Haiti. Pakistan. Japan. New Zealand. Horn of Africa. Hurricane Irene. And those are only the big ones. We’ve experienced a tonne of crises over the last little while, all important. But how far can we stretch our capacity to give? And what has social media done to change the idea of rallying around a cause?

We asked the pros during our monthly cause-related Wikicauses #wikichat and here is what they said:

@wikibrands Q5 Here and now – are you responding to the Horn of Africa crisis? How has social media shaped the story? Has it changed your story? #wikichat

1) Back to Passionately Embraced Stories :

  • @UNICEFLive We’re responding to #HornofAfrica crisis. We’ve been able connect w/ passionate supporters who want to share our stories

2) Immediate Context @PlanCanada Has let us send out timely updates, engage ppl about the crisis, and link to stories with more context: http://ow.ly/5NUzR

3) Social is About What’s Now :

  • @yazmaziar Couldn’t agree more. Charities such as Red Cross, MSF, Oxfam can truly leverage real-time w/ supporters via social.

4) Cooperation between Charities @MrsMcDowall Not part of @smallchangefund But personally yes we are engaging with charities that do to offer support!

5) On the Ground Reporting @UNICEFLive Staffers also tweet about what they’re seeing on the ground (@Chris_UNICEF). Updates, photos and stories part of mix.

6) Donor Fatigue, Particularly in Less Personal Situations :

  • @canadahelps We’re seeing slower uptake of concern for Horn of Africa famine. Need to focus story on “we CAN make a difference”
  • @chwadhwani I hear a lot of “yeah but that disaster last year – everyone gave – and then what happened?”
  • @PlanCanada Donor fatigue is always a concern – emergency crisis or not. It ties back to  stories showing impact of donor $

7) Matching Donation Schemes Help @TLC4BC once the cdn govt said they would match donations – i’m sure there was a spike in contributions.

8) Instilling Urgency @PlanCanada We can make a difference if we act fast! http://ow.ly/5NUVr Yes-it’s been a challenge for us so far. It seems that crisis related causes have had the most success w/ mobile giving.

9) Variety to Extend Interest @YMCA_Canada Personally, have seen huge social media response but w same msgs, crisis will continue long time, need more variety in

10) Collaborative Media Role :

  • @PlanCanada Response to Pakistan floods was also slow, but picked up with media coverage. Hopefully same thing will happen here
  • @chwadhwani I think media has a role – they need to help us report back on where the $ went – ppl sometimes feel it goes out in the void

11) Mobilization of Crisis:

  • @snotforprofit We saw 4% of donations 4 Japan made by mobile web on our system (iPhone/tablet etc)
  • @MeghanReddick Crisis and Mass Media appeals work well with mobile giving

12) Constancy of Purpose @chwadhwani – Saw first hand evidence of the drought while in Uganda and Ethiopia last week…devastating. our work is always on livelihoods – doesn’t change – we may lose donations to relief..but we tweet on it daily

For those even more interested, here our 12 links on disaster relief fundraising to match our list of 12:

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