The Social Side of Charitable Giving

More and more charities are reaping the benefits of using social media as their gateway to gaining awareness. One great example is Causes, which almost entirely relies upon social media applications and tools to interconnect charities from around the globe. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of its co-founders is former Facebook president Sean Parker.

Causes started as one of the very first applications on Facebook in 2007. It acts as an online broker between charities, helping them leverage contacts and foster relationships to find donors and philanthropists to support their causes. In articles such as this one in Bloomberg Businessweek, Parker has said that online networks, and Facebook specifically, are better than offline methods for “leveraging social capital between people to get things done in the world.” With over 26 million monthly users on Facebook alone, social media certainly brings the numbers.

Another great example is online gaming company, Zynga. Their self-stated mission is to “connect people through games” and they’ve been doing this as well as anyone since their launch in 2007. By connecting gamers to charitable efforts, they’ve helped raise nearly $3 million for Haiti since the January 12, 2010, earthquake. They’ve continued their efforts with their recent Haiti Sweet Beets and Backpacks campaign which ended just last month.

These types of online and social media-supported success stories are becoming more common. What I found to be extraordinary is that Americans donate $263 billion a year to charities but only 5.7 percent of that is given online, according to the Blackbaud Index of Online Giving. The opportunity for growth is limitless and can be applied to nearly any business venture. The twist is the role social media will play in all of this. As noted on their site, Causes “empowers anyone with a good idea or passion for change.”

In my opinion the social space can do this for all of us. How do you plan on harnessing its influence?

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