Charity organisations are just beginning to realise the importance and value of social networking, 21st-century style, to enhance interaction between organizations and the general public, as well as increase donations to wide range of social and community based philanthropic organizations.
Whether it comes to global warming or Habitat for Humanity, today's society has grown increasingly visual-based through the use of Internet use and habits. For example, social networking websites on the Internet have exploded in both use and function. Not too long ago, MySpace, a common social networking arena for high school and college age students, has now been taken over by the post 35-year-old age set. YouTube, a popular create-it-yourself-video website, receives over 100 million visitors per month. Facebook, another popular social networking website, increased its members by over 120% in a mere 12 months.
Charity organisations need to take advantage of the popularity and ability to connect with millions of users through such social networking websites. One such organization, Defenders of Wildlife, has utilized the tools and options on MySpace to create alerts to blog posts, bulletins, and advance notice of special events in their calendars. By utilizing special tools and codes on MySpace, friends and visitors to the Defenders of Wildlife page are able to create banner ads to place on their own MySpace pages.
Another charitable organization, the Humane Society, has a huge following on MySpace. A large network of friends enables the Humane Society to write and create content that addresses common and popular issues between MySpace members, animal lovers, and methods that encourage them to help in their own communities. By including links back to original websites outside of MySpace, charitable organizations are able to encourage and develop hundreds of contacts through social networking member databases.
Another method, through which the Humane Society helps to spread its message throughout social networking websites, is to provide videos and links to return to the organization's homepage. The ability to share such videos and links among members helps spread the word faster than any other method used today.
Catering to the desires of consumers and fledging philanthropists not only in the United States but around the world, charitable organizations are taking advantage of social networking when organising charitable websites to enlist and encourage visitors and donors to make a difference through their own contributions. Some of the most common charitable or non-profit organisations seen in MySpace or Facebook social networking websites today include:
• Stop global warming
• End global hunger
• Protect endangered habitats
• End homelessness
• Promote fair trade
Organisations have begun to understand the importance of focusing on issues that encourage action. Recently, the Chicago Tribune noted "…non-profit organizations are testing ways to raise money through these networks, betting that the Internet's viral nature will open fresh avenues for fundraising and marketing."
Brendan Byrne (www.receptive.com.au) is an internet marketing consultant. Brendan runs workshops on how to manage your online business and effectively market yourself.