Charity Twitter Landmarks
As Twitter stumbles around blindfolded, dizzy and with a paper donkeys tail grasped firmly in its clutches (or that’s how we imagine they might be celebrating!), we are marking this game-changing micro-blogging service’s fifth birthday by highlighting significant charity landmarks that have transpired in 140 characters.
1. Dogs Trust re-homing a dog via Twitter
Dogs Trust was famously one of the first national charities to really invest time in, and begin to benefit from, Twitter. Joining in 2008, back when Twitter asked ‘What are you doing?’ and the famous fail whale was more of a constant than an occasional annoyance, they profited from being both innovative and incredibly simple in their approach.
“We hoped that [re-homing a dog through Twitter] would happen, but didn’t expect it to so quickly. I tweeted about the dog, linking to a picture of him, and someone who had never engaged with the charity before got in touch.” Alex Goldstein, Dogs Trust web editor.
Dogs Trust went on to be one of the first charities to try fundraising through Twitter, using the Twibbon application – and they shared the results with attendees of NFPtweetup in May 2010.
Twestival started off as a single networking event in late 2008, when PR executives were brought together through mutual Twitter follows and the will and organisational work of Amanda Rose. Over the following year, she decided to develop the event, making it global and beneficial to different causes, bringing people together in real life and virtually, across cities all over the world, through their Twitter streams. The event consequently entered into the URDB record books and charity Twitter history.
The inaugural Twestival Global in 2009 brought the world together in aid of one worthy cause, charity: water, working towards access to water for all. The events raised $264k, resulting in 55 wells for over 18,000 people in Ethiopia, Uganda and India.
2010 was the turn of equal opportunity education and Twestival events benefited Concern Worldwide. On March 25, over 175 cities hosted events and raised over $400k. The funds were deployed to Malawi, Liberia, Haiti and Burundi.
This year’s focus was ‘Twestival Local’ and saw cities all over the world raising money for local causes in their areas. Over 150 cities joined on 24th March to Tweet and raise money for their chosen charities. London’s event was in aid of Centrepoint – a charity that rehabilitates young homeless people. There are no official figures for how much the event raised for Centrepoint yet, or any of the other charities that benefited from local events around the country, but Twitter activity suggests that it won’t let down previous years.
3. American Red Cross
From record breaking Haiti text donations, to getting completely ‘slizzered’, to hitching onto the #tigerblood trend, The Red Cross has been in the Twitter spotlight quite a few times. Their somewhat experimental Twitter voice (intentionally or otherwise) has moved and amused their 326,569 international followers. One of their boldest moves was the use of a promoted tweet (we think, the first charity to do this). Whilst there was conflicting arguments over the success of their time at the top of the trending list, it confirmed their place as intrepid Twitter aficionados.
#charitytuesday is the brain child of @loveboxuk, the next step on from #followfriday, but specifically for the charity sector. It is an opportunity for people to express their backing for different charities and implore others to support too on any Tuesday. This non-invasive method of projecting support is a clicktivists way of using a popular trending topic to potentially benefit their chosen cause. We just wish we’d seen a charity use it really cleverly…
NFPtweetup was started by @rachelbeer in November 2008 and events have been run by the team at beautiful world, and sponsored by those nice folks at JustGiving, ever since. NFPtweetup has become an active community – on and offline – of people who work in the charity sector and are interested in discussing and sharing ideas around using digital and social media, and other new technologies, to achieve their organisation’s goals. It has also inspired, and advised on, similar events in Scotland (Be Good Be Social, whose first event was held on 27 October, 2010, with a second event planned for 7 April 2011) and Ireland (the first Irish Fundraisers’ Tweetup was held on 24 February 2011).
This informal meeting of minds takes place quarterly and continues to reject and reinvent the traditional format of conferences and seminars by being wilfully fun, social, collaborative and relaxed, as well as informative and valuable for the charities that attend. The next NFPtweetup (the 11th event!) will be held at Amnesty International UK on 25 May.
This initiative proved, quite early on, that Twitter could be used for fundraising, by raising $11,000 in 48 hours. It was ‘a celebration of gratitude and giving’ created by Epic Change in November 2008. The aim of Tweetsgiving was to build a new classroom for disadvantaged children in Tanzania and it was successful in doing so thanks to over 360 people donating to the cause (98% of those were new donors). The Twitter handles of the six volunteers who started the project are now painted on the classroom wall.
7. Child’s i Foundation fundraising campaign for baby Joey
This Twitter breakthrough gave supporters a touching call to action that had an achievable, yet extraordinary outcome. Child’s i Foundation posted an appeal for a Ugandan baby named Joey, who needed an emergency operation that would cost thousands to carry out.
“We have 48 hours to save Joey’s life,” it began. “He is very sick and will not make it unless we get him out of Uganda into cardiothoracic surgery. We need to raise money to fly him and his family for urgent medical attention. Please please help.”
Within 38 hours, they had raised over £10,000, which was enough to fly Joey to South Africa and perform his operation. This moving account of generosity in an emergency appeal highlighted Twitter’s potential to reach thousands of prospective donors in real time and get real results from it.
8. Red Nose Day’s Twit Relief
The most recent charity Twitter success that caught our attention was Twit Relief – which was quite a landmark, since it raised an impressive £286k. The scheme had low starting costs and a straightforward concept, it sold follows and tweets from celebrities to their fans in an eBay auction, proving that the simplest ideas are often the most effective!