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3 New Ways You Can Give Online This Holiday Season

Support Charities With Money and Volunteer Work Without Leaving Home

This summer's ALS ice-bucket challenge showed the power of social media to advance a cause, raising more than $100 million and spurring interest in new ways to connect with charities online.

Here are three ideas from tech-savvy fundraising experts for ways to make your “clicktivism” count.

Set Your Sights on Giving Tuesday

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday dedicated to shopping the following Tuesday is becoming a high point for fundraising online.

It's known as #GivingTuesday, an initiative conceived by New York’s 92nd Street Y and backed by the United Nations Foundation to bring together charities and donors via social media.

“On Black Friday, stores go crazy,” said Ritu Sharma, co-founder and executive director of Social Media for Nonprofits in San Jose, Calif.

“Cyber Monday? Online retailers see huge business," Sharma said. "On Tuesday, we will see a ton of activity from active nonprofits on social media.”

What’s more, your charitable dollar is likelier to go farther this year on Tuesday, Dec. 2, because some companies and organizations will offer matching funds for donations made that day, Sharma said.

Start Your Own Wave

You can also harness the power of social media yourself, said Lisa Colton, chief learning officer of See3 Communications.

“The best gift individuals could give is to be public and transparent that giving should be a norm,” said Colton, whose Chicago agency provides digital services to nonprofits and social causes.

She offers this example of a social media update that might start a wave of giving: “I’m so thankful for my family’s health, I’m making a donation to Doctors Without Borders to treat ebola. What are you thankful for? Pass it on!“ Other people in your network can express their gratitude for advantages in their own lives, Colton said, and declare where their own gifts will go.

“That’s the power of social media: If you inspire 10 more people to give to their favorite organizations, you just multiplied your gift," Colton said.

Be a Virtual Volunteer

Money isn’t the only way you can make a difference via social media, said Shari Tishman, director of engagement with VolunteerMatch, a Web-based service founded in 1998 that helps volunteers connect with nonprofits worldwide.

“We’re seeing a quickly growing trend of virtual volunteering,” Tishman said, with people contributing their talents remotely."

Skills that translate well online include grant writing and marketing, as well as the pro bono efforts of professionals such as lawyers, architects and creative people, Tishman said.

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