17 November 2009

The next charity

I'm a bit late with this, but thanks to everyone who participated in Soldiers' Angels Valour IT campaign, which raised over $100,000 this year. The proceeds will be used to purchase voice-activated laptops for wounded service members, as well as Nintendo Wii systems for use in hospitals as a rehabilitative device.

Although Valour IT fell short of its goal of $140,000, I should note that one team used social networking sites particularly well. Indeed, much to my chagrin, the smallest of the services, the US Marine Corps, brought in the most money, beating out the US Army by about $6,000 (grumble grumble).

But it wasn't the Marine Corps' size-to-contribution ratio that puzzled me. What really threw me for a loop was the fact that, of all the services, the Marines' leadership seems to be the most resistant towards Web 2.0 sites.

This brings me to my point. Jobs are scarce this holiday season, and many children might not have the Christmas they deserve. Fortunately, the Marines' Toys for Tots campaign has collected and distributed thousands of toys to needy children each Christmas season for over sixty years. It's probably one of the most well-known Christmas charities.

However, search for "Toys for Tots" on Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube and you'll find very little. There are a handful of commercials on Youtube (not sponsored by the Marines), two channels on Twitter sponsored by local Marine Corps reserve units, and a group of 210 sorority girls on Facebook who got together to help the campaign. (Hey ladies)

Look, I can't guarantee that using Twitter or Facebook to advertise will help bring in more toys this season. Let's face it, unemployment is rampant this holiday season, so the odds are against a booming campaign. However, these technologies can at least remind people to donate this season, and help them locate a suitable location to drop off toys. I know that the Marines are concerned about security issues with Web 2.0 sites, but come on, they want people to know about the Toys for Tots campaign.

I think the Marines might be amazed at the response can get from these sites.

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