For an example of how simple web tools and social networking sites can be used to raise awareness of a nonprofit's cause, LOLseals is worth a close look. It's a new photo caption contest from the Humane Society of the United States, blending pop culture trends and web 2.0 tools in a low-cost campaign that practically begs to go viral.
LOLseals begins with eye-catching photos of baby seals posted on the Humane Society's website. Viewers are invited to add their own amusing LOLspeak captions - and it's all done through a web-based image macro application that means tech skills are no barrier to anyone joining in.
With a click of a button, too, Facebook members can share with friends on social network without leaving the HSUS site. Submissions are posted to the Humane Society's Flickr page, and celebrity judge Nigel Barker of the popular television show, America's Next Top Model, will choose the winning entry. The winner will receive "a prize pack filled with Protect Seals gear," and all of the entries will be displayed in a slideshow on the website at the close of the contest.
By combining a light-hearted bit of creative fun with celebrity shine, and by making it easy for each website visitor to take part and spread the word in various ways, the Humane Society is converting a passive viewer to an active advocate for their cause.
For more social-networking ideas for nonprofits from Carie Lewis, Internet Marketing Manager for the Humane Society (US), see Using Facebook and MySpace for Advocacy and Fundraising: An interview with Carie Lewis.