Jordan Benedet is a Manager on the Client Strategy and Innovation team at Social Media Group. Follow @jbenedet.
For most, the holidays are a time to enjoy the company of family and friends while sipping on eggnog in front of a warm fire – okay, maybe that’s a pretty broad generalization, but you know what I’m getting at here. Besides the frantic last minute shopping at the crowded mall to find the perfect gift for someone special, it’s a very happy time of year. When you put the commercialization around the holidays aside, it is also important to focus and reflect on some of the heartaches and stress that this time of year can cause those that are less fortunate.
Spreading local holiday cheer has a somewhat different meaning to me this year, as I have recently begun volunteering at a local Toronto Food Bank, The North York Harvest. I was informed that demand for food this year is up 16% this year, but overall food donations have not quite kept pace with this increase. One of the main drivers for the increased demand is that food prices are up, and the projection for 2013 is another 3%-4% increase, making it even more important for communities to support their local food bank.
SMG has a long standing tradition of supporting the local Toronto organization Holiday Helpers. What started as two sisters spreading their own version of holiday cheer in 1999, has transformed into a organization that helps hundreds of Toronto families in need every season by providing a special Christmas package containing a tree, decorations, food, and personalized gifts for each and every family member. Imagining the look of excitement on a child’s face when they receive the exact item on their Christmas list is sure to make anyone smile.
Making a difference in your local community is very important, but I also feel that the Internet should be given some credit since it reduces barriers and facilitates spreading what I am referring to as digital cheer. In recent years, online giving, tracked by Austin-based Convio has grown at a double digit pace, very similar to the growth curve of online retail sales. This is truly an amazing trend to observe, because the power of the Internet, and social media has provided a mechanism for charities/non-profits to reach a larger audience than ever before, with the added bonus of systems that allow visitors to easily donate toward a cause. Generating Social Good can also be done via many crowd funding platforms as summarized by Mashable a year ago.
So what happens when local and digital cheer are combined? Well, it can be delicious, let me explain. A colleague here at SMG recently shared a link with me that I thought was absolutely amazing on so many levels. What is appropriately named The Pie Drive, is essentially one man’s mission to bake and sell 80 homemade, flaky, and delicious pies – with all the proceeds going to the local Covenant House charity. After loading up the beautiful pie page, I took my sweet time to make a flavour decision. I would soon find out that the Pie Drive link, and Facebook page was digitally shared so quickly among friends and family that the 80 pies sold out within 24 hours. My hesitation left me with nothing but a digital image to salivate over.
I want to commend Zachary Ginies on the amazing success of his Pie Drive campaign. His efforts of leveraging technology to spread local cheer will surely make many people smile this holiday season, and I look forward to supporting the cause, and eating pie next year!