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Using social media to bring attention to nonprofits

Social media users have plenty of ways to bring attention to their favorite charities.

Sree Sreenivasan
Sree, who teaches digital media at Columbia, is the university's first chief digital officer.
Sree Sreenivasan
6 min read
Screenshot of nonprofit nominations via Facebook, to mark my 6,000th tweet. Screenshot: Facebook

Until a few years ago, the main way to show your support for a charity was to send in an annual check. As digital and social media evolved, the number of ways you could support your favorite charities has grown.

Sending money, of course, remains, the single most important way to support nonprofits. But social-media users have learned that you can also have an impact by paying with something else. Attention -- your own attention and your friends' attention.

Hitting "Like" or "Share" or retweeting a post from a nonprofit can bring awareness to new circles of users -- and potential supporters. And nonprofits big and small are finding ways to harness the energy of their fans to get more awareness to everything they do.

As I approached my 6,000th tweet, I decided to use the occasion to bring some attention to a few nonprofits and to learn more about how every day users support their charities. I have no illusions about my influence online, after all, TwitterCounter.com tells me that my 30,000ish followers make me only the 178,000th most-followed person on Twitter. So the key word in my plan was just some attention.

I used a Facebook.com/sreetips post to lay out the idea: People would nominate their favorite charities and I'd tweet about five that caught my eye. Why Facebook to mark something on Twitter? Because Facebook gives you more space to explain yourself and to collect items in one place. Nominations came into that Facebook post, but also via people tweeting with the #sree6K hashtag. I expected a handful of nominations, but got many more than that.

It was nice to see so many folks talk about their favorite charities - including many I'd never heard of -- that I decided that one way to help these nonprofits is for me to write about the experience here on CNET News and to tweet about this list several times over the next few weeks.

So here goes, in alpha order (feel free to nominate more in the comments section and or via #sree6K on Twitter):

Screenshot of a tweet from @DSUSA_FarWest - example of the #sree6K project

I will also take this opportunity to highlight two nonprofits that I work with every day - and have been deeply involved in their social media presence(s) over the years: Columbia Graduate School of Journalism/@ColumbiaJourn and SAJA, South Asian Journalists Association/@sajaHQ.

NOTE TO READERS: Please post your thoughts -- and nominations for charities to support -- in the comments below or e-mail me or tweet me at@sree or #sreetips on Twitter. If you've been reading my posts here, you know that one of the things I am trying to do is learn what works and what doesn't on social media. It's such a fast-evolving, confusing world that I believe we can all learn together. Thanks for reading.