beautiful bytes – Tech news, take-overs, free agents and little monsters
365 days of Living Philanthropic
We spend a lot of time talking about the potential for charities to use social media to engage with their audiences and nurture giving, about online donations and social widgets to enhance grass roots fundraising and, this week, we have come across an impressive example of how social media has enabled ‘free agent’ fundraising (a term coined by Beth Kanter).
Carlo Garcia, a Chicago born, open-handed humanitarian, decided that he would give to a different charity every day for a year, and write about it in a daily blog post describing each charity and why they needed help. He named the project Living Philanthropic, making giving part of his day to day life. The donation amount was never fixed and varied from day to day, but it was never less than $10. He recently successfully completed the inspirational project with an amazing back catalogue of success stories, an admiring supporter base and a thirst to do more good work (he has since launched Living Philanthropic Year 2).
The project was, Carlo said, always more about how much he could encourage other people to get involved than it was about the money he personally raised and his blog, “An ordinary guy’s guide to giving back every day”, illustrates the amount of support he has through the comments and press page, with an impressive array of blog posts, video’s and online articles from Living Philanthropic’s many advocates.
Another project, 365 Days of Giving has achieved similar success in the micro- volunteering realm. Not only has Chandni Patel done some form of micro-volunteering everyday for the past 122 days, she has also encouraged other people to get involved in the projects that she completes mini-jobs for. Whether this is writing a letter for Amnesty International, or adopting some of the tasks put forward on various micro-volunteering websites, she acts as a self-motivated cheerleader for doing a bit of good.
Projects like Living Philanthropic and 365 Days of Giving could never have gained such a level of community involvement and support before social media enabled people to share their stories so widely online (incidentally, I discovered Carlo, @deusexrockina, through Twitter). Carlo donated $4,335.81 this year, but people who followed his story, took an interest in his blog and Twitter feed or admired his mission raised a striking ‘top up’ figure of $15,571. This doesn’t even take into account those who may have donated directly to the charity he tweeted about, or the exposure that this gave the (often very small) organisations.
These ‘free agents’ have been able to take their efforts of inspiration so much further through various uses of social networking platforms. Completely self-generated, without relying on press coverage that could alter or censor their humanitarian voice – a genuinely personal soapbox for good.
Should Google buy LinkedIn?
It’s no secret that Google is striving to become more into social, with the addition of Google +1 and social gaming, and this week, Business Insider reporter Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry explained why it would greatly benefit Google to acquire the professionals social network, LinkedIn. According to Pascal-Emmanuel,
“Google absolutely needs to win in social because social is driving an ever increasing share of online traffic, and traffic is power and money.”
Although it would make sense for the world’s most visited website to acquire Twitter, the hugely popular and still growing social network, the article outlines that outsider LinkedIn has something that no other site but Facebook has; real identities.
The focus on real identities is one of the biggest factors in Facebook’s success … Real identities are why people go on Facebook all the time. It makes the site feel more trustworthy. It makes sure people have their real friends on there with real photos. Being an online identity repository and system is a huge competitive advantage for Facebook …
LinkedIn would provide Google with an instant database of over 100 million profiles and identities which could feed into Google Profiles, the unfrequented social effort of the internet powerhouse.
So far, we’ve yet to see LinkedIn benefit charities greatly in terms of donations or awareness. Google’s undoubtedly massive influence and push for a bigger social footprints could spell changes to the site, thrusting this professional, social network into the mainstream, making it a place where people spend real time talking, engaging and searching. Although this is only speculative at the moment, the implications that it would have are very much worth keeping an eye on for the sector, given that social networks can be such valuable media for non-profits.
Twitter buys TweetDeck
We’ve talked a lot about Twitter and its endeavour for a more commercial operation over the past few posts. This week, as we forecasted in April, Twitter has bought TweetDeck for a reported $40million, $10million less than anticipated. TweetDeck is one of the most powerful Twitter clients and a lot of influential Tweeters use it. Twitter was keen to keep these ‘mega tweeters’ on an official application to strengthen its bartering clout when doing business with potential advertisers.
We keep wondering how a more commercial Twitter will operate, will it affect the social network’s inherent simplicity – that made it popular – or strengthen usability for organisations and advertisers? Got a view on this? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
eBay buys Mission Fish
eBay is taking steps to becoming a more multi-channelled business and has been busy since acquiring location-based media company Where.com last month. In an effort to diversify the popular auction site, it has now taken on Mission Fish, the innovative technology and team that power the eBay Giving Works programme.
eBay Giving Works is a way to give part or all of your eBay income to charity at the check-out point and has so far raised almost $250 million for U.S. and UK nonprofits. Following the acquisition, eBay will begin the process of creating a separate non-profit organization that will eventually be directly responsible for the collection and distribution of funds. This move is a strong endorsement by eBay of Mission Fish, and of the idea that, according to Sean Milliken, Mission Fish Founder, “a global company can deliver a dramatic social impact through their products and properties.”
A love game for Little Monsters and Robin Hood
Philanthropist is, I’m guessing, not the first word that springs to mind when someone mentions the meat clad, post-Madonna queen of pop, Lady Gaga (for ardent music fans I wouldn’t like to speculate as to what is), but she has turned out to be quite the activist, fundraiser and general humanitarian. From donating concert proceedings to Haiti to being involved in fundraising efforts for numerous charities and campaigning for LGBT rights, the outlandish diva has proved to be a generous contributor with her money, time and contacts.
And now she has partnered with the Robin Hood Foundation to launch two Facebook contests in support of the New York-based, homeless charity. One contest is designed to increase Robin Hood‘s Likes on Facebook while the other asks Facebook fans to help decide how Gaga should divide a $1 million donation to the charity.
Lady Gaga is due to hold a charity concert for the foundation and, every weekday, the Robin Hood will give away a pair of tickets. Fans are entered into the lottery by liking the Facebook page and inviting friends to join.
This brings us back to the volume vs. value debate. Whilst access to her record breaking 32 million Facebook fans is by no means an insignificant opportunity, we can’t help but wonder whether Gaga’s fan base will be likely to go on to have meaningful engagement with the charity and to become supporters of the Robin Hood Foundation. After they Like the page and win their tickets, what is the next interaction they’ll have with the charity? Although, perhaps on a scale as huge as this, there is so much potential that their next move could open up the doors to a new type of advocate?
The second contest, hosted on Gaga’s Facebook page, will feature five different charities tackling local issues around poverty and homelessness. Fans (affectionately branded Little Monsters by the atypical megastar) will vote for which charity most deserves $1million of Gaga’s money. The results will be ranked; the charity with the most votes will receive $500,000, second place will receive $250,000 and so on.
This crowdsourced manner for Gaga’s fans to tell her where she should donate follows a strong trend in charity supporter engagement and discussion made possible through online social tools – the closest thing offline might be choosing which section to put your green plastic coin in, in the Waitrose charity boxes?
For fans of fairy-tail endings or amazing Twitter statistics (or both!) it seems that on Friday, the hash tag “Royal Wedding” was generating around 6,369 tweets per minute. Justin Beiber fans must be devastated.