A number of people have commented on my increasing levels of generosity over the last month or so.

It’s not that I’ve actually given any extra money to charity. It’s because I’ve been thinking out loud (on Twitter) about setting up a new direct debit as part of a research exercise.

I wanted to find out if charities were starting to listen and engage on Twitter or were still stuck in broadcast mode.

It was prompted by some rather impressive experiences I had with Virgin Media and American Express after publishing a few critical tweets that mentioned them by name. I’ve reproduced the conversation with Virgin below, but the American Express one had a similar positive conclusion.

Picture 16

So what happened when I creaked open my wallet and started tweeting things like…

“I wonder if I should increase my direct debit to <named charity>?”

“Thinking of setting up a new direct debit to <named charity> or <another named charity>? Can’t decide which!”

“Haven’t got a direct debit for a UK children’s charity. Not sure which one to go for?????”

“Thinking of <named charity>, <another named charity>, <yet another named charity? Maybe others?”


None of the charities that I mentioned contacted me. One did start following me but didn’t get in touch.

A few people started recommending their own favourite charities to me – most were small organisations that I didn’t have much knowledge of – and a few were obvious jokes from people I know well.

But only two charities actually asked for a gift. First off was @lucycaldicottfrom CLIC Sargent and second was @VisionAfrica from Vision Africa.

As a result I’m going to be setting up a direct debit with CLIC Sargent and sponsoring a child with Vision Africa.

If you have a search under the last few days worth of tweets on Twitter using terms like “donation” or “direct debit” you’ll find a couple of tweets that might be of interest. There’s even the odd complaint that might be worth a response from the charity concerned.

This is obviously a tiny piece of completely unscientific research, but from what I see on a day to day basis, it’s not far from the truth. If you have examples of charities that are better at looking after their tweeting donors, I’d love to hear about them.

In the meantime, here’s a rather good piece on Mashable that’s worth a read if you are looking for a few tips on using Twitter for customer (or supporter) service. You can read the complete article here, but in summary you should…

  • See Twitter as a means to solve supporter problems, generate positive brand image, involve staff and reduce communication costs.
  • Track entire conversations about your charity.
  • Make supporters (and potential supporters) aware of your presence.
  • Respond quickly and transparently.
  • Be engaged.
  • Be authentic.

It’s easy to broadcast on Twitter, but it’s better to connect.

PS. I haven’t named the charities that I mentioned in my tweets, but if you were curious you could have a dig in my twitter history.