Principal Investigator: Prof. Dimitrios Buhalis
Researcher: Georgina Sekadakis
The eTourism Lab, ICTHR School of Tourism Bournemouth University is supporting Just a Drop – a water charity to spread its word through Social Media and the Internet. I have been working closely with Professor Dimitrios Buhals, Fiona Jeffery (chairman of the World Travel Market) and Ana Sustelo of Just a Drop to demonstrate how charities can use Social Media to benefit their great cause.
This dissertation aims to identify a best practice case study for charities in order to utilise social media to both raise awareness and raise funds. Just a Drop is a registered water charity raising money to build wells, install boreholes and hand pumps as well as carry out sanitation and health education programmes in some of the poorest parts of the developing world. The mission they are trying to accomplish is to reduce child mortality rates which occur as a result of water-borne diseases. Currently a child dies every 20 seconds as a result of water-borne diseases and this must stop. Their main donors are from the Travel and Tourism industry however they are now trying to attract donors from all industries and individuals. Little research has actually been carried out on marketing from a non-profitable organisation’s point of view. While there is agreement that charities nowadays have a greater need for marketing, there is little agreement on how they should be approaching marketing and especially when it comes to the adoption of Social Media, research has shown that they are lagging behind as they are waiting to see how others use this new technology. Today, charities of any size can take advantage of Social Media tools to showcase their organisation to the world without relying on huge budgets. Money is no longer the decision factor, creativity is. This project has been researching and experimenting with Internet and Social Media to try and classify a best practice for charities to help them engage and create awareness about the problem and how people can help make a change. Facebook and Twitter are primarily used to raise awareness and create story telling; as relationships are the foundation for Social Media sites they are key for charities in order to engage further with their stakeholders.
This project hopes that by working with the organisation, the research into new tools such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media can provide a low cost high impact marketing campaign which can provide vital funds for charities across the board. Research so far has shown that engaging creatively with stakeholders through social media will provide an ideal platform for establishing on going mutually profitable relationships. So far our attempts have been successful and we have found that followers are engaging with us through Social Media and we have identified ways of raising money through the various platforms to help fund new projects around the world. The project will conclude with a Best Practice Case Study recommendation for charities and an appropriate strategy for Just a Drop. Using social media strategically will be critical for organisations of the future and the expertise of the eTourism Lab will be widely used for all organisations engaging.