#GivingTuesday: The Power of Crowdfunding, Social Media and Collaboration

Without an operating room, anesthesia, recovery unit or air-conditioning, the small clinic in the town of Montrouis, Haiti makes the most of its limited resources to provide disadvantaged Haitians with medical care.

On a trip to Haiti that included a visit to the Life Connection Mission, Megan Silk found herself in the middle of a procedure to remove a local woman’s cancerous tumor that was larger than the volunteer American doctor and non-medical personnel on-hand had expected. Megan Silk can’t forget the woman, who died two months following the mastectomy. That’s why she gives to the Life Connection Mission, she says, “to change the lives of the people in Haiti and give back to the place that changed my life.”   

Megan Silk’s account, captured by #MyGivingStory, is a thread within the fabric of #GivingTuesday, a global charitable campaign designated for the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. Launched in 2012, #GivingTuesday is the brainchild of the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which, along with the United Nations Foundation, designated the 24-hour period as a time for consumers to encourage each other through social media to donate their time, talents or cash to a cause or organization. 

From cash to the American Red Cross to clothing for the homeless, #GivingTuesday has emerged as an annual international, philanthropic ritual falling on the heels of the busiest shopping days of the year. As a prelude to the frenzy of giving that takes place just before the end of the year, #GivingTuesday ignited $168 million in charitable donations worldwide last season, up 44 percent from 2015. Meanwhile, volunteers pledged thousands of hours to assist their neighbors and those in need.

With the clock ticking toward #GivingTuesday, Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the free crowdfunding platform UHelp.com, said many businesses, nonprofits and civic organizations across the world are scrambling to put their benevolent campaigns in order. The key to finding the perfect place on which to host #GivingTuesday campaigns is research. Compare the options and select the platform best suited for the cause.

“#GivingTuesday is all about spreading the word,” said Hikind. “So, connecting with potential donors at the right time through email, social media and online content is a strategy in itself.”

The global day of giving, she said, is also a good time to integrate social media campaigns and evaluate current strategies, including branding measures, fees, data-gathering mechanisms and overall support.

“There are so many opportunities, including prizes and promotions, for groups to get more out of #GivingTuesday and raise extra funds,” said Hikind. “Send updates often and don’t forget to say thank you throughout the campaign.”

Megan Silk keeps a photo on the inside cover of her notebook of the deceased Haitian woman she had briefly crossed paths with at the Life Connection Mission. In the days since, the struggling clinic, as a result of crowdfunding, now has a full-time Haitian doctor and a nurse. Silk still wonders if the woman would have survived if she had regular access to hospitals and doctors.

“I hope to see it thrive and help more and more people,” said Silk. “That is why I give to Life Connection Mission."

Where should I start my fundraiser?

About the Author: This Research Associate completed a comparison of all crowdfunding websites.



Strategies for Moving Community Service into Action  

Community Service

Taking initiative to give back to the community is rewarding and fulfilling in so many ways. Besides the altruistic reasons, personal benefits can be gained as well.

Amanda Chen, in the Huffington Post, finds that generosity can lower stress levels, and lead to more happiness at work and a longer life. Consider these strategies to utilize community service to help others as well as yourself.

  1. Volunteer time with the elderly: Many senior centers have programs that offer young people time to spend with the elderly in a community setting where visitors may not be frequent. Every nursing home or senior community center has different rules, but reaching out to staff to express a desire to volunteer is a good place to start. Stories that these older people share are often inspirational. I have volunteered in nursing homes and have found that these stories are abundant, interesting and educational.
  2. Offer free tutoring to elementary or high school students: One great way to give back may is offer expertise as a tutor in math, English or social studies. Many students need help with homework, or studying for a test. A tutor often increases both a student’s knowledge and confidence in the subject. Call the school’s tutoring center or responsible faculty to learn how to help.
  3. Volunteer with a nonprofit that sends packages to troops overseas: Many organizations including Operation Gratitude and Operation Troop Support collect items for servicemen and women. Men and women who serve in the armed forces sacrifice comfort and risk their lives to protect the freedom of all Americans. Coordinating the delivery of care packages is a great way to give back and show support and appreciation for all they do.

Don’t put off giving back. Create a community service crowdfunding campaign and invite close family members, friends and coworkers who are supportive of your cause to join your team. We recommend adding at least three members to help divide the work for your daily marketing campaign. Ask them to make a small $5 or $10 contribution to help kick off your community service campaign. You will always have the personalized support of UHelp, our free crowdfunding platform.

About the Author: Lianne Hikind is a staff writer for www.YouHelp.com