Tweeting for goodwill updates giving process

James Jeffrey

Austin entrepreneur Sarah Vela has established a way for social media to do good through her online company HelpAttack! by combining the use of platforms such as Twitter with the act of making charitable donations.

HelpAttack! is a website where Tweeters can pledge 5 cents or more for every tweet made in a 30-day period to any of the 5,000 nonprofit organizations listed on the company’s database. At the end of the 30 days, the Tweeter returns to the website, pays the amount generated by the activity and can commit to a longer period.

Currently the facility is established for Twitter, however, Vela said the plan is to utilize Facebook next and other social media in the future. She said people are increasingly tracking their activities online, be it counting chores, calories or fitness activities. This “idea of life streaming” allows HelpAttack! to benefit.

“If you can count it, you can pledge it,” Vela said.

Vela said the usual model of nonprofits sending out requests for sponsorship donations could be revamped to make the request into the support itself.

“What if that was turned around and instead of always asking, you were just giving, simply by being online,” she said. “Instead of always sending out a tweet [asking for support], the tweet itself was the support.”

Vela was heavily influenced by her politically active parents who regularly supported a number of nonprofits. Her parents made donations solicited through the mail, though she said people don’t respond through snail mail anymore because they live online and want to be reached online.

When situations are not related to a dire event such as a natural disaster, it can be hard for nonprofits to get a response, a problem they have been trying to solve for some time.

“This is hopefully a solution,” Vela said. “You can decide which causes are relevant to you and can make giving to them integrated into your everyday activities online.”

The website went live on Aug. 21, so it is in its early days with plans for expansion.

“We are a boot-strapped company … self-funded through friends and family,” Vela said.