This past weekend Boston College hosted the annual Relay for Life in the Plex from Friday February 24th at 6pm to Saturday February 25th at 6am. Relay for Life raises money for the fight against cancer. People form teams to walk around the track throughout the night and to organize tables around the track for people to buy things or play games with all proceeds going towards the fight against cancer. The night is filled with different activities and performances to keep participants busy for all 12 hours of the event and I do not think it would be nearly as successful as it has been over the past few years without the help of social media and Web 2.0 technology.
A lot of other universities, highschools and communities host their own Relay for Life events or similar fundraising events and the majority of these events rely heavily on promotion through social media. Relay for Life has a very interactive website that allows you to organize your team online, keep track of the money you have raised so far and even send personalized emails or messages to friends and family members asking for support and donations. Relay for Life is also all over Facebook with each university’s individual event as well as its own Relay for Life page that people can like or comment on. Relay for Life has been liked by over 25,000 fans on Facebook and has over 13,000 followers on twitter. Relay for Life even has mobile apps that let you donate directly from your phone. The presence of fundraising groups and non-profit organizations on social media only helps to facilitate their goals and get more people talking about their causes and what every person can do to make a difference.
Mark Herzlich’s Beat Cancer campaign was huge across the country and online. It was facilitated by word of mouth and popularity because he was a big football star but social media gave it a platform to explode. There was a ton of events on Facebook that raised money for his charity while he was fighting cancer and continuous updates on his condition and when he would start playing again because it was so readily available on his Facebook profile.
When I was interning a couple of summers ago at an Ad Agency in my hometown I worked with the American Diabetes Association in promoting a fundraiser for their Tour de Cure event. We utilized social media heavily in promoting the event by creating a Facebook page specifically for the event locally and also by tweeting at local media outlets and businesses to create a team to participate or support he event through donations. The fundraiser was a huge success compared to previous years and I know a lot of that had to do with the social media promotions.
Penn State hosted their annual THON dance marathon last weekend. They have raised over $78 million since 1977 for the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. THON is the largest student run philanthropy in the world and would not be as prominent or as successful with out their strong use of social media in their promotion and fundraising efforts. It is easy to donate on their website and to connect to their Facebook, twitter and tumblr pages to learn more about the event and where the money they raise goes to every year. THON is just one example of many different events that has seen substantial growth in recent years because it is so easy to donate money online now. Like Alvic talked about in his crowdfunding presentation a couple weeks ago there are so many sites that facilitate fundraising and have made it so easy for people to get involved in causes they are passionate about.
I am passionate about Relay for Life because my Aunt was diagnosed with Breast cancer this past fall. I am proud that my Relay team has raised over $3000 alone for the fight against cancer and I know that we would not have been as successful if we hadn’t been able to hyperlink the donation site to our Facebook profiles or send out specialized emails to people asking for support and donations. Social Media is doing more than growing business or giving you a platform to talk to your friends all the time it is changing the world in good ways and that is why I love it!
If you’re interested in checking out the Relay for Life Website here’s the link: