Health IT

4 social media-savvy nonprofits using the Web creatively to make a difference in healthcare

We’ve looked extensively at how hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, entrepreneurs, doctors, patients  and medical schools are using social media. But there’s another group whose inherently social nature lends itself well to social media success: health-related charitable organizations. From the Red Cross to the American Heart Association, most nonprofit organizations today have a strong online presence, but […]

We’ve looked extensively at how hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, entrepreneurs, doctors, patients  and medical schools are using social media. But there’s another group whose inherently social nature lends itself well to social media success: health-related charitable organizations.

From the Red Cross to the American Heart Association, most nonprofit organizations today have a strong online presence, but below are four examples of some of the most creative efforts we’ve seen by these organizations to raise money for their respective causes.

Which organization’s innovative social media campaigns are missing from this list? Let us know on Twitter (@medcitynews) or in the comments.

Malaria No More (@MalariaNoMore), which supplies mosquito nets to people in malaria zones in Africa, takes a unique approach to bringing a not-so-talked-about issue to the average person’s radar with social media, celebrities and humor. It’s working with the website CollegeHumor.com on a fundraising campaign featuring a series of what it calls “Malarious” videos. Users can donate $1 or more to view videos of celebrities doing ridiculous things, like Penn & Teller snorting beans or Elizabeth Banks getting hit with pies. Much of the organization’s other social media content does take on serious tones, but it seems to have struck a great balance — its Facebook page, with a cover photo encouraging “more chubby babies” — has nearly 200,000 likes.

The Diabetes Hands Foundation (@diabeteshf) runs an annual campaign that encourages people with diabetes to engage in healthy behaviors while also helping those who can’t afford diabetes supplies. Based on the notion that exercise can improve blood glucose management, the Big Blue Test campaign asks participants to test their blood sugar, exercise for 14 to 20 minutes, test their blood sugar again and share the results on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #bigbluetest. Sponsored by Roche Diabetes Care, the project hopes to generate 20,000 tests before Nov. 14 in order to have $100,000 donated to diabetes nonprofit organizations in the U.S., Haiti, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.

Stand Up To Cancer (@SU2C) took the concept of the telethon to the Web this year. In addition to being broadcast on the big four networks, the annual fundraising special streamed live on Hulu and included digital extras like celebrity video chats and a live stream from backstage. During the telethon, some of the participating celebrities also retweeted their favorite comments from viewers tagged with #SU2C and #IStandUpFor. A project of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, SU2C works with the American Association for Cancer Research to provide grants to cancer research projects.

What yellow rubber bracelets did for fundraising nearly a decade ago, LIVESTRONG’s (@LIVESTRONG) Web efforts have done for nonprofit social media today. The foundation has used social media to raise millions of dollars and promote fundraising, community and cancer survivor support events across the country. Founder and former Chairman Lance Armstrong (@lancearmstrong) has more than 3 million Twitter followers, and CEO Doug Ulman (@LIVESTRONGCEO) has more than 1 million followers. The foundation has accounts on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest, and also uses social media to support other cancer initiatives like Blame Drew’s Cancer, an online project using the hashtag #BlameDrewsCancer for people with cancer to virtually “beat up” the disease.