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    January 25, 2009

    Festivals, Twestivals: Twitter gets into fundraising

    Recently, I finally signed up for a Twitter account. For months, I had been holding back, convinced that my network really didn't need to know what I was doing at any given point of my day. But then I attended an even a few weeks ago where Rohit Bhargava, author of the Influential Marketing Blog, who told the audience all about how he became one of the biggest bloggers in the marketing blogosphere.

    One interesting thing Rohit mentioned was his use of Twitter and how his view of what Twitter was useful for had changed: like me, at first he used it to let his friends and networks know where he was, market his blog, etc. But then, Rohit realized that his Twitter feed in itself was like a mini blog--a place to really engage with his networks and promote his goals.

    So that's when I decided to dive in and signed up for Twitter. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I already had a secret Twitter account-one I had set up to show a client how they could use Twitter to recruit younger people for a travel abroad program the client ran.

    The reason I decided to get a "real" Twitter account now is not necessarily to promote my blog, but in part, because I believe in practicing what we preach-if I am going to advise people to use Twitter for fundraising purposes, I better understand it in and out, backwards and forwards.

    So, in the one week I have been on Twitter, I have discovered several fascinating things:

    1) Twitter is not limited to 146 characters. There is TwitWall, for when "things are too long to Twitt." So basically, Twitter is now offering you the blog and the microblog.

    2) As with other social media applications, the "masses" are taking fundraising out of the hands of professional fundraisers and self-organizing. Case-in-point: Twestivals.

    As the official Twestival website explains:

    "In September 2008, a group of Twitterers based in London UK decided to organise an event where the local Twitter community could socialize offline; meet the faces behind the avatars, enjoy some entertainment, have a few drinks and tie this in with a food drive and fundraising effort for a local homeless charity.

    The bulk of the event was organized in under two weeks, via Twitter and utilized the talents and financial support of the local Twittersphere to make this happen.

    Around the world similar stories started appearing of local Twitter communities coming together and taking action for a great cause. Twestival was born out of the idea that if cities were able to collaborate on an international scale, but working from a local level, it could have a spectacular impact."

    Apparently, the current Twestivals, scheduled for early February, are raising cash for charity: water.

    While this is an interesting concept, it is not new--recall the Meet Ups that made Mike Huckabee a serious contender for the republican nomination, but the fact that Twitterites are mobilizing to raise cash for charity is an incredibly novel way to fundraise and charity: water has found a way to mobilize millions on the web in a virtually cost-free way.

    Now the Twestivals has turned to charity, this is certainly a trend to keep an eye on.

    For more great info, check out Beth Kanter's post on Twestivals.

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