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This holiday season, the social web is hotter than ever. Brands are turning to social media to reach more users than ever. Learn how some organizations are using social media for good this holiday season.

You already miss the holidays right? Once again this year it was that special time when most of society deems it appropriate to trample someone because waffle irons are 60% off. While most people spent the season setting Christmas lights to dub-step music, others used social media for good to spread the word about the organizations and missions that are dear to their hearts. Even Google joined the fray, highlighting several of these organizations through their Impact Awards initiative.

Social media has always been a powerful communications platform for nonprofit organizations. It’s a low-cost, high-value marketing channel that allows the nonprofit to get their mission in front of the general population and help to show the impact the organization has had on their cause. There’s a lot to be learned for how nonprofits have leveraged social media for good to generate exposure and achieve powerful outcomes. In particular, the nonprofits below have executed some of the most powerful social media initiatives to date and are a shining example of what a little human ingenuity and generosity can accomplish:

Charity: Water

Charity: Water is a nonprofit organization with a clear mission: provide communities in developing countries access to clean drinking water. The mission might be simple, but the impact is amazing and extends far beyond letting kids experience Slip ’N Slides for the first time. Access to clean drinking water leads to a healthier and more empowered population. Charity: Water has always been a strong example of how to fully leverage the power of social media. It’s inspirational and educational (inspircational?) marketing videos have been viewed over 3 million times on their official YouTube channel and its Twitter handle has over 1.4 million followers.

While a strong social presence is great, the real shining-star of Charity: Water is its personal fundraising platform. Supporters of Charity: Water can create an account and log into a system that allows them to set-up their own fundraising drive. Thousands of people have chosen to donate their birthdays, Christmases and Bar Mitzvahs to Charity: Water. Once the campaigns are created, Charity: Water makes it easy for users to promote their fundraising efforts through the user’s social networks by giving them access to videos/photos and copy that drive home and explain the mission of Charity: Water.

Key Insight – Videos can be a powerful medium for communicating your message and mission in the social space.

Cain’s Arcade

Cain’s Arcade is an organization with a powerful history. It all began when a nine-year old boy named Cain decided he wanted to build a cardboard arcade in the back of his father’s auto parts store. The boy’s passion for the arcade inspired filmmaker Nirvan Mullick to make a short film about the boy, his arcade and the flash mob that made his day. This film has since gone on to garner over 7 million views and inspired individuals to donate funds towards Cain’s future college education. The result: Cain received over $210,000 in donations.

The story doesn’t stop there; a matching grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation helped Cain’s Arcade set up the Imagination Foundation. Through this foundation, every dollar raised by Cain’s Arcade is matched by the Imagination Foundation which will award college scholarships to those that otherwise would be unable to attend college. To help raise funds to support the Imagination Foundation, Cain’s Arcade launched the Global Cardboard Challenge campaign. Through this, campaign schools from across the world signed-up to create their own cardboard arcades. Each school then filmed their own video which was shared on YouTube and other social media platforms. All funds donated during this campaign went to support the Imagination Foundation and Cain’s Arcade scholarship initiative.

Key Insight – Don’t be afraid to start small. Even the tiniest effort can lead to a huge impact.

10x10act: Girl Rising

10x10act: Girl Rising tells the powerful story of 10 girls in 10 different countries fighting for the opportunity to receive an education. More than just a movie, 10x10act: Girl Rising is a social movement aimed towards insuring every young girl in the world receives an education.  This is a truly wonderful cause that is backed by equally powerful social media initiatives. To promote the film (aimed for release in March 2013) 10x10act created a movie trailer that they then disseminated through their social channels. Published on October 3, 2012, this trailer has already been viewed 45,000 times.

To further get the word out for the film and build buzz and anticipation for its screenings, 10x10act has partnered with Gathr. Described by Huffington Post as, “a love child of Netflix and Kickstarter,” Gathr allows individuals to request their own theatrical screening of a movie that otherwise might not be showing in their market. To get the move screened in their city, individuals need to pre-sell a certain amount of tickets. To get the word out for Girl Rising, fans of the organization that want to have a screening of the movie in their city can login to Gathr, purchase their tickets and promote the screening to their social media networks to get more people involved.

10x10act doesn’t stop with just a movie. To help grow their fan base, 10x10act launched the “Day Of The Girl” campaign. This campaign focused on a single day, October 11, 2012, and a single message “Girls+Education=____” Using the hashtag #basicmath, supporters of 10x10act were asked to finish the equation “Girls+Education=____.” This global awareness drive sparked hundreds of messages and brought huge exposure to the 10x10act mission. Highlights of the campaign can be viewed here.

Key Insight – Give your fanbase a rallying cry.

Worldreader

Worldreader is a nonprofit dedicated to providing children in developing countries with the opportunity to read thousands of books. Not through building an extensive network of libraries, but rather by providing inexpensive e-readers to children in each of these nations. Each e-reader is loaded with hundreds of books and sent to students in Africa. It costs $.50 to push each additional book to the e-reader once in the hands of the kids. To make it easy for supports of Worldreader to help spread their message, it incorporated social sharing links throughout their homepage. They also created banner ads and embed codes for supports with a larger digital footprint.

To further build awareness of the Worldreader mission and raise funds to support their e-reader mission, Worldreader entered the Chase Giving Challenge. Through this challenge, nonprofits can win a million dollar grant to help support their mission. It doesn’t take a genius to realize how many $5 e-readers that can be purchased for a million dollars (200,000.) What followed after entering the challenge was nothing short of a full-on social media blitz. Worldreader and its fans began producing a plethora of content and took to their Facebook and Twitter pages to get the word out about the contest, how to vote and what Worldreader would do with the funds. Worldreader even partnered with Barcelona’s premier football (soccer) league, Barca, to produce videos to help build awareness of the competition and encourage people to vote for Worldreader.

Key Insight – Focus your community’s efforts around accomplishing a single goal.

#GivingTuesday

More of a social movement than a true nonprofit, #GivingTuesday was founded on the notion that, with so many days focused on shopping (Black Friday/Cyber Monday), a day focused on giving should be created.  Thousands of organizations and individuals got behind the movement and nonprofits saw an increase of 42% in their online donations due to #GivingTuesday efforts.  While those numbers do represent a great increase in donations for national nonprofits, there is still room for local nonprofits to come on board and grow initiatives. You can bet your Twitter account that social media will be a driving force to expanding the impact of this movement.

Key Insight – Keep working towards your goal.

You

Want to get involved in your own use of social media for good? It’s easy! You can get involved with one of the organizations listed here, or, if none of these organizations tickle your philanthropic fancy, you can conduct a search for one that best fits your giving mood. Sites like greatnonprofit.org, were created with the sole purpose of helping the individual donor (that’s you) choose and evaluate charities and nonprofits based on their mission. While donations are always accepted, sometimes what a nonprofit really needs is more exposure and awareness. Once you’ve selected the charity of your choice, use your social platform to help spread the word and you could be doing more good than you know.

Have a charity or nonprofit you’re passionate about? Now’s the time to let the world know. Leave a comment below introducing your favorite charity to Social Toaster readers.

About the author:

SarahSarah McNew Razzaque     Twitter

Chief Product Officer – SocialToaster

Fun fact: Loves coney dogs!