Utilizing Social Media in Your Philanthropy Page

Social media has become a part of society. Nearly everyone has multiple social media accounts on the various platforms available. Businesses constantly research ways to reach consumers through  social media and what the best practices are to bring attention to their product. It’s time that philanthropies do the same. The millennial age group has a particular interest in philanthropy and they’re also the group that has the highest social media usage. By utilizing social media, philanthropies can attract more donations and volunteers and seriously advocate for their cause.


Do some research

Before ramping up your social media usage, research how best to approach it. Learn what your target age group is and the social media outlets they use the most. Check out other philanthropies that use social media and see how they do it effectively…and not so effectively. Decide which methods would work for your organization and then craft a plan. It’s important to approach social media in an organized manner so you can make significant progress.


Engage with your followers

If you want to really get a response to your social media pages, you need to engage with your audience. Once people start commenting and sharing posts, create a dialogue with them. Craft posts that encourage interaction from followers. Consider hosting some kind of giveaway or create a unique hashtag. You’re also likely to get messages and reviews from people, so make sure you’re engaging with those in a timely fashion. If the organization is directly contacted, try to respond within a couple of hours. This method gains you a reputation as a philanthropy that actually engages with those who are interested.


Post regular updates

When you first start utilizing social media, you’ll be updating regularly, but it’s important you remember to continue posting updates after the first few weeks. Consider creating a blog for your organization where you can post weekly articles and pictures. Without quality content and regular updates, your audience will become uninterested and it’ll be difficult to attract new followers. This point is why it’s so important to have a plan for your social media before you even start posting.


Add a personal touch

While you want to keep followers updated on news and events, it’s also important to add a personal touch. Delegate the role of managing social media to someone on your team who has significant knowledge and experience using different platforms. Work with them to craft your approach and what kind of content you want to share, then get to work. By having one person deal with the majority of the responsibility associated with updating the organization’s social media, you’ll create a recognizable voice for your social media persona. Make informal posts that let followers see behind the scenes and know who’s running your social media accounts.


Share pictures…lots of them!

Add pictures of your volunteers and employees, as well as the activities you do to help your cause. When the philanthropy has an event, take lots of pictures to share on social media and give followers a visual of who or what they’re supporting! Photos give your philanthropy authenticity and shows you’re actually working on accomplishing your mission.



Organ Donation: Myths and Questions


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Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the waiting list for an organ to be donated. Anyone with good medical conditions can be an organ donor, but people tend to have a lot of fears or hesitations when deciding to become an organ donor. Your organs can save up to 8 lives, while your tissue could save up to 75 lives.


What causes people to decide not to be an organ donor?


Behind the decision, people think about their beliefs or religious views. Sometimes they’re fed with myths about organ donation. If you’re considering becoming an organ donor, you should know that you can sign up for organ donation at any time and any age. Even children under the age of 18 can become an organ donor.


A big myth to organ donation is that doctors don’t work with the same urgency to save your life. That’s far from the truth as the main goal of every doctor is to do everything they can to save you. Your doctor is obligated to keep you alive in top priority until you are pronounced clinically or legally dead.


How does the Organ Transplant List work?


Only 54% of Americans are an organ donor even though 95% are in favor. Donated organs are given to someone in need based off of size, blood type, level of sickness (to be given an organ transplant, the person who received the organ has to meet specific health conditions), donor distance, tissue type and the amount of time on the waiting list.


Organ donation does not decide who receives an organ based on race, income or social status.


What is the cost of organ donation?


Donating an organ is exactly what it says it is; a donation. The donor’s family does not pay any medical expenses for organ transplant, only the procedures/medical expenses before death.


The person who receives the organ will be charged for all medical expenses of pre-procedure care, the procedure, recovery, medications and more. Receiving an organ is expensive which is why the families raise money to help cover the costs.


What can I do to help?


There are plenty of ways you can aid in organ donation. If you aren’t already, sign up to be an organ donor. For any reason, if becoming an organ donor is not in your plans, you can contribute financially. Many families will start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for financial assistance. Lastly, if you’d like to spread awareness of organ donation you can get involved with your local community. Attend events, become a partner of Donate Life, or start a fundraiser for organ donation.

Pairing Passion with Philanthropy

They say you should do what you love–what motivates you, what inspires you, what helps you become the best you possible. Though many people follow through on this advice, many more don’t. I’m lucky enough that I’ve been able to step into a number of professional roles that have allowed me to do what I love.


Outside of my work, I get actively involved with philanthropic causes that I support. And I don’t do it for the tax write-off or the ability to pat myself on the back. I do it because I’m passionate about helping others–and you should be too.


Getting involved with philanthropy is one thing. It’s easy to write a check. It’s easy to sign a slip of paper indicating that you want $25 from every paycheck to go towards helping…someone. It’s easy to make these sort of philanthropic donations that are written off, signed for, and done. You don’t know where the money is going nor who it’s helping. It’s another thing–a completely different thing–to really try to make a different. To find that philanthropy you’re passionate about. To find a cause worth helping, worth supporting, and worth your time.


I found my personal passions–helping children, funding educational endeavors and putting time and money towards causes like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through my personal life and experiences. These were people and organizations that I aligned with, that I truly cared and felt passionate about. Finding your own philanthropic passion helps to facilitate a more meaningful connection. So how do you do it?


The short answer is by researching. Find your passions and research how you can get involved–if you’re passionate about helping animals (as my father, Anatoly Vanetik, is), research animal shelters in your area. Then, coordinate some visits and find out how you can get involved. By finding an organization that allows you to pair your passion for philanthropy for your passion for what’s around you, you’ll find it more fulfilling, and perhaps even start an annual tradition.


In the end, a check coming from someone who only marginally knows and cares who he’s helping, and one from a passionate philanthropist looks no different. There’s no discernable variations between the two checks and, once cashed or deposited, the money will look the same too. The passion that you may or may not have for helping others is intrinsic, but moldable. Find what you’re passionate about and make a real difference. Donate, volunteer and reach out when you can. Helping those that you care about and finding your philanthropic passion will help form a mutually beneficial relationship that should last forever.


Do Awareness Campaigns Work?

At the peak of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during the summer of 2014, it seemed like no matter where you turned someone was dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads for a good cause. In the name of raising awareness of the debilitating illness, people around the country–from you and your family to the likes of Chris Pratt, Oprah and Conan O’Brien–turned on a camera, hit record, and doused themselves in ice cold water.

Many were criticized for their efforts. The claims came pouring in left and right, saying that “awareness” wasn’t going to help anyone suffering from ALS, only monetary donations could help.

The truth is that, yes, you’ve more than likely already heard of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. You, and the good majority of the country are aware of the disease and the effects that it has on those unfortunate enough to suffer from it. Awareness, as it stands, is not typically an issue when it comes to diseases.

But as it turns out, awareness campaigns can–and often do–yield incredible results.

It was announced in July of 2016–almost exactly 2 years after the trend went viral around the globe–that a gene was discovered as a direct result of the awareness and subsequent increase in donations that resulted from the Ice Bucket Challenge. The huge influx of donations came thanks in part to the process of “nominating” other participants via video–if those participants elected not to douse themselves in water, they were asked to donate to ALS research instead.

Not all awareness campaigns are created equally, though. Awareness campaigns that have spread across social media platforms in recent years have been met with somewhat middling success. Multiple breast cancer awareness campaigns have flooded the Facebook feeds of millions of users in recent years. One that garnered a particularly high amount of attention came in the form of status updates containing just one word–a color. Seeing these pop up on feeds around the world lead many people to question why their friends were posting “blue” or “pink” or “black” seemingly without context. Later, it was discovered to be a breast cancer awareness campaign that asked women to simply post the color of their bra on social media without context.

The attention garnered from the campaign was immense, but that’s more or less where the productivity stopped. There was no donation-portion of the campaign, an important distinction from awareness campaigns like the Ice Bucket Challenge, which asked people to donate if they were nominated but opted not to participate.

While some awareness campaigns are effective and potentially life-changing, others have yet to solidify just how they plan to go about making that important impact. Without proper planning and execution, an awareness campaign can come and go, leaving little more behind than a status update that says “blue.”


Nonprofits–Not Just Big Orgs and Polticians–Need to Strive for Transparency

Access to information in today’s day and age is unparalleled; most anything we want or need to learn is available at the tips of our fingers, just a few taps on a laptop or cellphone away. We can learn that the population of Zambia is about 14.54 million; we can learn that Mercury takes about 88 days to orbit the sun, and we can learn that Bill Gates has a net worth of about $84 billion. All important in the grand scheme of things, no doubt, but what’s more important is the information readily available to all of us pertaining to the businesses around us–or at least, the information available in a best case scenario.


With this increased access to information, the necessity for businesses and high profile individuals to increase their level of transparency has risen. Unfiltered access to information about an organization can lead to a stronger public opinion and more fluid collaboration between businesses. While not all organizations are jumping aboard the transparency train, those who are have seen tangible benefits.


While we’ve heard the call this political season for transparency on behalf of those in politics, and we’ve heard people voice time and time again the necessity for big businesses to increase their levels of transparency to benefit both mankind and consumers, we often neglect the importance of transparency in the world of nonprofits.


Transparency becomes an issue when a lack of it leads to scandals like the one that rocked the Cancer Fund of America not long ago. The discovery that millions of donated dollars were being misused on personal items worked to effectively shut down the charity permanently. And on top of reflecting poorly on the charity itself, it called into question just how the funds were being used at other charities.


It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine that people would be a bit more hesitant to donate their money immediately following a scandal of that magnitude–it’s been shown in the past that even seemingly reputable charities have had their fair share of issues with transparency and ethical dealings.


This is precisely why it’s so important that nonprofits around the globe open their organizations to the public as effectively as possible. A study done by Georgetown University found that charities who are open and honest with their operations could see a rise in donations. As an organization opens itself to the public, the public will begin to build trust, which, for a nonprofit, can make all the difference.



Are Our Politicians As Charitable As They Claim?

The intersection of politics and philanthropy is, in a word, complicated.

The question of whether our politicians–or at least the big three (including Gary Johnson in this discussion) are charitable is not as complicated.

Charitability in itself is fairly easily measured when the right information is openly disclosed, but somewhat more difficult when scale is considered. Someone like you or me donating $10,000 to a charitable cause is substantially more “generous,” so to speak, than someone like Bill Gates doin the same. The impact is identical, but the effort and charitable nature of the person doing the giving may not be quite so level

Unpacking whether a candidate is charitable or not is, then, a bit more difficult than it may seem when the fact that humans have the capability to exaggerate, manipulate words (or organizations), or outright lie when it comes to how much money they’ve given and where it’s gone.

According to the Washington Post, which sourced its information from Bill and Hillary Clinton’s joint tax returns, the Clintons have donated just under 10 percent of their adjusted income to charities over the course of about 15 years, which comes out to about $23 million.

Donald Trump, in contrast, has yet to release his own tax returns, causing a good bit of controversy. The same Washington Post article states that Trump donated less than $4 million from his own pocket in that same timeframe. His campaign claims that Trump has donated significantly more than that, but has yet to put forward figures or proof to corroborate the claim. We also know that Trump has donated slightly less than  $4 million directly to his own foundation, the Trump Foundation.

Perhaps the easiest candidate to unpack is Gary Johnson, who gave a somewhat candidate and straightforward answer when asked about his own charitable donations in August. Johnson openly admitted that his charitable giving pales in comparison to both Clinton and Trump, as his wealth is considerably smaller than that of both main party candidates.

Johnson, however, addressed the matter differently. Instead of dodging, ducking or avoiding the question as a whole, the Libertarian nominee claimed that he helps people in other ways: by executing on his party platform when in office.



Politics and Philanthropy

Americans love giving. We see it everywhere around us: our philanthropic donations are up in recent years, we give to people, places, charities and causes that they believe in. But there is, and there always will be a certain level of politics to philanthropy–like I said we give to the causes we agree with, not the ones that go against our beliefs.


Whether you personally identify as a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian or a supporter any other third-party, there are a good deal of specific social, fiscal and environmental issues that you likely feel strongly about. These issues can not only shape the way you vote, they can shape the way you give.


Those who cast their vote in November based largely off of one political or social stance If you’re pro-life, there’s a good chance you’re going to avoid donating not only to places like Planned Parenthood, but to any organization that supports planned parenthood. Often, you’ll see tidbits on the news in which one person or company supports a particular charity, which is then held against them by those who disagree with their political orientation. Take, for instance, EpiPen creator Mylar, which recently was revealed to have supported the Clinton Foundation, a fact which many from the right were quick to point out when Mylar came under fire for questionable ethics in price gouging.


There is also a difference not just in the charities and causes different political followers donate to, there’s a strong difference in how charity in general is viewed. Generally speaking, according to the Huffington Post, those who fall on the left side of the political spectrum typically give less money to charity in a given year. Could this potentially because those who make more money typically lean right, yes. But another factor at stake could also be the propensity of those on the left to rely more on government help–tax cuts, social systems and the like–to help low-income people rather than individual donations.


But politics and philanthropy also intersect outside of just citizen voters, elbowing its way into our politicians and their platforms. Often, we see politicians using charitable giving to highlight the type of person they are. Typically, with a rise in role in politics and more security into your behavior, politicians tend to begin to donate more of their own money. Philanthropy clearly plays a large roll not just in our political affiliation and stance on issues, but in how our elected officials present themselves to the public.