SMC Philly T ShirtI don’t mean to be sexist in the title of this post, especially since there are so many women involved in the organizations, both charitable and social media centered that are the focus of this post, but the term is a natural when you talk about Philadelphia and charity at the same time.

I attended the last month,  the Philadelphia chapter of the Social Media Club, organized by Gloria Bell and Annie Heckenberger to discuss the charitable efforts of BlameDrewsCancer , Twestival Philadelphia, and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network as well as the use of social media in general for charitable purposes.

I always enjoy the SMCPhilly meetings, the people are interesting, the topics are fun, and its generally a good time as well as a learning experience. This time was even a little more special for me though.

First the panel talked about what they do. Twestival is a social media charity from the ground up, created because of  the popularity of twitter.  Their web site says

A Twestival or Twitter-Festival is a global series of events organized by volunteers around the world under short timescales, which bring people offline for a great cause.

The concept was a great success. Again, their website really says it best;

The first Twestival Global was launched with a tweet on 8 January 2009 and barely a month later on 12 February, there were 202 cities around the world hosting events to benefit charity: water.  Over 1,000 volunteers, crowdsourced through Twitter, contributed their skills, over 10,000 people participated globally and countless others donated or used their creativity to ensure 100% of all proceeds went direct to charity: water projects.  The total raised in one day was over $250k through these events and online donations; resulting in 55 wells with more than 17,000 people served in Uganda, Ethiopia, and India.

During the meeting the conversation focused on Twestival Local, an event taking place here on September 12, 2009 to benefit Gift of Life Family House, a non-profit organization providing temporary lodging and supportive services to transplant patients and families in our area. As of this writing, the local twestivals have raised over $233,000 and still have 40 cities left to report.

BlamedrewsCancer , while a serious cause, is a response to the challenges faced by Drew Olanoff after he was diagnosed with cancer on May 20th 2009. Its explained on the organization’s website

On May 20th, 2009, Drew Olanoff was diagnosed with cancer.

Ever since that day, Drew has blamed everything on his cancer. Losing his keys, misplacing his wallet, Twitter being slow, the Phillies losing, etc.

Why? Because you have to beat up on Cancer to win… and you can help out.

Blame Drew’s Cancer for anything you want by tweeting with the hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer and it’ll come here. When Drew beats Cancer we hope to have sponsors that will donate a dollar for every participant to our partner, LIVESTRONG.

The campaign here is again based on social media engagement with off-line participation in events like a blame-a-thon that was held on September 9

The whole concept is both courageous and whimsical at the same time. Having lost my mother, father, sister and other family members to cancer, this one has a real warm spot in my heart.

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a more traditional charity, using social media to reach out and engage their community through social media, and as a result, they have different challenges. Its interesting to me to see the difference between their approach to community building, and the evangelistic style of BlameDrewsCancer , a difference that is as much geenrational as it is social media based.

And the SMC Philadelphia crew has to get a little love here too for setting up the opportunity for these groups to share the challenges, success, and techniques to help communities help themselves “do well by doing good” Though the causes are all different and their approach to community building and community service are all different, they are all terrific causes, fueled by volunteers and all worthy of your support. I hope you give it…

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