Twittering for a cause – what is the potential?

April 4, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I have been a blog-o-holic lately, reading like it is going out of style, trying to find the answer to: how does social media help fundraising? So, as you probably already guessed, it’s a little early to tell, and depends on what you are up to. But there are some great reports out there about how organizations use it best, like this whitepaper courtesy of Nten, the scoop on the money-making  Twestival for charity:water and this study of social media for social causes.  I love this one — it focuses on donors age 30-49 online habits.  This group is looking to give to organizations that they trust and are credible, and the study implies that they trust bloggers and the media, as well as their friends.   In a conversation for my thesis research I learned about an organization that got a grant from a foundation because it was so active on Twitter.

So this tipped me over the edge of curiosity, and I finally  joined up: @emilydavila.  I am still a rookie, but I am excited about the potential because Twitter really is a conversation.  While Facebook keeps you up to date with your friends, wherever they are, and is fun and gossipy and occasionally useful for planning a fundraiser or pimping a new article,  Twitter at its best is a professional conversation.  If you want to join twitter,  join with a point of view.  In my case, I am on there for Sustainable Health Enterprises, a social enterprise start-up selling low-cost sanitary napkins in Rwanda.  

So far, I have signed up to follow other social entrepreneurs, foundations, women in business, general non profit gurus and super bloggers like Beth Kanter, Chris Brogan or Sean Stanndard-Stockton.   For me, twitter is about people I don’t know, but would like to know, like these 6 wonder bloggers, or the communications people at the Skoll Foundation who were going bananas on twitter during their recent world forum.  

So, I jumped in the pool and am having fun.  I would love to hear from others how twitter has helped them accomplish organizational goals.

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Finding a reason to tweet, in DC or Malawi

February 6, 2008 at 5:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Last week I sat through a webinar on how to use interactive technologies for advocacy work. I had a light bulb moment when I finally understood how Twitter could be used for a social cause. For instance, if a group of advocates are running around Washington DC meeting with different legislators, and they suddenly learn that Senator X is going to vote yes — they could send a Twitter message to their entire team, who can immediately start spreading the word. And here I thought Twitter was only for the text-addicted adolescent broadcasting messages to all their teenage friends.

But in Africa, I think Twitter has the potential to turn cell phones into the new Blackberry. The continent is now home to 300 million cell phones, and many people who are considered poor still have a phone. Cell phone behavior is different than the U.S. of course; the calls are short, the phone is shared, and texting is more frequent. Soyapi from Malawi has a lot of ideas on how Twitter can be used in Africa, from sending out news headlines and soccer scores, to organizing political campaigns and events, to announcing weddings and births. If civil society leaders were using Twitter, they could build entire networks around social issues for action. Soyapi is an early adopter, and you can get quite a birds eye view of his life by reading his Twitter log–like when the power outage came on and what program on TV is worth watching.

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