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Making a Social Impact: Innovating with Facebook to Engage and Inspire

October 4, 2012ByLibby Leffler Hoaglin

We are consistently impressed by the cause-focused organizations using Facebook to drive awareness and action around society’s most pressing problems. With a community of one billion people on Facebook, every local cause can become a global one — and every global cause can turn into a personal movement.

Causes have always been social — people naturally want to share and connect with the things that inspire them most. For example, the top 25 nonprofits using Facebook Pages connect with more than 32 million people worldwide. With Open Graph, developers now have a way to integrate social functionality into every app. Today, causes and nonprofits are using Facebook and Open Graph to drive awareness, raise money, mobilize quickly, and enable supporters to make a bigger impact by simply and easily sharing with friends.

Here are just a few examples of developers making a real difference:

  • justgiving is a UK-based fundraising platform where individuals can share their charitable giving actions on Facebook. justgiving’s Open Graph-enabled canvas app gives people a way to share when they make a donation and support a friend or charity. App usage is up 177% since Open Graph actions were integrated in May. justgiving estimates that each time a donation activity is shared on Facebook, it is worth more than $8 to a charitable organization. Last year, people raised more than $40 million for charities through the justgiving app on Facebook.

  • WeTopia is a social game on Facebook developed by Sojo Studios. The game gives players the chance to make an impact by building virtual villages and earning points that turn into charitable donations. To date, players have provided more than 1.6 million gallons of drinking water and over 760,000 hot meals for children in Haiti, 45,000 meals for US children living in poverty, and more than 3,000 warm coats to children in Afghanistan and the US.

  • FundRazr is a social fundraising app that helps people collect funds for cause-related campaigns. Fundrazr launched its Open Graph website integration with Comment, Donation and Milestone actions. The Comments action resulted in a six-fold increase in referral traffic to the app. Fundrazr later added the built-in Like action, which led to a 30X increase in total referrals and a 60X increase in story impressions.

  • Learnist is a social learning product that provides online lessons prepared by teachers and experts. Among the many lessons Learnist offers, the site makes common core educational content available for Grades 6-12, along with test preparation materials. Since launching its Open Graph website integration in June, Learnist has seen daily average Open Graph impressions jump from 6,000 per day to more than 100,000 per day. Learnist actions have created over 2.5 million Open Graph impressions in the last thirty days.

  • Causes provides online tools for organizing, advocacy, and fundraising campaigns. Every donation made on generates a Custom Open Graph story. Not For Sale, an organization that works to end trafficking and modern-day slavery, launched a campaign where each donation shared on Facebook generated an additional visitor to the campaign. Not For Sale raised $154,000 in two months and funded the launch of a beverage company working to fight human slavery.

We see new and interesting examples every day — and these are just the beginning. Two weeks ago, launched an Open Graph-enabled Pics for Pets app on iOS and Android where you can share photos of shelter animals to help them earn toys and treats — and, hopefully, find a great home. is making microfinance more social by launching Open Graph actions earlier this month to help you share your lending activity with friends. Opower, in partnership with Facebook and the Natural Resources Defense Council, built an app that allows you to connect your home utility accounts and track your energy use along with your friends. And just last week, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it is dedicating $2.5 million to the development of high-impact education apps on Facebook that focus on helping young people get to — and graduate from — college.

Best Practices

Use Facebook Login.Fundly uses Facebook Login as an effective way to drive user sign-up. Once you have logged in with Facebook, Fundly can quickly personalize your experience and show you the causes your friends are donating to or supporting.

Customize Timeline Aggregations. Give people the opportunity to showcase the impact they are making in the real world.’s Open Graph-enabled website,, publishes an action each time you launch a new fundraising campaign. When your friends donate to the campaign, it is reflected in a timeline aggregation as “Lives Changed”.

Create actions that are natural to your content. When you complete a lesson on Khan Academy, you can share achievement badges that you have earned on your Facebook timeline. Similarly, when you support a campaign on Fundly, you can easily display all of the campaigns you support through a timeline aggregation.

To stay up-to-date on the latest examples of nonprofits and developers doing great work on Facebook — and for a daily dose of inspiration — check out the Non-Profits on Facebook Page.