There are lights up on your neighbor’s home— the department stores are setting the mood with festive holiday songs, the weather outside really is frightful, and it might be time to get your big box of decorations out of the garage. Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we are elbow deep in the holiday season. It’s that time of year to invest in some peppermint scented candles, reconnect with family and friends, and to max out your credit cards on the perfect gifts. But this is also the time of year for selfless acts of kindness and charity. If you were wondering how to give back to your community, your nation, or your planet, let social media be the guide to– and maybe even the inspiration behind– your generosity.
The old saying “No good deed goes unpunished” is a reflection on a sad but often accurate fact: those who do good deeds are often not rewarded for them. Your social media networks, however, have given good deeds a new lease on life. On Facebook and Twitter, no good deed goes unnoticed– in fact, it goes viral. A decade ago, any given charity or cause reached a very limited amount of people unless that foundation sprouted in response to a national or global emergency. Today, there are one billion (and counting) Facebook users, and over 500 million users on Twitter. Altruism and compassion resonate with nearly everyone, and nowadays nearly everyone is keeping up with their friends on the Internet. For many, these networking hubs are the most reliable, up-to-date, and accessible news source, and while not every single human being can commit to sheltering hurricane victims, or volunteering time at a soup kitchen—he or she can simply pass a story along or donate financially.
Last year, the organization Invisible Children Inc. created a video to raise awareness of, and relief funds for children in Uganda that were abducted and sold as sex slaves or soldiers. The short film targeted Joseph Kony who played a critical role in the kidnappings, and urged people all over the world to get involved in bringing him to justice. In a matter of days the video was reposted and re-tweeted hundreds of thousands of times. It was a staple upon the news feed of nearly every American social media user. Many supported the charity, some criticized it, but never the less—it’s publicity gained the funding of celebrities and politicians alike. As of July 2012, the video has been viewed 91 million times, and while this occurrence is a unique one—since then many charities have turned to social media in order to raise consciousness.
If you visit http://www.facebook.com/causes, you can view hundreds of charities that have been created in order to serve a specific community, state, or nation. Searching #charities using Twitter will bring up over a thousand local, national, and international organizations for any and every cause imaginable. If every Facebook user has approximately 300 friends, one single post can potentially reach over a thousand people.
Many Americans prefer to donate money rather than time, it is more convenient and it is tax deductible. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact, websites have been created to cater exclusively to the way we contribute. One can simply create a donation-based website for his or her cause by visiting kickstarter.com, gofundme.com, fundable.org or networkforgood.com (to name a few). These online networks offer a platform for the every day citizen to gather funds and other resources in a secure way. Once you have created your site, gaining support and capital is easy—post links to your site on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media site you frequent, and watch the cash roll in. Once you meet your goal and satisfy the requirements to complete your project, don’t forget to thank those who made it possible.
This holiday season, spending money isn’t the only way to make a difference in the lives of your closest family and friends. Invest in a project that betters your community, start a charity, donate your time to those less fortunate, and stay involved using your cyber and tangible networks in order to find out how you can give back this winter.
By: Sasha Novikov, Creatine Marketing