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Social media goes the distance for non-profits

Ride for the Feast shows the power of organizing through social media
Ride for the Feast shows the power of organizing through social media

I admit to some previous skepticism when it comes to believing in the power of social media to do the heavy lifting that solid brand marketing requires. But when it comes to the power of social media to gain publicity and power on behalf of non-profit causes and organizations, I’ve seen the light.

Take this weekend just past. Ride for the Feast is an annual event that draws bicyclists from all walks of life to pump their legs nearly non-stop for 140 miles from Ocean City, Maryland to Baltimore. The idea is for the riders to raise money for Moveable Feast through sponsorships of individual riders.

Originally founded as an organization to help deliver meals to those in need who were stricken with breast cancer, Moveable Feast has morphed into a non-profit dedicated to the delivery of meals for medical shut-ins, including those suffering with AIDS, cancer and all sorts of other debilitating diseases.

Marketing for the event was almost entirely driven by the nearly-300 individuals who accepted the challenge of raising funds as well as making the 140-mile trip. One day after the event ended (according to their website) they’d raised nearly $600,000 of a $650,000 goal. That’s a far cry from the $30,000 the first group raised in 2002 when a dozen riders decided to make a difference. It’s the kind of growth that social media has made possible, especially when it’s driven by a committed group that believes in the cause.