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Sparking charity: Columbia J-school dean uses social media to shine light on nonprofits

Published: Monday, June 25 2012 12:00 p.m. MDT

Sree Sreenivasan, the dean of student affairs at Columbia Journalism School who regularly blogs about social media, is using his Twitter account as a platform for bringing attention to nonprofit charities.

"Sending money, of course, remains the single most important way to support nonprofits," Sreenivasan wrote Sunday in a blog post for technology website CNET. "But social-media users have learned that you can also have an impact by paying with something else: attention — your own attention and your friends' attention. … As I approached my 6,000th tweet, I decided to use the occasion to bring some attention to a few nonprofits and to learn more about how every day users support their charities. … People would nominate their favorite charities and I'd tweet about five that caught my eye."

Sreenivasan's CNET blog post included a preliminary list of 35 nominated charities that ran the gamut from Alex's Lemonade Stand ("fighting cancer one cup at a time") to School on Wheels ("provides tutoring and educational advocacy for homeless children in Indianapolis").

Last year in the article "Social media's impact on charitable fundraising: Does it work?" USA Today's Christie Garton wrote, "Charities that have taken a holistic or integrated approach to fundraising — combining multiple social media tools with the more traditional approach of email or mailed requests — saw their fundraising increase as much as 40 percent compared to peers that didn't use these social tools."

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