Tweeting Relief for Haiti

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When the phone lines were completely useless after Haiti’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake, there was only one outlet in which to spread the word on the disaster at hand: the internet.

In the new world of real-time web results, Haitians that could used Twitter to spread the word quickly. Many people were posting photos and stories about what was going on before any journalists could get there to document the aftermath. Many people saw or heard about what was going on with Haiti before any news outlet made any initial broadcasts.

More importantly, knowing how Twitter spreads a message like wildfire, many people began using it yesterday as a fundraising tool for relief. The Red Cross sent out a tweet that was re-tweeted multiple times over spreading the word of a text-messaging campaign to help raise money. As of this morning the latest report said that over $1 million had been raised for Hatian relief efforts. Even American Airlines is joining in on the help spreading the message on Twitter how they are flying doctors and nurses down there for free, listing a contact number for more information on how to help.

With all the hype around social media, many tend to wonder if it’s really effective and a good use of time. After these rapid fundraising efforts I would say, at least this week, it’s one of the most efficient communication tools we have.

Tweeting for Good

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[tweetmeme] Social media’s rapid growth has been no secret to anyone here of late. In fact, within the last year, social media has seen a traffic increase of 62%…a trend that doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon. With growth, it has evolved in functionality as well. Starting out as a way to keep in touch with friends, it has blossomed into a unique and somewhat cost-efficient marketing tool for businesses. Even with no clear, tangible ROI, businesses haven’t shied away from jumping on the social media bandwagon.

So it’s apparent that social media, Twitter more specifically, is being used to drive more business for companies. In addition to increasing a profit margin, Twitter has also proven to be an effective tool to help better the world we live in.

How has this been accomplished in 140 characters or less?

Many individuals and/or organizations have used Twitter as a fundraising tool for various causes. Most recently, it has been used to fight cancer and fund more research. @Drew, cancer patient and creator of the website Blame Drew’s Cancer, recently put his Twitter username up for auction, donating all his proceeds to the Livestrong foundation for cancer research. The Price is Right host Drew Carey (@DrewonTV) made a large bid and challenged the Twitterverse to help him reach 1 million followers. In return he would donate $1 million to cancer research.

The companies MillerCoors and eBay also sponsored #beatcancer, a 24 hour experiment in social media attempting to draw the most tweets on a topic in that time period…ever. Donating one cent per hashtag, the effort set a Guiness World Record and effectively helped raise $70,000 towards cancer research.

Other socially responsible organizations have seen substantial amounts of exposure via Twitter. Most of these organizations, nonprofits nor social enterprise groups don’t have the cash to spend on traditional forms of marketing for their causes. They’ve seen success too. Most people want to feel like they are part of something good and a simple follow on Twitter is one way people are able to connect.

The exposure has helped these organizations receive support they normally would not have. Last Thanksgiving the group Epic Change hosted “Tweetsgiving,” a 48-hr fundraising effort for funds to help a school in Tanzania. The goal was to raise $10, 000. The result? $11,000. Over 98% of that money came from donors who had not previously supported their organization. This simple viral fundraising campaign has potential to have beneficial long term results, attracting hundreds of new donors that could potentially help in the future.

Including ourselves, several of our partner organizations have established presences on Twitter including @womensbean, @brightendeavors and @divinechocolate. With the help of followers, all these social enterprise groups hope to gain more support in order to change more lives. How are you tweeting for good?

Social Responsibility at the Motivation Show

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A Snapshot of the Helping Hand Rewards Booth
A Snapshot of the Helping Hand Rewards Booth

To most attendees, the Motivation Show saw a decrease in attendance and overall size. For us at Helping Hand Rewards, it was quite the opposite.

The HHR booth at last year’s Motivation Show displayed six partners in a 40×10 space. However, this year’s show saw nine partners all having their own individual displays shared in a 60×10 booth space.

It’s safe to say that we’ve grown a bit in a year.

The show was more than just an excuse to taste test Greyston Bakery’s brownies, WHOWomen’s fruitcake, Divine Chocolate’s samples and Women’s Bean Project’s chocolate covered coffee beans. With a larger megaphone this year, we were able to meet several new people and talk with them about social responsibility in our industry. It was great seeing how several show participants knew of some of our partner organizations and had even done some sort of business with them. Many other people we spoke with were also engaged with other organizations outside of ours that also worked towards some sort of social purpose or socially responsible goal.IMG_0113

The show also provided a great opportunity for representatives from all of our partner organizations to connect personally. Many of us had only made contact via email or Twitter, so three days of interaction at the show and at the HHR dinner on Tuesday night gave us all a chance to connect, share ideas, and genuinely enjoy the week!

All nine of our partner organizations all have different social purposes and missions. They all seek to fill a need in whatever capacity they are able to reach. However, the main underlying goal with all of our partner organizations (and HHR of course) is to do business in such a way that makes our world a better place to live in by helping others.