Facebook – What is it Good for? Part II

In “Facebook – What is it Good For? Part I”, I talk about the importance of Facebook in nonprofits as staff can use the tool to tell their organization’s story to the public.

In this article, I will talk about the power of the “Like”. No, this is not a simile gone out of control: I aim to describe the importance of Facebook in local for-profit fundraising decisions.

Texas is blessed to have a caring for-profit sector. I’ve seen one for-profit switch from their annual application-based application to a Facebook driven process. The organization once accepted applications for their $2,000 annual nonprofit award; this year they decided to award the grant to the nonprofit that received the most Likes in their Facebook-based competition.

The for-profit perspective:

  • Transparent process– the for-profit benefited as a once closed selection process became very public and easy to measure.
  • Saves staff time– staff that may not have been trained in nonprofit management or experience in philanthropy no longer had the burden of making the determination for funding. The same staff could avoid accusations of biases (as the results were not based on staff decision making).
  • Great PR – the business benefited from the buzz and excitement surrounding their competition. Businesses pride themselves on giving to communities where their staff work, play and worship. There is no argument that this happened.

The Nonprofit perspective:

  • A short application – the Facebook application was short and sweet.
  • Publically made decision made by the public – unlike other applications that seem to be reviewed in a metaphorical “black box”, this process is very public and easy to track. Again, biases from the business are avoided.
  • Alienate Support Base – not all nonprofits use social media to communicate to their base. Those nonprofits that do have a competitive advantage; those that do not “need not apply”.
  • Mission drift – nonprofits that do not use social media to connect to their base may be accused of mission drift if they pursue funds that do not align with mission or their modus operandi.
  • Embarrassment of a Loss; Public Joy of Win – to be public is good but the blessing of an application process is the privacy of a rejection. It was embarrassing to see the low like rate of the nonprofit I supported…although I knew that the “real” support of the organization far exceeded the rate of likes in the competition.
  • Strain on staff to promote likes to their personal networks – the for-profit had several hoops to get people to submit likes. The supporter had to complete a 12 step process to finally gain access to the “like” button. Some hoops benefited the for-profit and were irrelevant to the actual competition (for example, the for-profit asked for email addresses that may later be used for their own marketing purposes). Ironically, the staff time that was saved by a short application was arguably taken up by the e-blasts and other efforts spent on recruiting “likes” for the competition.

Bottom Lines:

Facebook allows for transparency in local business competitions.

However, these competitions may exclude a wider nonprofit base simply by the nature of the competition.

Hoops may further alienate voters that are not patient or have limited time to support their organization of choice; this may lead to a very public loss.

 

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