The American Red Cross received approximately $8 million in SMS donations following the Haitian earthquake. In the realms of the web and mobile, it was a major story. The greater news is that the Red Cross raised almost $35 million across all social media channels, which is 338 percent more than they received through text donations alone.
That social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have proven more popular than the text-to-send-money service is not a huge shock to me. And here’s why:
- Charity through social media platforms is intrinsically collaborative. If you donate through a Facebook ad, the action will be recorded in your status and shared with your friends, who will also be tagged as having contributed.
- Social proof for the donors is provided via the Facebook Ad impact without making the donors appear to be “tooting their own horn.” Donating by text message is far more difficult. You could, in theory, then use Twitter to invite people to join you, but it wouldn’t be exactly the same. Nor is it as simple or as governed by the Red Cross.
- Social norms about philanthropy are induced through the “cascade effect” of status updates and the “social proof” phenomenon. Now, you have to weigh the benefits of making the gift against the potential embarrassment of being the only person in your social circle who didn’t chip in.
- In light of this, the following was a pleasant surprise on my Facebook wall:
My suggestion on how the Red Cross should improve its efforts is as follows.
Donors are understandably concerned that their monetary contributions are not reaching the intended recipients. Nobody likes the idea of shelling out cash for things like salaries or infrastructure improvements like new computers.
This might be a challenge, but it also presents an opening. Why not provide a fairly up-to-date account of the Red Cross’s current and planned relief deliveries to the affected individual?
Therefore, let me explain why I believe this particular piece of writing and strategy will provide greater results. For These Three Causes
One, it gives a real and immediate form to the funds donated.
It’s not just words; it’s about providing things like food, clothes, shelter, and medical attention. In addition, you’re demonstrating the processes by which today’s purchased food is transported to a port for distribution the following day. Benefits that can be physically seen, touched, and tasted, such as food, drink, and shelter, are more appreciated than those that are more intangible. Having hope that your gift could assist at some point in the future isn’t nearly as satisfying as having certainty that it will make a difference for real individuals right now.
Two It helps establish trust and transparency.
As a rule, 91 cents of every dollar contributed to the Red Cross is used for humanitarian purposes. Spending on fundraising and administration is only 9 cents. Thus, administrative costs will eat up around one dollar of every ten dollars they seek for. Nonetheless, if you feel particularly compelled to support the victims of the storm, you probably want to verify that your donation will go directly to them.
Moreover, you probably expect that the Red Cross’ operating costs would be covered by other types of fundraising rather than by commercials that use recent tragedies to get people to donate money.
All of the money donated will go to helping those affected by the tragedy advertised, and the recommended wording is written to convey that message.
Thirdly, it encourages readers to visit the Red Cross’ Facebook page to learn how their contributions are helping those in need.
Having donors witness the impact of their contributions encourages them to keep contributing to the Red Cross (or to start giving if they haven’t done so already) and is a huge public relations win for the organisation. A new volunteer might be found as a result!
In times of crisis, social media may be a lifesaver. A boon for the sufferers, onlookers, and rescuers alike. Only that I hope it improves for the benefit of all three categories.