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Charities & Community Involvement Online

When a series of floods hit the state of Queensland, at least seventy towns were affected. The floods forced the evacuation of over 200,000 people and three-quarters of the state of was declared a disaster zone.  With the help of social media, charitable groups were able to disseminate  information and mobilise volunteers to deliver help and support quickly.

One such community was the one for Gold Coast (facebook.com/goldcoastaustralia). Created and managed by eTourism Holidays, it was primarily a page used to promote events, tourist attractions, hotels and restaurants in the Gold Coast area. But when the Queensland floods struck, the page transformed itself into a conduit where its 80,000 fans were provided with information on how they could help and they did.

Fans of the page acted quickly, and even took their own initiative, using the page to organise events and meet ups, posting information on where donations for cash, clothes, even cleaning items could be dropped off and schedules for  when charitable events would take place or when goods would be  sent off to affected areas.

What this underlines is that now more than ever, it has become very easy and cost-effective to get communities involved in charitable causes.  Aside from Facebook and Twitter, which are the best ways to grow online groups and raise awareness for a cause,  ecommerce applications such as ChipIn and North Social’s Donate app provide affordable tools that allow charitable groups to to receive funds online.

Plus given most of the work is done online, a lot of costs are eliminated altogether, which allows more funds to go straight to the needed cause. It also encourages more volunteers, because a lot of the work can be done online. This means volunteers can do their work from home and at their own time.

However, the first key is that you shouldn’t do it alone. Share your vision with like-minded friends. Each of your friends will at least have his/her own network of social media friends and followers already, so this makes deploying information and growing a following more effective.

When you’ve set up your organization, don’t simply make a Facebook page, website or  Twitter that merely states your cause and a message that says “Donate Here.” Make a call to action and set a time limit that compels people to act right away. Set a specific time frame and a specific goal. So, instead of “donate here”, say “we’re hoping to raise $30,000 for flood relief by February 3rd.”

However, people can be reluctant about contributing online. So keep it credible by partnering with established charitable organizations such as Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity and setting up a very transparent donation system.

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