How many times in the past month have you been asked to make a donation to a nonprofit? Chances are, quite a few. Many consumers are now facing appeals for support on the street, in their email inboxes, over the phone and in the mail. Yet, a few savvy nonprofits are harnessing social media to break through the clutter, telling compelling, personal stories of the issues at hand rather than directly appealing for donations.
In honor of World Alzheimer's Day, Alzheimer's Disease International is making it possible for consumers to experience first-hand the memory loss caused by the disease. Consumers can download a Facebook app that will slowly, albeit temporarily, erase portions of the user's Facebook timeline (including status updates, posts and photos) and replace the missing memories with the message, "Imagine your life without memories. For 36 million people living with Alzheimer's disease, this is reality." Consumers are not directly asked for a donation, but instead are educated, in a very personal way, about Alzheimer's disease.
U.K.-based WaterAid is also building a powerful story, taking to Instagram for its new "The Big Dig" campaign. On-the-ground charity workers recount the real-life struggles of people living in water crisis through powerful, daily Instagram images. Just last week, the campaign documented the daily routine of Grace Luster, a mother of three living in the village of Bokola, Malawi, who toiled to extract less than one cup of water from a source she shares with 50 households after a "twenty minute ordeal." Similar to Alzheimer's Disease International, it appears WaterAid's primary goal is to educate consumers by making the issues personal – and undeniable.
By introducing these stories and experiences into people's daily lives through social media, nonprofits are not only making the causes deeply personal – they are building a strong emotional and educational foundation for advocacy. Rather than chase the immediate dollar, the emphasis is on creating a network of long-term, highly invested supporters.
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