Facebook Timeline for Nonprofit Organizations

by Rebecca Saidlower and Miriam Brosseau

The social media revolution means big things for nonprofits. Social media demands a kind of openness and authenticity that can be challenging, but also empowering. Now more than ever our friends, fans, and followers can connect with us (and we with them) immediately and personally. The recent release of Facebook Timeline for Pages provides a new opportunity for your nonprofit to share your story in a rich, engaging way, with both those outside and inside your organization.

Here are a few ways you can take advantage of your Page’s new Timeline:

  1. Document the history of your organization since way back before Facebook. You can add milestones with short stories, links and photos going back to whenever your organization was founded. Visitors to our page can now learn, with just a few simple clicks, how our agency has been transformed since its original founding in 1910 and how BJENY and SAJES became The Jewish Education Project.
  2. Make major events and accomplishments in recent years stand out from your Facebook chatter. You may have posted about that successful conference or big award when it occurred, but chances are those posts have since been lost amongst all of your other daily conversations. Now you can add those events as Milestones, and include a big glossy image, so that your major accomplishments will stand out when a visitor scrolls down your page. We chose to highlight the Jewish Futures Conferences and the day we were included in Slingshot ‘11 – ‘12 as one of the top 50 innovative Jewish Non Profits in North America, along with other big agency events.
  3. Choose a cover photo that represents your organization’s mission. Before, most Pages had organizational logos on top. With the inclusion of a cover photo in addition to a profile picture, you can add a picture that showcases who you are and evokes an emotional reaction. We chose an image of an educator working with children, to showcase both the educators we work with directly, and the children whose lives they impact.
  4. Pin important news items to the top of your Page. Making a major announcement or promoting a big event? You can pin certain posts to stay at the top of your page for a week at a time. That way you can continue to post interesting links or stories without worrying about your key messages getting lost on the page.
  5. Take advantage of Facebook’s apps and tools! Now is a great time to make sure you are using your Facebook Page in the best way possible. We finally added an app to connect our Page to our e-marketing tool so that visitors can join our email list in one simple click. The new Timeline also let us select specific organization that we “Like” so that we can feature our more prominent partners, or other organizational sub-pages.

While we focus on the newness and excitement of social media, it’s easy to get caught up in anxiety over the future – what’s the next big thing, where should I focus my efforts, etc.

Facebook Timeline offers a unique opportunity to reflect and celebrate our accomplishments, to see how far we’ve come. It’s about new tools and technologies, yes, but it’s also about affirming your voice, vision, and values as an organization. Building the timeline could be a great excuse to bring together staff, new and seasoned alike, to explore the history of the organization. Perhaps there are personal stories, little triumphs along the way that wouldn’t normally be recorded that now have a place to “live.” Perhaps you will rediscover shining moments, seemingly insurmountable challenges, questions asked and answered and asked again, and find avenues to share those stories with your followers in ways that add meaning and depth to their relationship with you. The internal conversation that ensues in crafting this space may be just as valuable as the product that emerges.

Developing your Facebook Timeline is both an exercise in organizational memory and an opportunity for deeper engagement, and we hope you’ll dig in and try it for yourself. We also invite you to check out our new Facebook Timeline and post feedback so that we can learn from one another, and continue to improve the way we connect with our audience!

Rebecca Saidlower is Associate Director of Marketing and Communications and Miriam Brosseau is Social Media Manager The Jewish Education Project.

eJewish Philanthropy has updated our Facebook page; have you?