School fundraising efforts initially comprised of posters, signs, car washes and other methods involving students walking around asking for donations. While these practices are still used, and remain an effective form of collecting monetary gifts, certain institutions are capitalizing on the changing dynamics of our world. In coordination with face to face interactions, educational institutions and its members are utilizing social media and email campaigns to promote intended messages throughout their communities.
Institutions are enveloping information sharing sites like twitter, facebook, youtube and various others to ensure that their efforts are bring in fruitful returns. Not only limited to collecting funds, social media also allows these groups to better inform the public on their mission and goals, subsequently creating more educated and loyal followers. One institution in particular has taken these tools, and used them to become the largest student run philanthropy in the world.
The Pennsylvania State University has faced a large amount of scrutiny in the past few months, but its student body continued to promote the The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon or THON. THON is a year-long fundraising endeavor that culminates in a 46 hour dance a thon where participants do not sit or sleep for the duration of the event. The students aim to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer, and through the integration of social media channels they have vastly improved their results.
The fundraiser started in 1973 where a total of 2,000 dollars was raised. The past decade has seen a monumental growth in activity as students began to steadily utilize social media as a part of their marketing strategy, and from this focus have thus become the largest student run donation in the world. Channels such as youtube share videos on a viral level with some having almost 500,000 views, various facebook groups numbering near 40,000 fans and twitter pages with 20,000 followers all led to their success. Each page or site promoted education and were created for user friendly donation options. Through online contributions and mobile applications that facilitated monetary gifts, the fund saw a continual growth the past few years.
This year Penn State students raised 10,686,924.83 dollars to benefit pediatric cancer patients, which is 1.1 million more than the year before. THON’s main slogan is, ”For The Kids”, and as the philanthropic movement continues to grow, students and supporters alike will increasingly rely on the sharing power social media offers
To learn more about the organization or the way people use social media to improve fundraising, visit www.Thon.org