Social Media for Social Good

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     At this year’s Winter X Games, veiwers will be able to check-in to their Foursquare accounts and help raise money for breast cancer through the Boarding for Breast Cancer campaign. For each person who checks in from the games, Sports Authority has agreed to donate $1 (up to a total of $1000 per day). The story was on Mashable today.

While this is a new campaign for Sports Authority, Foursquare and the Winter X Games, it isn’t the first campaign of it’s kind. As I mentioned last week, geolocation app CauseWorld is based on a giving model. For each check-in, user earn “karma” points. Users can then use these karma points to support causes of their choice. A comment on the story (above) by Caitlin Fader brought this to the attention of other reading the article. While I am excited that Foursquare is being used to help this great cause, there are many other ways we can support charities and causes via social media.

My SocialVibe widget for charity:water raises money for building deep wells in countries clean, fresh water isn’t easily accesible. SocialVibe also allows users to choose from many other charities/causes to support. I personally chose charity:water because it is one of the causes I actively promote. If you are interested in other causes, such as saving endangered species, there is a cause widget for you too! In a 2009 list of  “10 Ways to Support Charity on Social Media”, widgets were mentioned as number six and the author even provided information on where you can build your own custom widgets (if you’re more tech savvy than I am! lol!).

SixDegrees.org is another useful site for social media do-good-ers. It allows you to buy “good cards” to use for SixDegrees widgets, create your own widgets complete with your own videos, make donations or find ways to volunteer. Kevin Bacon, of Footloose fame, did a Pepsi Refresh Grant video describing SixDegrees.com.

A recent article in Social Media Today,  describes 5 top ways that charities will be involved with social media. No shock to Twitter addicts that Twibbons and Tweet-a-thons made the list. Media attention and buzz surrounding charity and social media must have been at a high point in late 2008 through 2009, as there are several articles available online regarding the subject–like this one in The New York Observer .

In more recent cases, social media has served as a platform for allowing fan groups and other comon interest groups to band together and create their own social good campaigns. Two of my favorite charity groups were recently started based on a multitude of Twitter conversations between fans and the celebrity responsible for the initial funding.

  • Misha Collins (actor on Supernatural) is the leader of a charity called Random Acts, which is the result of fan-support after he jokingly tweeted that his fans should apply for government stmulus funds and then use them for a good cause.  
  • Ian Somerhalder of  The Vampire Diaries,  recently started his own charity foundation, The IS Foundation, primarily because of the immense support of his fans in response to the idea of starting a charity as his Birthday Project.

Another of my favorite charity causes, Charity:Water, allows celebrities to “donate” thier birthdays to the organization. Instead of sending money or gifts to the celebrity, devoted fans donate money to charity:water. The suggested donation amount is the same numbers as the celebrities age. For instance, if it’s your 12th birthday fans should donate $12 (or $1.20 if they’re a broke college student). Two celebrities who have recently donated their birthdays are Allysa Milano & Adam Lambert. Also, Jayden Smith recently gave Ellen a charity:water well for her birthday on the Ellen show.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to use your social media involvement for social good. Will you choose to check-in for charity, add a Twibbon to your profile pic, or add a cause widget to your blog? Either way, there are many cool ways to make a big difference through a small donation and/or time commitment!

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