On the back of the phenomenal growth in usage of the Twitter microblogging service, there has been much discussion over the last year about the potential for its use by charities and other non-profits for both supporter communications and fundraising.
The case for using it as an addition to your online supporter communications now seems pretty clear – if your supporters are users of the service and you have someone available in your organisation who can manage your day-to-day Twitter communications (monitoring tweets relating to you and fielding the inevitable questions that will start to come through if people actively engage with your Twitter feed).
Quite how best to raise money direct from Twitter is less clear at present. Micro-transaction initiatives like Twollars are interesting but have not, as far as I know, yet started to deliver significant income for anyone, and few organisations are as yet showing real income coming from other Twitter-specific testing.
However, where it certainly is proving itself as having a fundraising role is when used to bring people who are usually only connected online together offline for a ‘real world’ fundraising event – known in Twitter parlance as a Twestival.
The first ever Twestival – entitled Harvest Twestival – was organised in September 2008 by a group of Twitter users here in London and set the form for future events – being organised entirely by volunteers, in a very short timescale, using Twitter as the primary communication and co-ordination mechanism. Originally intended for 30-40 people, their event ended-up attracting 250 and raised money for a central London homeless charity called The Connection.
After such a great start, the first Global Twestival was held in February this year with people from over 200 cities worldwide taking part and raising some $250,000 for charity:water.
Building on this success, a second international Twestival is taking place next month – from 10th through 13th September. But this time, rather than all events around the world focusing on a single charity, it is being described as Twestival Local with groups of volunteers voting for the charity they would like their local city’s event to raise money for. There’s a Google Maps mashup on the site showing all of the registered city Twestivals and their chosen charites – with the London Twestival raising money for the children’s charity Childline.
This is a fantastic example of online community fundraising in action – with freely available social media tools being used by groups of volunteers to run events on behalf of specific charities that they select as being most worthy of the resulting funds. No involvement from community fundraisers employed by specific charities. Just Web 2.0 empowered volunteers doing it for themselves, in the way that works best for them, and with all money raised going to their chosen charity.
So, do take a visit to the Twestival Local site; see where your local Twestival is taking place next month; and have a think about what this type of Community Fundraising 2.0 initiative might mean for the future of fundraising as it continues to grow in popularity.