Today, thanks to the power of Ustream, I watched a live stream from a media140 event for charities that’s happening in London, and all from the comfort of my living room. The panel were discussing the use of social media in fundraising and whether sites such as Facebook and Twitter could be used successfully as a fundraising tool.
As someone working for a small charity that is starting to use social media this discussion held particular interest for me, afterall the first question my boss asked when I talked about social media was
Will it bring in funds? The answer to his question, I guess, is yes…….and no.
The panel talked about the recent earthquake in Haiti and the impact web 2.0 had on raising funds to help the people of Haiti, it was huge! People all over the world jumped to action and spread the word among their followers and friends. So this is the yes part of the answer to the question, yes, social media can be used as a direct means to raise funds and is particularly effective if you are fundraising for a specific cause.
You might have noticed that last bit! That’s the catch – “specific cause” – it is far easier to raise money for an emergency than it is to raise money to support your ongoing projects. There are some charities, of course, that do directly raise funds using social media but what if your work, as essential as it may be, is just not…..sexy enough, or cuddly enough? That’s the no bit – you can’t just stick a Donate button on your Facebook page and sit back and wait for the pennies to roll in.
Don’t lose hope though! The best bit about social media is that it’s social, and that behind that Twitter @ is a human being, and we humans do like to share. We like to let our friends know what we’re up to, whether it be buying our groceries or taking part in a sponsored abseil for our favourite charity. As that lucky charity we need to make it easy for our supporters to share all this info with their friends because you never know, maybe those friends would also think that what we do is worthwhile and worth supporting and they might want to share it with their friends!
So to sum up – today I learned that we need to make it easy to share. Now I need to go and get those and buttons up and running!