We can all agree that social media has immensely shaped our current businesses, organizations, education and of course, our everyday life. But how has social media and its influential powers shaped service and volunteerism?
Twelve years ago, Youth Service America, an organization dedicated to promoting youth service, globally launched their annual campaign known as Global Youth Service Day. It is currently the largest service event in the world that incorporates youth and children volunteers. On April 20-22, 100 countries in over 6 continents will be volunteering and serving others in their communities or to organizations. Each school, youth group, or club create their own service event that better their communities or benefit a specific organization.
Youth Service America (YSA) track who is attending by the use of social media. This year, each group of volunteers had to access a Google account and download the Global Youth Service Google Doc under the Template Gallery. Through the Google Doc Template, groups could then start to plan their service project. Each service event is then counted and considered an active participant in Global Youth Service Day (GYSD). Also, through the YSA website you can download flyers and handouts to easily spread the word about the event. There is also a Global Youth Service Toolkit, available to download online with helpful tips and ideas. The tips included how to use social media to promote projects.
Three to five months ahead of an event, YSA states to begin to reach out to local radio stations, newspapers, magazines and TV sources and make significant contacts for the future: a key component of PR, networking! A credential to participate in Global Youth Service Day was to create an official Facebook page a group’s individual event. YSA encourages the groups to update the page with frequent project announcements and to encourage participants to like the page as well. YSA made a smart choice to mix social media and service.
When the event is two months ahead, YSA encourages all groups to construct a media release that is provided by the Google Template. The media release is then sent out to the contacts they made earlier in the year at local radio stations and newspapers. YSA also has a YouTube channel that has been viewed across the world in order to promote this 2 day service event. Groups can make videos and upload them to the channel to create awareness of their projects.
On the day of the event, GYSD participants should be alerting their fans and followers via Facebook and Twitter to say that today is the day! On Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, YSA encourages all participants to use the tag GYSD in order to share photos and comments regarding the success of the project.
Global Youth Service Day has to potential to be a major beneficial service event worldwide. It promotes service done by youth, a generation growing and learning with social media. GYSD is just one example of how social media affects the world around us. We all know social media can spread the word with the click of “post” or “tweet.” Now, volunteerism can continue to affect and change lives with the help of social media.
Written by: Natalie Hines.
Natalie Hines is a freshmen at the University of Delaware. She is a Communication Interest major. She is an active memeber of PRSSA-UD and of LEAD council, an organization promoting leadership and service that is closely assosciated with the leadership major and minor.