Fundraising Efforts Improved Through Social Media

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


How Social Media is Changing The World

It was the winter of 2003. I was preparing my luggage and heading to JFK on an international flight that would take me cross the Pacific Ocean to a strange new world.  For the next six months, I was going to be immersed in the Chinese culture and pu tong hua, (the common language) also considered the national language of China.

Although I have familial and cultural ties to this country, I was still an American born student from the states returning to a place I hardly knew to study a language that would one day be the second most taught language in the world right behind English.

Even then, being in the capital city, I knew many things were rapidly changing.  The technology, the people and society; the national pride as China was preparing the capital for the Olympics, culminating in an entire nation being in a form of metamorphosis… yet there was something missing.

The voice of the nation’s people had not yet emerged.

During 2003 the SARs outbreak became newsworthy around the world, especially in Asia and China.  I was informed during my study abroad in Beijing that the number of SARs cases were minimal in the area, but while on a excursion in Shang Hai, news reports uncovered the government had under estimated the number of the infected.  Imagine what preventive measures could have been taken with a resource like social media (Twitter, Facebook etc…) supplying people with the ability to exchange information in real time?

In the Spring of 2010, dissatisfaction with governmental rule, corruption, high unemployment led to a wave of revolutionary demonstrations in the Arab world and the eventual collapse of Tunisia’s and Egypt’s one party government that ruled for nearly three decades. The use of social media during this period facilitated communication, organization and increased awareness.  Many civilian journalists took to the web and often reported what was happening on the ground with real time updates.

A similar example that hit closer to home is the evolution of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. The protest began on September 17th 2011 in New York City’s Zucotti Park near Wall Street’s financial district where young activists would tweet and report progress on the movement via Facebook and Twitter. With traditional media being augmented by the reach of social media, the Occupy Movement quickly spread beyond from one city to other cities around the country as well as drive their message to a younger and growing audience. According to the Huffington Post, social media channels are tools used by passionate people to build networks of individuals for them take action as a community. They provide a spark that would not ordinarily exist.

The influence of social media has received authenticity through Time Magazine’s person of the Year in 2011.  The popular award was given to protestors throughout the world, and their efforts to change the environments they lived in.  The articles author Kurt Andersen said in an interview with Managing Editor of Time, Richard that channels such as facebook, twitter and other social media sites were the main source of the movements.  Anderson goes on to say that the messages were viral due to the information sharing methods available, and that their importance has been underestimated by exsperts.

Observers have said employing Twitter or Facebook was not the singular reason the protests were so successful and they would be correct. Social media is a significant venue that changed the way people tell their stories to whoever was willing to listen.

Written By:

Norman Lam