How to pull together a Social Media Telethon in 24 hours or less

My friend Adam Jackson found out Friday he’d lost touch with his best friend a couple of weeks ago because she’d been hospitalized in another city. She’s now in touch with friends and family, but still in the hospital, and facing another crisis that has to be resolved immediately. Mashable explains the urgency with which she needs financial help.

Right now, Sunday morning, I’m watching a live video telethon with hundreds of other viewers. Adam pulled this together yesterday in an emergency to not only help his friend but to make a larger contribution to the community. He’s been “on air” overnight.

Adam has been running a live video telethon all weekend on Ustream.tv as well as reaching out through other bloggers, on Twitter and elsewhere to get the word out.

They’re asking everyone who can to find ways to spread the word in hopes that this will go viral. It’s all still unfolding as the word spreads and people find more creative ways to help.

The chat room in Ustream is active with viewers who started contributing by building a wiki to act as a hub for all the information and efforts, a ChipIn.com widget for contributions, offering non-cash donations of services, discounts and goods to be offered as premiums or auctioned on EBay, and more.

It hasn’t gone without hiccups. Things have evolved so fast that their presentation in writing hasn’t kept up with what they’re explaining on video. They pulled together things like a way to accept donations on-the-fly, crowd-sourced with the help of viewers. They’ve started having a problem with static coming from Adam’s laptop that they don’t have a technical resource to solve yet. But they’re going forward whatever the issues and trusting that it will all work out in the end, with a little help from their friends.

What an amazing use of social media!

EDITED to drop details and links no longer relevant.

UPDATE: In the end, Adam ended the telethon and returned the money raised. The comments on this blog post reflect that people really appreciated being able to get involved, learned a lot through pulling this together in a collaborative effort, and felt like it was overall positive and successful in the most important sense — even if it didn’t save the studio.

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