Finding parallels

13 Sep

Social Media Today

We’ve watched the youth of the world embrace Facebook to share pictures with friends.  We’ve seen celebrities tweet everything from

LIVESTRONG's Facebook Fan Page

which football team they’re rooting for to who they’re wearing on the red carpet.  Another big platform for social media?  Non-profit organizations.  Charities have caught on, and many are now using networking sites to market their causes.  I’d argue that large organizations have a bit of an advantage, since people can easily search Facebook or Twitter for the big players, like Habitat for Humanity or LIVESTRONG, without much effort.  It’s the smaller charities that may have a difficult time integrating social media into their marketing strategies.

Here’s my mission

This past summer I volunteered at a school for migrant worker’s children in Shanghai, China.  I went every week and spoke English with the kids, sang classic American sing-alongs like “If you’re happy and you know it,” and taught the alphabet.  The kids were so eager to learn English and the gratefulness they displayed every time we visited was something I’ll cherish forever.

Here's the classroom I volunteered in

The conditions at this one-room school house were horrendous.  There’s no air conditioning and the kids sit all day in small, cracked wooden desks and chairs.  There were about 30 kids between the ages of four and seven, and one teacher.

Spending time in this classroom was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, and these children deserve better conditions for learning.  The surrounding area is completely devastated and they’re locked in a hot, crowded room all day.  One small playground outside, that they could enjoy each day and let out some energy before going back to the classroom would go so far.  I want to raise money over the next semester, and send it to Shanghai, knowing exactly who it’s going to, and just how much it will be appreciated.

I plan on raising money using social media networks, just as other nonprofit groups are doing.  I’ll blog about this concept regularly, while testing out various methods and ideas to raise money for my project in Shanghai.  Finding parallels between how charities are using current social media, and how I can use them for my smaller project will

This is the area surrounding the school in Shanghai

demonstrate an active attempt at understanding today’s social media tactics and why they are so powerful, even for smaller non-profit groups.

Raising The Money

I’ve never individually taken on a project like this, so it will be interesting to see which fundraisers work.  It will also be challenging, especially since my target group will be college students who, let’s face it, are completely broke and when they do come into any type of cash, it’s probably going straight to the liquor store, far away from any type of non-profit organization.  Social media isn’t going to raise money on it’s own, but it will help alert an audience about the events and activities that will raise money, and it’s going to do it in a way that’s fun and interactive for network users.  I’m open to any fundraising ideas, so if you have any please leave a comment below!

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2 Responses to “Finding parallels”

  1. fundtimes September 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    Hi Bridget,

    I want to congratulate you on taking such an important step to bring resources to those who need it the most! I agree that social media will not, in and of itself, raise a significant amount of money for your cause. But it will help to raise awareness of events (like happy hours or house parties) where you can raise the funds.

    A word of caution though. If you’re looking to raise money from college students, I wouldn’t assume that they’re broke and would only use their money to buy liquor. I think young people are often dismissed for their fundraising ability and to the disservice of the nonprofit sector. All money is good money, no matter the source. Perhaps, by engaging younger people in your cause, you can show them the power of philanthropy and help to build the “next generation” of donors :=)

    Best of luck to you Bridget!

    Tamar
    http://fundtimes.wordpress.com

  2. bridgetshannon September 14, 2010 at 4:45 pm #

    Hi Tamar,

    Thank you for your comment! I appreciate the advice, and I hope I’ll be able to reach out to the students that are willing to recognize this important philanthropy. I’ll definitely be checking your blog regularly for some fundraising ideas, it looks great so far!

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