Twitter users network to raise funds for charities

Tweet. Meet. Give.

That's the call to action for "Twestival," a multicity international fundraiser scheduled Thursday through Sunday that uses the social network Twitter as its starting point.

It works this way: People with Twitter accounts write tweets — messages of 140 characters or less — suggesting a charity they support and want to help. They volunteer as event organizers and sponsors, and invite their network of friends and co-workers to attend, says Amanda Rose, a London-based communications consultant who originated the concept in 2008.

The first event in London, the Harvest Twestival, collected donations of canned goods and 1,000 British pounds (about $1,650) for The Connection, which helps homeless programs, Rose says. She says she expected 30-40 volunteers and got 250.

"We thought if we did this on the same day for lots of different cities — and picked a good cause — it could be quite interesting," Rose says.

More than 200 cities joined the first global Twestival Feb. 12. It raised over $250,000 for water projects in Uganda, Ethiopia and India, Rose says.

About 130 cities are participating this time, including more than 40 U.S. communities and international locales such as Toronto, Sydney and Mumbai, India. Despite fewer cities, Rose says she thinks the event's goal of raising $400,000 is achievable. There is no common charity this time, Rose says, so people can contribute to local causes.

Twitter promotes Twestival on its website but is not an official sponsor, Rose says.

"The effort of Twitterers around the world who participate in Twestival has had a positive impact on humanity, which is something we are proud to foster with our platform," says Jenna Sampson, spokeswoman for Twitter. The San Francisco-based service can't back such events financially as it doesn't charge for its service, Sampson says.

Details are available at Scheduled events include:

•New York City. A celebrity tournament at Brooklyn Bowl including Jake and Amir, stars of MTV's College Humor Show, to aid CampInteractive, which educates urban teens about technology.

•Kansas City, Mo. Live bands, raffles, food and beer at Brooksider Bar & Grill for Wayside Waifs animal shelter.

•Fort Myers, Fla. Breakfast and book signing at Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa with Chris Brogan, co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation,and Earn Trust, to benefit the PACE Center for Girls counseling and education program.

Ruane reports for TheNews-Press in Fort Myers, Fla.