How Social Media is Revolutionizing Volunteerism

A must read for anyone who has yet to jump on the Twitter bandwagon.

by Sonya Friesen

It happened in the blink of an eye. Everyone, everything was going about there business as per usual when it suddenly appeared. Nothing was safe from its insurmountable influence; no one could escape its grasp. The day social media appeared was the day everything changed.

 That may sound like the beginning of a horror movie or a Stephen King novel, but the reality is far from dismal. While social media may have been an unexpected societal influence, it has allowed for a new type of progression. Social media has played a huge part in revolutionizing how businesses run.  It has provided corporations the means to interact with customers and partners and it gives ordinary people the power to make an extra-ordinary difference. A presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn can elevate corporations and people to new heights, allowing them to maximize on the trend of two-way communication and, thankfully let go of the tired one-way communication model that has defined many industries for years.

 So what does this have to with volunteering? The simple answer – everything. Social media has allowed for volunteers, and for organizations like Volunteer Ottawa, to accomplish something that was very difficult for them to accomplish for many years – the ability to actually volunteer. Full stop, Sonya. Isn’t that the whole point of volunteering, to volunteer? Shouldn’t these organizations have had a hold on this before the evolution of social media?

 In today’s digital age, think about how easy it is to access news. From CNN breaking news, to CBC, we wake up and a day’s worth of news is at our fingertips and in 140 characters or less. Unlike the news, which has always had media outlets and television at its mercy, pre-social media volunteering relied on word-of-mouth, online interactions via corporate websites, or even posters and bulletins (…shudder).

 Twitter and Facebook allow for volunteer organizations to reach out to thousands of individuals with the simple click of a button. What does this mean? This means volunteering opportunities are reaching more people then ever before; this means Volunteer Ottawa social platforms can become a hub of volunteerism; this means that you can plan your next volunteering event without even leaving the couch. Most importantly, this means that Volunteer Ottawa and organizations like it can continue to produce results.

 Social media also allows for smaller not-for-profit organizations that may have not stood a chance against larger corporate charities, to have a voice and to generate attention to their own particular causes. There are so many amazing groups and organizations that need volunteers (which you can check out at the Volunteer Ottawa website, http://volunteerottawa.ca/index.php/volunteer/community-organizations ), social media allows for these groups to compete and to ultimately, function as a not-for-profit.

 How can your organization maximize on social media to increase your number of volunteers? The simple solution – along with becoming a member of Volunteer Ottawa, of course – is to tweet about it! Build up your social media platforms, follow people, interact with people and most of all maintain a presence! Twitter especially, has produced a massive network of people who thrive on new information. This network can be intimidating, but when used to an organizations advantage, can produce results faster, more effectively and easier then ever before. Social media also allows you to become a leader in the industry! Tweet links that are relevant to your cause or links that volunteers might find useful. The more you position yourself as an innovator, the more people will see you as a leading organization.

 How can you amplify your social media presence as a volunteer? Not-for-profits and charities are always looking for help – use social media, specifically Twitter to network with them. The perfect volunteering opportunity won’t usually come and find you, you have to have a presence where that volunteering opportunity will come up. New opportunities are being made available everyday and these opportunities are, quite literally, right at your fingertips.

 Social media may be big. Social media may be constantly changing. Social media may be intimidating. But, if you learn to grow alongside social media and use it to your advantage, you will see it for the incredibly advantageous, innovation that it is. We want to hear what you think – tweet us, Facebook us and let us know how you are using social media platforms to better serve your volunteering needs.

 

 

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