I am not a fundraiser. In reality though, working in the nonprofit sector means everyone is involved in fundraising. So it’s not that I have never worn the fundraising hat. It just isn’t the primary description I inscribe on my shingle. However, social media and the people I have met through those channels seem to be slowly changing that for me.

Gulf fisherman affected by the BP oil spill

Gulf fisherman affected by the BP oil spill

It all started a few years ago when I met my friend Geoff Livingston on Twitter. Not long after we exchanged tweets, he traveled to the Gulf with Citizen Effect. Geoff is a talented photographer who used his camera to document the impact of the BP oil spill on the people of the Gulf. His compelling photographs captivated me every day. After the trip, Geoff and the rest of the Citizen Effect group that traveled together decided to create a national fundraising event with coordinators in each city to benefit Gulf fishermen and their families. I was soon recruited via Twitter to be the Chicago coordinator. It was no easy task to coordinate this national event via the telephone, twitter, and email. But Citizen Effect did just that. We spoke regularly to coordinate, brainstorm, and share ideas. Most of the promotion we did was via Twitter, Facebook, and blog posts. That is how the buzz was created for the trip to the Gulf and how the buzz was created for the national fundraising event. Ultimately, I think what made the entire initiative work was the photos that people shared. Whether it was Geoff’s pictures from the trip itself, or the photos from the night’s events, the pictures made it real.

Join in this national effort

Join in this national effort

And now I am in the midst of getting to work with Geoff once again on a national fundraiser. This time it is with Razoo. On June 14th, cities across the country will join together for a day called Twive and Receive. Each city has a coordinator who chooses a nonprofit to be the day’s beneficiary. I have chosen Open Books to be the recipient nonprofit organization.

Open Books is a nonprofit that promotes literacy

Open Books is a nonprofit that promotes literacy

During these weeks leading up to the event, we are using blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, and the website that Razoo has created for us to promote Twive and Receive. Chicago has a pretty large network of people who are involved in and passionate about social good. One of the challenges for us will be that many people already have their pet causes. I have begun reaching out to high impact individuals who are not already tied to another organization. Their support and outreach via social media, blogs, and announcements at events in Chicago will be critical to our success. Additionally, we will use the network that Open Books has created to promote Twive and Receive to their network. I will also be utilizing my own network on Twitter and Facebook to promote this event.

I encourage you to consider serving as a coordinator for your city. Working with Citizen Effect and now with Twive and Receive, connected me with a whole new community of do-gooders and I learned so many great skills about effective promotion, event creation, and utilizing social media in the nonprofit sector. To this day, I still feel pretty great about the money we raised for Gulf fishermen and their families. And I am thrilled to be able to help do the same for Open Books.

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It started a few days ago when I saw a blog post about BP missing an opportunity on social media because the company was not totally engaged.  A twitter account that looked just like a legitimate BP account has been tweeting “tongue in cheek” posts and was becoming viral with follower numbers climbing exponentially.  The account was clearly not by BP and the post chastised BP for not taking the opportunity to utilize social media as they navigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.  There was a pretty lengthy discussion in the comments section and a large number of tweets and RT’s about the post.

I couldn’t help feeling, as I read it all, that the discussion was really missing something very critical.  To have a discussion about the “management” of BP’s public image in the aftermath of this oil spill is so out of bounds to me.  Did we discuss how Ted Bundy managed his image during his trial for the vicious murder of a number of young women?  Did we consider how the Oklahoma City bomber or the Twin Towers terrorists managed their images?  Then why is this any different?  11 people died on that exploding oil rig.  Countless numbers of creatures will die covered with that horrendous oil slick.  And who knows if the people who’s livelihood depended on fishing in that area will ever be able to go back to their work again.  Yesterday, I heard that the entire Gulf will be forever changed because much of the Gulf sea life begins in that area and then migrates throughout.  If the area is destroyed or entire populations of sea life eliminated then that is perhaps a permanent elimination of some of the creatures there.

Clearly, the executives and others at BP made decisions before the beginning of this crisis with an understanding that there was significant risk involved in what they were doing.  Essentially, they just didn’t really care.  They gave a big old middle finger to just about everyone as their greed and selfishness guided their choices.  Sure there is some outrage among some.  And probably just about everyone has had a brief exchange about how terrible this is.  But instead of using this as a teachable moment about “damage control” and utilizing the latest tools in social media, why aren’t we having lengthy discussions about how a company could get away with such a total lack of ethical and civic responsibility?  Why aren’t we using every PR/Marketing tool at our disposal to send a message to BP and every other company out there that doesn’t understand what corporate social responsibility (csr) is and putting intense pressure on them to NEVER conduct themselves in this manner again?  It is time for WE THE PEOPLE to be mad as hell and convey in no uncertain terms to EVERY company in this country that we really are NOT going to take it anymore.