Set your supporters free

Posted on 05/12/2010


Something pretty amazing has started happening on Facebook in the last few days.  Everyone’s suddenly turned into cartoon characters and started discussing the power of social media to highlight the excellent work of the NSPCC.

The ‘change your profile pic to a cartoon character’ idea risked backfiring after groups started pointing out that using a cartoon character was a favoured tactic of paedophiles trying to lure kids. And the NSPCC were quick to distance themselves from the campaign:

A warm welcome to all our cartoon friends! We are incredibly grateful for your support to end cruelty to children in the
UK. Although the NSPCC did not originate the childhood cartoon Facebook campaign, we welcome the attention it has brought to the work we do. If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved, please …visit our website.

But where did it start?

Well it seems that the original idea was just a game among friends, but then a charitable purpose was added which according to CBS news was “against violence towards children.”

In the UK, this was interpreted to mean NSPCC and its supporters took it upon themselves to set up JustGiving sites to capitalise on the trend.

But as the trend spread, the criticism started.

Is this the best way to raise funds? Why isn’t it co-ordinated? Is it the NSPCC who should benefit? How will this actually save kids from abuse?

All questions which would normally find themselves in a communications team meeting, or on the Mashable site, but which ordinary people are discussing. All of which meant the NSPCC also started trending on Twitter.

So, after my last post questioning the power of social media, it’s only fair to highlight an example where it is having a major effect. And the only advice to the NSPCC is to keep doing what they are doing – set your supporters free, monitor what’s being said and be prepared to make sure the increased awareness and Facebook Likes (over 20,000 have been added through this campaign) is capitalised on.

But, as one of my friends wrote on her Facebook status:

The people who do the most front line work to protect children from abuse are not the NSPCC but our social workers and child protection services, who are facing Coalition cuts. Change your profile pic if you like, donate to the NSPCC if you like, but also, if you want to make a difference, write to your MP and protest the public sector budget cuts.

Couldn’t agree more. Do as she suggests… And change your status to read the above if you really want to help.