In one of the earliest posts of this digital literacy series, recounting a Third Tuesday MeetUp celebrating World Kiva Day, I examined the fact that social media is in many ways shrinking the globe into a series of smaller communities. Like-minded people around the world are uniting in Facebook and LinkedIn groups and carrying on conversations using shared hashtags on Twitter. This online behaviour is having real world implications, particularly in the area of social good.
We turn to digital media when disaster strikes
In many ways digital media has made it impossible to ignore world events. We live in a world where we know almost immediately when a disaster strikes, no matter where it is in the world, and increasingly this has allowed us to band together to aid the people involved. One of the most cited recent examples of social media as a disaster relief hub occurred following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Twitter allowed people to share information about the earthquake, but also to share links to sites where donations of money or supplies could be made.
We turn to digital media to support a cause
Big or small, close to home or abroad, thanks to digital media we have more opportunities than ever to unite to raise money and support for the causes that matter to us:
- Kiva is enabling people worldwide to help alleviate poverty through micro-lending
- Causes.com (which started out as the Causes on Facebook app) is allowing people to easily join together to support the issues that matter to them. This online platform enables users to create online petitions and customized, professional looking cause pages that automatically integrate with Facebook. There’s also a fundraising function, but unfortunately it’s not available to Canadian users.
There’s also much discussion around the role social media has played in important political events such as Arab Spring, Barack Obama’s campaign in the 2008 presidential election and the Occupy Wall Street Movement.
Digital media is changing how we donate
Digital media has had a powerful impact on the demographics making charitable donations. According to a white paper produced by non-profit technology provider, Convio, the Gen X (born 1965-1980) and Millennial (born 1981-1991) generations are increasingly becoming the demographics that charities should target for donations. The people in these demographics are more likely to donate to a cause they’ve heard about through friends or family. Facebook and Twitter are hardwired for these types of interactions.
Digital media is also profoundly changing the way people choose to make donations. Since the Haiti earthquake, text donations are rising in popularity, while fewer and fewer people respond to direct mail donation requests, preferring to give online.
In today’s world of digital media, most people have at least one online profile on major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And it’s now possible to create a donor profile, to allow you to make a more informed choice for where to donate your money. Calgary-based Place2Give functions much like an e-Harmony site for donors and charities, matching a donor’s profile with a charity’s profile for the perfect charitable giving match.
Digital media is changing corporate social responsibility
The globalization and socialization of charitable giving is also having an impact on businesses. Consumers are increasingly factoring a company’s corporate responsibility activities into their purchasing decisions. Corporate social responsibility also plays an important role in employee recruitment and retention. Calgary’s Benevity has answered these new challenges with micro-donation software that “allows companies to embed user-directed, tax-receiptable donations and corporate matching programs into their existing transaction environments.”
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