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How Social Media Makes Giving Easy

If you can’t feed 100 people then just feed one ~ Mother Teresa

I can’t stretch the connection from this post to the tenacity theme, but giving in one form or another has been dominating my recent social media connections and I wanted to share some of the experience here.  Although I do give regularly to several charities I’ve noticed that the experience of giving through or on the back of social  media initiatives is a whole lot more enjoyable and rewarding.

I know the idea of giving isn’t just to get rewards back, but the more rewarding the experience the more likely it is that people will give?

Which got me thinking about some of the things that make social media easy, engaging, and rewarding.

It’s human

Some charities are huge - you can feel lost in the scale of them.  Although there’s some safety in donating to large, well established organisations, my own preference is for smaller charities where you feel your donation is more likely to make a difference.  The scale makes a difference to the experience of giving.

That was one of the things that attracted me to 12 for 12k.

They’re not trying to attract millions to their cause. It’s a social media initiative that aims to attract donations of just $10 a month from 1200 people, to donate $12k a month to 12 different, carefully selected charities.  It’s a human sized project.  I can see how my contribution makes a difference, and I can get to know some of the other people who are involved.

Keeping up with the project on Twitter (or other social media of choice) helps you to feel connected, and contribute further by passing it on.  (Passing it on is after all the thing social media partipants most like to do through blogging, linking, stumbling, tweeting etc.)

It was from Twitter the other day that I heard War Child (12 for 12K’s January charity) were releasing a new fundraising album Heroes this week.  That gave me the chance to give buy something extra for me. I mention this just as an example of the way these strands of conversations, links, clips, donations, and purchases can be blended together, reflecting both the way people want to give and the way they interact online.

It’s Personal

I’m sure the terrible images and stories that emerged from the Victorian bushfires disaster 10 days ago moved people all round the world.  People will have been moved to donate and contribute whatever kind of media they were reading or watching.

But I also think that some kind of connection with a place taps into the response mechanism that says ‘I want to do something about this’.

I wouldn’t know anyone in Australia were it not for connections and friendships I’ve made through blogging, Flickr and Twitter.

Having friends there, however many 100s of miles away from the fires (I hope I’m not alone in having a very hazy knowledge of Australian geography, or any real appreciation of the size of the country) made things seem more personal.

Seeing pictures of a smoke filled sky in your flickr stream means more than seeing them on your TV screen.  It brings it closer to home.

And finding posts and links on things you can do to contribute make it quick and easy to respond.  If you’re already online a donation is only a click away.

NB You can donate through this link to the Red Cross Australian Bush Fires Appeal.

It’s Fun

On 12 February 2009 thousands of Twitter users took part in ‘Twestivals’ in cities all over the world. Over 175 cities took part, including Edinburgh. Although Edinburgh is now just a bit more than a hop, skip and a jump away I knew the EdTwestival was going to be an event not to be missed.

It was a great night: music, drinking, socialising, tweeting, networking, blethering, and raising lots of money for the twestival charity: water. I know there must have been a huge amount of work that went into organising these events by volunteers all round the world, but they made it easy and lots of fun to take part.

Thanks to all the organisers, in particular the organisers of the @edtwestival. I doubt there was a better event anywhere else in the world.

Some of the MacTwitterati at the EdTwestival: me (@joannayoung), @amypalko, @annttkerr and @peoplemapsjulie

How Social Media Makes Giving Easy

Here are some of my own reflections and ideas:

  • Social  media makes quick and easy use of video, photos, audio which helps to connect you with an initiative in lots of different ways.  It helps to connect and engage.
  • Social media users are used to clicking on links from wherever they happen to be - so the invitation to click on and chip in is an easy and painless thing to do
  • There are some aspects of social media that can make you feel weary.  People chasing after sales, and quick wins, and easy money.  The philanthropic dimension helps to counteract that and allows you to focus on the generous, open minded community spirit of so many social media users
  • There are so many charities out there to choose from.   Hearing about a cause from people you know, connect with, learn from, respect and trust makes it easier to find charities that connect and resonate.
  • It provides a good use for Facebook (as a non-fan of Facebook, this is probably the main reason I stick with it).  Join a group or a fan page around your cause and it’s easy for the organisers to e-mail you quickly and let you know how you can contribute or get involved.
  • The social dimension of social media makes it easy for you to connect up with people who support or are involved in similar ventures.
  • We enjoy the feeling of being part of a community.
  • You get a sense of the scale.  Even if you can only give a few £s or $s you can see how it makes a difference when you add up all the £s and $s that the wider network has chipped in.
  • Giving makes us feel good.
  • Reading, talking, tweeting and linking about what you’ve achieved reinforces the feel-good affect.

  • The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Do you have any thoughts on how social media makes giving easy?  Or how people could make it even easier still?

Links and Credits:

12 for 12K

12 for 12K blog and on Twitter - @12for12k and on Facebook - 12 for 12k fans

War Child music on Facebook - includes a play list of some of the songs on the Heroes album

Australian Bush Fires

Compassionate Communities and Victorian Bushfires: How You Can Help by Wonderwebby

Amazing Australians Online: On the Victorian Bushfire Disaster and the Web by Shai Coggins

Red Cross Bushfires Appeal and link to Red Cross Bushfires Appeal for people in the UK

Latest information on the bushfires and response:


About the Twestival, the Edinburgh Twestival and the supported charity: Water

Money Should be Spread as Manure? by Robyn McMaster at Brain Based Biz

Photo Credit: 8 Feb vic bushfires evening sky-1 by wonderwebby

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  1. Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome says:

    This post totally fits with tenacity, because all the successful groups have the tenacity to adapt to the times and are always on the edge of communication media, connecting to and with people who can make a big difference in so many lives.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..Preparing for take off

  2. Monika Mundell says:

    I agree with what Alex said. I believe in giving and it does make us feel great for sure. But the best thing about giving is knowing that I have contributed (regardless how little or how much) to better somebody else’s life. It makes me feel human and re-establishes my core belief that the world is indeed a wonderful and amazing place.

    Monika Mundells last blog post..Born Again Twitter User

  3. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach says:

    Excellent points and post! Knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life (one person, 10 people, a city, a town, a school, a rescue, etc.) really helps you connect with the universe. Thanks for the tremendous gathering of resources!

    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coachs last blog post..Must-have HIGH payout alternative to Google Adsense

  4. Brad Shorr says:

    Hi Joanna, I’ve also noticed a big uptick in charitable activity on social media recently. Interesting how that coincides with the plunge in our economies. This points to the fact that people are good at heart, doesn’t it? When the going gets tough, people give more of themselves and what they have.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..Premio Dardos Awards

  5. Joanna says:

    Alex the tenacity to adapt - that’s good. And very true for the these social media innovators

    Monika those feelings are very powerful aren’t they? And those feelings in turn motivate us to give and do more. Thanks for stopping by - it’s good to catch up with you again

    Barara ah, you’ve hit the nail on the head - the sense of connection, feedback, seeing the difference… it’s connecting with the universe. Glad you liked the post - thanks for noticing the gathering of resources - it did seem to turn into quite an enormous job!

    Brad yes, I think it’s partly as a way of affirming that our values still matter however crunched the economy might be. I’ve also heard (but can’t immediately attribute) that poor people are more likely to give to charities. Although big corporate donations are down just now, individual contributions are not. I have to say I really enjoy the human, personal side to social media giving too. Maybe it’s selfish on my part - but then again it leads to me giving more, so I hold on to the belief it’s a win win

  6. Julie Gibbons says:

    Three things resonate with me from this great post, Joanna.

    The first is that having been at the Edinburgh Twestival (where I had the pleasure of meeting you in person - hurrah!) I was afterwards very aware of the social aspect to the event. There we all were, gathering and networking socially, over a common charitable cause. Yet it was unlike any other event I’ve attended. Different from other ‘charitable’ events I’ve gone to - and very different from other ‘networking’ events. And all the more pleasurable with it.

    I think Twitter as a medium brings together many unlikely fellows, don’t you think? - but many who are driven by the same core values, perhaps? And that might be why the giving aspect works so well, and also why we all enjoyed the event so much?

    The second thing to strike me is that giving small amounts regularly to requests on Twitter (and Facebook etc) is certainly a result of the tools making things easier - but it is very interruptive, wouldn’t you say? Yet I completely don’t mind. Again, I can only think that it’s the common connection with people with the same core values that works.

    The third point - and I’m sorry for this post being so long - is that those global connections we’re all making must be doing the world a lot of good. Global empathy has previously been something only a few people can act upon, even if they naturally experienced it. Social media networks have enabled such a great amount of empathy to be turned into action by a greater amount of people. I have nothing other than my imagination and beliefs to draw upon for this, but I imagine that can only be doing the world and the human race a whole lot of good.

    And I hope we have more time to chat next time we meet …

    Julie Gibbonss last blog post..Alternative to Assessment Centres

  7. David Atkinson says:

    @Barbara Ling, your comment is so spot on. “Knowing that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life (one person, 10 people, a city, a town, a school, a rescue, etc.) really helps you connect with the universe.”

    I could not have said it any better.

    Thanks Joanna for the awesome reminder in giving to others and the big difference that we make when we give. :)

  8. Terry Heath says:

    If social media doesn’t make the world feel smaller, then at least it makes the world feel more intimate. Your post brings up excellent examples of how social media can make a difference. When used by most of us it really isn’t about marketing, it’s about connecting with others even if that isn’t what initially draws many to it.

    There has been more and more interest in websites which bring people together socially offline. One example is, where I belong to a group who attends local wine tastings. I never would have met any of these people otherwise, and it’s always great to make more friends, online and off.

    Terry Heaths last blog post..Stream-of-Consciousness Shamrocks

  9. Joanna says:

    Julie thanks for taking the time to share those reflections. I think you’re right about the sharing of core values. Twitter more than any other makes it easy for us to follow and connect with those whose voices, ideas, words, attitudes and values resonate with us in some way. (Some interesting people mapping there I think!)

    I hope that the actions we’re taking through social media, however small from an individual perspective, are making a difference. It feels like that - both in the impact, and the way we can adjust our thinking, attitudes, approach and understanding. I hope so. And yes, I too hope we get more time to talk next time (this a downside of attending such sociable events!)

    David those words of Barbara’s really resonated with me too. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    Terry that’s interesting. I can see how that could take off in a very powerful way. Certainly the few times when I’ve met people I’d got to know online I’ve enjoyed the events immensely, and been able to dispense with a lot of the small talk which tends to get in the way of the really good conversations. I guess the wine tasting dimension helps to break the ice too ;-)

  10. Danny Brown says:

    There’s something about social media that is bringing out the best in people. Perhaps it’s something as simple as the fact that it is truly social - everyone is involved. Or perhaps it’s something deeper.

    Either way, there is a definite groundswell of hope and aspiration happening every single day on the likes of Twitter. It’s a good time to be a human being.

    Danny Browns last blog post..The Twitter Rulebook

  11. Gabe O'Neill says:

    I just joined Twiiter in late December. I can’t believe the results I am seeing so far. This is a great platform to learn about each other and some great causes, like I really think we are just starting to see the tapping power of Twitter. I can’t wait to see how things unfold from here.

  12. Gennaro says:

    In giving to others, we receive more in return than the initial investment. There are so many worth causes. Social networking makes it much easier to gather the supporters and resources to meet the needs of those causes. 12for12k looks like a worthy organization. We can and should do our part to help others.

    Gennaros last blog post..8 Great Movies For Paris Travelers

  13. Joanna says:

    Danny I think it must be something deeper - perhaps the value base of sharing ideas and resources freely which encourages a generous mindset? Or maybe, for me, it’s more about human than social - you get to see people in a less superficial way than ‘social’ might suggest, and form deepr relationships and connections

    Either way - yes, there is a groundswell, and it’s good to see. Thanks for stopping by Danny

    Gabe I’m glad you’re enjoying Twitter. Like you, I think it has enormous potential. Thanks for your comment

    Gennaro yes, it makes the task of connecting resources, causes and supporters much easier - and provides easy feedback mechanisms too, so we get feedback on the return on investment. I think that helps reinforce the loop.

  14. FREEBIE: DIY Twitter Background Designer | MiscellaneousFinds4u says:

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  15. wilson says:

    I love charity and I would help you to spread the words to public, Joanna!

    wilsons last blog post..Maintain Your Cholesterol in Healthy Level!

  16. Karen Swim says:

    Joanna, your post captures many of my own thoughts about social media and charity. I signed up for 12 for 12k in December for precisely the reasons you mentioned. We cannot be hands on at every charity and it is rewarding to have a deeper connection and sense of involvement. Social media allows us to strengthen that connection. It also allows you to connect with a community of others who share an interest in your cause. Thank you for writing this post Joanna and helping others to see that social media truly is more than blethering on about nothing. ;-)

  17. Joanna says:

    wilson thanks :-)

    Karen indeed - so many wonderful dimensions to social media that go way beyond blethering ;-)