Enlisting Twitter, Facebook For Nonprofit Funding

One of the interesting trends I’ve been watching emerge out of the new, social web has been the push toward user-generated and user-directed contests — for user-created advertising, user-driven voting, and even user-directed charity donations. The social medium seems ideally tuned towards reaching out to people based on their interests, and where their friends and acquaintances help to spread the word about different causes.
The latest– user driven charity donations — seems to be an interesting indicator of where and how nonprofits are going — where skills to tap into Facebook, Twitter, and the social web might make the difference between who does, and doesn’t get funding for their nonprofit efforts.
I was recently approached by Bill Strong, who started the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation (GSF) — a nonprofit out of Santa Barbara which helps to fund research into a disease called Spinal Musclar Atrophy (SMA) — about a new web site the nonprofit specifically created to get people to Twitter and spread the word about a contest run by the Chase Foundation on Facebook to give $5M in total to five different charities.  Chase is asking Facebook users to vote for the charities they feel ought to receive $1M each in charity funding–based solely on the number of votes received on Facebook. How to get an edge over the many nonprofits who would love that $1M for their cause? Bill tells me:
We’re two parents fighting any way we can to try and save our daughter’s life. We have a real opportunity to win this $1 Million, but we know we need something unique and creative that would give us an edge over other larger organizations.

That’s where our friend Josh and I came up with the http://VoteForACure.com idea.

We believe it’s a really innovative use of Twitter and Facebook and I refer to it as our ‘Hail Mary’ — to help us win this $1 Million, accelerate that cure for SMA, and save our daughter’s life.
VoteForACure is a site, specifically created for the nonprofit, to get people to use Twitter about the effort. Incidentally, Bill’s web site was created by Bill and Josh Lippiner (former founder of LowFares.com, now owned by Oversee.net). Josh is a long time reader of our newsletter. (Well, now site, blog, etc.–but originally, the email newsletter).
The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation isn’t the only charity using Facebook, Twitter, and the social web for fundraising and awareness efforts, but it’s an interesting case example of how nonprofits are tapping the new world of the Internet to gain exposure and support for nonprofit causes. (Other area nonprofits currently on the leaderboard in the Chase competition include Hope For Paws, Los Angeles; Invisible Children, San Diego; Center For The Pacific Asian Family Inc, Los Angeles; Trevor Project, Los Angeles; GIsen, Los Angeles, Sheckler Foundation, Carlsbad; Imaging Foundation, Malibu; American Chinese Culture And Education Foundation, San Diego; Angel Heart International, Rancho Santa Margarita; and Tiziano Project, Calabasas).

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