People often tweet for charity, and sometimes you have to wonder whether those “RT and I’ll donate” messages are for real. Not all Twitter-based charity events are created equal, and Twestival is one of the most interesting organizations to meld social media and good deeds. Twestival takes advantage of Twitter as an organizing tool, but it grounds its activities firmly in local, community-based charities.
“In 2013 Twestival will run throughout the year, giving Twitter communities around the world an opportunity to run events in support of a local cause that’s relevant to them,” founder of Twestival Amanda Rose explains of how the organization is growing. “We are really looking forward to opening it up to those communities that have never participated in Twestival before, including smaller U.S. cities. We are particularly excited about the enthusiasm we see from organizers throughout Africa and the Middle East who want to bring the Twestival philosophy to their city this year. So far we have 50 cities signed up to run local events, and expect that number to grow significantly in coming weeks.”
Twestival goes global
The event started in London in 2008 and expanded to a global exercise in 2009, holding events all over the world on a specific day or weekend each year. But in 2013, the plan has changed. This is the first time it will run year-round, giving organizers in cities all over the world ample time to arrange successful fundraising ventures – so instead of one set day or weekend, events are spread out.
Rose explains that de-centralizing the event will actually strengthen it. “The new model for Twestival gives local organizers more flexibility to select what time of year they wish to host an event and ensures the impact of the movement is felt by charities throughout the year. Since launching in 2009, it was been incredible to watch the creativity and number of people contributing their talents to bring Twestival to their city. We hope the new model for Twestival encourages more communities to get involved, meet new people and magnifies our charitable impact.”
So events will be all over the place geographically and on the calendar, but the Twestival global blog will help keep the community connected and updated.
Online start, offline events
Rose elaborated on which types of charities fare the best at Twestival after explaining that overall organizers have raised over $1.75 million dollars so far. “Local charities with a clear impact in a local community and strong digital presence tend to do the best financially from Twestival,” she says. Charities with user-friendly and interactive online presences have a better chance of attracting donors, even though their actual events happen offline, in real life.
Rose stressed that Twestival is a network of cooperative nonprofits rather than an umbrella charity. “We run independently from nonprofits, but encourage them to make the most of the opportunity to connect with our network and highlight their work directly.”
So these charities may find out that they were successfully vetted via Twestival on Twitter, but they will throw their parties and launch their events on their own.
See Twestival approving charities:
— Twestival® (@twestival) April 8, 2013
Despite the name playing off Twitter, Twestival mainly uses Twitter and other social media as jumping-off points to organize offline fundraising events – so you’ll see calls for volunteers and logistical tweets, but it doesn’t really do the whole “favorite or retweet and I’ll give you a dollar” thing. And considering the case of a U.K. lawmaker who volunteered to donate money each time someone re-tweeted her, it’s smart to avoid that type of fundraising. The lawmaker ended up pledging over $21,150 to charity after her tweet went viral.
Twestival is far more practical because it still encourages its associated non-profits to engage in face-to-face community organizing, while also giving these organizations the ability to digitally connect with people from all over the world.
If you want to learn more, check out the @twestival handle or watch this YouTube video: