Before I turn 24 years old on March 15th, I have been asking my friends to donate $24 to a favorite non-profit of mine, People to People International. So imagine my surprise when friends from Facebook, some of whom I hadn’t seen in years, donated the suggested amount without having ever heard of this charity before.
Using the Causes application of Facebook can be a great source of new donations for a non-profit like People to People, a Student Ambassador program I took part in for six years (age 13-18). I was prompted by the Causes application to create a Birthday Wish for one of my favorite causes I had joined as a group member. After selecting PTP I was provided with tools to promote my birthday wish automatically, including: pre-written status updates, posts to the wall, and private messages to send to friends asking them to give to your Birthday Wish.
Although I was impressed with the ability to utilize the power of my social network on Facebook to gain support behind this cause, I remained skeptical that anyone would give such a large donation for my birthday. On my Birthday Wish page, I decided to put my money where my mouth was by donating $24 of my own money towards the $240 goal ($24 x 10 donors) I had set. So naturally I was surprise when one of my Facebook friends from high school has donated the next morning.
So far I have raised at least $96 from 3 people for People to People, who took notice of the new donations almost immediately. They like me had become excited about the new possibilities for small donors that the Causes application had enabled with the Birthday Wish function. I was happy to discuss some of the social media tools they had at their disposal. They also gave me a short interview that promoted others to try using these tools on Facebook.
Although many people are quick to dismiss social media as merely a trend that is difficult to measure actual results, I think this small effort by an individual shows its potential when this communication tool is used appropriately. In this case the Birthday Wish was more effective than merely randomly asking my friends for donations; it used an effective appeal rather than posting just another link to ignore. For non-profit organizations, social media like the Causes function in Facebook offers exciting possibilities by connecting the power individual networks with an audience of small donors that were previously much more difficult to reach. The power of interpersonal communications is meeting the reach of public communications over the internet.