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Get your 2012 events on Facebook now

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Facebook continues to be the most popular online social networking tool, and while that will surely change eventually — just as it did for AOL and MySpace before it — right now, and for the next few years, Facebook cannot be ignored as an effective communications tool for nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), schools, government agencies and other mission-based programs to get the word out about events.

A terrific microvolunteering assignment for an online volunteer is to have them input all of your organization or program's public or semi-public events for the coming months on the Facebook calendar. He or she should input the name, date, time and a short description for each event. Events you will want to share include conferences your organization is hosting or organizing, an open house, a class your organization is hosting, all volunteer orientations, or any other public event or semi-public event, such as an annual volunteer meeting (making it clear that a person would have to be a currently-registered volunteer to attend).

Even if you invite people to events in other ways — via email, a special meeting web site, or whatever online calendar you use — put your events in Facebook as well. This will serve as a reminder to people about the event, as well as potentially attracting more attendees (as appropriate).

Here's an example of what an event on Facebook looks like; note that the example is a virtual event, one that doesn't require physical attendance. However, you will want to also post events where people will be in a particular time and place, onsite or online, in order to participate.

Once the volunteer has completed the assignment of posting your 2012 events on your Facebook page, invite all of your organization or program's Facebook friends — volunteers, donors, partner organizations, clients — to each event via Facebook, as appropriate. If they mark that they are attending on Facebook, all of their Facebook friends will be able to see that intention, and they may decide to attend as well (as appropriate).

Make it clear if RSVPing via Facebook is or is not the official way to RSVP; attendees may still have to RSVP through traditional channels (filling out an online form on your web site, calling the organization, paying a registration fee). Also make it clear how public the event is; if someone needs to already be a volunteer that has gone through an orientation, or a season ticket holder, or a registered student, note that on the event.

Be explicit about any fees or costs associated with attending!

If the event is not fully public — for example, if children will be present and the only people permitted to attend are registered, screened volunteers and employees — then leave out the location of the event and note on the event description what an adult has to do in order to be able to attend.

Don't invite people to more than two events at a time (say, within one week); people don't want to receive invitations to all of your events in 2012 in one afternoon.

Encourage your employees and volunteers that use their Facebook accounts for work or volunteering to do the same — but do not require anyone to use their Facebook accounts in this way — many people keep work or volunteering activities off their Facebook account. Recognize those that do by thanking them on Facebook or at your next staff meeting.

Monitor your Facebook account and respond to comments made on your events, as appropriate. It's imperative that you respond to comments the same day they are posted.

This is all easy to do — and a great way for an online volunteer to help your organization if your current staff or onsite volunteers don't have time to do this. The only requirement for you is that you provide very detailed information about your events for the year, and you review the information after the volunteer has uploaded it, to ensure the information is correct. If you need to make changes, you can do so, without going through the volunteer, and you can easily take away administrator privileges you have to give to a volunteer to undertake this assignment.

Get busy, and keep your info up-to-date!

This article originally appeared at Jayne's blog and is reprinted with permission.

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