Facebook’s Eric Porterfield on Social Good

April 1, 2019

Name: Eric Porterfield

Current Status: Social Good Communications Lead, Facebook

Location: San Francisco

Any three dinner guests: My grandparents because I miss them, former President Barack Obama because I admire him and Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because her words challenge the way I think

Best place to travel: Anywhere with good friends and food, and a beautiful beach helps

Favorite downtime activity: Hiking with my dog in Marin or relaxing with friends in Napa

Best career advice you’ve ever received: “Focus on the work, do the best job possible and share the results.” 


What does your job entail as social good communications lead?

I have one of the best jobs at Facebook because I get to raise awareness of the tools we build to help people come together, connect and do something impactful. This includes the areas of crisis response, fundraising, health, civic engagement and mentorship. In this role, I get to develop and implement communications strategies that can include product announcements, events and speaking opportunities.


Talk about your past work experience and some of your career highlights.

I’ve been in TV news and communications most of my career. I started at “Good Morning America,” which really taught me the power of effective storytelling. I wanted to make more of a direct impact, so I joined the American Red Cross to help showcase the resiliency of communities during times of humanitarian crises and natural disasters around the world. That took me to the United Nations Foundation to help raise awareness of international development issues through campaigns and influencers. I’ve also done stints at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Geneva and Kuala Lumpur and the World Health Organization.


How did your previous work with the United Nations and the Red Cross prepare you for your current role at Facebook?

Both of those jobs gave me real-world experience that I can apply to my role at Facebook. Because of my role at the Red Cross, I understand what communities go through during times of disaster and know the importance of preparedness.

While at the UN Foundation, I worked on campaigns and initiatives that drove impact on health and development issues, such as vaccine-preventable diseases, maternal health, girls’ education and malaria prevention. This experience taught me the value of partnership and shared responsibility.


Why is CSR important to Facebook?

We don’t have a traditional CSR department, but we have an integrated team that builds tools to make it easier for our community to do the impactful things they’re already doing on our platform, such as fundraising for a nonprofit or friend in need, helping strangers get help during a crisis, becoming a mentor and signing up to donate blood.

And because Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, this approach and focus on impact goes far beyond just our social good work and applies to almost every other team across the Facebook family.
Why is it important for organizations like Facebook to help out and give back to their communities?

Every day, our community comes together on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to make an impact and help one another, and we want to make it easier for everyone to give back and amplify the good on our platforms.

We share a lot of information on our Sustainability and Social Good websites, at events and in our Newsroom.


What are some specific ways that Facebook helps people around the world connect and share what matters most to them (like Safety Check)?

We’re always looking to amplify the ways people are using Facebook to make it even easier for them to get help and support. When there’s a tragedy in the world, we see people immediately turn to Facebook to help by raising funds for a cause they care about or supporting a neighbor in need.

After being diagnosed with cancer or a rare disease, people find support from within Facebook Groups. When there’s an urgent need for blood, organizations can notify nearby donors to help.


What advice would you share with someone looking to work in communications or the tech sector?

Get to know the different types of job opportunities in whatever sector you want to work in by networking and attending events. Ask for recommendations of good leaders and managers because you’ll want to work for them.


Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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