Social media powers immediate, grassroots giving

When an 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan in March 250 miles northeast of Tokyo, it triggered a tsunami that caused major destruction in northern Japan. It also triggered assistance a groundswell of concern, conversation, and financial support on social networks.

Twitter aided Japanese users by providing a Tsunami support page to help them gain first hand information, locate loved ones and share status updates abroad.  Global Voices, translated Japanese Tweets and blogs. and charitable organizations went into action organizing relief efforts and connecting donations. Katya Andresen, COO of Network for Good, said her organization helped dozens of responding organizations accept relief donations within hours of the tragedy. The organization has raised more than $6.7 million in growing relief effort so far.

“As soon as we hear about something that looks like a large-scale humanitarian disaster – within hours, we put together Japan Quake and Tsunami Relief page so that people know where they can donate and what trusted organizations are rushing aid,” Andresen said. “Then, we have some great partnerships that drive a lot of donations to that page.” She said AOL and Yahoo featured Tsunami relief charities ton their homepages to donations and business sponsors like CapitalOne notified its members how they could support the Japan relief effort.

Network for Good was founded as a response to 9/11 to improve relief efforts. and has been supporting catastrophe response and charitable donations since. The organization provides the charitable giving back end for Causes on Facebook, Crowdrise,, an many other social networks for social good.  They also make it easy for companies to integrate charitable giving into their marketing and social media efforts. They power Capital One’s No Hassle Giving sitewhere CapitalOne card members can give to any charity without fees; the Pepsi Refresh Campaign, by providing Good Cards allowing participants to support their favorite causes; and other corporate efforts.  Andresen said it’s been fantastic for non profit organizations to see companies embrace social media and incorporate cause marketing into it.

Social media makes charitable giving easier, more visible and more attractive than ever.

“There’s a really interesting intersection right now between the increased interest in companies in allowing consumers to do social good and to feel like the product they’re purchasing has some redeeming value for the world,” Andresen said. “They’re interested in understanding the landscape we’re all trying to understand which is how the internet’s evolved and the rise of social media – where everyone has a platform for personal expression. People expect a more participatory role with their brands.”

In the online world, ‘the things you care about’ define who you are. They say as much about your personality as the clothes you wear and Facebook updates you share. Social networks have changed the way that people support charities, promote causes and view their own ability to change the world.  And, it’s more possible THAN EVER for individuals, groups and charities to change the world by leveraging social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Create The Good, a social-media powered cause from AARP, debunks the myth that AARP is an organization only representing the aged and disenfranchised.  It’s about service, giving back and making a difference — a cause that has no age limits.  Jen Martin, the social media voice for Create the Good, said the initiative helps individuals identify more than 260,000 local volunteer opportunities.

“The purpose of ‘Create the Good’ is to make it easy for people to make a difference in the way they want, in the time they have on issues they care about,” said Martin. “The opportunities we have are flexible and may not fit a traditional definition of volunteering.  For example, many people don’t consider ‘checking in on a sick neighbor’ volunteering…  ‘Create the Good’ does.” She said AARP utilizes Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Foursquare. They blog. They also attend conferences like NCVS, NTEN and SXSW, networking and engaging with crowds younger than the organization’s age 50+ members .

“Social media has been a tremendous tool in expanding Create the Good’s reach,” said Martin.” Our Twitter, Facebook and YouTube audiences are a little different than the folks we reach by email and on the web.  And, the ability to put out service-related content — about disasters, new volunteer opportunities, etc — in real time ,and start conversations about the service issues people care about, has been invaluable.”

NOTE: When it comes to motivating Facebook Fans, Twitter followers and consumers, there are three social activities that stand apart: Badges, causes and coupons. This is the 2nd of three blog posts exploring these activities. Read the first post.

About the contributors

Social•Pro•Files is created for SmartBrief on Social Media by Troy Janisch (@socialmeteor) and Mark Anderson (@doodlehaus).  Both contributors have two decades of digital marketing experience and lead social media activities at American Family Insurance, a Fortune 400 corporation. Troy blogs at Mark shares his art at

YouTube Footage

Tsunami footage arrived on YouTube shortly after the quake — so did the ability for viewers to donate to relief efforts online. In this video, residents of the port town of Kamaishi in Iwate prefecture watched in horror as the first huge tsunami waves hit, sweeping away cars and buildings. A group manages to scramble to safety on higher ground, where they watched as the water surged towards them. Others are stranded on the roof of a multi-storey building as the water level rose rapidly below.

3 thoughts on “Social media powers immediate, grassroots giving

  • Posted by Jon Dave (@ binbnews), via LinkedIn:

     Interesting… when I scanned the list of charities I was looking for Rotary, probably the most efficient organisation as there is minimal admin costs. It was great to see Shelter Boxes USA mentioned… Shelter Boxes was started in the UK by a fellow Rotarian and it is good to see that because we all like to give to “local”, they have been smart enough to recognise this and created a US based website to facilitate giving. Shelter Box are always first on the scene as they work through the Rotary’s Global network… a network that Bill Gates has given $500,000,000 to eradicate Polio.

    I was told a story at an NRG Networks lunch about how many in the East feel about our financial giving and they essentially think we are a little stupid. They know we are all in debt up to our ears and that we can’t really afford to give, it simply eases our conscience. The implication was they are saying thank you for the thought but perhaps we need to grow up and smell the coffee.

    When I reflected on the Japanese disaster I looked to Masaru Emoto for guidance as he is Japanese and lives in the community. He requests that at 12pm on the 11th of every month we say the following prayer:

    “Uchu no Mugen no Chikara ga Kori Kotte, Makoto no Daiwa no Miyo ga, Nari Natta.”

    (This means: The eternal power of the Universe has gathered itself to create the world with true and grand harmony.)

    Take a look at his work:

    Amazing and so simple to implement every day in every way…

  • @binbnews:twitter – You’ve inspired me to dedicate a blog post in the near future on the Rotary Club — It’s been a very popular local organization throughout the United States. I’m wondering what affect social networking has had on Rotary participation. And, if The Rotary Club has adapted its strategies to embrace social media.

    In return, maybe I can inspire you to write a blog post about your NRG Networks lunch conversation.  (If you do, I’d love to publish it — or, at least link to it, from the @socialmeteor:twitter website.

    Thanks for your insight — and for sharing the Masaru Emoto prayer. 

  • Thank you Troy… I’ll get my man Dave Clarke to write it up as it was his story… if you could get my name right that would help my own fame and fortune ;) 

    Jon Davey 

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