Facebooking for Good

You may have noticed your friends talking about organ donation on Facebook in the the last week.

A new Facebook initiative started on May 1, and people immediately had the option to add to their timeline their story about when they became an organ donor and why. Organ donor registries became easily accessible to millions of Facebook users.

This is all great news, considering these statistics: More than 114,000 people in the United States are waiting for heart, kidney, or liver transplants. An average of 18 people a day will die waiting for organs to become available.

I’ve always cared about organ donation. In high school, I organized an awareness drive and in college several of my roommate’s organs were donated after he was killed in a tragic accident. I’ve seen firsthand the life-saving power of organ donation, but haven’t done much lately to raise awareness. But last week when my friend posted about organ donation on Facebook, I did the same. My hope was that I could influence my network to join the registry.

So why did Facebook do this? Why now? According to Facebook’s news release, it’s all about friends:

“Facebook’s mission is simple: to make the world more open and connected. But the Facebook community has also shown us that simply through sharing and connecting, the world gets smaller and better. Even one individual can have an outsized impact on the challenges facing another, and on the world. At Facebook, we call that the power of friends.”

The power of friends? Sounds a bit cheesy. Is this initiative really an act of goodwill or simply a smart PR move?

Frankly, to me it doesn’t really matter. The important point is that Facebook is using its massive network to accomplish good, and hopefully its millions of users will take action.

We all have some level of online influence. If you’re a business owner, you certainly have some clout online that you can leverage to accomplish good. Align yourself with worthwhile causes and take action to support them. Your efforts can be as small as raising awareness via your already-established social media channels. Being a good corporate citizen is important, and your customers and potential customers will appreciate your efforts and take action themselves. After all, peer pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

By the way, if you want to join me in sharing your organ donor status on Facebook, click here for instructions.