Using social media to do good


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I came across a small, but interesting online effort to raise donations for an organization that works to improve child literacy in Laos. Called Library for Laos, the effort aims to raise $5,000 by May 1– just five days after it started. The money raised is intended to go to Big Brother Mouse, a neat, Laos-based project that publishes, teaches and distributes books to children in a country they say desperately needs it.

It's a nice concept for a good cause, but what sticks out to me are the coordinators' clear attempts to use social media to spread the word about their effort. On their website, they bank on the ease of PayPal for donating money and the viral nature of social media: "How many people follow you on Twitter? How many friends do you have on Facebook? Let's see how valuable they are!" It's early to tell if they're succeeding. After the first day, they had apparently raised $500 dollars.

Either way, the endeavor highlights how social sites like Facebook, which permeates everyday life for many of us, can serve the world's poor. For example, you have the option to join various "causes" on Facebook. And on Twitter, information can spread like wildfire through retweets (rebroadcasting content to your own set of followers). What do you think? Would you ask your online friends and/or followers to donate money to a good cause?

(Found via: Escape the Cube). Image credit: rustystewart at Flickr under a Creative Commons license.


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April 29, 2009

James, thanks for sharing this.

The fact of the matter is, not all organizations have the same luck as the one referenced above. In fact, I heard of some folks referencing the information overload they face when on facebook, for example, and their friends inundate them in a request to raise funds or become "fans". Im sure there's an element of "online donor fatigue" associated with this as well.

There are tens of thousands of NGOs all over the world, and many do not experience the same success as you mention. I would only ask friends to help in fundraising if I truly believed in the cause and the niche which it operates in. There's just too much redundancy in the NGO sector. But the spotlight you shine on new technologies as tools for efficient fundraising is praise-worthy. So many have benefited from it; I hope many more can as well.