Should I be investing time in Facebook for my nonprofit?

What is Facebook today?

Today Facebook is a controlled way for people to connect with existing friends. Most users simply use Facebook to engage with people they already know.  Facebook is a relationship tool, it is not an advertising platform (today anyway). So if you are in the nonprofit space it is a great tool for you to use to spend time building connections and relationships.

So should you be investing time and effort in Facebook?

To truly determine how much time, if any, to invest in Facebook, you will need to know your donors/constituents. Do they use Facebook? How often? Do they use another social network more often? Has your nonprofit seen any benefits from being on Facebook? Look at your marketing strategy to see if your time and resources could be spent more effectively somewhere else.

To determine what your organization should do, you will need to determine what your goals are.  Do you want to build Facebook as a primary engagement tool or do you just want people to be able to find you if they look?

If you decide that your organization can benefit from Facebook, the following are some keys to making your efforts more efficient:

  • If you decide to invest in Facebook also invest in a measurement tool.  I recommend Sprout Social because it is easy to use and affordable.
  • Using your measurement tool, determine what information your donors love to see, read, and share!  For us, people love to hear about anniversaries.  The tool is truly about relationships, and that shows in our results.
  • Make it worth the visit; reward people for visiting your Facebook page.  This will make them want to visit more often.
  • Make certain resources only available on Facebook to encourage users to keep an eye on you.  For nonprofits, think about a special event for Facebook friends only.
  • Pictures, videos and articles are highly popular on Facebook. If possible, make sure every update includes an image or video.  Be sure and upload pictures during events and following events.  At your event make sure you announce that the photos taken will be on your Facebook page following the event.  Check out the Color Me Rad page for a great example.
  • Do not post every day. As a small nonprofit, you may only need to post once or twice a week.  Quality or quantity is the rule for sure.
  • Post when people are on Facebook. According to the Huffington Post, the best times to post are weekends by far, followed by evenings and early mornings.
  • Use the Promote button for your most important posts to push them to the top of the news feed. This does cost money, with the exact rate depending on your geographic location and how many users you wish to reach, but it can be worth it for advertising posts.

Take-away: For those nonprofits in the business of building relationships, Facebook is a great way to truly build engagement.

This post was modified from the original post for the nonprofit audience:

Looking to 2013


This is the time of year that many individuals donate to nonprofit organizations, but will that be enough? A new survey report entitled Non-Profit 2013 Financial Outlook, Reporting, & Systems reveals the top priorities and challenges facing nonprofits in 2013. According to Shereen Mahoney, CEO of Brittenford Systems “2013 will likely require non-profits to rethink revenue model and income strategies, while improving strategic planning and program results.”

There are a number of aspects affecting the challenges nonprofits are facing including, reduced government funds, a drop in charitable donations, consolidations, increased competition, increased demand for services, and the list goes on and on.

But, without nonprofits so many needs will go unmet. Nonprofits are also job creators. In fact, during the recessions of 1990-1 and 2001-2, nonprofits actually increased their number of employees by 2.38 percent a year while for-profit jobs declined at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent. And, while many people are not aware of it, the nonprofit community is an enormous contributor to the American economy: It provides 5.5% of the nation’s entire GDP or $751 billion worth of output.

So, what can be done?

The key to turning things around for nonprofits is… TECHNOLOGY. Okay, you’re not surprised to hear that from the Marketing Director of a technology company, but, it is true! Technology can help tremendously in three key areas: creating awareness, reducing costs, and increasing donations.

First, creating awareness.  In order to be considered for donations, the public must be aware that your nonprofit even exists.  Awareness can be established through many channels, but for the sake of this post we will focus on the value of technology and social.   As you can see below, the growth continues to increase year over year, and while it may not directly tie to increased revenue.  Social does tie to increased awareness.Edison-research-graph

Second, reducing costs. You have probably already seen your new budgets and my guess is they call for flat expenses or reduced expenses and increased donations.  How are you supposed to do that?  Well, a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system and a proper fund accounting system can help your staff achieve much more with less. Automating financial functions through an integrated accounting system where the donor’s details have to be entered only once and are accessible to all staff makes good business sense.  It can help you with audits, reporting, and even bringing in more donations.

Plus, fundraisers all understand the value of building relationships.   A CRM will allow you to more easily recognize and reward your donors, track the actions of your donors, and even organize the relationship you have with your donors. And the value of all of this is of course; my favorite topic, donor loyalty.

If that is not enough, the cost of quality software as really become more affordable with subscription offerings.  For example, you can get a complete end-to-end solution with Sage starting at $249 a month.  That price point puts technology in the hands of nonprofits that were not able to afford it before.

Finally, increasing donations.  I spoke to nonprofits all year-long and surprisingly the vast majority are still not doing online donations.  It is a must!  I am not a proponent of getting rid of direct mail campaigns; I love direct mail.   I am a proponent of integrating all of your marketing channels to drive to one call to action.  Donate!  And, increasingly, your younger donors expect the convenience of visiting your website or Facebook page and clicking a link that drives them directly to an easy to donate to, fully integrated form.

Plus, online donation technology allows you to create peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, simplify event fundraising, and so much more.  All of which could increase donations, and allow you to find new prospective donors.

Take-away: For the sake of the economy, take a look at technology this year.  If you are already using technology learn something new about it, attend a training class, or get with a peer group.  As with all things technology is unendingly  changing and improving.  Learn more to do more, and have a great 2013.  Happy New Year!

Donor Experience Strategy Session Tool

Why not try this innovation tool and conduct a donor experience strategy session?

Paul Williams, author of the Idea Sandbox Blog, has created a simple tool that helps to bring some structure to the planning of brainstorming sessions. He calls it a Brainstorming Brief.

This simple but effective tool appears to be designed with the session facilitator in mind. The idea is to get clear on what you hope to accomplish, invite the right cross-section of well-prepared participants, and be aware of the “frame” within which you need to work, which should lead to better results. I downloaded the brief and edited it to facilitate a customer experience brain storming session. All nonprofit organizations benefit from improved donor experience, but relatively few actually conduct meetings dedicated to that improvement.   Below you will see the template and an example.

Take-away: Use this tool to conduct your own customer experience strategy session.

Donor Experience Brainstorm Brief


Meeting Date:

Brief Date:

Objective / Desired Outcome:

Opportunity / Challenge:


Who Should Be Included:

C – Champions
A – Audience Affected
T – Tasked
B = Buy-In
R = Responsible
I = Informed
O = Okay

What is the Climate / Politics?

With what do participants need to be prepared?

  • Knowledge Ahead of Time
  • Bring With
  • Attitude / Approach 
  • In-Meeting

What can we do that makes working with us easier?

What Are the Measures / Considerations / Constraints


Brainstorm Brief – How To Example:

Provide a title that quickly and clearly describes the meeting.
Example: “XYZ Nonprofit Improving Donor Experience”

Brief Date: Use this to keep track of the most recent brief.

Objective / Desired Outcome: Write specific deliverables of the meeting here. How will success be measured for this meeting? How will success be understood? Keep this short and to the point.
Example: “To think-up five, big, actionable ideas to explore further to build awareness of our key drivers of donor experience.”

Opportunity / Challenge: In one or two sentences, what needs to be addressed? What is so important that it has prompted a meeting? What is broken? What is the problem? What needs to be solved? Keep this short too, you can elaborate in the Background section.
Example:”2012 is going to be a challenging year. We need bigger ideas than ever if we are to stay ahead of the competition.”

Background: Use this space to provide additional background about the opportunity or challenge.

Who Should Be Included:

C – ChampionsThese people will create excitement for this project. They will serve as ambassadors and spread the word for you. You don’t *have* to invite them… but be sure to keep them in the loop.

A – Audience Affected-Who will be affected when the ideas thought up in this meeting are implemented? These could be external such as: customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. Or, they may be internal such as: operations team, front-line employees, leadership, etc. If possible, try to include someone – or a few – from this group. Why make assumptions on behalf of this group when they can be represented.

T – TaskedWho will have activities or tasks to make this idea a reality (builders)? Who will have tasks because of this project (implementors)? Whose roll will be affected?

B = Buy-InWho will be consulted? What specialists should you include who have input and value? Whose buy-in essential?

R = ResponsibleWho is ultimately responsible for delivering this project? Only one name should be in this spot.

I = Informed*Which people need to know about your ideas and decisions? They don’t need to be involved in the process, but want to know the outcomes.

O = Okay*Who needs to provide approval?

*With both the Informed and those who provide the Okay – keep them in the loop. Give them relevant updates that allow them to be ambassadors of your project.

 What is the Climate / Politics? What is the current attitude and behavior of potential participants toward the topic? Are people excited, worried, fearful, energetic, supportive, combative? Does this meeting excite them? Threaten them? 

With what do participants need to be prepared? Here, clearly outline the pre-work needed to for the meeting. Then, communicate these expectations to your participants (ahead of time). This will make your time in-meeting more productive and relevant.

 Knowledge Ahead of Time What should participants do or read before the brainstorm? Industry background, product information, articles, research? Is there something they should experience? Visit the competition? 

Bring With Are there things you want participants to bring? Updates from their departments? A list of their own suggested solutions?  

Attitude / Approach Any additional instructions? Proper sleep the night before? Dress in jeans and sneakers? Leave laptops and mobile phones at the door? Start with a clean slate?  

In-Meeting Is there knowledge or experience you want to ensure the whole group experiences together? Something you want to guarantee they are aware of?  

What can we do that makes working with us easier? As you consider experience it is important to keep in mind that good experiences make working with your organization easier. What can you do that helps facilitate that?  

What Are the Measures / Considerations / Constraints What are the ways you will measure the success of the implemented idea? For example:

  • Meets a timing deadline
  • Logistically possible
  • Ease of implementation / low complexity
  • Uses only existing resources
  • Fits within program of works
  • Doesn’t require additional funding


Edited and reposted from, Bridget Brandt’s