Speedmatching: Helping charities use social media

Mar. 22, 2011 | by Rae Lovejoy

6-8pm at:  The Railway Club, 4 Belmont, Brighton

In these austere times of cuts and gloom when the old adage that charity begins at home might be even more pertinent, it is vital that all charities whether large or small are making the most of any opportunity to raise both awareness and cash for their cause. Recent disasters in the media can also lead to ‘donation fatigue’ and the feeling that people cannot really help when they can only afford to give a few quid. This isn’t the case, as for example, just £4 pays for a child’s call to Childline, and £8 could pay for ten Ugandan children to be tested for malaria so they can get a quick diagnosis and receive life-saving treatment through Comic Relief.

So when I was asked to be a social media ‘adviser’ at a ‘charity speedmatching’ event in Brighton based on my experience working for the NSPCC with the Baby Peter Tribute Fund and my iCrossing credentials, I was keen to take part and share some knowledge and best practice tips. Supporting the NSPCC has mostly involved raising money and awareness for Childline using social media, primarily Facebook and Twitter, with over £32,000 raised so far by 4 ordinary women working together in their own time.

The event was organised by mediatrust who work with media organisations and charities to enhance their communications and enable communities to find their voice and make it heard. Social media is therefore key to making this happen. They found me searching LinkedIn, where I mention my third sector interest and work.

The charities were given a seat for the night and then the advisers asked to join a charity for the first round of ‘matching’. The charities were given a  ‘Match Card’, to fill in as they went along, to let Media Trust know whether they were interested in meeting further with any of the potential ‘matches’. When the bell rang there was five minutes to talk to the first potential match, and see if any needs could be met. I was expecting questions about ‘how do I use Facebook’, ‘what is Twitter’ and so on, however I wasn’t expecting ‘I have a problem with a troll’, and for the Japan quake and potential nuclear threat to be mentioned.

Charities all have one thing in common- they are passionate about what they do- the trick is to get other people interested, inspired and motivated enough to act. Ultimately the issues were the same as they are for many clients- how do we best engage with our audience, and keep them interested, with the goals being to raise awareness and get donations in most cases. Social media offers these organisations a great opportunity to engage and communicate with their potential and existing audiences, and for the most part is a free or low cost route to success. Third sector groups should use social media in a similar way to businesses and brands- have conversations, be passionate about what you do, don’t ‘sell’, get everyone involved and continue to be active and responsive to your audience.

User generated content is very useful and can provide real examples of people benefiting from a charity’s work, in the case of Studio ADHD who offer a therapeutic environment for the sharing of personal and emotional problems for children, adolescents and their families diagnosed with ADHD. They organise boat trips and go karting, so videos of these events would be a great easy way to raise more awareness. Many of their target market spend much of their time on social networks and YouTube, so it is a case of finding them and then talking to them in a way that captures both their attention and imagination.

Charities who attended also included:

The Martlets Hospice in Hove who provide end of life care services to adults with life limiting illness including cancer, the Seagulls local interest BHAFC in the Community, Peaceworks  Mediation and Skills Training Agency and Rise a charity which supports women, children and young people affected by domestic abuse in Brighton & Hove and across West Sussex. 

Blogger outreach was another tactic discussed that could widen networks and get these smaller groups the profile they need and deserve. Using Twitter to search for related news stories, articles and other groups connected to what you do is another way to widen your own network and share information. In the case of Peaceworks, their mediation services relating to B2B, workplace, contract or local authority issues & schools, might find supporters and new contacts on LinkedIn, by searching with keywords, by company and so on, thus starting to build their own network to engage with.

It was a really interesting evening and it was great to impart some knowledge in this way, hopefully the charities involved also gained a lot from it. I might be ‘matched’ with a couple afterwards and be able to offer more help in the future. A few hours of my time well spent!

If anyone is interested in helping out in any way, please let me know.

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    Comments (3)

    • Rachel.Lovejoy

      The 'troll' wasn't really a troll in the strictest sense of the word internet-wise. It was one person with an opinion. The internet gives everyone a voice, and you won't like or agree with everything you read. In that case i suggested it wasn't worthy of being upset over, and moving on, I have seen and experienced real 'trolling' and this wasn't even close. In the 'old days' that person might have put pen to paper and written a letter to the editor, this is no different. I didn't see it as a personal attack, just a viewpoint. The organisation stood to lose more by giving up at that point due to the silly posting by one person than the post itself, which I doubt most people would have given a second glance to. When you put yourself out there on the internet you must accept there will be love and hate in often equal measure- as there is in 'real life'.
      cheers, RaeMar 23, 2011 11:12 am

    • CarolineDiehl

      Thanks also from me Rachel. Media Trust volunteers are the best ever! What advice did you give about the troll?!
      carolineMar 22, 2011 10:20 pm

    • Fliss

      Great blog Rae, and thanks for coming along last week too. Hope to be back down in Brighton again soon!Mar 22, 2011 12:02 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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