Most organizations and corporations use Twitter as a means of providing a two-way conversation flow between themselves and their constituents. The nonprofit organization Operation Smile went beyond the basic uses of Twitter and engaged their audience in an innovative way by creating an event to help raise money to pay for surgeries for children with facial deformities.
They began their campaign by creating a Twitter page called 140 Smiles. Operation Smile informed their audiences that by donating a minimum of $240, they could pay for an entire cleft surgery for a young child and help improve the child’s quality of life. The grand prize for the group or individual that assisted in raising the most money was a trip to New Zealand.
Miriam Kagan followed this impressive campaign and wrote about it in her blog, “Twitter Fundraising: Operation Smile’s 140 Smiles Campaign,” Miriam applauds Operation Smile for targeting a social media involved audience in their brave endeavor. She explains that this campaign was a smart move because it made it easy for an individual or group to donate and it encouraged these individuals to advocate the cause to the people they are linked to. Miriam ultimately hopes that other organizations will follow Operation Smile’s lead and start to blend social media into their own fundraising campaigns.
In the video below, posted by RaganTV, the social media strategist for Operation Smile, Renee Alexander Hamilton, explains their Twitter fundraising event and provides advice for organizations who are thinking about taking a step towards implementing social media into their fundraising plans.
While the Twitter campaign was successful for Operation Smile, Renee Hamilton warns organizations that it may not be right for everyone. If Twitter or other social medias can advance your organization’s goals, Hamilton advises to go into it with little expectations and be content with the fact that if nothing else, you have been successful in increasing awareness of your organization.
One of the greatest benefits of this type of social media fundraising campaign is that the people who are truly interested will pass word about your cause to the people they are connected to. Social media campaigns like this one are great ways for viral marketing to emerge. The 140 Smiles campaign continues to this day and because of viral marketing it will continue to receive donations.