By: Camille McClane
Social media is taking over the world. There’s no denying that it holds an enormous place in our consciousness as a global community. According to a report published by Experian Marketing Services in 2013, approximately 27 percent of online time is spent on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Millions of people visit these sites every day and spend thousands of hours each week tweeting, posting and viewing.
With what is essentially a worldwide audience, the internet—and these sites—are big business. Advertising revenues can be enormous, as evidenced by the pervasive presence of pop-ups, banner bars and commercials that appear whenever you log on to Facebook, or watch a video on YouTube.
That’s all well and good, but what if you’re more interested in raising money for charity than making money for stockholders? Is social media a viable platform for fundraising? The answer is a resounding YES! Non-profit organizations large and small from all around the world are successfully using these sites to raise money and awareness for thousands of causes. They are using social media for social good.
According to BlueHost*, some media campaigns that went viral and were enormously successful included:
Random Acts is an organization that encourages, funds and coordinates random acts of kindness.
Because of their vast reach through social media, including a Twitter following of over 23,000 and a Facebook page with 19k supporters, Random Acts is able to connect with people all over the world who are interested in helping others, whether it be a donation to a relief fund, or simply brightening someone’s day. They often post opportunities to lend a hand, as well as get in touch with those who are already doing so.
After the earthquake that occurred in Haiti in 2010, Random Acts has been reported to have raised $200,000 for the Hope 2 Haiti campaign, but all supporter contributions help to fund every activity.
Malaria No More’s aim is to end all malaria-related deaths in Africa by 2015. Their cause was bolstered when they teamed up with popular site CollegeHumor.
On World Malaria Day in 2009, Malaria No More’s campaign hit Twitter, which would run for exactly 365 days, with the most retweeted message on the last World Malaria Day,“Every 30 seconds a child dies from Malaria. Nets save lives. Support World Malaria Day = www.MalariaNoMore.org.”
Ashton Kutcher himself even backed their Twitter campaign, pledging to donate 10,000 malaria nets for Malaria No More if he was able to reach 1 million followers. Not only was he successful in reaching his goal (and beating CNN to the punch), a total of 89,742 nets were ultimately distributed.
Focused on preventing LGBT youth suicide.
Dan Savage, a columnist and the co-founder of It Gets Better Project, first started the project with his partner, Terry Miller, in 2010. In response to an increase in suicides among gay teenagers dealing with bullies in school, he uploaded a video on YouTube to tell young individuals who are facing harassment in their lives that it gets “easier and happier.” Within 2 years of the submission of his video, 50,000 more have been uploaded by users. President Obama himself even contributed a video.
*See the full infographic, with additional statistics on BlueHost.
Thanks to Scott Zumwalt, the project manager of the campaign, one inspirational video turned one story into a worldwide movement that produced more than 5,000 user-created videos and over 15 million views. This project was initially started to show young LGBT people that happiness, potential and positivity in their lives is definitely reachable. And, because of the major success of this project, many lives have been changed for the better.
On a larger scale, organizations such as the American Red Cross, The United Way and even the United Nations have launched social media campaigns to reach out to donors and volunteers around the world.
How can your organization use social media for social good?
First and foremost, have a strong understanding of what social networking is. Encourage your staff to join and familiarize themselves with those that you intend to use it. If someone in your organization has spent a lot of time on them, discuss their perception of the advantages and disadvantages.
For example, social media can be a great way to:
Promote events. Create a video people will share, give away tickets, socialize your Google ads, interview speakers for special content, create a tweet for your attendees and/or make an event on Facebook.
Build awareness. Share news and information on a new product, sale or special deal, an event and any big changes. You can also encourage socialization for feedback from your followers/supporters and share information with them that you think they should know, such as reports and results.
Thank sponsors and donors. People love to be recognized! Acknowledge and reward your sponsors and donors (if your budget allows). Letting them know you care about their contributions will likely encourage them to continue supporting your cause.
Remember, when all is said and done, all these sites really do is give your organization an opportunity to reach out to the people who will most appreciate what you’re trying to accomplish. So be communicative. Interact regularly, providing updates, asking for input, reminding folks to donate.
Build relationships, tell stories and listen to what your audience has to tell you.
Social media has tremendous potential to go beyond the limits of celebrity gossip and cat videos and make a real impact in the well-being of the planet and the people on it. It is up to the passionate changemakers involved with non-profit organizations to take advantage of that potential and turn it into the agent of change that it can truly be.
Have you used social media as a way to support a worthy cause? Share your comments below!
Meet Guest: Camille McClane
Camille McClane is an aspiring writer and online entrepreneur living in Southern California. In collaboration with HostPapa, she has the opportunity to share her knowledge of all things social media, SEO and online marketing.
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