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Social media and volunteerism: How to change the world

March 4, 2013

volunteers paint mural

Volunteerism is near and dear to me. I’ve helped numerous causes over the years through donations, fund-raising, recruitment and service projects.

Last week, I spoke to the Vestavia Hills Sunrise Rotary Club about using social media to further your cause.

The first step is to connect with people online, even complete strangers. I find Twitter to be especially useful in this regard, but many social media channels will do fine. Making meaningful connections builds a great network.

I ask people about their thoughts on issues, their work and other things. And I answer questions, too. I’m not selling all the time, but mostly listening.

The second step is to believe that each of us can make a difference. Otherwise, what is the point of service or using social media to expand it?

It is easy to point out problems. Most of us do it unsolicited. It it much more challenging to find a solution and do it. Otherwise, every single one of us would be fit and happy and working in our dream jobs.

That’s why I admire volunteers so much: They work very hard to make their corner of the world a better place. I spend my free time building the Alabama Social Media Association into a sustainable organization for educating others in social media.

The third step is to participate regularly in social media and with intent. Being thoughtful in what you share and who you follow in your channels will make this much easier.

Regular participation builds your understanding of the community, including where help is needed and who can help. Being able to connect the two is basic service.

Many nonprofit groups help where they see need in the community. But sometimes, they see only problems brought to them. Members of a cause who have deeper ties to the community can find even more opportunities to help others, especially those who are unaware of such resources nearby.

I have connected with friends on social media who have given me insights into Birmingham’s challenges of illiteracy, diabetes, food deserts, education, cancer, unwanted pets and homelessness. Knowing more helps me to contribute in appropriate ways.

By building a network through social media, we find others who can help with our causes. Alone, we can change little things. Together, we can change the world.

Photo: The Cable Show (CC)

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