Category Archives: Social Media

Fundraising Millennial Style: Crowdfunding

Due to the overwhelming level of support, online fundraising in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was deemed a watershed moment for nonprofit fundraising efforts. By tapping into technology, nonprofits can capitalize on human emotions and a desire to help in times of tragedy.

With crowdfunding, charities of all sizes can solicit donations from large numbers of people, who in turn can engage their extended network of family members, friends and colleagues, through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Using websites like Fundly, Indiegogo  and Causevox, nonprofits can reach millennials not already in their donor base and cultivate the next generation of donors.

In an interview with Nightly Business Report, The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s web editor, Cody Switzer, summed up the benefits of crowdfunding – getting donors involved in your cause at that small level is a good way to get them to the next level, and make them lifetime donors, especially those younger donors who have years and years to give.

In 2012, while the holiday fundraising perennial, the Salvation Army, collected $147 million in their ubiquitous red kettles, they also added $2 million in donations through online kettle bell ringers. You could have almost heard coins landing in those virtual buckets.

And that amount of money can buy a lot more than Kibbles ‘n Bits®. The Warrior Canine Connection, a charity that breeds and trains service dogs for wounded veterans, used a live puppy cam to engage potential donors. Co-founder Molly Morelli’s fundraising efforts went viral when a large foundation starting broadcasting the puppy cam feed to their constituents.

Learn more about growing your online fundraising efforts:

You hear lots about crowdfunding, but what is it?

Millennials Want to Donate to Charities, Save the World. Really

The Effect Crowdfunding Has on Venerable Nonprofits Raises Concern

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Mid-Ohio Foodbank Welcomes Home Gardeners

 Jalapenos © Pamela J. Willits

Jalapenos at Mid-Ohio Foodbank © Pamela J. Willits

Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s This Is Hunger brochure sums it up best – Hunger is not a one-organization issue, it’s a community issue.

As part of the local gardening community, I recently bundled up the surplus from my home garden and delivered it to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s warehouse on West Mound street.

There I had the opportunity to spend some time with Christina Christian, MOFB’s digital marketing manager. The Mid-Ohio Foodbank jumped on the social media marketing train long before must of us realized it had already left the station.

With a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter, Christina spends a portion of her day promoting fund raisers and food drives through social media. On-line networking sites have expanded their audience, helping to broadcast their message beyond the reach of their mailing list.

Since the economic downturn, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank has seen a 30% increase in need. Serving as a distribution point, the MOFB supplies food to more than 500 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and senior housing sites in central and eastern Ohio.

The statistics are staggering. Forty-four percent of those in need have had to choose between food and heat or electricity, twenty-nine percent have had to choose between food and shelter, thirty-eight percent of all requests involve children and fourteen percent are for senior citizens.


The good news is that their weighty commitment has them handling over 30 million pounds of food each year. And for every dollar they receive from donors, they distribute $8 worth of groceries. Thanks to the value of their non-profit status buying power, they’ve elevated stretching the dollar to an art form.

Come this October, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank will be stretching those dollars even further as they move into a new LEED certified (environmental friendly) warehouse in Grove City. The move will also triple their storage space.

My Garden Tomatoes © Pamela J. Willits

My Garden Tomatoes © Pamela J. Willits

So, while it’s too late to re-think this year’s backyard garden, it’s never too early to start planning for how you could expand your existing garden to create a surplus to share next summer. And between now and then, the Mid-Ohio Foodbank will still welcome any donation of fresh produce.

For up-to-date info and events, Join their Fan Page on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter @Mid_OHFoodbank or Call 614.274.7770.

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Can Social Media Save Ohio Libraries?

Governor Strickland has proposed eliminating $200 million from the Public Library Fund over the next two years.

If approved, the proposal would cut the Columbus Metro Library’s state funding by 50%. The results would be devastating: closing branches, halting new books and materials and shutting down programs and services that are vital to our children and community.


The Columbus Metropolitan Library encourages you to do the following:

* Post a tweet on Twitter or update your Facebook with the following message:

Our libraries are in jeopardy. I contacted my elected officials to save Ohio libraries. You should too. Find out more:
(or use

* Change your profile picture on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites to the Save Ohio Libraries image below.

Ohio Lib
* E-mail your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

* Call the Governor’s office at 614-466-3555 and state your opposition to this proposal.

* Visit the CML website to learn more.

* Visit the Ohio Library Council website for more information.

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Semper Fi: Leave No Woman Behind

AWP Logo 3

AWP Logo

What began as one young woman’s quest to document other young military
widows like herself, turned into a nationwide, non-profit support group called the American Widow Project. After creating a documentary film that tells the stories of six young military widows, AWP co-founder Taryn Davis, whose husband Michael was killed in Baghdad by a roadside bomb, has taken her stories of healing on the road.

If she rolls through your town, she’ll be hard to miss. She’s the 23-year-old
Texan behind the wheel of a black RV, with the names of hundreds of servicemen lost in Iraq and Afghanistan printed on the sides of the bus. You can track her route on the AWP Tour blog, whose tag line reads, “Unifying the New Generation of Military Widows…On Mile at a Time.”

Putting aside political party lines and individual opinions on whether
our involvement in the war was justified, it’s interesting to note
that it’s a young woman from Texas now on a mission to help carry other military widows through a time of great personal loss. “Military widow is an honorable title,” said Davis in a CNN interview last month. “It signifies our husband’s sacrifice.”

The American Widow Project website reminds us that these young women shouldn’t be the only ones to carry the burden of sacrifice. The site’s Help Board notes that anyone can place a yellow ribbon magnet on their car, but it’s the small deeds, like picking up groceries or offering to mow the lawn for a newly widowed, that are most appreciated.

The website also provides a page for women to post their own stories, while a MySpace page and a Twitter feed @americanwp give them a venue to chat. You can also donate through the website by sponsoring a military widow or helping to fund the AWP RV Tour.

Meetup logo
Mix & Mingle for a Cause, a newly formed Meetup group, will host a fundraiser on Friday, June 26 at the Hyatt on Capitol Square to benefit the American Widow Project, as well as the Mid-Ohio Foodbank. During this economic downturn, food banks across the country are striving to meet a growing demand for food assistance. And for military widows struggling to provide for their families, sometimes a little comfort food can go a long way to heal more than hunger.

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Non-Profits and Social Media – A Cycle for Change

If you’re in the non-profit sector and still aren’t sure how or if your organization can benefit from social media, consider the following story.

In addition to this blog, I also oversee and write content for Larry Hamill Photography’s blog. Last weekend, he photographed ZombieWalk Columbus 2009, as part of his ongoing documentation of Columbus events. Turns out the walk benefited the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, so naturally I linked to the organization in Larry’s blog post about ZombieWalk.


Once on their website, I followed the link to their Twitter feed. There I learned that if you shop at Kroger, you can use your Plus Card to benefit the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Scrolling down their list of tweets, I also discovered FOODFIGHT 6.30, a partnership between the Central Ohio Restaurant Association and Mid-Ohio Foodbank’s Operation Feed. It’s a hunger initiative scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 30. Participating member restaurants will donate 5% of their sales receipts from that day to Operation Feed, a community-wide food and funds drive.

The event is part virtual food drive, so if you can’t visit a participating restaurant on June 30, you can still help by making an online donation. All donations will help provide food for the hungry in central and eastern Ohio.

Lastly, there was a tweet about ZombieWalk. The numbers weren’t in yet, but word on the street, or at least in the ethers, was that it was a great success. I learned quite a bit – all from a blog posting about zombies. Zombies who had their heads on straight when they created a MySpace page titled ZombieWalk, to promote their fund raising event.

When I log off my blog site in the few minutes, I’ll log into my Twitter account to post a tweet of my own about this blog post, completing the cycle social media tools afford us to help spread our messages for social change.

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Will Social Media Save Us?

Driving to WordPress Camp – Columbus, I heard a story on NPR about more victims of the economy. Dan was a L.A. based photographer who hadn’t booked a job since December. His wife, Caitlin Shetterly, was a freelance reporter for public radio. And then there was the baby and the dog.

Caitlin spoke about how they forfeited their apartment, shuttered the business and moved back to Maine, to live with her mother. They crossed the country in a car too small for all their belongs, or at least the ones they hadn’t opted to leave behind. With two adults, a restless baby and one 90lb. dog, her husband had worried that the back end of the car was riding too close to the ground. Arriving safely, they found her mother had decorated the guest bedroom with photographs of Caitlin as a young girl. Her father was just glad to have them home.

As a writer, who also works with photographers, the story hit home.
Given the current economy, I too have considered the possibility of returning home. But for today, I was attending WordPress Camp.

During the first presentation, a woman in the back of the room began calling out comments. As this continued, I began to think of her as the WordPress Camp’s heckler. Any comedian will tell you there’s one in every crowd.

Later that morning, I learned that Lorelle VanFossen was no heckler.
In fact, she was one of the first sixty people to test drive WordPress’ software in early 2000. She’s a walking warehouse of blogging knowledge and had come from Portland, Oregon to share the WordPress love.

As she walked through the audience, microphone in hand, she called out
the question – What has WordPress done for you? I was too busy taking
notes to realize she had zeroed in on me. I looked up to see the mike stuck in my face.

Well, I stumbled, I’ve only been using WordPress since Monday.
She stood over me, her finger pointed down toward my head and yelled –
Virgin! The audience laughed. She had gone from heckler to comedian.

Lorelle moved across the room, placed the mike in front of a man, roughly in his early 50’s and asked – What do you do and what has WordPress done for you? He replied – I used to be a journalist. Used to be? My heart sank. The Columbus Dispatch had recently let go a batch of writers – perhaps he among them. Our used to be journalist was also new to WordPress, and was just hoping to keep his writing skills honed.

Displaced creative types are becoming a theme in my life. A photographer I know was recently shadowed by a high school student wanting to become a photographer himself. The optimism of youth. For those who have spent a lifetime in the creative field, we wonder if there is a future in the wake of this economic downturn, or at best, what that future will look like.

Months before, this same photographer had commented that social media
platforms, like LinkedIn, would become the new marketing forum for photographers. I wonder about the L.A. photographer, now living in Maine. Will social media save his career? Will Caitlin’s blog save hers? Perhaps we’ve all been riding along life’s highway too overloaded and a little too close to the ground.

As we look to a President, who built his campaign on social media, to fix
so much that’s wrong, perhaps like Obama, the best we can do for now is just keep the conversation going in an attempt to keep moving forward.

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