Facebook for Development Pros – Get Personal

Last month, we wrote on tips to help fundraising professionals get in the game on LinkedIn. In that post, we suggested (implored) gift officers – or anyone with a donor facing role – establish a strong presence on LinkedIn. If LinkedIn is the bare minimum, there are other social networks that can open your fundraising work up to new and highly-capable-of-giving audiences.

Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. According to a recent Pew study, a whopping 71 percent of Americans have a Facebook account. And while this social network is highly personal for some – for others, it’s yet another platform to share their lives with the world. In fact, millionaires are disproportionately more active on Facebook than the general public at large.

So, if you really want to expand your reach as a gift officer, alumni relations pro, grateful patient manager, or annual giving director, you might want to consider putting a professional effort toward Facebook. Here are some tips…


Facebook friend lists allow you to organize your professional and personal friends. A benefit for you and them.

Create lists to separate your personal connections from professional. (Click here for a link with instructions for creating lists of your friends) This will allow you to communicate with your professional friends while not driving your personal friends nuts. It will also keep silly pictures of your dog and kids from clogging your professional friends’ News Feeds.

Connect your personal Facebook content strategy with your organization’s content strategy. (Your organization does have a content strategy, right?) Content marketing is best through a multi-channel approach. This means a great YouTube video gets the most traction when it is shared on Facebook, through email, on Twitter, at events, and through the personal social networks of your staff. Just as is the case with online ambassadors, sharing via the personal accounts of your staff greatly increases the reach of the powerful content you put so much effort into producing to tell your organization’s story.

Be responsive and engaged. It should be obvious, but when people comment on or share something you post to Facebook, respond to them! Thank them, answer their questions, provide more information …use Facebook as a virtual coffee shop to meet your donors.

Ask your Facebook friends questions. While images are hugely important for getting your content noticed on Facebook, sometimes the highest engagement comes from a question. It could be something fun – “Who is your favorite actor to play Batman?” for example. Or, you could ask something about your work – “Which childhood disease would you most want to see cured in the next 10 years?” Either way, a simple question that sparks conversation goes a long way toward building online relationships with your supporters, which ultimately leads to stronger relationships overall that leads to gifts.

I know, I know …for some people Facebook is a deeply personal space that you absolutely wouldn’t want to share with the world. That’s more than fine. Unlike LinkedIn and to a lesser degree blogs and Twitter, Facebook – in part due to its highly personal nature – is far from mandatory. That doesn’t mean it’s not also an enormous opportunity for those willing to jump in professionally. Consider this – do you want a personal relationship with some of your organization’s biggest donors? If you answered yes, then you should consider using Facebook to engage them.

Justin Ware is the Director of Interactive Communication at BWF_social and helps clients build online and social media strategies that lead to fundraising success.


2 thoughts on “Facebook for Development Pros – Get Personal

  1. I’m going to give this a try with lists…trying to decide what the best categories would be. Professional/personal for sure! And a lot of Elon alumni I work with have been adding me too. This is going to be a major project to go back through old friends but definitely worth it!

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