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Five Most Common Mistakes Made by Nonprofit Admins on Facebook

September 1, 2009

[tweetmeme] As I was browsing through numerous nonprofit Facebook Pages today, I was quite surprised to see that many nonprofits still really don’t understand the Facebook Page tool set. Here are five of the most common mistakes being made by Nonprofit Admins that I saw today on Facebook:

1) Not knowing how to use Apps on Facebook Pages.

When you create a new Facebook Fan Page, the page automatically comes with 6 native Apps: 1) Photos 2) Videos 3) Discussion Boards 4) Notes 5) Links and 6) Events. Facebook Pages don’t really get interesting or fun until you start adding and using the Static FBML App, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr Apps, the Social RSS App, the Flash Player App, Causes, etc. There are thousands of Apps in Facebook’s Application Gallery. If you have never added an App to your organization’s Facebook Page, then you still have some work to do. Also, if you are not dragging and dropping boxes/Apps on your home view, or dragging and dropping Tabs, and if you have no idea what I am talking about, then you need to get some training on how to use Facebook Pages. 🙂

2) Not understanding the value of community building on Facebook.

If you aren’t getting any “Likes” or “Comments” on your Wall in response to your Status Updates, then you haven’t found your Facebook voice and you need to be posting a different kind of content. Facebook is not about one-way communication. It’s not just about pushing out information about your nonprofit to your fans. It is about interaction and engagement. The best community builders understand this and pose questions to their fans, stimulate conversation on their Wall, and rarely post press release-like content on their Facebook Page. 90% of the power of a Facebook Page is in the Status Update, and if yours aren’t getting any action, then you need reevaluate what kind of content your posting.

3) Limiting their Facebook fundraising to Facebook Causes and then leaving their Cause at $0.

In the early days of my nonprofit career, I used to table at a lot of events where I put out email newsletter sign-up sheets. I noticed early on that a blank sheet would sit there for hours, but after the first person signed up, then many others followed. It then became standard practice for me to then sign up my mother, my boyfriend, and my grandmother on every new sign up sheet in order to get the sign ups rolling. There is just something about human nature that most people are followers and not likely to be the first [to sign up].

The same concept applies to Facebook Causes. If your Cause is at $0 with no donors, then you’re going to be waiting a long time for that first donation. If you are going use and promote Causes, donate $10 to your own Cause. This is also important so you understand the donor experience. It might come as quite a surprise to you that during the donation process, you’ll discover that donors can opt out of providing your organization any contact information. In that case, maybe in addition to using Causes, you might also want to be using your Facebook page to send folks your website to donate as well.

4) Posting too many Status Updates.

My gut tells me that nonprofits shouldn’t be posting more than one or two Status Updates a day. Some nonprofits are posting three to four Status Updates a day, sometimes one right after another. It is way too easy for individuals to “Hide” a nonprofit from their News Feed and nothing will do that faster than posting too many Status Updates. If you do want post two or three a day, at least make sure they are spread out over the course of your work day and not all at once.

5) Not reserving a Facebook Username for your Page.

I guess a lot of nonprofits haven’t heard the news that after your page reaches 100 fans, you can reserve a Facebook Page Username at I saw at least 10 well-known national organizations today on Facebook that had not yet done this. You better hurry. Over 100,000,000 usernames have been taken already!

Related Links:

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45 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2009 6:05 am

    Our organization set up a nonprofit/business page. It does not work the same as an individual page. I know, I have a personal page as well. It does not allow you to twitter feed, or many other things. Set one up and see for yourself. If, you find out how to use selective twitter feed, especially, let me know.
    Laura Carter

  2. nonprofitorgs permalink
    September 2, 2009 6:16 am

    Hi Laura… I agree with Facebook on that one… having Tweets automatically show up on Facebook Pages would not be a good idea. I am so not a fan of automation/robots and actually now “Hide” people who have their Tweets show up on Facebook. 10 Tweets a day on Twitter is one thing, but 10 Status Updates as Tweets on personal profiles just clutters the News Feed. If Pages were allowed that capability, I would not be fanning very many Pages. But here is a good way to get twitter on your Page:


  3. September 3, 2009 8:49 am

    I’m having a similar dilemma trying to decide about having my association’s blog feed appear on our Facebook page. On one hand, it’s a good way to keep that Facebook page dynamic. But it could get to be too much and, quite frankly, I want people reading the blog on the blog site, not the Facebook page.

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      September 3, 2009 9:44 am

      Hi James… if you don’t want to automate (which I think is a good idea)… just post your new blog posts as links in an Update Status. That’s where 95% of my blog traffic from Facebook comes from. It’s all in the Status Updates!

  4. September 6, 2009 5:36 pm

    Great post! That sound you hear is cheering from the Facebook followers of nonprofits who are still finding their feet and their voice.

    If I can just drop a quick reply to Laura Carter’s question… ?
    The Selective Twitter Status application actually has just added a new feature that does, in fact, let you update a Page from Twitter – not just a personal profile page. I totally agree with you, @nonprofitorgs, that it’s generally not a good thing to have a Facebook Page or profile just flooded by tweets – but it is a good way for busy nonprofit folks to take their outreach to both networks without sucking up a whole lot of staff time. That’s why I think the Selective Twitter app is a great option – you can choose which tweets will appear on the Page, rather than sending them all.

    • September 8, 2009 5:01 am

      No it does not work. Here is the error message.

      “To let you configure your page(s), we have temporarily cancelled the permission for the app to update your personal profile.

      Please follow the next two screens that prompt you for permission:

      first grant permission to your chosen page
      the second time grant permission to your personal profile again.”

      Then I am sent to a screen where it asks me to create a personal profile.

      If anyone has a solution, feel free to contact me at

      • September 8, 2009 5:49 am

        SA Area Foundation, sorry, I’ve not run across that error message — clients and I have had ‘smooth sailing’ with the Selective Twitter application so far. The app’s help page ( or directly contacting the developer ( might be the most expedient route for you to get this sorted.

      • nonprofitorgs permalink
        September 8, 2009 5:52 am

        Thanks Rebecca. Love your blog BTW… always checking it for new content to Tweet. The 100 Tools was a big hit…

  5. September 8, 2009 6:38 am

    @nonprofitorgs Thanks much!
    Thanks for letting me hijack your comment thread a bit, too 😉

    • Emily C. permalink
      September 9, 2009 6:21 am

      Couldn’t agree more with your post, or with the comments warning against using automation. Maybe it’s a good idea for people with serious staff constraints, but I think it’s always more effective to tailor your strategy to the platform you’re using. All of these communities have different types of users and “vibes,” and if you don’t pay attention to that you lose your credibility.

  6. September 11, 2009 10:32 am

    Thanks for the tips, still trying to figure out Facebook pages / causes for our organization.

  7. September 16, 2009 1:53 pm

    Thanks for this extremely helpful post; as I embark on setting up an FB Page for Reclaiming Futures, the organization I work for, this’ll provide a useful yardstick-slash-goad to do better.

    However, after a brief teeth-gnashing immersion in FB Pages, I’ve got an inkling about why many nonprofits are not making heavier use of FB Apps: they’re much harder to use than they should be.

    I’ve now spent several hours messing around with two leading YouTube apps — first, trying to suss out how to add videos once I’d added the apps to my page — and then scratching my head over why one app won’t allow me to list the videos in a customized order rather than the order I uploaded them in, or why the other app can’t reliably display thumbnail images from the videos.

    Just another reason why I *really* hope FB is unsuccessful in its bid to become the guiding force behind our Web experience.

    • marylauracarter permalink
      September 16, 2009 4:21 pm

      Finally, someone who knows what I have been complaining about for months! Really, the pages do not work like individual profiles. Half the time I try to do something and the programs tell me to create my profile first, grrr.
      Thanks for the validation and hope FB reads and understands.

    • Judith Katz permalink
      September 16, 2009 9:45 pm

      i agree, the apps were not as easy or as intuitive as would give me incentive to prioritize facebook page development with the myriad other things i could do with my time. i assume that most of my org’s donors do not spend a whole lot of time fiddling around with facebook, but i could be wrong. we do post on facebook and twitter daily. That seems like enough for now.

      As john kenyon says “You get to eat your dessert only after you’ve had your dinner.”

  8. September 16, 2009 7:11 pm

    At Greenpeace in Australia, we’ve removed any automation from our page and any posting we do is “bespoke” and tailored to our audience.

  9. September 29, 2009 11:18 am

    Great article. I am running a social media workshop for nonprofits and this will be a great resource for them.

    I am a fan of selective use of automating tech. Tweetdeck now lets you add multiple profiles and Facebook. Its really easy to highlight off and on which you want to post to. Facebook also limits the amount of tweets it will post to your page, so that helps. I agree that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have different style and frequency tolerances for status updates.

    From Facebook, the basic Twitter app that you add to your page takes everything you post to FB and puts it on Twitter. That can actually be ok, because Twitter can handle the frequency.

    One thing people are struggling with is the lack of separation of person and organization available on Facebook. Be careful who sets up your page – its attached to someone’s personal profile. If they leave your organization, you can lose your fans. You can add other administrators to diminish the risks.

  10. September 30, 2009 7:00 am

    Commenting about step 3, this is an example of the psychological principle of “social proof.” Have you ever noticed yourself laughing when fake laughter played on a television show? It is a psychological response to doing what others are doing and taking cues from others on how to behave. If others have signed up, then you too will sign up. I would recommend reading Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence: Science and Practice” to get to know five other principles of psychology that people in sales use to their advantage and we usually don’t recognize until it is too late and something that a process like this can help understand why certain things are the way they are.

    Here is a link to the book on

  11. October 29, 2009 6:48 am

    I found this article very useful and interesting– and sadly I must admit that my organization falls victim to #1. I clicked on the “get some training” link though, and it appears to have expired. Could you possibly fix this or redirect me? Thank you!

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      October 29, 2009 6:52 am

      Thanks Karen. Fixed!

      • October 29, 2009 8:38 am

        Thank You nonprofitsorgs
        This is the right info at the right time. Your willingness to look into, understand and then share the findings of how to address common mistakes is a prime example of what I look on the internet for. People helping People. Look forward to future tweets.

  12. November 10, 2009 3:20 am

    awesome post guys, particularly the first one!

  13. February 2, 2010 4:02 am

    Great having a how-not list for Facebook, there’s plenty of how-to articles for non-profits out there.

    I’ve added this post to my 10 must-read Facebook resources for non-profits:

  14. February 18, 2010 3:14 pm

    Great post. You advised me awhile ago somewhere (Twitter? Facebook?) to donate to my own cause to get others started. I did and had someone else donate soon after. We had been sitting at $0 for awhile before that.

    Has anyone else noticed the number of fans changing on your fan page? Mine has gone down by about 10 over the past two weeks or so, and I don’t know if I’m really losing fans or if the count is not accurate.

  15. Raphael permalink
    February 19, 2010 5:37 am

    great post – with helpful tips.
    I know that facebook does not allow to change the name of a fan page (yet) – do you/ or anybody else have any idea, if this might change in the nearby future?
    I am also not happy about the fact that I (as admin of the page) can not post personal posts on the fan page. Comments show up as posts from the ‘page’.

    It will be interesting to see, if Facebook will change the page settings again – now that google is trying to get into the social network market.

    Keep up the good work.

  16. May 1, 2010 6:44 pm

    Thanks again for the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

  17. July 31, 2010 3:03 pm

    Great info… thanks!

  18. August 10, 2010 6:42 am

    Thanks for this useful post. Facebook certainly does not make it obvious or clear how to use it’s tools.

  19. Jess permalink
    August 12, 2010 9:29 am

    I’m having a bit of trouble with our non-profit facebook page. I find that many of the things I want to post or share such as notes etc. End up showing up on the admin profile rather then our page.. i don’t understand why this keep happening.. and I’d like to get my name off of the admin page. Can you help with this??

  20. January 18, 2011 10:17 pm


    This post is very informative but I have a question. I have just set up a FB group for a non-profit organization and I would like to show on the FB sidebar (left side below the picture) who the administrators are. I was wondering if there is any way I could do that?

    I am sure there is a way to do that because I have seen some non-profits with more than 5-6 administrators showing as “Admins”.

    Thanks. 🙂


    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      January 19, 2011 5:31 am

      Hi… You can’t do that on Pages. Admins are shown on Groups, but the old Groups for brands have been discontinued. Cheers.

  21. January 19, 2011 10:06 pm

    Thanks for your reply. I have seen on some non-profit Facebook Page/Group not only do they have a list of Admins, they also have a list of Officers. Does anyone know how I could do that? Can I use FBML and put it on the left side as a box?

    Thanks again.

    • nonprofitorgs permalink
      January 20, 2011 6:35 am

      AC… you can’t make those Groups anymore, and Boxes on Pages have been discontinued as well (last August). You can use Static FBML for a Tab, but that is not visible on the home of your page. You can’t do what you are wanting to do anymore.

  22. Erin permalink
    April 10, 2011 1:49 pm

    Great info, I look forward to future reads!


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