Twitter Tampon Trend Becomes Fund-Raising Opportunity for Charity

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When most people saw a joke, Alison McQuade saw an opportunity.The joke came in late January, when Apple announced the forthcoming release of the iPad.Twitter users started calling the new device the “iTampon” – joking about the obvious parallels between the iPad’s name and a certain feminine-hygiene product.

The opportunity came when Alison (@GlobalGiving) noticed a connection between the off-color jokes and an effort by her organization, GlobalGiving, to raise money to provide eco-friendly feminine products to girls in Uganda.

Ms. McQuade, GlobalGiving’s online marketing manager, decided to jump on the Twitter trend to raise awareness about the Uganda project.

On GlobalGiving’s Twitter page, she tweeted a post that linked the iPad jokes to the Web page for the Uganda project.

“#iPad and #iTampon jokes are funny,” she wrote to GlobalGiving’s Twitter followers. “But in #Uganda girls leave school for lack of sanitary pads.”

She posted a similar message to its fans on Facebook.

“I thought the iTampon jokes were funny, but saw an opportunity to highlight this product as a very real issue–and why not jump on a trending topic,” Ms. McQuade says. “I posted this on Facebook and Twitter and let it go.”

And away it went.

“By the end of the weekend, the project raised $1,676,” she said. “Earth shattering? Maybe not. But certainly not insignificant considering the only outreach was a couple of tweets and a Facebook post.”

What lessons can your organization learn from this example?

One obvious lesson is to be aware.

Many times, nonprofit groups use Twitter only to speak to their key issues without paying attention to the other conversations that are happening around them.

Ms. McQuade was paying attention to the larger discussion and she noticed a trend that offered her organization a chance to reach a new audience.

In addition, by tagging the posts with #iPad and #iTampon, she was able to inject GlobalGiving into the discussion of a popular topic.

The second lesson: have a sense of humor.

Ms. McQuade was able to turn a joke into a teachable moment.

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