Survey Shows Social Media Users are Giving to Charity – and Sharing the News

New American Red Cross Poll Released at the Start of the Holiday Giving Season

A new survey by the American Red Cross found that seven in 10 social users are giving to charity—online and offline—and many are sharing about their donation on social media.

114706 Holiday Poll Infographic FINAL 300 dpiThe survey findings on charity giving by social media users come just before the holiday giving season, an important time for many nonprofits. The Red Cross is kicking off its annual holiday campaign that urges people to make financial donations or give blood during the holiday season.

These new survey results show yet another way that social activity is impacting nonprofits and their work.

The Red Cross survey found that 71 percent of those active on social networks donated to a charity in the past 12 months. Of those, six in 10 have donated online, revealing that not only the generosity of social media users, but also highlighting how online channels can spur charitable giving.

One notable finding from the survey is that personal appeals from friends matter more than trending topics and gimmicks important key to motivating social media users to donate to charity.

The national online survey of 1,021 adults conducted October 16-19 found that in the online space, a personal connection is particularly important when deciding to give to charity. The majority (70 percent) of social media users would take some kind of action in response to a friend posting a story on social media about making a charitable donation.

Moreover, while only three percent of respondents said social media was the most effective way for the charity itself to request a donation, the number jumped to 19 percent when asked if they would likely donate money to a charity if they saw a friend post about a recent donation.

Social Users are in it to Give, Not Receive

While trends online and in the media can draw new attention to a charity, 72 percent said a charity’s popularity in the media or trending status on Twitter made no difference in their decision to donate.

And the survey found that users are interested in giving, not receiving, as 51 percent said that receiving something like a memento, ornament or piece of clothing in exchange for  a charitable donation would  not increase their likelihood to give.

Other Key Findings

While not at the levels of awareness of the Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping days, Giving Tuesday is on the minds of more than two in five social users (41 percent) who are aware of the charitable day of giving, which is December 2 this year. And nearly half (47 percent) of those aware of Giving Tuesday said they planned to participate this year.

Survey details: Telephone survey of 1,021 U.S. adults (508 men and 513 women) 18 years and older on October 16-19, 2014 conducted in ORC International’s CARAVAN®  survey. The online omnibus study is conducted twice a week among a demographically representative U.S. sample of 1,000 adults.

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The Power of Social Engagement

By Jody Weyers, Volunteer and Communication Director  @jweyers2

With smartphones, facebook, twitter and other social engagement platforms it is changing the way we communicate with people.  Working in the communications field for over 12 years at the American Red Cross, I have seen a lot of changes in technology, forms of communications, what works and what is outdated.

Over the last few years, on larger disasters I have seen how our National Headquarters team uses social engagement as a way to communicate with our clients, and as a way for the community impacted to communicate with us.

I have now experienced this power first-hand on the impact social media has in times of a disaster with the recent tornadoes and storms that hit Northeast Wisconsin on the morning of August 7.

Here are some real life examples of how we identified those who needed help and we were able to help:

Tweet from @WendyH0405:  @newredcross I’m in rural Hortonville and am wondering where to go to get ice thanks?

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I sent her my e-mail and she contacted me with her information and I was able to provide her number to our team delivering ice to call her when they were in the area. I am happy to say Wendy sent back an e-mail at 2:00pm that day, saying she was able to get ice and thank you!

Here is another success story.

Idell Johnnston @sfagentidell is a State Farm agent from Shawano, and has helped in the past with her family to canvas the area with fire prevention door hangers. She saw me on the news that night, wanted to help and followed up via facebook.  I made a call to the disaster lead and, yes, we did need some extra hands. Idell and her daughter came down to help give out ice all day at our Appleton Office.

IMAG0665 - fb

Social engagement cannot replace your traditional forms of communication. You still have to pick up the phone, meet people in person, and I am a firm believer of the hand written thank you note, but in times of disaster, and with social engagement being instant, this is just another tool to help the Red Cross connect with people and for people to connect with the Red Cross!

Thank you @lisajduff  for your nice message of appreciation!!!

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Emergency Social Data: Alabama in Need

This guest post was written by Jeffrey Biggs from Dothan, Alabama and posted on the National Red Cross Blog. I had the pleasure of working with Jeffrey on my first national deployment in September of 2008 to Houston,TX for Hurricane Ike. In the Spring of 2008 he was deployed to Southern Wisconsin to assist in public affairs for the floods. Thank you Jeffrey for sharing your knowledge and in site on this changing world of communication during disasters. – Jody Weyers, Northeast Wisconsin Regional Volunteer and communications Director

Jody Weyers and Jeffery Biggs on deployment in Houston, TX.

 You’re sitting at home and feeling a bit helpless. All you see on the television is destruction taking place right before your eyes. You flip on your computer and you see the same thing. The local radio stations have quit playing your favorite tunes. Instead, they are interrupting normal programming to bring you the latest on the devastation taking place 200 miles to the northwest. Again, you feel like you can’t do anything but watch. You have friends and family directly in the path – and you’re in pain because you can’t help. No, I’m not reliving the events of September 11, 2001. I’m reliving the events of April 27, 2011.

April 27 was the day a horrific deadly tornado ripped a jagged scar across the state of Alabama from the Mississippi line on into Georgia and up into South Carolina. And I was sitting at work, and later at home, watching the events unfold on television and online. Concerned for my family and friends in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Gadsden. Wondering aloud to my co-workers, “What can we do?”

And that’s when I started communicating – or at least attempting to. I immediately called my cousin in Birmingham to check on them. No answer. Of course not, cell phone towers were probably down. So I sat and waited for a bit. Then, my phone rang. My cousin, his wife, and their daughter were ok. My aunt and uncle – ok. My other cousins, ok. Relief was starting to creep in. But then, my cousin’s wife said one thing, “What’s going on? We know a tornado just went through, but we can’t really communicate with anyone. We don’t know what’s happening or if anything else is coming.”

And that’s when I knew I had a job to do. I could be the eyes and ears of those who were in the path of the dangerous storms. I had access to the weather in Birmingham. I could watch the news from Birmingham. I could lend a hand. And that’s what I did. I relayed information to friends and family in the Birmingham metro area from my house just outside of Dothan. And I posted it on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media. Spreading information – accurate information – was vital in this time of crisis.

And then, an interesting thing happened. I got a Facebook message from my good friends in Washington DC regarding the weather north of me, and one very simple question, “Are you able to help?” Of course, my answer was “YES! Let me help those in my own backyard, please.”

And that’s when a unique experiment in social media communication began. As the majority of the world was fixated on events taking place across the Atlantic Ocean in London’s Westminster Abbey, the American Red Cross was focusing its energy on helping those throughout the southeastern United States who had just been impacted by the biggest natural disaster to heat the area since Hurricanes Katrina and Ike. Because the destruction was so widespread and the infrastructure in many areas so heavily damaged, it wasn’t feasible for everyone to travel to an area affected. Thanks to the advances of technology and the explosive growth of social media, someone had to monitor what was being said. Someone had to help spread real, vital, potentially life-saving information to those around the globe – and most importantly, in the disaster zone – who were transfixed on the events in my backyard.

 I could be that person. I have high-speed Internet at my house. I have access to television stations from Montgomery to Panama City, Fla., and thanks to that same high speed Internet, I have access to television and radio from the affected areas. And then, there was the little matter that I am a “power” Facebooker and adept Twitter user. I could monitor the action, stay in communication with the Red Cross workers in the field and in Washington DC, and help guide people to the right places at the right time.

You see, the little experiment turned out to be remotely harnessing the power of social media to actively lend a hand to those needing it most in the disaster zone. And it was a tremendous success. I was able to monitor the action in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and other areas of the state and find out what was being said – and by whom. If wrong information was out there, I had the resources to correct it. If people were in need in a certain area and had not seen Red Cross assistance, I was able to help guide either the person to the Red Cross, or more importantly, the Red Cross workers to the people who needed them most.

During the course of events, we even discovered someone making false accusations and misguided directions to individuals in need. Because of the speed of social media, we (and I mean we in the term of American Red Cross disaster relief workers) were able to right a wrong. And most importantly, during the flow of events, we were able to bring a little bit of comfort to those hurting so greatly.

Yes, it was an unconventional way to bring assistance to those hurting – and let’s face it, not everyone had the luxury of sitting in their living room during such a brutal ordeal – but it worked. It was a grand experiment that proved the power of social media and its ability to be that vital link between those hurting and those who are willing and able to help. Having worked with the Red Cross in disaster zones and utilizing social media in the field, it was interesting to see how it could work remotely. And it worked. It continues to work. And the power of social media continues to work in Alabama. A group of citizens have rallied together to harness the power of social media and our state’s intense football rivalry between The University of Alabama and Auburn University by creating Toomers for Tuscaloosa on Facebook – a site that continues to harness Facebook’s power and lend a hand throughout Tide and Tigerland.

Red Cross leverages new social media platform to reward blood donors

Are you a “Foursquare” user? The next time you give blood be sure you “check in”.

What is Foursquare? Foursquare is a geo-location application for mobile phones that allows users to “check in” at various venues, “shout” to friends and earn badges.

The application has more than 4 million users worldwide, and in November it launched a special American Red Cross blood donor badge. The badge allows donors to share their good deed with others while encouraging more people to give.

To unlock the American Red Cross blood donor badge, users check in at a blood donation location and then “shout” that they are donating blood. Click here to learn more about how Foursquare works.

One Voice Through Social Media

We can text, twitter, post Facebook messages and use websites; so what is more important if you can’t do them all? With so many communication channels, did we stop communicating all together?  Are we over communicating? 

These are just a few of the questions Red Shoes PR, Inc. helped us navigate through. With their expertise, and guidance, we have launched NEWRedCross in several formats. They are shared resources so we speak with one voice to increase brand awareness, engage the community and increase volunteerism all while increasing the emotional connection to the American Red Cross.

Please join us on several social media sites under NEWRedCross, NEW stands for Northeast Wisconsin. If you can’t stop in to see us in person, please do join our viral applications. We look forward to connecting with you!

Emergency Social Data Summit #crisisdata

Social media has radically changed how people communicate, including their calls for help. Now, people Tweet, add a Facebook status or text about a natural disaster. Emergency and disaster response organizations are working to develop a process to address this and harness the communication power of new media. This American Red Cross blog chronicles that effort, beginning with the Emergency Social Data Summit.

Join us this Thursday to discuss #CrisisData