Category Archives: Non-Profits

Technology Empowering World Changers

Technology Empowering World Changers

Young people can change the world. Not only control the face of pop culture, fashion, and music, but can actually make a positive impact on the world around them – and more of them are doing it than you think.

With an over-connected, constantly stimulated generation growing up it seems more and more are actually taking on a perspective that encompasses long term goals, social justice concerns, and compassion for their communities (both domestically and internationally). I never realized it until I started with a new company – a social enterprise connected to a non-profit that educates, engages and empowers youth to become agents of change in the world.

“It’s going to be people under 30 that solve this generation’s problems,” said Ronan Farrow, State Department in a recent Mashable article.

What interests me the most is the ways in which youth are empowered to create change. Sure, there are the traditional trips, fundraising campaigns, etc. However; digital technologies cater to this demographic ensuring they are kept engaged – especially since they are overly connected in this way. Of course the in person experience of events, camps, volunteer trips, and fundraisers cannot be replaced – but it can be amplified.

Benefits of digital:

  • Ability to have their voices heard like never before
  • Decreased geographic barriers and increased access to information
  • Relive, share and stay connected with other like-minded youth post offline experiences
  • Grow their passion, motivation and ability to make change in the world
  • Organization – allowing them to connect and organize large groups with ease
  • Find and utilize the available support systems
  • Share ideas and tactics instantly to support one another’s objectives and causes
  • Virally spread information; gather attention and support, and showcase their causes

Youth are more connected and technologically aware than ever – extending this support via online channels only makes sense – and seems to have extremely positive effects.

Ways youth are using the internet to change the world

  • Becoming informed – about causes, world issues, politics, consumer products (ethically produced or not), and so much more. Then share this knowledge.
  • Starting and or signing online petitions
  • Trading Facebook ‘likes’ for dollars with the support of corporate donors
  • Sharing socially conscious videos
  • Joining and following cause pages – sharing their messages
  • Fundraising/canvassing for donations online
  • Conversation – the sharing of ideas and perspectives with no geographic boundaries

I read somewhere that youth are “the seeds of a new reality”; if so the web is the garden that helps grow them.

Slacktivists – The New Face of the Social Cause


Social Media has the ability to expand the audience, reach, and effect of social cause campaigns. Not only does it tap into a new base of people, those uncommitted to any specific cause, but also provides an avenue to connect and engage with current donors in more effective, real-time ways. Typical communities can be formed within social media communities such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, however the ability to create and customize forums and communities for specific social causes is now on the rise. Sites like Care2 and Wiser Earth are prime examples.

Although it may be debated that these forums only give way to the new generation of Slacktivists (definition below), the true power they can have within this new demographic of cause oriented people shouldn’t be belittled. If utilized correctly, causes can leverage the mentality of these people to help elevate non-financial assistance, as well as have the opportunity to convert users who are not attached to any particular cause to theirs. It’s about building on-going relationships, not necessarily about initial ROI. ROI will be seen overtime once these relationships are built and nurtured.

Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism or clicktivism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts tend to require minimal personal effort from the Slacktivist.

Slacktivist activities include signing internet petitions, joining a community organization without contributing to the organization’s efforts, wearing awareness ribbons or awareness bracelets with political messages, putting a ribbon magnet on a vehicle, writing blogs or statuses about issues on social networking sites, joining an issue-focused Facebook group, posting issue-oriented YouTube videos, or altering one’s personal data or avatar on social network services.

The goal is to take the “Slacktivist” and convert them to a truly committed philanthropist, social communities re a great avenue to help these casual donors to learn more, and become more engaged around your cause. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when attempting to leverage a custom community and the new ‘Slacktivist” user:

  1. Ensure messaging and you cause remain central within the community.
  2. Listen, see what users are saying, asking for, how they feel, to be able to leverage these insights to effectively manage and maintain the site with a maximized captive audience.
  3. Choose a platform based on your intended function, make sure it supports all facets of what you intend to do. Private or open, collaboration or broadcast, user-user engagement or site-user engagement only, webinar support, live event support, video support, podcast support, user upload support? Plan it out well before you implement.
  4. Create a unique and engaging experience of value to your members to keep them coming back as well as convert the Slacktivist to an engaged consistent donor.
  5. Model functionality off what users are used to such as Facebook, rss, twitter. This will make it ways for new users to navigate and understand the site.
  6. Share functions – make it easy for users to chare the network with their friends to spread the word.
  7. Have the ability for users to showcase their involvement on the main social networking sites. Example: badges on Facebook.
  8. Have non-financial and non-financial ways people can contribute to a cause, example buying t-shirts or wristbands, donating time, signing petitions, registering for offline events, spreading the word etc. For those who are financial contributors, remember to always include a ‘donate now’ button.

Great examples of social cause communities leveraging the unconnected Sacktivist:

Are you a part of any social cause communities? Are you a Slacktivist? Let us know!

Social Media and Non-Profit Organizations – Case Studies: Guy at Home in his Underwear + World Food Programme


Mark aka. “The Guy At Home In His Underwear” is a Toronto native and a testicular cancer survivor. He was given 25 days to raise money for testicular cancer ‘one Facebook friend at a time’. The challenge was to get 25,000 ‘Likes’, and last 25 days at home in his underwear. If Mark could complete this challenge then Stanfield’s would donate $25,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society in support of testicular cancer awareness.  This campaign leveraged social media to build awareness of an issue, raise funds, and address corporate goals.


Each day during the campaign a highlight video was added to YouTube and then embedded on the website and Facebook Page.

  • Channel Views: 3,083
  • Total Upload Views: 37,855
  • Subscribers: 51



The Facebook page was used to communicate with donors about all the activities going on during the campaign. This activity received a lot of interaction with fans. Mark was posting consistently and received many comments in which he responded to quickly.

  • 1 Like = $1 donated
  • Goal: 25,000 in 25 days
  • Actual: 50,000+

The page was integrated with other social media channels specifically YouTube. This cross promotion of channels allowed donors to interact with the campaign in a variety of ways.


World Food Programme

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. In emergencies, WFP gets food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. After the cause of an emergency has passed, they use food to help communities rebuild their shattered lives. WFP is part of the United Nations system and is voluntarily funded.

The World Food Programme creates quality content that engages a very large audience on a level very few can achieve. WFP fully integrates its communications in social media. The website clearly outlines the different ways to get involved at the footer of every page within the website.



The WFP Facebook page is consistently engaging the WFP online community by posting new content, asking for thoughts and feedback, and integrating with other social media properties including Twitter and YouTube.


The photo posted here states “This is our web editor, Martin. He’s about to go shopping in a food market in Pakistan. He’s got 100 rupees (US $1.00) to spend. How much food do you think he’ll be able to buy?” This resulted in over 80 comments and 140 ‘Likes’.

Overall the WFP receives positive feedback and interactions through their Facebook content because they are actively engaging with their community.


The World Food Programme used the YouTube Non-profit Program to raise $36,000 on World Food Day with this video.

  • “In a single weekend, it was viewed over half a million times and raised enough to feed over 140,000 children,”[1]
  • Since the weekend the video has helped to feed over 650,000 children
  • An outreach tool that is powerful, dynamic, and highly effective for raising both awareness and funds.
  • Channel Views: 225,618
  • Total Upload Views: 5,294,481
  • Subscribers: 4,521

This campaign has also proved to be an investment as there is now a steady subscriber base on the YouTube channel. A call-to-action overlay ad, annotations with an external link to a donation form, Google Checkout, as well as a branded channel contributed to the success of this campaign.

The YouTube Nonprofit Program provides for extra benefits like branding capabilities, increased uploading capacity, and call-to-action overlays. Non-profits can use the call-to-action feature to drive sign-ups, donations, website traffic, and any other response in which users take action.


World Food Programme is a thought leader in their industry. Followers rely on @WFP to share the relevant news, give opinions on the issues, and help them understand the day’s developments. @WFP understands what their audience values and delivers the valuable information they are looking for.

  • 1,886 Tweets
  • 4,019 Listed

We hope you enjoyed our series on social media in the non-profit sector! Which campaign has been your favorite?

Social Media and Non-Profit Organizations – Part One: Donor Demographics


Online giving is the next wave of social media for Not for Profit organizations. Although a little slower to catch up to the curve, we are beginning to see some large steps in this space to utilize the possibilities that social media and a digital presence can provide NFP’s.

First let’s look at how people engage with non-profits, and which generations are most likely to give online. Keep in mind social media is about engagement. Non profits can use this space not only as additional donation portals, but also to leverage the viral nature that can help spread their messages and create awareness for their cause. It can also help them engage and retain donors in a more intimate way.

Generation Y (1981-1991)

Of These donors 55% give to charity with an average contribution of $325 yearly. Their donations are more spur of the moment, although they have less money to give they are also very likely to contribute in other ways such as volunteering, sponsoring, and willingly sharing and spreading your message. They use social media extensively and are happy to interact with charities using a broad range of media types. Gen Y are the most active segment on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, Delicious, Google Buzz, YouTube, MySpace, and Digg. The online space is a great way to reach, interact, and create advocates out of this generation for your cause.

Generation X (1965-1980)

Of this donor base, 61% give to charities with an average contribution of $549 yearly. This segment doesn’t have a lot of time to give, but they are the most likely segment to give at a point of sale, and support and sponsor friends who are volunteering/raising money. They are most active on LinkedIn, but also frequent other mainstream social networks. In relation to online giving, they primarily use these to find out more about a cause (and are willing to share it out) and to socialize with friends and family.

Boomers (1946-1964)

Of this donor base, 66% give with an annual contribution of $725. They are less impulsive in their donations, and tend to prefer interacting with NFP’s through traditional direct mail and phone efforts. Although less comfortable with social networking than younger demographics, they are fairly active on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and will keep up to date through reading newsletters and are willing to sign petitions.

Civics (1945 or earlier)

This donor base is by far the largest at 73%, giving an average yearly of $833. They are the fastest growing segment online, but tend to be more passive users within the social media space, they tend to consume content but are less likely to contribute their own insights and content. Mail and tribute giving is still the largest comfort zone for these donors, but they are willing to mimic their initiatives offline in the online space through petition signing, sharing information and links, and other activities.

Although the overall engagement is different between the various demographics, they are all still getting online and using the various digital channels to interact and learn about their charities. It is becoming not a question of ‘Are donors online’, but that their donors are already there and waiting, the NFP’s just need to decide they are ready.


How do you donate? Do you engage and follow your cause of choice online? What is it that makes you most likely to donate time or money to a cause?

Check out tomorrow’s post Social Media and Non-Profit Organizations  – Part Two: Online Tactics

Why social media is great for non-profit organizations


Social media is a hot trend with the major sites, with Foursquare geolocation growing 3400% last year (over 300 million check-ins)[i], Twitter with nearly 200 million registered accounts, Facebook with 500 million users[ii], LinkedIn with 101 million users[iii], and the viral possibilities of YouTube. For brands this new trends means the ability to engage and connect users to your brand in a more personal and lasting way – if done correctly. Not only does it provide a lasting and captive audience but can be much more affordable than traditional media. A social media campaign / presence, deployed correctly can have a major impact for minimal cost; this is why it can be so beneficial to non-profit organizations who don’t typically have the deep pockets of larger companies.

There are four ways social media has changed the non-profit world according to mashable:

  1. Deepening relationships and Engagement letting NFP’s empower their existing supporters to help the cause.
  2. Individuals & small groups are self-organizing around non-profit causes – NFP’s are able to leverage the efforts of others and user generated content to decrease the internal resources to support various campaigns and fundraising activities.
  3. Facilitating collaboration and crowdsourcingallowing NFP’s to connect and collaborate informally across institutional boundaries quickly and inexpensively, as well as, get ideas and tips from much larger groups of people.
  4. Social change behind the firewall – NFP’s adopting social media are able to help change the culture, flatten hierarchical structures, speed decision-making, and improve programs and services for their cause.

Here are some great examples of NFP’s social media campaigns: Giving Birthdays, Wiki Project: We Are Media, Facebook Causes, March of Dimes, Red Cross (also),  Twestival, Epic Thanks, Tweet-a-thon, Well Wishes, The Daniela Project,  Green Bloggers, Oxfam America (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube), The Humane Society (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, Flickr), LIVESTRONG (Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr), WWF (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr),, Care2, Help in Disasters, Do something, Better the World, Social Actions, Tweet Congress, Target: Bullseye Gives

As you can see it is a new way to connect, leverage the crowd, and promote your cause. There are many resources out there to help NFP’s find their way in social media. The best policies to keep in mind are the following:

  1. Listen – hear what others are saying and doing about you organization and your cause, you can get a lot of insight just from standing back and listening.
  2. Leverage the masses – chance is you have supporters out there. Don’t try to control them because they are not official, instead leverage their passion and volunteer man power. Guide them to follow best practices and leverage the exposure and user generated content they help you receive.
  3. Evolve – change the way you think and work. Social has made all people more engaged, it’s about collaboration and community, use that to you advantage – be open to new ideas.
  4. Develop your properties – great places to start are Facebook pages, events, and causes to tap into the 500 million + users, Twitter for the viral nature with which information can spread, and blogging to provide more detailed and insightful material.
  5. Cross Promote – promote all properties every where possible, each property should have a call to action to drive awareness and increase users ability to donate and fund raise.
  6. Use Widgets – make it easy for people to embed your cause within their own pages.
  7. Have fun with it – the nest part of social media is that you get to meet an interact with people from all over, so enjoy it.

I know these are the basics, but that’s why it’s the place to start! Once you have the basics down, look into other campaigns like the ones above and leverage the ideas and success of others before you to enhance your own fund raising and campaign reach and effectiveness.

Know any other great campaigns? Reply with the examples!

Cheers… and Happy Family Day to those of you lucky enough to get to enjoy the holiday like us here in Ontario!

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