28 May 2009

Twollars: An Innovative Approach to Fundraising on Twitter

twollars26 05 2009 - Twollars is a really interesting service; both because it has a genius idea behind it, but also because it raises some questions about the economy of micropayments through microblogging in general.

Twollars are a Twitter based currency, but (not entirely unlike the US dollar) they have no “hard” value behind them. If you want to donate Twollars to a charity, you tweet something like “10 Twollars @camfed to educate girls in Africa,” and thus you have “donated” 10 Twollars to Camfed.

However, you haven’t given a cent yet; someone has to actually buy Twollars (at a rate of 10 Twollars = 1 US dollar) for the charity to receive funds. So, what you’re doing is raising awareness; you’re basically saying “I think this charity is doing a good thing; I think someone should donate money to them.”

I know what you’re thinking; since Twollars are free, can’t someone just tweet thousands of Twollars to a charity? Well, not exactly, because the creators of Twollars have introduced scarcity to make things fair. Every Twitter user starts with 50 Twollars, but users can give each other Twollars if they like; they just can’t cash them in if they’re not a charity. has recently undergone a redesign, and added registration for charities over at

There are several other ways to get Twollars: you can, of course, buy them from a charity at the aforementioned rate, and you “can go to one of the sites which rewards its users and visitors by giving away Twollars.” There aren’t many such sites at the moment, but the idea is, again, that a business can buy Twollars from a charity and give them away, in turn increasing awareness about their own brand.

It’s important to mention that Twollars is not charging or taking a percentage of any transactions; the money donated to charities goes directly to their PayPal account.

When you put all this together, what do you get? A very powerful virtual-currency-meets-micropayments economy that could be a great way for charities to raise funds, individuals to (directly or indirectly) support a good cause, and businesses to raise awareness of their brand by supporting a good cause. On the other hand, since Twollars are basically free, I see certain potential for misuse; for example, a group of people can create thousands of Twitter accounts for the pure purpose of influencing the Twollar economy.

What are your thoughts? Would you donate Twollars, or does it sound like a waste of time? Is the Twollar economy built on sound foundations? Please speak your mind in the comments.



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