Wired for good deeds
Balqis Lim writes on how social media is showing the way in spreading Christmas cheer
BESIDES online shopping, ordering food and updating one’s social media account, the virtual world can also be used to seek help for worthy causes. Facebook, especially, serves as a platform for organisations to connect with people and seek donations for good causes.
While there are concerns of fake social media accounts soliciting donations and Internet users running false stories, some are taking advantage of the lower advertising spending for an increase in returns.
Zoe Christian Fellowship (ZCF) uses social media to reach out to members during the festive season. Church council member and social media manager Andrea Chooi says having a Facebook page is also about disseminating messages to members.
“At first, we created the page to connect with our members, to pass information and share messages. But as 90 per cent of millennials now use social media, we figured it was the best platform to connect with others too.
“Flyers are not as effective since people rarely read them and just throw them away,” she says.
Chooi says social media outreach has been very helpful in raising funds and has also become a platform for specific groups seeking causes to which they can help and donate.
Another council member Regina Cheng says despite being very busy nowadays people are always online, making it very easy to connect with them, especially when there are events and functions.
This Christmas, ZCF is giving back to the community through a charity for a home which accommodates autistic children.
Chooi says she shared the event page on Facebook, and to her surprise, even non-members who saw the posting were eager to join.
“I wouldn’t say that a post gets immediate hits or likes, but when we shared it in our Facebook account, even our friends who are not church members came across the post. That chain of sharing is so powerful, it indirectly reaches out to the public,” she says, adding the group is going to YS Charity Foundation in Petaling Jaya to sing Christmas carols for the less fortunate and prepare finger foods for them.
REACHING OUT TO MORE PEOPLE
Meanwhile, Beautiful Gate Foundation For The Disabled is using Facebook to sell its self-produced goods in conjunction with the festive season.
Centre pastor and counsellor Allen Low says previously they would put the advertisements in their newsletter but have since posted it on their Facebook page to reach out to more people.
“A month before Christmas, we started posting about our handmade gifts on our website and social media accounts. We wanted to expand our reach to not only our neighbourhood but also others outside the area.
“Besides, the pictures are clearer and easy to see online than on paper,” says Low, adding that among the products sold are shopping bags, coin pouches, and pottery pouches. With prices starting from as low as RM2, all the products were sewn by people with disabilities using recycled materials such as buntings and old jeans.
Low says sewing classes started in May this year when the foundation brought in a tutor to teach the students. The centre, which houses about 40 members, now has four sewing machines.
He says besides selling their products for charity, individuals and private corporations also reach out to them through online advertisements. “Some of them called us and wanted to see the products, while corporations would order the handmade goods as door gifts for their events.”
Low says the centre will bring in more machines and students will be taught to sew various products. “It’s our way to show support for their talents and skills, and to make them feel proud of their accomplishments.”
It is a different case for a non-profit welfare organisation which utilises social media as an added approach to print advertisement. Pertubuhan Kebajikan Yesuvin Mahligai Selangor (PKYMS) founder and chairman Dr M. Rajan says the association usually holds its annual charity dinner and Christmas party with the community.
PKYMS, which now services five homes, an education centre and a centralised office with more than 85 people, needs about RM50,000 to organise the event.
“Normally, we would send invitations to donors and supporters a few months earlier. The donations not only benefit our home, but also the children and families attending the function in the form of school bags and hampers. Besides letters and advertisements in the newspaper, we also use social media to reach out.
“Some people called us when they saw the post on our Facebook page and expressed their wish to sponsor hampers for the event,” he says.
Rajan says PKYMS would also hold a fundraising during the party to help meet its yearly expenses which comes up to about RM500,000.