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Friday 29 June 2012

Social Media Day
Social Media Day
From raising awareness and funds to online campaigns, social networks like Facebook and Twitter, have become a vital tool for charities to gain engagement, encouragement and action from supporters.

ShelterBox is celebrating the third annual Social Media Day by exploring how the international disaster relief charity has recently made best use of its social networks, which continue to provide a powerful communications channel for building better and more rewarding relationships with supporters.

For Big ShelterBox Week 2012, the charity's annual awareness and fund raising event, ShelterBox USA organised a Social Media Challenge. Over the course of the week, people were encouraged to 'like' ShelterBox USA on Facebook and 'follow' them on Twitter. If the affiliate gained 5,000 new likes or follows, the US-based flooring specialists Lumber Liquidators agreed to kindly donate US$5,000 - a simple way to engage supporters and encourage action.

The challenge was a success. Twitter followers boosted from 1,600 to 4,995. Facebook likes grew by almost 2,500, bringing the total new likes and follows to 5,332.

'We could not have done it without the support of our volunteer Ambassadors and other supporters, including best-selling author, Maureen Johnson,' said Tiffany Stephenson, ShelterBox USA Communications Manager.

'They tweeted and posted, staying with us until the final minutes and we're incredibly grateful to them and to Lumber Liquidators for their continued partnership. With their help, five more families will receive shelter, warmth and dignity.'



'Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have proven to be very effective and efficient ways for us to communicate with stakeholders interested in disaster relief and our efforts to provide emergency shelter to families,' said Emily Sperling, ShelterBox USA President. 'The increase in followers inspired by the challenge from Lumber Liquidators will allow us to keep supporters informed of global disasters, many of which won’t make the mainstream news.'

In Australia, Lara Marks-Nash has been travelling from Canberra to Darwin in her beat-up old car, couch-surfing all the way. She is driving this 5,000 kilometre journey to raise funds for ShelterBox. People can request a postcard from anywhere along the route and when it arrives they make a donation.

'I am running what I'm calling a postcard fundraiser,' Lara explained. 'I've built a website so that people can track me as I go, and they can request a postcard from anywhere I visit, or they could choose a theme. I post out the postcard to them, and when they receive it they donate to my chosen charity.'

ShelterBox Australia Communications Officer, Mike Greenslade, commented: 'Lara has put together a fantastic blog where people can track her progress, read about her adventures and request a card.'

'We've been promoting her on our blog, Facebook and Twitter pages and the project is reaching people worldwide, with postcard requests from as far away as Norway, Canada and the UK. This result really does show the power of social media.'


Screenshot of Lara's blog.

Lara is currently in Nelson Bay, just north of Sydney, and has already broken the AU$2,000 mark, almost halfway to her target of AU$5,000.

She first heard of ShelterBox when she stumbled across a display in Cornwall in southwest England whilst she was travelling around Europe in 2010. She decided to get involved when she visited the ShelterBox headquarters Open Day, also in Cornwall, where she met incredible volunteers, ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) members and staff members, who she says were the source of her inspiration for her journey.

'ShelterBox were very transparent about where their money went, which is the thing that impressed me most,' said Lara.
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