Twitter Users to Meet Offline for Good Cause
Feb. 11, 2009, The Star-Telegram — It’s enough to set your heart a Twitter.
On Thursday, in more than 175 cities worldwide, people who chat on the social-networking site Twitter will come together (in person) to raise money for one charity.
Think of it as virtual fundraising with a twist.
"When Twitter users meet up, they call it a 'tweetup,’ " explained Laura E. Hall, a volunteer who is helping organize the event in Dallas. "It’s like a social event that benefits social causes or social justice."
The "Twestivals," as they are being called, will be held in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. Dallas’ event will be at Mockingbird Station, where tweeters (people who use Twitter) can meet, enjoy live music, and take in a free film and comedy show.
All the proceeds will go to Charity: Water, an organization devoted to bringing clean drinking water to developing nations.
"Clean water is a right that everybody in the world should have access to," Hall said. "It is great that we can use whatever method of technology available" to get the word out.
Twitter allows users to send updates (also known at "tweets") to their Twitter friends about what they are doing. It’s similar to Facebook, but each update is limited to 140 characters.
Hall acknowledged that most people mail invitations or post fliers when they host a charity event. Using Twitter, she said, makes more sense.
"Twitter is definitely faster," Hall said. "People that use the service get their messages on phones or e-mails immediately. It becomes viral. People see the conversation, and they click over to see what is being talked about or what is going on."
Plus, Hall said, Twitter is eco-friendly.
"We are trying not to use printed material and are telling everyone to take the DART rail to Mockingbird," Hall said.
According to twestival.com, the idea to use Twitter to organize a charity event came from a group in London.
In September, the group decided to host an event that would benefit a local homeless charity and connect the local Twitter community, many of whom had never met.
Soon, other stories started popping up about local Twitter communities coming together for various causes.
Finally, the idea for a global Twestival was born.
Hall said that each city is responsible for its event. Dallas’ goal is to raise $4,000, roughly the cost of drilling one water well in Central Africa.
Hall said part of the money will be raised through ticket sales. The rest will come from sponsorships and donations.
Hall said it is hard to predict how many will attend Dallas’ Twestival, but she expects people to continue to use social media to raise awareness — and money.
"My whole life is wedded with social media," said Hall, 24, of Dallas. "I keep in contact with people through Facebook and I share stuff on YouTube. There is a saying that Twitter is what happens between e-mails and blogs. Twitter connects people directly with one another. I think it is a natural extension of where things are headed."