Thursday 30 June 2011
ShelterBox celebrates Social Media Day
Today is the second annual Social Media Day organised by Mashable (@mashable), the top source for news in social and digital media, technology and web culture.
ShelterBox (@ShelterBox) adopted the use of social media early in 2009 in a bid to raise awareness of their disaster relief work around the world. Since then, the charity’s use of social media channels, like Facebook and Twitter, has led to a huge increase in global awareness, a rise in online fundraising activity and has supported ShelterBox’s work in the field after disasters.
In the three years since ShelterBox adopted the use of social media, the charity has seen their fans on Facebook grow to 33,500, their followers on Twitter grow to more than 6,000 and their photographs on Flickr have been viewed close to 600,000 times.
ShelterBox Communications Officer Tommy Tonkins (@tommytonkins) says the growth has been impressive but the levels of engagement even more so.
‘When it comes to social media it’s important to measure everything and obviously everyone wants to see growth,’ he said. ‘However measuring the tangible impact of this growth is much trickier.
‘What we’ve seen through Facebook and Twitter is really strong levels of engagement from our online community. People around the world now talk about us through social media on a regular basis and fostering this conversation is key to interacting with current donors and new audiences.
‘This increased awareness is definitely having a positive impact on donations which allows us to help even more families around the world during times of disaster.’
The use of social media has also helped in many ShelterBox deployments. In 2009, the charity sent close to 300 ShelterBoxes to Italy after a huge earthquake left nearly 40,000 people homeless. ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) member and Head of International Fundraising and Communications, Becky Maynard (@ShelterBoxBex), explains how a Facebook status led to the Response Team she was part of receiving invaluable logistical support.
‘We responded to the earthquake as soon as news of it broke and our first team were driving the first ShelterBoxes 1,500 miles from our HQ in the UK to L’Aquila in Italy,’ she said.
‘I posted this on Facebook and I received a post from Julia Hannan, originally from Cornwall but living in Italy, with the offer of a bed and a hot meal for the team driving the aid into the affected area.
‘The team stopped there on the way down having driven solidly through day and night, letting them have a decent meal and rest before heading into the disaster zone. I stayed there myself on the return journey and it was my first night in a real bed after spending the deployment living out of a tent.’
After the Haiti earthquake in January 2010 ShelterBox used Twitter to help identify some of the most vulnerable groups and families affected by the disaster and to create collaborative relationships with other aid agencies operating in response to the earthquake. The result of this was an increased operational capacity which allowed aid to reach some of the biggest areas of need in the shortest possible time.
A little over a year later and Twitter again was used to support the charity’s disaster relief work after the Japanese tsunami. Offers of logistical support, and volunteering in areas such as translation, came through thick and fast to the @ShelterBox Twitter feed and once again helped enable the efficient and effective delivery of aid.
Alongside this, social media initiatives and drives from ShelterBox supporters have made a substantial difference in terms of direct fundraising. During the Haiti earthquake response, bloggers from the Daily Kos raised a staggering $150,000 and a year later another group of bloggers raised more than $60,000 by organising a bloggers ‘day of silence’ after the Japanese tsunami.
Twitter’s capacity to mobilise large numbers was seen when American author Maureen Johnson challenged her followers to raise enough money to fund one ShelterBox: her followers ended up raising close to $30,000.
ShelterBox Founder and CEO, Tom Henderson (@ShelterBoxTomH), said: ‘As an organisation we’ve fully embraced social media and replicate our core values through our use of it.
‘We believe in showing our donors where their money goes and have used social media to strengthen the relationship between them and the families their donations allow us to help.'
ShelterBox Affiliates on Social Media
ShelterBox Australia: Facebook
ShelterBox Brazil: Facebook
ShelterBox Belux: Twitter
ShelterBox Canada: Facebook | Twitter
ShelterBox Denmark: Facebook | Twitter
ShelterBox France: Facebook | Twitter
ShelterBox Germany: Facebook | Twitter
ShelterBox Netherlands: Facebook | Twitter
ShelterBox Portugal: Facebook
ShelterBox USA: Causes | Facebook | Twitter