Using Social Media to Be Charitable in 2010: A Case Study

Case In Point: Haiti Hurricane Relief

To better illustrate how you can use social media for your charitable goals, I thought it’d be a good idea to highlight social media and its involvement with the recent hurricane relief in Haiti. The situation is a perfect example of how social media is connecting people to a cause they’re interested in. Here’s how:

Twitter: The number of organizations using Twitter to spread the word of relief efforts is too high to count. A good example – the Red Cross.  According to Nielsen, the Twitter account for the Red Cross has gained more than 10,000 followers since the earthquake (as compared to its usual growth of 50 to 100 per day). The Red Cross continues to tweet about how people can help out. Its biggest campaign, a texting fundraiser (a user texts HAITI to 90999 and a $10 charge as a donation is added to your phone bill), has been highly successful. Within a week of initiating the campaign, more than $8 million was raised for relief efforts via this texting campaign.

President Barack Obama is even using Twitter to help raise awareness. In his supposedly first tweet ever, President Obama sent a message from the Red Cross’s disaster operation center. (Note: I’ve gotta give the Red Cross more kudos – they also have a blog, an online newsroom, and in addition to using Twitter are involved on Facebook, Flickr and YouTube)

Musician Wyclef Jean (born in Haiti), among other celebrities, is also using texting and Twitter to raise money. Right after news of the earthquake hit, Wyclef tweeted to his nearly 1.4 million followers: “Please text ‘Yéle’ to 501501 to donate $5 to Yéle Haiti. Your money will help with relief efforts. They need our help.” This message was retweeted in the days following (and is still being retweeted!), along with a Twitter video he posted about relief efforts. “Yele” was even on the top of Twitter’s Trending Topics list at one point.

Facebook: The Red Cross is not alone in its Facebook efforts. The Causes application has helped users donate funds to the relief effort. According to CNET, Joe Green, founder of Facebook Causes, posted a video of the destruction in Haiti. The Causes page also provides links to donate as well as a ranking of the members who have shared the video the most. The Oxfam American group is raising awareness about relief efforts and helping people donate. They had had 117,000 fans at the start of the week of the 18th and as of that date the group’s Cause application had raised more than $110,000 for the Haitian quake relief.

Craigslist: The site posted a list of relief organizations, mentioning (in addition to Oxfam and Red Cross) Doctors Without Borders and CARE.

Donate photo courtesy Flickr user Mindful One. Some rights reserved.

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