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.

Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions – Part Three: Using Social Media to Help Others

*Note* This entry is part three of my blog posts in the 2010 series, Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions, as explained in this post.

So you’ve made a resolution this year to help others – good for you! You’re not alone, either. E-Philanthropy is on the rise (it grew 4% in 2008 and is growing each year) and it’s no surprise why – social media provides nonprofits, charities and other organizations or causes the ability to tap into a large, focused and connected network. Whether it’s donating your money or your time, social media can help you connect with the charities and causes you’re looking for.

 

Some tools you may find useful:

Good search: If you’re anything like me, you use Google (or Bing if that’s your fancy) on a daily, nearly hourly, basis. Wouldn’t it be great if searching online actually helped someone out? It can – check out GoodSearch.com. A do-gooder friend of mine showed me this site in college, and I’m glad to see it’s still up and running. It’s easy too – you choose a charity you support, search the web as usual, and they donate to your cause each time you search. You can add a Good Search toolbar to your browser to make searching (and donating) even easier.

Facebook Causes: Facebook describes its Causes Application as such: “Causes provides the tools so that any Facebook user can leverage their network of real friends to effect positive change.” Causes is a Facebook app that allows nonprofits (any U.S. registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit or Canadian registered charity) to raise money and alert Facebook users about the issues facing their organization today. If you’re looking to use social media to directly learn about a cause, hear what your networks or saying and/or donate directly, I suggest you browse the causes available.

If you’re sick of Facebook, there are other social networking sites that you can use to show your support and talk with others about a cause. Check out Care2 and Change.org to learn about issues and raise money for the charity of your choice.

YouTube: YouTube is so much more than laughing babies and drugged children coming home from the dentist. [Check out my post entitled YouTube…Why You Should Take It Seriously for some proof] If you’re a visual learner, why not use YouTube to get involved with a charity?  If there’s a charity you’re particularly interested in, you can search YouTube to see what they say about themselves. You may learn something you didn’t know about them or find out about a new campaign. Or, check out the full listing of Nonprofits on YouTube and see which ones interest you. Some YouTube channels even let you donate to them right on their YouTube page via Google Checkout (see the pages of Autism Speaks and the ONE Campaign for examples).

Get Involved! There are some great sites that can let you know where help is needed and how you can help. Check out DoSomething.org and VolunteerMatch for an ever-growing list of local volunteer opportunities. Idealist.org also has a listing of volunteer openings, in addition to its record of paying jobs at non-profits.

Beware:

Because of the lowered transparency level that comes with social media, you’ve got to be careful about donating your money – you don’t want to be scammed. Never ever give your credit card information (or any other private info) to an organization or a cause you’ve never heard of – and always be wary of providing personal information you wouldn’t need to give out in real life (e.g. social security number, etc.). [Sidebar: Check out this post I wrote about a common Money Order scam on Craigslist] If something feels wrong, it probably is – trust your gut. The San Francisco Chronicle just did a nice piece on what to look out for when donating to Haiti relief funds, but the tips apply to all charities.

Speaking of Haiti relief funds, the use of social media for the recent Haitian hurricane relief is a great case in point. Stay tuned for a post about that!