Do You ‘Like’ Supporting Charities?

In USA on June 12, 2011 by katielancos Tagged: , , , , , ,

As technology has evolved, so has activism. Initially people could show their support for a cause by mailing in a check or calling a donation over the phone. These charitable acts offered little to no recognition from their peers.

The act of giving has slowly evolved to supporting trends: pink ribbons on your lapel, yellow LiveStrong bracelets, and even companies pairing up with charities to raise money – and of course to improve their image. Although still giving to good causes, these acts have now become highly fashionable and trendy.

Social Media has taken this trend one step further; people can now “support” a cause simply with the click of a [Like] button. Although this allows organizations to spread their name without cost, what kind of support is solely liking a Facebook Page really offering?

Causes is the primary application organizations use to raise money through Facebook. Though it is easy to use, how many people are really benefiting from it? The American National Red Cross’s Causes page has over 1 million members, but of that only 10,703 who have donated. That means only 1% of people who “support” the Red Cross on Facebook have actually ever donated any money.

Despite the success in building online social communities, nonprofits still have not seen much benefit from fundraising through these means. The 2011 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study indicated that only 2.4% of non-profits surveyed were able to raise over 10k through Facebook that previous year.

I’m not commenting so much on the over-emphasis on activism in the realm of social media, but rather the slacktivism that this platform encourages.

I don’t mean to belittle any organization that promotes themselves with a handout or a Facebook Page. I think these are all excellent tools for long-term awareness.

I am solely pointing out that people who boast their support of a cause  – whether by wearing a bracelet, hosting an event, or liking a page on Facebook – should continue their support for the right reasons, and not just because it’s trendy or it’s easy.

2 Responses to “Do You ‘Like’ Supporting Charities?”

  1. I think you landed on a very important trend in looking at the growth of social media as a way for helping people to support the charities they care about. It wasn’t immediately clear, though, that this was the trend you were focused on – as you did mention the rise of symbols like the pink ribbon and LIVESTRONG bracelets. Is the trend you want to talk about how people have more ways than ever to publicly demonstrate their allegiance to charities? Or is it that social media may be overhyped as a tool for charities because only 2.4% of non-profits were able to raise a signficant amount of money through social media?

    Without narrowing down your focus, this post covered a few different areas but wasn’t clear about your point of view. Your point about how only 1% of the American Red Cross fan base actually donated money also didn’t seem to account for the fact that they may have plenty of people who are “fans” of their page online – but choose to donate money in other ways (such as through mobile or actually sending in a check). Does engaging these fans online through social media matter less if they choose to donate elsewhere? What about if they only donate their time and not money?

    Answering or tackling some of these extended questions would lead you to go a bit deeper into your topic and would likely make your take on the main trend you are focusing on clearer. You were in a good space with the topic, it just needed some more clarity around your main point. (3)

  2. Two points:

    1. Many non-profits or cause campaigns use Facebook as only one medium to encourage supporters to donate. In many ways, this is just one more way to make it easier for people to donate. As marketers and communicaters, we need to focus on going where our audience “hangs out”, rather than reel them in to where we are (e.g. website).

    2. Slacktivism is definitely a rising concern in the world of cause marketing and communications. There are numerous studies which discuss the reality that with the “cause clutter” around us, people are becoming numb. Also, because it has become so easy to support a charity (e.g. “like” a page on Facebook, buy a bottle of Ethos water), consumers might think they’ve already done their part. Companies and nonprofits definitely need to find better ways to engage consumers online and offline beyond the act of purchase, voting or “liking” a page.

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