Joplin, Missouri Meets Social Fundraising

Are you or someone you know from Missouri? If so, this case study might hit home in more ways than one–it does for this Missourian. On May 22, 2011, an F5 tornado ripped through downtown Joplin, Missouri–destroying about 30% of the city, making it the worst tornado in the past 50 years on U.S. soil. Devasted, distraught and destroyed–hope emerged from the rubble. Meet

It all started with a Facebook page. Brent Beshore (@BrentBeshore), upon hearing about his hometown’s devastation, wanted to help. So, he created the Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery Facebook page. Just a few days later, the page had over 100k friends and in four days, over $1 million dollars was donated.

“In the past, I’ve questioned the value of social media,” Beshore wrote on his blog. “Like any form of communication it can be misused and abused. It can be a distraction. It can give one’s life the illusion of value. After this week, I will never challenge the power of social media.”

You can read Brent’s full story on his blog for more information. You will see generosity snowball as more organizations volunteered their time, people donated, and others sprung into action to help and help others. Coverage by the Columbia Business Times outlines lessons learned from the effort–including being able to respond to the disaster within six hours playing a key role and the power of social media to connect with individuals–outside of employer-employee networks.

A key lesson-learned captured comes from Emily Eldridge who has been involved in the recovery fundraising efforts: “If you look at a lot of failed relief efforts via social media, it’s because they were only social-media-based,” she said. “With this effort, we tried to get the right media mix in place, use every outlet available and just get organized.”

Thanks to their marketing mix–and use of social media–the team was able to create a number of relationships that helped raise money and support. In particular, the team credits the use of social media in helping them secure a $200k grant from the Sam’s Club Foundation to aid relief efforts–especially in helping small businesses recover in the long-term. Thus, was born. 

At, organizations and people can either get information and list their needs–or be provided information on how to donate, volunteer or provide items. The plan is to keep the site up as the official resource in recovery efforts for the next two years. Here’s what works about this platform:

  • –The powerful display of the active network of organizations and people that are all working towards the same goal (which is also URL-friendly), rebuiding Joplin.
  • –The easy navigation, usability and call-to-action-based content that are throughout the site 
  • –Powerful branding that asserts credibility and authority
  • –A committment of time, resources and attention

Tonight, in Washington D.C., the Missouri State Society is hosting a benefit for the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Heart of Missouri United Way, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the Joplin Business Recovery Fund–who are all helping tornado victims in Joplin. Our hearts are with you–and thank you to all the volunteers who inspire generosity, despite the circumstances. To get involved (perhaps needless to say), visit