Posted Wednesday, June 6th, 2007 at 4:00 pm by John Brian (91 posts)
(Note: many of the links in this post go to pages that require a facebook login to view. If you don’t have one, you should get one here)
With the announcement of their new open platform, Facebook has turned the social networking world on its head. Instead of banning third-party widgets, they’ve opened the doors to innovation. We’ve already seen new modules for sharing movie favorites, supporting your favorite presidential candidate and playing music (mercifully, iLike has no autoplay-on-load option).
And more relevantly for non-profits, we’re seeing applications like Project Agape’s Facebook Causes that let you build a community and raise money using one of the 800 lb gorillas of social networking. Facebook boasts over 24 million members as of this writing, a disproportionately high number of them in college or college educated – prime future small donor material. Facebook Causes lets you build your own cause by choosing an organization to support, writing a short brief on why they deserve your support, and picking a category.
Next comes the tricky part – promoting your cause to your network. Some of the most popular causes, like the ONE campaign and Save Darfur, have grown exponentially, with 9,203 and 44,506 members respectively. Others, like Net Neutrality is Bogus and Simplify our Citations (number one position: “Bibliographies are hard”) have garnered only 13 and 18 members so far respectively. There are 150 causes tagged as public advocacy (one of nine categories), ranging from presidential candidates to political issues both mainstream and obscure, so you can get an idea of the volume of causes to support in total.
So how do you make your organization stand out from the masses of causes, yearning to raise funds? Start by mobilizing the assets you already have. Post a page on your web site, encouraging users to add your cause to their profile. Send out an email to your house file. Create an official profile for your organization so you can start collecting friends of your own. And when you create your cause in Facebook, make sure you pick the right one for the donations to go to! The list of available causes is pulled from Guidestar, so most large C3′s will be on there, and Project Agape has hinted that political campaigns could be coming soon.
One hitch with the Facebook Causes is that you’ll get donors’ money, but not their contact information. Facebook is known for being very careful with users’ privacy (as a matter of fact, it’s the prime directive in their FAQ), so don’t expect this to change much, which means that if you want to solicit your Facebook donors, you’ll need to do it on Facebook. On the other hand, for political campaigns, there will need to be reporting for FEC filings, so we’ll hopefully see some middle ground that lets users click an opt-in that says “Please let <organization that I must think is cool or I wouldn’t be giving them my money so I certainly would love to get the occasional email from them> contact me.” Let’s hope for this in the future.
In the meantime, start thinking about ways to integrate Facebook into your portfolio of online outreach. We’re bound to see more of this sort of thing with the new platform, and a vibrant Facebook community could be a valuable asset to reach new donors.