Citrix GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar help organise worldwide events at Twestival
Twestival is a single-day worldwide movement that uses the power of social media to organise offline events in support of global and local charities.
In just over two years, Twestival has organised four such campaigns with more than 200 cities participating to date, raising $1.75 million. Social media has underpinned this rapid explosion of interest, while the Citrix collaboration tools have enabled the worldwide events’ strategy through effective communication when developing project ideas and activities.
The challenge: optimising communications throughout a worldwide volunteer group
In 2008, Amanda Rose finished her dissertation on the emergence and power of Twitter as part of the fast-developing concept of social networking.
Working with a group of friends, she set up Twestival (a conjunction of Twitter and festival) to initially run a Harvest Festival event in London’s Trafalgar Square with the objective of collecting canned goods and other foodstuffs for local homeless shelters. Rose used social networking to stimulate interest in the Twestival idea. As a result, the Trafalgar Square event brought in huge numbers to great success for both participants and charities.
Rose believed that Twestival’s initial success could be replicated worldwide using the power that social media tools are able to offer. “What we had created was not a technology or PR-led initiative,” she recalled, “but something that had the potential to create a popular movement generating a series of events with people looking to ‘put something back’ in helping those less fortunate than themselves.”
GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting: channelling worldwide support
Rose looked for other global causes to support and discovered charity: water, an organisation whose goal is to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. “One hundred per cent of the funds raised went straight to those in need,” she said. “And the charity’s message was simple and direct: With nearly one billion people without access to drinking water, just $20 would give access to one person for 20 years, and $5,000 would provide a well for a small village.”
News of Twestival quickly went viral as Rose used Twitter to get the message out to her contacts around the world. As a result, in just three to four weeks, over 200 cities signed up to host events on 12 February 2009.
“This was an extraordinary response for such a new organisation”, she said. “However, a new level of organisation was required to channel this huge groundswell of enthusiasm into a coordinated series of events on the same day.”
Through Twitter, Rose came into contact with senior executives at Citrix Online and saw straightaway how online collaboration could provide the ideal means to communicate with volunteer groups looking to set up local events. Citrix supported the first Twestival Local event later in 2009, which provided help for initiatives closer to home for each organising group. The result has been that the Twestival Local campaigns in 2009 and 2011 have supported more than 275 good causes.
GoToWebinar was selected to help provide expert advice to local organisers on how to set up and run fund-raising events. At the same time, GoToMeeting was used at a number of levels to share best-practice ideas and provide ongoing support. GoToMeeting proved to be the perfect tool for mobilising support in a very short timeframe, usually just a few weeks before the event. “For me, GoToMeeting also provided the ideal means to share new ideas, both regionally and globally,” said Rose.
Involving online collaboration to effectively manage this explosion of worldwide events could only happen if the tools were easy to use. “GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting have proved perfect here,” she confirmed. “With our grassroots operation, we needed to sell the concept of collaboration and the value of sharing in order to support our 3,000-plus volunteers in achieving our mutual goals. Citrix Online has proved the ideal partner, as the tools are both easy to set up and extremely easy for participants to access — the result being that we have seen an extremely high level of usage.”
One of the key benefits for Rose has been the ability to work jointly on projects and collaborate in real time. “The ability to share documents has meant that we can develop translations quickly to bring new cities on board, as well as provide supporting information for our website,” she said. “By working together, we can make changes instantly, confident that those holding events understand what to do and can respond in the same way.”
The adoption of GoToWebinar and GoToMeeting has enabled the Twestival movement to grow rapidly and successfully by providing structured support for local and regional leadership. The involvement of Citrix Online provided local organising groups with an additional level of credibility in generating support.
Events have taken place in a wide range of venues with more than 200 towns and cities taking part, including 28 in the UK and more than 30 in the U.S. The money raised for charity: water has already enabled 55 wells to be built in three countries in Africa.
These activities have generated top-level international media coverage in The Times, the Guardian and on CNN.
In addition, Citrix has also been a key sponsor and supporter of other Twestival activities, including helping raise nearly $½ million for Concern Worldwide, which has helped fund educational projects in Haiti, Liberia, Mali and Burundi.
“We recognised that there was a natural fit in terms of our respective goals,” said Rose. “Twestival is all about the need to communicate on a global level and adopt a workshifting mentality, working equally effectively from anywhere and with anyone.
“At the same time, we have a similar ethos which can be summed up as ‘think global, act local’. Without the power of social networking backed by the flexibility and agility of Citrix Online’s collaboration solutions, we could not have generated the enthusiasm or achieved the success to date in so short a timeframe.”
With a set of structured yet flexible processes which allow full rein to the movement’s locally driven approach, Twestival now has the ideal events template for future initiatives to build on.