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How to become an armchair social media superstar for charity this Christmas

First off, it's really easy to help the world!

Social Media has provided an opportunity to share your interests and hopes to a potentially global audience (depending on just how high you set your privacy settings - or can even find them). But did you know that it's not just the CEOs with 20 million in the bank that can happily charge $1 salaries for philanthropic acts; you can too without the need of unlimited resources, but with a great deal success.

So, go grab a coffee and read on to learn how to make a difference and see how small actions taken together can build into massive changes when there are enough supporters working together!

Transforming yourself into the activist you can be!

They say that 'charity begins at home', but the way that technology has changed over the years it's now really easy to help charities without having to spend any money at all. Of course, donations still remain the standard way to help a charitable organisation, but with the way that social media has taken over the world, simply 'liking' something is a great way to spread the message.

Social media is now the quickest and easiest way to stay in contact with not only your closest friends, but also the friends of friends. Websites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are now the 'go to' forms of media as it is updated instantly, so any news can and is shared instantly. The simple action of re-tweeting to followers may get the charitable message in front of a person that decides to make a donation, so it’s well worth it.

So what has this got to do with charity you may be asking?

Well you could help spread the word of charities by re-tweeting some of their articles for friends and family to read. Or you could 'like' something on Facebook or pin a charity story to your ‘pinboard’. This activity then shows up on other people's newsfeed and then they get the chance to like it too. Many charities have taken this on board, so the chances are your charity is already available to help. Equally though, you might lend a smaller charity a hand helping them to get their social media profiles registered and integrated with their work (it really depends just how much time you have spare).

Using social media as a tool to connect with friends, but finding ways to help advertise your favourite charities is a really useful way of spreading the word. For the most part, it's FREE!

 So the next time you read something interesting about a charity, or want to make a charitable donation why not retweet it or 'like' it on Facebook. It truly is an amazing way to help spread the word to people who may never have seen it, and a fantastic way to help out your favourite charities without necessarily having to reach for your wallet.

What’s the best way to decide on which charity to help?

There are a huge number of charities in the world, each equally deserving our attention. However, you can’t help everyone so what’s the best way to stop feeling overwhelmed, do something that can make a difference and feel good.

A good charity directory
A good starting point is a list of charities where you can then branch out and explore the mandates of the charities and whether they resonate with you, here’s one.

Facebook Fan Page Search
While there is no FB fan directory (at the time of writing) what you can do is use the following query in Google search: where keyword can be either the charity name or a word associated with the charity that you are looking to support.

For example: Try Googling UNICEF fan page animal protection fan page

The advanced search of Twitter will also give you the tools to research suitable charities, and by using some of the advanced operators you can do things like find people that tweeted about charity issues that might live near to you (great for fundraising!).This is a great way to find people that might be sharing the same views as you and also to find charities that you can help out nearby.

For example
animal charity near:London

Create a charity Pinterest Board
It’s popular and gaining a lot of traction so if you’re spending time on one of the world’s favourite visual gallery boards then create yourself a charity board and start sharing their news with your friends there. Think of it as a Facebook like system on steroids.

So there you have a few simple concrete actions you can take while browsing the internet to become an activist for your local charity or favourite group to help make a difference and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your own home!

The inspiration for this article came from a chance encounter with a charity activist while I was doing my Christmas shopping at Camden Market in London. I must confess to initially being reluctant to engage with the charity worker (simply because having lived in London and having been accosted on many occasions, I had learnt the London 'not interested' look for survival rather than choice) but stopped and found time to have a great exchange about my work in social media and travel blogging, and their own in charity. I'm pleased I did.

So now, go and do some good!!