Aussie Charity Cashes in on Facebook Factor
Thursday, 8th April 2010 at 1:48 pm
Is social networking on Facebook and Twitter becoming a fundraising essential in Australia? One charity has the dollars to back it up.
Victorian-based charity and one of the largest hospital fundraising appeals in Australia, the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal is counting its Facebook fans in extra dollars after the Easter campaign saw another record amount in donations. The annual campaign went from raising $13.8 million in 2009 to $14.4 million this Good Friday.
And organisers say some of that success has to go to the more than 38,000 Facebook fans who joined up in the final days of the campaign.
Appeal Director Christine Unsworth says the Facebook page was only really up and running about four weeks before the Good Friday Appeal, which has a day-long Telethon and radio-thon and more than 100,000 volunteers across Victoria rattling collection tins.
In its 79 year, the Appeal has continued to break fundraising records but Christine Unsworth went into this year’s campaign believing it would be very hard to top last year’s incredible result of $13.8 million.
Unsworth says the Facebook page went from hundreds of fans joining up each day to thousands as the Appeal got closer – with each fan telling their own story of appreciation and care from the Royal Children’s Hospital.
She says as it got closer to the day the fans then began urging each other to donate as well as connecting up with families they had met at the hospital over the years.
She says it was inspiring and rather incredible to watch. This also flowed onto Twitter which at times had some frenzied traffic. By the end of Good Friday the Facebook page had more than 38,000 fans – up from 21,000 at the start of the day.
Unsworth says they were able to turn Facebook fans into Good Friday Appeal campaigners by encouraging them to post a link to the Good Friday Appeal in their own Facebook status.
She says that this has certainly translated into a record number of dollars being raised.
As well she says it has provided an incredible feedback tool for the team in the Appeal office as it heads into its 80th anniversary campaign in 2011.
United States based social web guru Beth Kanter says she has no doubt that the tools of the social web are going to be a crucial part of online life for Not for Profits in Australia as they are in the US.
Websites like www.glasspockets.org in the US are showcasing the online transparency and accountability practices of the largest foundations through the use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube.
Kanter says whether it’s for fundraising, lobbying, membership support or straight out campaigning, the social web opens doors that were previously closed to smaller Not for Profits.
A new report on social networking habits in the Asia pacific region released this week puts Facebook as the top network destination. Australia rates second after the Philippines with some 69.4% of internet users regularly logging on to Facebook.
The study found that 50.8 percent of the total online population in the Asia-Pacific region visited a social networking site in February 2010, reaching a total of 240.3 million visitors.
Will Hodgman, comScore executive vice president for Asia Pacific says that in some markets, such as the Philippines, Australia (89.6 percent penetration) and Indonesia, social networking is one of the most popular Web activities reaching nearly 90 percent of the entire Internet population.
Also the report found Australian internet users averaged 3.8 hours per visitor on social networking sites and 20 visits during the month that was surveyed.