Social media is all about engaging people and facilitating conversation.
The global nature of that communication is a very powerful platform for generating awareness and spreading the word about causes and issues.
Charities can really benefit from an active social media presence. Social networks are a boon for fundraising, as evidenced by several recent campaigns:
- Using the #BeatCancer meme, a combined Twitter/Facebook effort helped raise $70,000 for cancer organizations.
- FarmVille, the popular Facebook game (over 56 million members play each month), sold a virtual crop of sweet potato seeds and raised almost $500k for feeding poor children in Haiti.
- TwitCause, service built on top of Twitter, used tweets to promote a diabetes research walk and to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And Haagen-Dazs has pledged a $1 donation for each #HelpHoneyBees tweet from November 5-11 to raise awareness about the worldwide collapse of honeybee colonies.
- SocialVibe, which develops charity-focused sites and social media applications, has launched a Halloween trick-or-treat program called Click 4 Good geared toward Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace users.
- Room to Read partnered with Twitter to raise money for African and Asian schools and libraries by selling custom wines from Crushpad.
- Facebook has enabled its members to buy virtual gifts to benefit various nonprofit groups.
Even during this recession, when overall donations to charitable groups are down, social networking campaigns have helped replenish nonprofit coffers.
Methods for leveraging social media are still evolving — nonprofits need to tread lightly in order not to “over message”. But its advantages for getting the word out about good causes means that more charities should, and undoubtedly will, jump in and embrace the medium for doing good works.
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