This Monday, 83 year-old Pope Benedict gave his blessing to social networking. However, he also said that online social networks should not be replacements for interaction with real human beings. Currently, the pope does not have his own Facebook account… Yet. If somehow you have been living under a rock, you might take note that the world is changing, along with the internet, and even the Pope, as old as he may be, realizes the potential value that the internet can play. As a benefit auctioneer, who works with many charity and fundraisers each year, I cannot begin to tell you the power that the internet can bring to your non profit organization. I encourage you, as Pope Benedict has, to see the value in social networking. Have accounts on all of the top 5 social networking sites — Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and Bebo. I would also strongly encourage you to have a You Tube account with videos sharing your organization’s story that explains who you are and what you’re doing. Have a volunteer or staff member in charge of continuously updating these sites with fresh material. I would also give warning, as Pope Benedict did, to exercise caution while using these sites. They can drain away lots of time from your day. Stay focused on the purpose of having accounts on these sites and don’t get dragged into the daily gossip on other friends’ pages. Your charity auction can experience many rewards from these social sites.