At the beginning of the year, I wrote on this blog about an interesting new concept on Twitter: The Twestival."
At the time, I noted that according to the organizers: "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."
My original post was pre-Twestival, and in the subsequent month, as Twetivals were held in 202 cities around the world, raising over $250K, with all the proceeds going directly to the Twestival selected charity, which was charity: water.
Now, some critics have grumbled that these Twestivals did not meet the original lofty fundraising goals, but this does not negate that volunteers all over the world got together in their local cities and with their time, energy, and resourcefulness raised a quarter million dollars for a good cause.
Fast foward a half a year, and Twestival has now gone local. This year, during the weekend of Sept 10-13th, cities all over the world will again be holding Twestivals, but this time, the local city organizers choose the charity that will be supported.
I have been involved in helping organize the DC Twestival. Held on September 10th, all proceeds will be going to benefit Miriam's Kitchen (no relation :)), a local soup kitchen based in DC.
The planning process has been a fascinating study in volunteerism, civic action, the power of social media, and, interestingly enough, Gen Y. I would note, that most everyone helping organize this event in DC is Gen Y. For a generation that is often written off by traditional nonprofit fundraisers, these folks, (including myself) have given up hours on weekends, tapped into our networks, and, I would say, very enthusiastically pursued the planning of this event, and, as an end goal, the raising of thousands of dollars for charity.
The most fascinating part to me is that the folks involved in my local Twestival come from all walks of life--PR, start up, event planning--most of them are not even part of the nonprofit community and were connected thru Twitter--meaning they do not have some default reason for being involved, like say learning something for their job or raising money for a living.
I would also note that the age group and demographic is likely a very unique one for planning large nonprofit events--too young to be involved in huge fundraising galas of the more traditional type, too old to be involved in college fundraising events.
The Twestivals, unlike other charity events, also bring together an interesting new group of "supporters", folks actually paying to attend the event, mingle, and support a charity, potentially opening an opportunity for the selected charities to tap into a whole new group of current volunteers, donors, and potentially, life-long advocates.
As with the efforts I recently wrote about from Operation Smile, folks are exploring new and interesting ways to "leverage" Twitter as a platform to encourage action, and in this case, action in person, continuing the trend that Twitter is becoming an essential tool in the fundraising toolkit.
To find your local Twestival, check out the main Twestival page and search by city.
Living in the DC area? Come join us on Sept 10th at Midtown Lofts and help support Miriam's Kitchen! Tickets are available thru Amiando (cheaper to get before day of even than at the door).