Giving More than Money

It's common to imagine the business world and the nonprofit world as two separate spheres.  Business is focused on creating products, selling services and making money.  Nonprofits focus on helping people, improving communities, and changing the world.

In reality, it's not so simple.  Nonprofits and businesses may have different goals and abide by different regulations, but the basic needs of both types of organizations are similar.  This means business leaders interested in giving back to their communities may be able to help in more ways than they realize.

For example, Handshake 2.0 readers know successful business dealings depend on who you know.  The same is true for nonprofits. Whether its recruiting board members, securing funding, or building a tribe, nonprofits benefit from having a large, diverse group of supporters.  Therefore, introducing new people to the nonprofit  is a big help.

YMCA at Virginia Tech on Facebook For example, here's a simple way anyone with a Facebook account can help.

  1. Visit your favorite nonprofit's Facebook Page and "Like it."
  2. Click the "suggest to friends" link below the page icon in the upper left corner.
  3. Click on the icons of several Facebook friends who are likely to support the nonprofit's work and click "send invitations."
  4. Send an e-mail to the Executive Director of the nonprofit in question to let her know you've suggested the page to others and how much you appreciate the organization's work. (I know this isn't technically part of the process, but saying thank you is a gift in itself.)

Please note, Facebook is not the only way to help.  Many of the relationship-building techniques and tools (like foursquare) businesses use for themselves will work for nonprofits – often with very little modification.  If you're stuck, share your favorite business networking technique in the comment section and I'll be happy to help you modify it for nonprofit use.


Maureen Carruthers is passionate about helping nonprofits achieve their missions.  For more ways to help your favorite nonprofit be heard, visit her blog, Low Hanging Fruit.


Image is screenshot of Facebook page of the YMCA at Virginia Tech. Handshake 2.0 was pleased to be a sponsor of Art To Go, part of the effort to complete the Pottery Studio at the Y.

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  1. Fantastic post, Maureen!

    Would you be open to elaborating on this?

    “..the basic needs of both types of organizations are similar.”

    Actually, I’d like to read a whole post on that. You have a unique perspective – you’re in business to help nonprofits. I’d like to learn more about how you see their needs as similar.

    Thanks, too, for the great info. on how businesses can use Facebook to help nonprofits.

  2. Hi Anne–I’d love to elaborate–I really had to work to keep within the 300 word limit of a Handshake 2.0 post on this one.

    One way to look at it is Businesses and Nonprofits are both selling something. In business that’s pretty straight forward, for nonprofits it can be a bit trickier. Some nonprofits are selling an experience or life enrichment. Some are selling an idea (convincing people to start recycling for example.) When it’s time to raise money, nonprofits are selling donors the right to be part of the solution.

    In all cases the organizations that are successful focus their messages on why “buying” helps the buyer–not the seller.

    Look for a follow-up post with more detail 🙂

  3. I think they key advice here is for fans to send specific and personal invitations to other people. That makes such a difference.

  4. @Joe–Absolutely! Just inviting your whole friends list to like a page is called spamming 😉

    The more specific you can be about why you support the nonprofit and why you think **that specific person** would also be likely to support them, the better.

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