News and analysis
June 26, 2015

Mindy Kaling Shows Twitter's Power in Celebrity Hands

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

"The Mindy Project" creator/producer Mindy Kaling speaks onstage at the "Behind the Laughs" panel during the FOX network portion of the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Nonprofits put a lot of effort into promoting their causes via social media. But nothing beats getting an unexpected boost from a spontaneous celebrity endorsement.

Actress Mindy Kaling, star of the television comedy The Mindy Project, took to Twitter Wednesday to ask her 4.09 million followers about their favorite charities so she could donate to some in honor of her birthday. She retweeted the suggestions that she liked the most.

Ms. Kaling has considerable promotion power, and some of the nonprofits she mentioned in her retweets recorded spikes in web traffic. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans had 31 percent more visitors to its website and 38 percent more page views than average yesterday. Smile Train counted close to 200,000 impressions on its message that Ms. Kaling retweeted and 320 referrals to its website.

"It definitely made an immediate impact on our engagement on Twitter," said Shari Mason, Smile Train’s senior director of integrated marketing.

And Kelly Lane, executive director of the nonprofit Sibling Connections, which connects sisters and brothers separated by foster care, confirmed that Ms. Kaling donated to the organization.

"Mindy did donate as promised. It was very generous of her," Ms. Lane said in an email. "I did gain a few followers and a few of our [Facebook] users have since reposted our announcement" about Ms. Kaling’s support.

Send an e-mail to Rebecca Koenig.