Get beyond the silliness, however, and some of these events have a deeper value to engage and benefit the greater good.
Enter the inaugural Social Media Giving Day this July 15, driven by a relatively new not-for-profit-focused technology platform called Givver.com that was born in politics and now aims to turn Twitter into a philanthropic giving tool.
Dreamed up by a St. Louis “restaurant guy” who formerly worked with Salesforce.com, Givver is off to a good start with celebrities like Bill Maher and various charitable organizations already using it; and there is an effort underway to get some 60 U.S. mayors, as well as state and federal officials to draw up official proclamations cementing Social Media Giving Day into the American psyche every July 15.
“Particularly amongst millennials, there’s an inherent connectivity between social media and charitable giving,” said Chris Sommers, Givver’s founder. “And all walks of organizations recognize that social media goes well beyond snapping pictures of your breakfast or updating which restaurant you’re sitting in, so we hope that Social Media Giving Day ultimately gives greater, more tangible meaning to the use of social media.”
Texting donations for charitable purposes is of course commonplace as we’ve seen with the Red Cross after every natural disaster. Problem being, each time you text a donation, the service providers a la AT&T and Verizon take some 40 percent of the donation.
Givver’s model is more, well, giving. The only charge removed from a donation through Givver is the 2.9 percent plus $0.30 credit card fee — which doesn’t go to Givver at all — but the credit card processing agent, and this happens in any credit transaction.
After first-vetting the platform during last year’s political election season — whether with the Obama campaign or even U.S. congressional hopefuls in Florida — Sommers hopes his Givver platform can be at the center of a storm in social media giving during a season when charity typically lags.
“The idea for Givver originally came out of our fundraising efforts on behalf of the President and other non-profits,” Sommers said. “We recognized the inherent friction and lack of any social connection amongst donors and between the organization and its donors.”
Here’s how Givver works: Visit the site and create an account that includes entering your credit card information into a secure form. Then from that point on, simply Tweet #Give along with a dollar amount at a specific charity, for example: #Give $10 @Fair_Girls. The donation is immediate, surprisingly easy, and (at least for now) Givver doesn’t charge you or the charity a fee.
While July 15 is still more than two months away, Sommers is engaging mayors and other officials nationwide to gain their commitments with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett being the first to officially jump on board Social Media Giving Day.
Will Givver turn July 15 into a philanthropic holiday of sorts? It remains to be seen. But whereas October’s Bald and Free Day have little true value outside of a much appreciated shout out for those with chrome domes, Social Media Giving Day could be a valuable tool in the increasingly leveraged use of charitable endeavors.
Aaron Perlut is founding partner of digital marketing and public relations firm Elasticity, co-founder of the not-for-profit regional marketing initiative Rally Saint Louis, and is a pioneer in the free facial hair movement (no, seriously).