1. My first installment of this series is titled "Discover," because you cannot successfully build a network of non-profits without first discovering which charities are active on Twitter and discovering which ones ignite your individual passion.  It is incredibly difficult to choose when there are so many great causes out there, and we’re all limited in terms of how much we can donate–but the great thing about social media is that there is a powerful tool in the hands of the average citizen that can be utilized to help non-profits: publicity.  We’ll get to that later!

    Your first step should be searching the Twitterverse to see what’s out there.  Some recommendations I can give are Doctors without Borders (@MSF_USA), @amFAR and the Committee to Protect Journalists (@pressfreedom).  However, there’s no way I can tell you what touches your heart the most and which causes deserve your time.  Therefore, I’m going to first walk you through the various ways in which you can make these choices on your own.  The first thing to do is to check out articles by trusted social media resources like Mashable.com, such as those in their "Follow for Good" section, in which they deliver a #FollowFriday to a group of charities.  A #FollowFriday is a simple Twitter tradition–recommend Twitter users to follow every Friday!  Here’s another valuable list from the crew at Mashable: "26 Charities and Non-Profits on Twitter."

    You might be wondering about the pound sign.  That brings me to my next tip: hashtags.  Hashtags are an incredibly valuable tool regardless of how you’d like to use Twitter, because they comprise a user-generated system to organize conversation streams and make it easier to search for discussion topics.  In turn, this makes it easier to build a network surrounding your interests because you can easily find people who are discussing them!  The most obvious hashtag you’ll want to use to search for charity-related discussion is #charity.  You may either type this directly into the Twitter search box, or click on it when it is present in any tweet (hashtags are clickable!).  Skim the discussion and see what you can glean about the charities that are active on Twitter and who their supporters may be.  You should also try #nonprofit, #philanthropy and #fundraising.

    Another useful tag is one that represents the Twitter Tuesday tradition–#CharityTuesday.  Run a search on this and you’ll find a treasure trove of suggestions from Twitter users about their favorite charities.  If you come across one that sounds interesting but about which you have little information, try looking up the organization on CharityNavigator to find out how effective and efficient they are.  Think about what causes mean to you, what your passions are, and start following the charities that best represent your ideals for a better world, and soon you’ll have an excellent list of charities that are active on Twitter who would love to have your support.

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