Three Reasons Why Creating A Facebook Profile For Your Nonprofit Is A Total FailI’ve been chatting with Will Coley lately about nonprofits who violate Facebook’s TOS (sometimes knowingly) by using a Profile to market their cause, rather than a Page.

Using a Facebook Profile to market your nonprofit on Facebook is not smart, for at least three reasons:

1. You Have No Way Of Knowing What They Want

Facebook gives marketers a powerful tool called Insights that allows you to see – on a post level – how your fans engage with your content. Profiles don’t have this tool, only Pages do.

Facebook users don’t analyze how their friends react to their status updates. But marketers care very much about this – and so should you.

2. They Don’t Want To Be Your Friend

A friend request is very different from asking someone to like your Page.

If you’re sending friend requests as a Profile, your asking the user to see their photos, their friend list, their address, their phone number, and perhaps their relationship status.



Facebook users don’t want to share this info with your organization. Asking a user to like your Page, on the other hand, doesn’t cross any personal boundary.

3. Facebook Could Delete Your Profile

Using a Facebook profile to market your organization is a violation of the TOS.

What this means is that after spending a lot of resources of building up a large amount of friends – say 5,000 – Facebook can simply delete the profile.

A Visual Map Of Facebook Pages, Profiles, Places And Groups – All In One Slide

The difference between a Profile and a Page is a topic covered in the Facebook Foundations webinar I conduct with Charityhowto. Below is a map of all properties available on Facebook (PDF can be downloaded here):

Why else is using a Profile bad business for nonprofits?

Learn how one nonprofit increased their online fundraising by 1,400%!


Learn the tools, tactics, messaging, and website tweaks that created thier explosive result!


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      1. I’m sure you’re right about that. I got a friend request on Facebook from my
        dentist’s office. Not a non-profit but certainly not worthy of a profile!

  2. Unless it was a one person NPO or the person was hugely confused about Facebook, you’d be very ill advised to start a profile. Hopefully this was will rank highly enough in google so that people searching for “Profile versus page” will find it.

    Do feel sorry for the organisations who started groups and have big comunities and now need to migrate over to a fan page. What a pain in the arse that must be !

  3. I have been thinking a lot about this issue lately. Our non-profit had a facebook profile and group going when I started. The group never gets used anymore, but our profile continues to get friend requests. I see the benefit of a page vs. a profile but have been avoiding the transition because of the following on our profile. Do you have any thoughts for non-profits who had their profile/group set up before pages?

    1. You need to setup a page right away and post something on the existing profile that asks people to start moving over to your Facebook page. If you get any new friend requests to the profile, you should politely decline and point the people to “Like” your page. As people start moving over to your Page, start deleting them as friends from your profile. You might also need to do some personal messages via Facebook to people to get them to move.

      Once you start seeing people moving over, post on the profile page that you will be deleting the account on “x day” and encourage anyone left to move.

    2. Yes – create a Page and start promoting that Page to the profile. Let them know that the profile will be deleted soon and that all the good stuff will be on the Page.

  4. In the early days of Pages, profiles offered non-profits a lot more control and there was a lot out there that said that creating profiles was the way to go. I still think there are some resources out there advising people to set up profiles if they want “control” over what’s happening on Facebook. Luckily, there are people like you spreading the good word. :)

  5. Keep in mind, Facebook could change their TOS at any time. Also, I have heard of profiles being deleted because they “spammed” people with friend requests.

  6. Thanks for this! I got a Friend Suggestion for a nonprofit’s profile today and rather than just ignoring it, messaged them with a link to this article.

  7. Andy – took another closer look at the TOS. Included are the following: “You will not send or otherwise post unauthorized commercial communications (such as spam) on Facebook.”, “Facebook users provide their real names and information”, and finally “If you violate the letter or spirit of this Statement, or otherwise create risk or possible legal exposure for us, we can stop providing all or part of Facebook to you. We will notify you by email or at the next time you attempt to access your account. “.

    In terms of “spam”, that’s ususally something users flag, so even the most sincere marketing with a profile can still be determined to violate this part of the TOS.

  8. I see business people and nonprofit using personal profiles for their company/npo to friend as many people as possible, and then to use that as a springboard to promote the facebook page they eventually set up. In other words, I think this is a definite strategy they are using, right or wrong. But I see it working because when people get friend requests from the business/npo, they see that lots of their friends are already friends of this business/npo, so they accept the friend request.

  9. I agree with you, but if no one is policing it, I’m just pointing out that businesses and nonprofits will use that as a way to connect with lots of people.

  10. My one challenge with the page (which you may be able to help with) is that I can’t outright invite our fans to our events. I can only promote it on the page and send them an update, which does not come up with a notification until the person clicks on the “messages” tab. Thoughts?

  11. Also keep in mind that pages are indexed by Google and profiles are not. Google rates Facebook as one of the highest recommenders on the web giving great SEO value. If you want to spread your message, pages can do that, profiles have limitations.

    There is no barrier to entry with pages either. You don’t have to wait for a friend request to be approved. With pages people can Like and see the information while it’s top of mind. if you send them away and expect them to come back later, 80% of people won’t. Make it easy for people to connect with your NPO. Eliminate as many barriers as possible starting with friend requests.

  12. Most of the nonprofits with profiles I see (in the arts at least) are from orgs that joined Facebook *before* Pages existed. Now that they have a large community, and an effective way to reach them (via messages), it’s hard to convince them why they should change (though god knows I’ve tried and tried again). The threat of deletion is remote, and they don’t miss Insights because they’ve never had the data in the first place.

  13. John I so agree it is about being educated so you are making smart choices. Number one reason to work with professional and create strategy. The very step everyone wants to skip. What was that quote we learned as kids, Pound foolish and penny wise, seems to fit here.