Twes­t­i­val: grass­roots fundrais­ing from volunteers

Exhibited by
June 12, 2012
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Social change campaign
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
September, 2008

SOFII’s view

This exhibit demonstrates the importance of social networking and online communities to fundraising. Twestival is the largest grassroots social media initiative to date and has raised an outstanding $1.2 million for charities all over the world. With all Twestival events being organised by volunteers, we’re sure there are many more stories to tell about this amazing project. Please do get in touch if you’d like to share your fundraising examples with SOFII.

Creator / originator

Amanda Rose.

Summary / objectives

The rise of social networking sites and online communities has opened up a new realm of fundraising possibilities, which is only just starting to be explored. Twestival is the largest example of such an initiative, happening twice a year in hundreds of locations across the world. Each location organises its own fundraising events and Twitter users everywhere are encouraged to voluntarily participate in their local event. One hundred per cent of the profits are donated to global and local charities. Although the scheme is still in its infancy, it has proved to be highly successful, both financially and as a display of how social networking sites can provide a platform for innovative fundraising approaches and reach new, global communities.


The idea for Twestival stemmed from ‘tweetups’ – organised events where local Twitter users would meet up in person. It was adapted by Amanda Rose, founder and event organiser for Twestival, who saw a way to use tweetups to encourage people to fundraise for different charities

This led to the creation of the Harvest Twestival in September 2008 where, in London’s Trafalgar Square, over 250 people turned up to donate cans of food for The Connection, a London charity for the homeless. This event further inspired and convinced Amanda of the fundraising possibilities that could be created through Twitter, so she rebranded the Harvest Twestival and extended it on a worldwide scale, forming Twestival Global.

On 12 February 2009, the first official Twestival Global was held in support of Charity: Water, an organisation that aims to increase access to clean water in developing countries. People in over 200 cities across the world participated in Twestival Global, with each city deciding how they wanted to fundraise and organising their own events. The efforts of all the cities involved proved to be a great success; a total of over USD 250,000 was raised, which was used to provide 55 wells in villages in India, Uganda and Ethiopia, directly improving the lives of 17,000 people.

Following this success, a similar event was held six months later called Twestival Local. This was held over one weekend in September 2009 and participating cities chose a local charity to support instead of one global organisation. In India, six cities took part and raised over $1200 for the Dream A Dream charity (which aims to improve education for disadvantaged children in India).

Both Twestival Global and Twestival Local have now become regular annual events around the world. 

Special characteristics

The Twestival events are completely driven by volunteers. From the central coordinator (Amanda Rose), to the teams of regional and local coordinators, to the people who help out at the event, everyone involved in Twestival is a volunteer. This demonstrates the substantial human resources that can be gained by developing fundraising initiatives that use social networking sites.

Additionally, Twestival is very versatile, allowing the organisers of each local event the freedom to decide the ways in which they wish to fundraise. This versatility helps to tailor each event to its location, creating a diverse range of events in hundreds of cities.

The essence of Twestival is community giving; it is able to unite communities all over the world – both local and regional – under the banner of the global Twitter community. Despite the criticism that social media networks increase isolation because they reduce face-to-face interaction, Twestival highlights the strength of bringing online communities together and their significance in developing fundraising initiatives for different causes.

Influence / impact

In 2010, Twestival Global elected to support the charity Concern Worldwide, which works in some of the poorest countries in the world. In particular, it was decided that the money raised from the events would be donated to improving education provision in developing countries. On 25 March 2010, over 175 cities participated in Twestival Global, raising more than $460,000 for Concern Worldwide. In India, Twestival events were held in seven cities and raised approximately $6200. The total raised globally for Concern Worldwide is enough to build 31 new schools, with funds being designated to Haiti and regions of Africa and Asia. The Twestival and Concern Worldwide websites have videos that show participants in Twestival the work that is happening because of the money they raised.


The costs of hosting Twestival Global/Local vary depending on the events organised by each location. Operational costs are usually accounted for through sponsorship by different companies, either in the form of cash donations or providing their services for free. For example, the Bangalore Twestival Global 2010 was sponsored financially by Nokia, another sponsor provided the venue and famous bands in India performed at the event for free.


Twestival has been enjoying growing success with each year, both in terms of the number of participants and the total amount of money raised for charities. However, because it is still a fairly young initiative, it is continually evolving, as new campaigns are launched to try and find the most effective ways of spreading the word and promoting the events.

Although Twestival has Twitter at its disposal to increase awareness of events, this automatically excludes people who are not Twitter users, even though the events are relevant and intended for everyone. This is a challenge that the organisers are trying to resolve as Twestival develops further. For example, the Bangalore Twestival team organised a photography contest to help increase public awareness of their events for Twestival Global 2010. Although the contest was received with a mixed response, Twestival is still a work in progress, but one which has proved to have real potential for developing innovative and dynamic fundraising initiatives.

In the last 14 months, Twestival has raised over $1.2 million and helped 137 different charities.


Social networking technologies have an important role to play in fundraising, but one which is only recently starting to be harnessed by the charity sector. Sites such as Twitter are no longer just mediums for spreading a message, they are also a hub for bringing together new online communities. Twestival is the largest project to date that uses social media tools to reach out to new audiences, inspiring communities of all sizes to unite and fundraise on a truly global scale.

Twitter and the charities they work with endeavour to show Twestival participants how the money they raise gets used.
In 2010, Twestival Global was in support of Concern Worldwide. It was decided that the money raised from the events would be donated to improving education provision in developing countries.