Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tweet charity: Jackman's $100,000 Twitter pledge, by Arjun Ramachandran - The Sydney Morning Herald - 15th April 2009

Hugh Jackman is now using Twitter for philanthropic purposes, after last week's bungle when he renamed the Opera House the "Opera Center".

About 7am today, Jackman wrote on Twitter: "I will donate 100K to one individual's favorite non profit organization.Of course,you must convince me why by using 140 characters or less."

Since Jackman's call-out, responses have been posted at a rate of several per minute. Suggestions include Jackman giving the money to charities involved in homelessness, fighting disease, child welfare and in developing impoverished nations.

Charity groups were not deterred by the possibility Jackman, who has almost 36,000 people following him on Twitter, could be making the pledge as part of a public relations exercise.

"Quite possibly [it's a PR stunt] but at the end of the day a community organisation is going to get a significant amount of money that they wouldn't have otherwise got," said Philanthropy Australia CEO Gina Anderson.

"$100,000 is a large amount of money, he doesn't have to give it ... it's fantastic.

"On the other hand, $100,000 sounds like a lot of money to be making a decision about based on 140 characters."

Ms Anderson said the public pledge might also raise awareness for whatever charity received the donation.

"It's very important that people see others giving," she said.

"They might look at [Jackman] and say 'Why is he giving money there, why is that important?' ... it's a leadership role."

In a later tweet, Jackman wrote: "The more passion shown for your charity the better! Get the support of your friends and teach them the importance of giving."

Ms Anderson described the evolution of Jackman's pledge on Twitter, where hundreds of responses were pouring in each hour, as "fascinating to watch".

"I think it's exciting because it's using new media, and there's that connection with a new demographic and encouragement of personal participation," she said.

The use of new communications technology to entice charitable donations was an "emerging space", she said.

Other recent examples included online giving sites, and commercial organisations encouraging people to make small donations by ticking a box while making some other online transactions.

Jackman got into trouble last week over his use of Twitter after he mispelled "harbor" and renamed one of his hometown's most famous icons the "Opera Center".

He later put the error down his message becoming "translated by someone American in my office" after he relayed it over the phone.

Comment is awaited from Jackman. (Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

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