Giving Back: How 5 Non-Profits Are Thriving on Social

By Sam Sudakoff

It’s that time of year again when we're not only making purchases for families and loved ones, but also looking to donate our time, funds, and goods to those in need. 40% of all charitable contributions are made in December. As the year ends, Americans' charitable contributions will be the largest in the world, with $300 billion in funds and $260 billion in volunteer hours in just 12 months.  But these statistics don't just come from the traditional idea of volunteering in-person or mailing a check. Social media giving has expanded recently. Facebook just announced that it is creating a 'Donate' button to partner with any post from charitable organizations. It's never been easier to connect with a charity-driven audience.

Here are 5 charitable social media efforts that are making an impact. (And here's what we can learn from them.)

1. American Red Cross: When Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, there were dozens of links shared to offer immediate financial support, special Facebook plug-ins, and multi-network conversations to help the community build awareness, understand the impact, and lend a helping hand. With so much information being provided, people were able to act fast. American Red Cross reacted to the sudden crisis and executed seamlessly on Facebook within moments of the tragedy. They also make it incredibly easy to donate and to share that you've done so.

Lesson: Be current and engaging.

2. Water Is Life: Why is this the cause to support? Water Is Life makes powerful videos with lots of information on who the public is helping, how to help, and where exactly your dollar and effort will go. There are millions of people online; if you can get in front of them with the hard facts, that’s the game changer.

Lesson: It's the information age: provide a LOT of it.

3. Charity Water: This organization has such a strong online presence, and the reason is because each and every donor can feel the impact their support is making. Charity Water shows their audience exactly where contributions are spent. For many, that true connection is the ultimate gift and what will bring lifelong loyalty.

Lesson: Show the impact.

4.  Share-A-Tree: Sometimes the most powerful acts are the ones that are the most humble. NBC’s Share-A-Tree campaign (A Likeable Media client), in conjunction with Green is Universal, allows you to literally click one button and instantly plant a tree. This commitment is minimal, but the reward is immense.

Lesson: Keep it simple.

5. Crowdrise: This platform has mastered crowd-based funding, social-networking, and the ability to find people with similar passions. Users can start donating to a plethora of causes they may be interested in. Crowdrise connects individuals with passion for a cause to the masses. It creates an easy channel for people to contribute and grow their cause. It is smart, easy, eye-opening.

Lesson: Building relationships and building cause awareness.

Not having enough time to volunteer or donate is no excuse - the average American is digitally connected for 23 hours per week. Contributing to the organizations above may may not seem like a lot, but digital activism is influential . Everybody can make a difference.

What charities or causes do you see doing something great in social media? What ways has social media helped you get more involved? Share in the comments section below!