"Last year, we really did it as kind of a test with a social media campaign," said Jamie Patricio, senior manager for consumer PR for e-commerce site PayPal. This year, the campaign expanded to include more nonprofits, such as ASPCA and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and has its own standalone Web site, in addition to a Facebook presence.
"We have a large number of nonprofits that use PayPal and have had success, and a lot of the folks who have had the most success in raising money have a really larger social media presence," Patricio said. "Being an online company, we wanted to be where they are."
Consumers can go online and donate to participating charities, creating a digital fruitcake, that eternally unpopular holiday food, which is "regifted," encouraging their friends and family to also donate. Celebrities including Ryan Seacrest, Lisa Rinna, and Michael Ian Black have participated so far.
"This year, we've really seen a huge impact from the use of Twitter to promote the campaign," Patricio added. "The charities have been tweeting about it and re-tweeting, and their supporters, and even some celebrity supporters, have been re-tweeting." PayPal also used Twitter's #CharityTuesday to host contests, where the organizations that raise the most money on Tuesdays get an added donation from the company.
PayPal, an 11-year-od company owned by eBay, is working with its AOR Access Communications on the social media work, celebrity outreach, and traditional media relations to nonprofit and philanthropy reporters.
"Our goal was really just to make it viral, and our number one goal was to raise money for these causes and do so in a fun way utilizing social media," Patricio said. "And we wanted people to be able to see that they can use PayPal to donate to nonprofits quickly and easily."