By Neha Shukla, Social Media Editor, OHO

Social media is playing a remarkable role in increasing people’s participation in social causes. An infographic developed by MDG Advertising summarises the increasing influence of social media on individuals to contribute to causes and charities. The concept is now widely referred to as social giving.

Donate Computer Key In Blue Showing Charity And FundraisingThis certainly presents a strong case for for-purpose enterprises (aka not-for-profit ) to utilise social media in their fundraising campaigns. But what is also worth evaluating is why and how social media is changing people’s behaviour.

According to the findings from a recent survey in UK, almost a third of UK charity supporters say that social media campaigns have inspired them to donate. The survey reports that social media is the second most likely channel in UK that inspires donors to give. Another survey in US found that 55% of those who engage with nonprofits via social media have been inspired to take further action towards the cause.

So, is it correct to presume that social media is making people more socially engaged? Has social media made us more generous and socially conscious?

New channels evolving due to improved technology, including social media, are playing an increasingly significant part in inspiring donations.

Technology has made it easy for people to donate online. In Australia, the online donations portal has seen exponential growth in both the amount of money donated, the number of donors giving online, and the number of organisations with online appeals in the last few years.

Aussies seem to be more generous than ever  with mobile device donations up by a massive 293 per cent in the past year alone.

The local growth in online giving is reflective of overseas trends during the past decade.

Peer influence and social status is cited as one of the key motivator for people to make a contribution towards a cause, according to Philanthropy Australia. Social media has empowered every individual to be an influencer in his or her own right.

The UK study also found that over half of respondents agree that it’s important to them to be seen as knowledgeable about causes (55%), or to be seen by their peers as charitable (51%). A simple click of a ‘like’ button by a Facebook user instantly announces it to all their connections that the individual is endorsing that cause and considers it to be important. Others in their ‘friends list’ also tend to “like” the cause, to demonstrate that they are also part of that group. It also raises the value of the individual within their social group.

The MDG infographic also sheds light on another very significant factor. It presented numbers on social endorsement, suggesting that more than half of social media users (68 percent) say that they would “take time to learn more about a charity if they see a friend posting about it.” This is supported by the US survey stating 47% of Americans learn about causes via social media and online channels.

Social media levels the playing field. It allows everyone, from a one-man army to a large conglomerate, to influence the environment around them. Individuals willing to contribute now have more options and access to a much wider range of causes, enabling them to choose the one that they relate most to themselves personally.

Social media is definitely gaining traction as the first go-to source for information about social causes – both at the local and global levels. Not only has it changed the way we connect with each other, it is now transforming the way we feel about social issues and how we act on them. The trends in social giving are worth watching for all social enterprises.

We are interested in your thoughts about social giving. Please take our poll on social media on our Facebook page or leave us a comment.