The Digital Charity Lab 5 Minute Guides are intended to give you the basics on a particular digital platform or project. They are collaborative documents and we welcome your feedback and further suggestions in the comments.

FacebookWhy Facebook?

  • Free* platform for promoting your campaigns and raising awareness about your cause.
  • There are over 2.2 million people in Ireland with Facebook accounts (source: Connect Ireland).
  • Facebook can be great for nurturing relationships with supporters and getting feedback from them.
  • It can be really useful for list building, through promotions, competitions or content marketing.
  • Facebook is a great platform for storytelling – you can share stories that deepen understanding of your cause, and demonstrate your charity’s impact.
  • Facebook added some fundraising products for non-profits in 2017 that allow you to do community fundraising online

*See caveat in the first point below

The Pitfalls

There are lots.  Beware of the trap of devoting too much time to Facebook.

  • While Facebook is technically free, its algorithm means that many of your posts will only be seen by a tiny fraction of your fans (it can be as low as 5%).  It can sometimes be difficult to get any kind of significant reach without purchasing ads. Many smart digital marketers recommend treating Facebook as an advertising platform rather than a true social medium.
  • Facebook is a third party platform over which you have no control. Don’t rely on it as your main platform, as you are communicating through a middle man.
  • It can be difficult to track results on Facebook, and very easy to spend a lot of time to get very vague returns. ‘Likes’ are not particularly valuable on their own, and you should have a clear strategy before starting on Facebook.
  • While Facebook can be useful for building awareness of fundraising campaigns, it is very difficult to get direct donations from Facebook.
  • The flipside of interaction with the public is that you also give a platform to people who dislike your charity, your cause or your positions. Negative comments can cause anything from time wasting, to public embarrassment, to legal difficulties.

Page or a Profile?

If you want a public Facebook presence, make sure you set up a page rather than a profile.  Pages have functionality that profiles do not. If you’re new to Facebook, you will need to set up a personal profile for yourself first, then create a page for your business. You can add other people as administrators to the page as long they also have a Facebook profile.

Getting the Most Out of Facebook

  • Have clear goals for your posts (such as user feedback, clicks, conversions) and evaluate the return on your time.
  • Good content is the key for getting good engagement and return on Facebook.  Beth Kanter’s excellent blog has advice on developing a Facebook content strategy.
  • When posting links, using will allow you to track clicks and shares, seeing geographical location, time of day, social media platform etc.  It will tell you which content is working best on which platform.
  • Encourage ‘fans’ to join your mailing list whenever possible.
  • Write a social media commenting policy, display it on your Facebook page (it can go in ‘Notes’) and post about it regularly so that commenters are aware of your code of conduct.
  • Test out the Facebook Fundraising products and see if you can get your Facebook Fans fundraising for your cause – they’re not charging any commission on donations.

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