All a-Twitter

Okay, so maybe it’s just me, but I feel like absolutely everywhere I look, people are talking about Twitter. In the past week alone, I’ve learned about Tweetdeck and Tweetbeep (pretty cool tools, actually, that allow you, among other things, to monitor keyword hits so that, even if people change your ‘tweet’ (for those who, like me until a couple of months ago, have NO IDEA what I’m talking about, that’s the 140-character or less message (often a link) that you send out via Twitter) before sending it on (or if they just mention your website or your cause–that way you can find them!), you can get a sense of the traffic that you generate; visited Tweetsgiving (raised more than $10,000 in 48 hours just using Twitter); blew my mind a bit at Twollars (an alternative Twitter currency that can be donated to participating nonprofit organizations); and checked out Tweet4Good (which is probably best explained as a kind of eBay for nonprofit giving via Twitter). After Twestival raised more than $250,000 and involved hundreds of thousands of people in Twitter-based fundraising, this year’s Twestivals will be locally-focused, raising money and recruiting volunteers for select nonprofit organizations in cities around the world. One of the best blog entries I found about Twitter and some of the tools that make it really work for nonprofits is here (Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog).

As I’ve discussed before, it seems that Facebook and other social networking applications are much better at recruiting friends than soliciting donations, but Twitter seems to be an exception. The Washington Post recently had an article (I can’t link to it without you having a subscription–sorry!) about some successful fundraising efforts using Twitter, and my very informal survey of some nonprofit organizations that I’ve communicated with on Facebook has confirmed that the (still relatively limited) fundraising success they are having with social networking is coming via Twitter.

Of course, I can’t think through all of this tweeting without connecting it to advocacy and organizing. It occurs to me that one of the particularly valuable things about using a tool like Twitter for fundraising is that these are all individual contributions, meaning that they’re unrestricted, meaning that they can, of course, be used for advocacy in a way that foundation, government, and even corporate grants are sometimes restricted. When you think about combining that with Twitter’s potential for sharing real-time information and moving people to give to support a specific legislative campaign or action on a particular target, and layer on top the understanding that much advocacy work requires relatively little cash, I think you can make the argument that Twitter fundraising and social change work go hand in hand.

And I’m on Twitter now, myself! Yes, the 140-character limit is still vexing me, but I got a total kick out of using Twellow and TwitDir and WeFollow to find awesome people to follow (you can search by topic or geography or category). I find a lot of really great links using Twitter, and I’ve also found it terrific for crowdsourcing. I don’t get on it as often as Facebook, probably because the quantity of information can be fairly overwhelming (out of sight, out of mind, right?), but I try to scan through my tweets received at least once a day. If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @melindaklewis.

Have you had success fundraising using Twitter? Do you have questions about Twitter that would help you get started? Any problems you’ve encountered that you want to share? Inspiration for those just getting started?

More Resources:
Heather Mansfield’s Twitter advice for nonprofits

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