Tips for Recruiting Supporters to Your Facebook Cause
Facebook is all the rage. And as more people join, so too are nonprofit organizations. Facebook Causes is a Facebook application designed to be an organizing platform for charities looking to establish a presence and spread awareness of their causes.
In the webinar "Growing Your Cause: How to Recruit More Members From Inside and Outside Facebook" presented by Facebook Causes in August, Sarah Koch shared best practices, tips and success stories.
Facebook and other social networks are places where people can establish authentic identities, spend time and share information about themselves with others. Koch, Causes' nonprofit coordinator, said they offer a new paradigm where organizations can use supporters to spread the word about their causes, putting power and reward in their hands. Causes is the world's largest online platform for activism, with 280,000 user-created causes, 75 million users and a feed distribution to 200 million monthly active users.
The first step to harnessing the power of Causes is building a community there. Invite your network and tell them why the cause is important; encourage board members and active supporters to get involved; and highlight the Causes page in your newsletter and on your Web site.
Koch advised bringing people who already have an affiliation with your organization to your network because they'll spread the word.
Your welcome note is the first thing people who come to your Causes page will see. Koch recommended testing to decide whether you should use the name of your organization as your Causes page title or something that goes to the heart of your mission, or a combination of both. Think about key words. How many people will search for the name or your organization when looking for your Causes page versus those that will search on a mission-related word?
The way your Causes page looks is essential in building community. Make it eye-catching, understandable and approachable (i.e., when someone comes to your page, they understand what you're about). Photos help bring home what your organization stands for in a way that your logo can't. The Alex's Lemonade Stand Causes page is a great example.
Koch also recommended presenting your mission in a way that focuses on the cause and community you're working with. "Positions" is a section on a Causes page where you can highlight the top three priorities that you want people who come to your page to see.
The “Announcement Board” is a way to communicate broadly with supporters. Communicate updates, campaigns or calls to action, and ask people to take a particular action. Regular communication keeps cause members engaged.
"Just don't overdo it," Koch said.
"Telling people what you're doing is very different than telling them what they should do to help you," Koch said. "Say it in a way that lets them know that you want them to help you achieve the goal, for example, 'Please invite 10 friends today.'"
The “Media Board” is a place where you can post videos, photos or articles. A counter shows how many people view posts, and supporters can click "Report" to post the messages from your media board to their profiles, or click "Send to Friends." It's a great way to get the word out and spread meaningful media about your cause.
“Donor Match” is a function that organizations can use to fundraise or recruit more members. It’s especially useful among your most passionate supporters, such as board members. Matches focus on a goal or benchmark, and the donation is only made if goal is achieved. For example, at the time of this writing, Alex's Lemonade Stand's Causes page featured a post in Donor Match that supporter Jay Scott would donate $50 if the cause reached 200,000 members by Sept. 4. A counter indicated how many members were still needed to achieve the match, and visitors could click an "Invite" button to send information about the match to their friends.
Recruitment campaigns where supporters are given incentives to recruit others to your Causes page also get more people to join your cause. Things you can offer include T-shirts, conference admission, trips to see work being done on the ground, etc.
"Campaigns or contests help drive people, and incentives give that extra push," Koch said.
Building community on Facebook can happen off the site, as well. E-mail supporters a link to your Causes page; put a link to it in your e-mail signature; provide computers at events you hold so attendees can sign up to support your Causes page; send out press releases and encourage local news coverage of it; call or text people you know informing them of Facebook campaigns you're running; and enlist the power of word-of-mouth — tell everyone you know.
Koch said the most common mistakes nonprofit organizations make when it comes to Facebook Causes are thinking:
- their brand is the most important thing. Some organizations will disable the Media Board or wall to have more control over the page, she said, but the idea behind Causes is to offer an opportunity for people to rally around a cause they believe in. Supporters really want to work with you, she said, so your page will be much more effective if you have an open policy.
- that creating more than one Causes page is confusing. It really depends on the work your organization does and how it wants to go about its Causes strategy, she said.
- "I created it and it's not doing anything. Facebook must not work for us." Koch advised really spending some time on your page and pushing content out to your community to get the word out.
- the page needs to be approved by all internal departments. Koch recommended deciding your policy for this ahead of time, and how much time you need to devote to different kinds of communications.
- that person doesn't work for us so we can't trust her. Koch stressed the benefits of organizations turning over a bit of control to supporters, noting, "They'll be your best activists."
Another common mistake she sees organizations make is having no sequencing strategy. She stressed the importance of getting people to the Causes page and behind the mission before launching a campaign on Causes. Not only is this key to a successful campaign, but it also makes supporters who were there with you from the start feel like they helped you achieve something valuable.
Some principles Koch recommended organizations play with once their Causes pages are up and running are:
- personal recognition
- getting friends involved
- storytelling (along with photos)
- incentives, and their creative consequences
- thinking about what works with offline supporters
- asking supporters what they want to do. What are they passionate and vocal about?
Click here to learn more about Facebook Causes.