We all know how prevalent and powerful social media can be. So how can we harness it for good?
Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media site, the use of social media has become near ubiquitous. In the U.S., 7 out of 10 people use social media sites for news, entertainment and to communicate with family and friends.1 Given how pervasive social media has become in our lives, how can we harness this connectivity for good? Perhaps put it to work for one’s philanthropy needs.
Once you have gone through the process of identifying the charitable causes you care about, a simple and time efficient way to help support your favorite nonprofits is to help them raise money via social media. The two most common options are promoting causes via existing campaigns or starting your own fundraising campaign for the benefit of a nonprofit.
If you choose to support an existing philanthropic campaign, conduct research on the goals of the campaign and whether or not the organization has pre-existing content you can leverage across your social media accounts. For example, many organizations provide social media toolkits for supporters to leverage during large annual campaigns like #GivingTuesday.
Setting up your own campaign can take a variety of forms. You can arrange social events such as a happy hour where a portion of the profits are donated or host a party where guests bring items like canned goods or clothes for collection and donation. You can also leverage times of the year like holidays as a way to raise money. For example, one year I leveraged Facebook’s donate your birthday feature to raise money for cancer research. It’s as easy as selecting a nonprofit to support, setting a fundraising goal, and then promoting your fundraiser to friends as they wish you a happy birthday. It’s so simple and effective that Facebook’s donate your birthday tool raised $300 million for charities during its first year after launch.
Another way to support your favorite causes is by following, promoting, and posting about their work via social media. While this may sound relatively straightforward, it’s important to be mindful of a few do’s and don’ts when using your social media accounts to post about philanthropic causes you are passionate about. A few specific examples are below:
DO: Follow your favorite charitable organizations, like their content, and share posts relating to events or projects sponsored by those organizations so that your friends can learn more and become involved.
DON’T: Post publically that you are on a mission trip abroad by yourself, thereby opening yourself up to potential con artists, scammers, and other potentially dangerous individuals.
DO: Promote causes, organizations, and events that you are interested in and support so your followers can learn more about your philanthropic endeavors on a more regular basis and in a more casual space.
DON’T: Dilute messaging about your philanthropic work by posting trivial tweets on charitable topics or retweet something from an organization you don’t know anything about; be focused and deliberate.
DO: Post photos related to your charitable work so people can see the fruits of your labor (e.g. before and after photos of a construction or rehabilitation project).
DON’T: Post photos that would present your work in a negative light (e.g. picture of you with your hand bandaged after accidentally hammering it at a work site).
Whether raising money or awareness, social media can be a seamless yet powerful way to share your philanthropic passions with family, friends, and the rest of your networks while doing a little good.