Just like you, I’ve Facebooked something I was about to eat and tweeted about my commute to work. But the social networking world isn’t just about me. Facebook and Twitter can be used to make the world a better place. Your social networks, when viewed through the most optimistic of light, can further important causes, such as evangelizing for human rights and raising awareness for a rare disease.
Yes, you can set your status to announce to the world your support for the causes you care about. However, there are other ways to boost donations and volunteer efforts. Here are seven great options.
Follow the charities you care about.
Personally, raising awareness for lupus is incredibly important to me, so I like the Lupus Foundation of Americaon Facebook. The foundation supplies regular updates in my News Feed, including petitions that need signing and resharing. On Twitter, I follow the same group at @LupusOrg, for similar reasons. Chances are, if a cause is supported by an established nonprofit, it will have a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a page on several other social media outlets, such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Google , Instagram and YouTube. Organizations engage their social media followers in a variety of ways. For instance, on UNICEF’s Facebook page, you can earn points for promoting the organization’s causes to your friends. The more points you accumulate, the more prizes you can earn. And some groups, like GLAAD, allow you to donate to the cause right from Facebook. The first step in using social media to give back should be reaching out to learn more.
Organize or participate in a Twestival.
A Twitter-Festival, also known as a Twestival, is a global organization that encourages local people to host and organize tweet-ups in support of local causes. The idea first launched in 2009, and was held annually in multiple cities. Now, you can hold a Twestival any day you like in any city in which you care to make a difference. Since its launch, the group has raised nearly $2 million for more than 275 causes, such as education and clean water. Because these events are coordinated by volunteers, 100 percent of the funds raised through ticket sales and donations go directly to the specified cause. The central Twestival headquarters can help you get started by registeringfor an event or volunteeringfor one. After you do that, you should tweet about your cause and the event in order to raise sponsors, donations and more volunteers.
Film a Vine about your cause.
Kids Company, a British charity that supports children in need, recently jumped into the spotlight by using video social network Vine to raise awareness for its cause and promote a phone number that allows people to text in donations. The series of three videos portrays children in seriously twisted situations — for instance, chugging a bottle of vodka, restlessly sleeping on the street and eating from the garbage. These scenes are immediately followed by the message “Make it Stop,” with a phone number to text a donation. Kids Company followed this series with another that showed how these same kids are now doing much better. The message: “Don’t Let it Stop.”
It’s too early to determine the full impact of this campaign, but it demonstrates the wonderful potential of this budding video-based social network.
More: How to Use Vine
Swear like a sailor.
Do you remember that piggy bank that your dad had to fill up every time he was caught saying the “F” word? The Charity Swear Boxsocial media tool works just the same way, only you get caught swearing on Twitter. To sign up, you simply give the site your Twitter handle. The service then scans all your past tweets for any one of the nearly 300 bad words in its database, and then it spits out a dollar amount you should donate to the charity of your choosing. Charity Swear Box estimates donations at a dollar per dirty word, but you can alter that as you see fit. You can also set it up so the service will suggest a donation on a monthly basis, depending on how foul a mouth you have. So far, the group has caught $62,218 worth of curses. Even though the company doesn’t force you to donate by taking your credit-card information, it is kind enough to suggest some charitable groups that need your money. Those include UNICEF, Men Can Stop Rape and F#@% Cancer!
Give to the human fund via Facebook gifts.
Facebook’s giftsallow you to buy people real things (e.g., a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine or a coffee mug) and have them delivered for their birthday or your anniversary. But for this year’s Father’s Day (or any holiday), you can make a donation to a charity in his name instead. For $25, you can donate through Facebook to several worthy causes, including the American Red Cross, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. A message will be sent to Dear Old Dad, letting him know that your hard-earned cash went to a great cause instead of toward buying him another tie he’ll never wear.
Help during a disaster.
Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Facebook started a page dedicated to maintaining disaster reliefacross the globe. As other disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, occur, this page goes into action, delivering news to your feed of how you can help. This could be your one-stop shop for news, rather than needing to follow dozens of other charities, government groups and industries. Facebook is continuing to recruit new groups to take part in this page when tragedy strikes.
Like Facebook causes.
Going one step further than simply following a charity, the Causes Facebookapp was built with the idea of charity and social networking in mind. When you sign up through your Facebook account, you can add the causes you care about directly to your Timeline. The app organizes causes by type, including animals, criminal justice, education, gay rights, politics, etc. Once you’ve set up your profile, you can also see what causes your friends support.
Petitions on Causes not only raise awareness, but also help charities raise money and find new supporters. According to Facebook, 30 percent of people who visit Causes pages take action, and 20 percent share those actions with their friends. So far, more than 170 million people have acted upon 500,000 campaigns. Those are some pretty impressive numbers. On my Causes page, you’ll find that I’ve supported “Find a Cure for Lupus,” “Society Against Child Abuse” and “Raise Oklahoma Teachers’ Pay.” What will you support?