Remember charities and non-profits before social media? It seems like only yesterday that in order to raise money and awareness for your favorite charity you had to host fundraiser dinners, golf tournaments, and sell widgets. Today, thanks to social media, those tactics have had their effect magnified, or their need eliminated.
Social media has not only made it easier for established charities to raise more money, it has also had a very profound effect on smaller, local non-profits. Take for example your local food-shelf, or center for the arts. Prior to social media, it was expensive and time consuming to reach out and broaden their brand recognition. Today, those same small local non-profits benefit from viral messages shared by community members, community businesses, other non-profits, and can even gain exposure from regional news coverage. In my community, both the Elk River Area Arts Alliance and CAER Food-shelf have noticed the positive effects of social media.
Never has it been easier to find a cause you believe in. In 2012 total giving in the U.S. reached $316.23 billion, an increase of 3.5% over 2011. The surprising part of that statistic is that charitable givings largest benefactor group, religion, actually had their share of funds DROP by 2%. There are many reasons why this may be true. My opinion is that religion has traditionally been the EASIEST way to give. Now, with giving to any charity literally clicks away on your smart-phone people are choosing the city pound, the local scholarship fund, or the Movember office pool. I can't think of any more wonderful effect that social media has had.
The next time you start complain about advertising on Facebook, or a commercial in your streaming video of twerking celebrities, take pause. For every negative or "annoying" effect social media has, there is an equally wonderful one. Take the time to share a charity's Facebook post, or retweet a non-profit's daily message. Odds are, one of your friends, fans, or followers will benefit from the information and maybe even be driven to give.