Social Networking

Once enjoyed solely by college and high school students, social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are enabling nonprofit organizations and their supporters to get the word out about their cause — and as a result, cultivate a new source of donors.

Facebook, for example, offers an application appropriately named “Causes,” which enables individuals to champion a nonprofit among the site's more than 65 million members. Individuals can then invite other members to join the cause. Members who join can list themselves as a supporter of the cause on their profile, helping to raise awareness of an issue. Members can also make a secure donation to a charity or political campaign through a credit card. Experts say Facebook's Causes application can help raise the awareness of charitable giving among students. What's more, once interested, members can visit the website of the nonprofit's organization if they want to learn more. That grassroots push also provides the opportunity to engage a new audience and transition them into not just donors, but active participants with a sustained interest in your cause.

Social networking sites that support nonprofits are constantly adding new applications to make their venues more effective and enjoyable for members. Take advantage by posting videos and adding blog updates and testimonials and trying other new features as they become available.

MySpace offers an application called “Impact,” where nonprofit organizations and political campaigns can raise funds from donors who contribute using PayPal. Members who support a cause earn badges that are featured on their profile, generating buzz among their MySpace friends and raising awareness and additional funds. As of this writing, nonprofits that want to be listed can contact for more information.

As fundraising through social networking increases in popularity, new online opportunities will become available. For instance, is another online venue dedicated to supporting more than 1 million causes around the world. The site offers the ability to post testimonials, blogs, and videos highlighting the work of each nonprofit and tracking fundraising progress. is another website where users can champion a cause, write a description of why the cause is meaningful to them, and invite friends to donate. Like, the site includes a feature that demonstrates how much money each cause has raised to date. even measures users' karma based on their philanthropic activity on the site. Social networking sites are gaining traction because users find them entertaining, and they spend time making connections and seeing what other members are doing. The partnership between social networking and philanthropy is just getting started, so keep an eye out for new online possibilities.

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