My Introduction to the Power of Facebook

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This past Friday, June 12th, The Greater New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) celebrated the 30th Anniversary of Fund Raising Day in New York (FRDNY) with keynote speaker Peter G. Peterson.  As one the Program Co-Vice Chairs (along with my fellow chairs Nancy Carmichael & Amy Leveen), I am proud to say that our track chairs worked like fiends to put on a fabulous program despite an incredibly tough year for fundraising, conferences, clients, consultants and vendors alike.

One of the most interesting aspects of the day was that for the first time, since I can remember, almost every track had a session on the technology, usage and/or the application of Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and My Space in the nonprofit sector.  Technology was suddenly no longer relegated to its given track of “Internet & Technology” but instead interwoven amongst all of the fundraising tracks throughout the day.  What does this mean?  Veddy interesting….

Even though I am a technology consultant, I too, have come late to the party of social networking and blogging.  While I have been a member of Linked In for awhile, it was only this year when I joined the ranks of Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.  Twitter, I confess, is still a mystery to me and I haven’t really figured out how to use it but Facebook is starting to fascinate me a bit and I give you two recent examples of its power as to why.

I preface all of this by saying, I was the typical person who ignored my friends’ friending requests to join as, “I don’t have time for this!” “And, what the heck is it for and what do you when you get there?” But finally…..I gave in, mostly out of curiosity spurred on by some books I had been reading lately and my dear friends.

Anyway, last Friday, I suddenly found myself with an extra ticket to a Broadway show but it was about 5:30-6pm and the show started at 8pm.  I tried calling a few friends, texting and even (how passe) emailing.  Most everyone was busy or didn’t reply.  Then, finally at about 7:15pm, I decided to put a post on Facebook which I could do from the restaurant I was sitting in because of my new Palm Pre.  Within 10 minutes I got a call from a friend who jumped in a cab and got to the theatre right at curtain.  It was a fun show (9-5) definitely worth seeing.

The next Facebook experience happened just a few days ago when I was out shopping at Target which I have to say is like the Facebook of retail stores. You go in for 5 minutes to get a quart of milk and you walk out with a new patio set, dishes that you didn’t really need and a new wardrobe.  How do they do that?

Anyway, I decided to purchase 21 lbs of kitty litter as well as some like items to the above and had to call for a cab to take me home to Hoboken, however, it was rush-hour and the cab companies weren’t picking up so, feeling a little forlorn, I put a post up on Facebook to the tune of, “Stranded at Target with 21 lbs of kitty litter….sometimes I do miss my car.”  In the meantime, I managed to get through to another cab company.  About 15 minutes later, just as I stepped into the cab, I got a call from a friend who said, “How did I miss you?  I was just there and would have given you a ride home.”  Freaky….

In both of these instances, I was a little dumbfounded at the immediacy of the response to an idle Facebook post.  And in both cases, I was really not expecting to get any response. worked better than a phone call, an email or a text.  Imagine that!  I am fascinated by this as I am an owner of a new Palm Pre and prior to getting such a device, I was able to receive posts but I could not make any posts from my phone.

It makes me think as smart phones become more powerful and ubiquitous and as texting seems to already be replacing emails how much we will start to live via our phones instead of our computers.  It also makes me a little afraid of what will come next but also curious as I have always been about technology and how it weaves itself into our daily lives.  These two examples for me, were a good lesson on how Facebook can be a very useful, if unexpected tool.  It's not, apparently, just for taking those quizzes like, "What is Your Animal Spirit?  and What Kind of Muppet Are You?  (The answers were, by the way, Fox and Janice.)

What is your experience with social networking?  Have you found it useful?  How do you think it will change the way we communicate with our donors, prospects, clients, consultants & vendors?  Do you have any surprising tales to tell?

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