Social Media restored my faith in humanity

        Okay, really I am not sure I ever lost my faith in humanity, but social media does remind me almost every day how generous members of our community are.  Our charity’s use of social media is starting to change some of the ways we raise money, but we are not at the point where we could tell our fundraising staff to stop meeting face to face with supporters. If you want to read about one of the ways social media supports some of our fundraising efforts take a look at this post:

https://mathiesonlarry.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/promoting-peer-to-peer-fundraising-with-social-media-an-experiment/

          However we did have an interesting situation yesterday. Tammy our Director of Family Services came into my office with a small problem. The Children’s Hospital is across the street so you can just walk there. The Foothills where the NICU is can be seen from our building but it is a 20 to 30 minute walk from the Calgary Ronald McDonald House. Right now we have quite a few antepartum moms and moms with preemies at the Foothills. Currently we have a good number of these moms who don’t have vehicle or a spouse/partner staying at the House. Typically the city of Calgary donates some bus passes for low income family’s use to RMH. Tammy told me we had used up a six month supply in January alone. We don’t have a shuttle bus or anything like that so the image of pregnant mothers walking a half an hour in minus 30 centigrade weather to go over to the hospital was a little disturbing to her. She asked if I thought tweeting out that we needed bus tickets would help. Couldn’t hurt I said.

           I pushed out this tweet on twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn:

        We are pretty low on bus passes for the #YYC #RonaldMcDonaldHouse-our NICU moms rely on them to go see their babies at Foothills

We didn’t push this out on our House accounts I just sent the message out on my own social media.

            By the afternoon I had received a message on Face Book: would tickets or passes better and how many did we need?  Within 24 hours a donor dropped off 80 bus tickets or $240 dollars’ worth.  That’s 40 round trips to the Hospital for our pregnant moms so we were thrilled.  This was not the first time something like this has happened. Two weeks ago our staff working on an upcoming fundraising event needed off-site storage for events supplies. We tweeted that we needed the donation of a self-storage unit and sure enough that evening we had an offer.  That is a service we would typically pay for –which ultimately reduces our costs which in turn increases the ROI for the event.

            We try not to over-use requests over social media for in-kind donations but when one of our volunteers is coming in to bake oatmeal cookies and we are out of raisins, we know if we tweet out the need-someone in the community will come to our rescue. We do know that these tweets work best when we are specific about what we need. And by the way we know they also work for: AA batteries, bottles of water, Barbie dolls and NHL tickets.  These may seem like small items but the reality is Ronald McDonald House Southern & Central Alberta benefit from the generosity of community members who donate on average $500,000 worth of in-kind donations a year and increasingly social media is becoming the vehicle of choice to tell these supporters what we need. 

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