It's that special time of year again. Bell ringers are outside the supermarket collecting spare change and volunteer groups are organizing drives to collect presents for needy families. Thanks to the ever-widening reach of social networking, organizations are finding ways to tap into the collective goodwill of people who want to give back during the holiday season from the comfort of their homes. Social giving has burst on the scene as the next big thing in charitable contributions.
Social giving, also known as peer-to-peer fundraising, has become a popular way to gather money for causes, missions, and philanthropic campaigns. Sites like Indiegogo and GiveForward are increasingly instrumental in helping individuals and families raise money for special circumstances like medical bills or memorial funds.
The personal touch
Crowdfunding offers a way for people to support meaningful causes while knowing the money they give will go directly into the hands of those that need it. It's much more personal that writing a check to a large charity group and mailing it to an office 500 miles away.
Social giving also helps people see the direct impact their donation has on the lives of others. Brad Damphousse, CEO of crowdfunding website GoFundMe says, "Given a choice, the average person would likely choose to give to someone they know personally over a charity. "
The ability to connect with others on an intimate level makes asking for contributions a much more comfortable experience for those in need. Most personal fundraising websites offer tools that help recipients explain their situation in detail and provide ongoing updates on how much money has been collected and how it's being used and some even offer a way for the beneficiaries to exchange gifts or services in kind as a way to thank donors.
Generosity is infectious
Studies suggest that watching others give of themselves sets off a domino-effect of generosity as friends, relatives, and co-workers feel compelled to do the same. The idea of 'Paying it forward is making a big comeback thanks to the surge in social giving.
It also appears that social giving sites might be boosting overall generosity toward our fellow man. A recent American Red Cross survey revealed 71 percent of social network users have donated to a charity within the past year. 70 percent say they would be motivated to "take some kind of action in response to a friend posting a story on social media about making a charitable donation."
Social networking does a lot of wonderful things. It keeps us connected to friends and loved ones, helps customers engage with brands, and exposes us to the larger world around us. Perhaps the greatest gift social media has to offer, however, is the power of social giving.
Image: HM Revenue & Customs