Causes on Facebook

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Facebook Causes are a great tool for quickly generating word of mouth about your organization. Because the average age of a Facebook user is 26, the site is a great way to reach young adults. It’s also great for spreading the word about your cause, but is less effective for raising funds.

Facebook Causes are useful for spreading awareness and reaching young adults.

Facebook’s "Causes" feature is a great way to get the word out about your organization. Facebook’s interface allows users to "like" or “become a fan” of your cause, which requires no commitment or monetary donation. It’s an easy way for people to simply show that they support what your group stands for.

Facebook’s “News Feed” feature will also publish a line item noting that a user has become a fan of your cause. This will be visible to the user’s entire network of Facebook friends. You may find a ripple effect is created as more and more people learn about your group through their own connections. This viral quality also makes Facebook a useful tool for recruiting volunteers.

Additionally, according to a 2008 Pew Internet Project survey, the average age of a Facebook user is 26, so the site is an appropriate forum if you’re looking to target young adults.

Your Cause page features space for customizable messaging and a "Donate" button.

You can create a Cause by first going to the Causes homepage at http://apps.facebook.com/causes/.  Roll your mouse over “Find Causes” in the blue bar at the top and select “Start a Cause.”  You can then enter your cause’s mission and designate an organization you’d like donations to go to.  As long as your organization is a registered nonprofit with the IRS, you can receive donations through Facebook Causes.

See the image above from an example of a Cause page.  This particular cause is called “We Care Services for Children,” and its mission is to provide resources for children and families dealing with special needs.  The page branding still carries Facebook’s logo, but a user can add his or her organization’s logo, photos, and a “Donate” button. 

The “About” tab offers a place for a user to post customized information about the cause.  You can write an introduction that provides background on your cause and add a paragraph about your specific fundraising campaign.  You can also add up to five short “positions,” which are succinct points of information about the cause (for example, location, mission statement, website, target audience, etc.).

If you scroll down the page, you will see an area specifically devoted to fundraising, which shows the money you’ve raised so far.  You also have the option to enter a fundraising goal that you want to meet by a certain date. 

Additional Cause page features include donor recognition lists and the option for supporters to post media or write messages.

Under the "Members" tab, you will find a "hall of fame" that lists donors and their pledge amounts.  This tab recognizes and ranks supporters in three unique categories: people who have donated the most money; people who have recruited the most members to the cause; and people who have recruited the most donors (new members who have joined the cause and subsequently pledged money).  Your Cause’s "Home" tab shows the names of the top-five members in each of these categories.

Farther down the page on the "Home" tab, you’ll see a section called "Recent Cause Activity," which displays updates on recent supporter donations.  In this area, supporters also have the option to make comments to the group, or post a relevant photo, video, or web link.  One supporter on the We Care Services for Children page posted a comment about his past experience as a volunteer for We Care and how it affected his life.  Others have posted personal stories about their own family members with special needs and how the We Care organization has helped them.

Click to open interactivity This walkthrough illustrates the basic features of Facebook Causes.

This walkthrough illustrates the basic features of Facebook Causes.

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Report card: Facebook Causes are good for spreading the word, but are better for gathering support than collecting donations.

Facebook Causes offers an easy, free way to publicize your organization using social marketing.  Because Facebook users can “like” your cause without donating, Facebook Causes are more of a fan club than an effective donation-gathering tool.

Any Facebook user can search for your Cause page, so it is not a private or secure site.  (Donations made through your Cause page, however, are secure—meaning it’s safe to enter credit card data.)  The site charges a fairly standard administrative fee of 4.75% of all donations received.  

Explore various Cause pages for yourself to discover additional features, donation and membership tracking tools, and ways to spread the word.  You can search Causes by category, including “Arts & Culture,” “Education,” “Environment,” “Human Services,” and “Public Advocacy,” among others.  Click here to begin:  http://apps.facebook.com/causes/.

Click to open interactivity Facebook Causes help publicize your group, but aren’t the best way to collect donations.

Facebook Causes help publicize your group, but aren’t the best way to collect donations.

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