLs are only shared on our social media platforms. I work for CFCA and I'm more than happy to talk more about CFCA's social media. Here is just one example: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=645909222107707&set=a.469502806415017.110025.161205023911465&type=3&theater