Friday, March 21, 2008

Charity 2.0

Charities and non-profits should be the ones making the most of web 2.0. Think about it, the technologies (blogs, video uploads, twitter, etc ) are pretty much free to implement. They are also cheap to sustain. The biggest cost really is time. And they allow visitors to really get involved and empathise with the cause on a level far beyond just donating money.

Take Barretstown for example. Barretstown is a summer camp for children with life-threatening illnesses. Very sick children get to spend a week or so away from their hospital-life in a beautiful castle in Kildare, and have a bit of fun. Of course it is much more than this and is difficult to really explain. In fact, you honestly would need to meet the kids and hear their stories to truly understand why Barretstown means to much to them...

...and this is my point - Barretstown should get personal.

Let visitors hear these kids tell their stories - upload videos on the site, get them to post comments, answer questions. Recruit cancer survivors to blog regularly on the site and bring the Barretstown experience come to life for website visitors. And get personal with fundraising, Instead of donating money to help these kids, how about allowing me to give my money to:

"hi, I'm Jamie Murphy. I'm 10. I live in Dublin, in 3rd class. I found out I had cancer last April. This is my story...".

How could I not give money to help Jamie get to Barretstown? Do what Kiva does. Encourage me to register and sign up to email updates on how the campaign to get Jamie to Barretstown. Better still, sign me up to an RSS feed. Let me upload photos of myself and see who else is helping Jamie get to Barretstown. I'll probably tell my mates so they can help (and also so they can see I'm a nice guy that doesn't just think about myself). Instead of being a donor - I become involved emotionally and become an advocate. Then let me know how Jamie got on, so I'll donate to get him back next year.

I know there will be privacy worries and other concerns around the internet & children. These are real concerns and should be addressed but are not a good enough reason to stop charities from gaining real affinity (and raising lots of money) using web 2.0 tools.


Unknown said...

I've been thinking about something similar recently. Charities ultimately have to form relationships with their donors, however at the same time they have to make sure that they don't exploit the people they're trying to help.

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