Faith in Facebook: A Success Story

I love intelligent comments on my posts that disagree with what I have to say because it brings so much more wisdom to the table. A while back a reader commented on, Trouble with Facebook, mentioning that Lil Green Patch has had incredible success with this social networking site. Susan Citro from The Nature Conservancy offered to answer a few questions so that we can all have better success with our use of Facebook.

The Lil Green Patch application on Facebook is one of the most popular applications and most successful Facebook fundraising campaigns. For each individual who posts Lil Green Patch on their profile a small donation is made to protect rain forests in Costa Rica .

It sounds like there is a large cause-marketing component to Lil Green Patch. How did you set that up and how does it work?

We were fortunate in that the developers of (Lil) Green Patch selected The Nature Conservancy as the beneficiary. They set the application up, Facebook users began using it, and it grew from there. So in this case, it was not a large effort to get going.

One thing I like about social networking is that it is virtually free. Is what you did with Facebook something any nonprofit could do or do you need to be a large organization with the technical capacity to design and launch?

Whether for an iphone or a Facebook application, there are many talented developers are out there who are interested in developing a creative application for a cause they believe in. If you don’t want to hire the tech and design staff to create and launch your own, consider reaching out to developers to create an application for you; maybe offer a contest and accept submissions.

How would you encourage nonprofits to work with Facebook?

It probably sounds cliché, but just start. Facebook is another communications tactic available to you. Use it to get your message out, share about your mission and the beauty of your work.

What did it take to make this application a success? And do you still see growth and continued benefit from this application?

The question we’re asked most by users of the application is did the donation actually get made. Acknowledging the contributions the developers and the users of the application are making, just like with any other form of support, is important. Yes, it’s still growing and to date, $162,125 in donations are directly supporting the Nature Conservancy’s Adopt an Acre in Costa Rica.

What did it take to build this online community?

Millions and millions use Facebook to engage deeper with friends and issues important to them. Allow them to do so with you — allow people to post comments, add links, encourage a dialogue. If you’re committed to sharing information about your work and allowing others to comment and share their thoughts, more will get involved with your cause.

How much maintenance time does this approach take? Can you set it up and it raises money indefinitely or does it take full-time work to maintain?

It doesn’t take full-time work. But it does take constant work — postings, questions, donations that need to be acknowledged — come in everyday. So it’s more frequent, smaller exchanges. You could set it up and leave it alone but it’d fizzle out. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get from it.

How does Lil Green Patch link with your overall online approach?

It is one of many tactics we use to try and communicate about our work, drive traffic to www.nature.org, and deepen people’s awareness and support of The Nature Conservancy. It’s another touch-point and another opportunity to get the word out.

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