Doing good with BAD

I started off writing another "grumpy philanthropist" bit, but decided to mellow out a little for once.  I'd been getting cheesed off at high-fuss low-impact online (and offline) awareness campaigns that didn't really do enough for the causes.  Stuff like Facebook causes and those annoying ribbons and bracelets and pink everything that might or might not help with breast cancer research.

But it turns out some of this stuff is having non-trivial impact.  I was disappointed in Social Media for Social Change because I didn't think it was really using social media and wasn't particularly open or transparent, but you know what, they raised $20k.  I donated the price of two tickets and skipped the event.  Maybe they could have raised more or included more or operated more efficiently, but $20k is going to make a difference to Jane Doe.  And they're starting to plan something else maybe even bigger.

On the other side,  there's something called Pink for October that seeks to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer in part by encouraging people to turn their blogs pink for the month of October. Hundreds of blogs have gone pink (it doesn't really look so good on limeduck)

but last I checked, there were only a handful of donations, and today the donate link isn't even working.  Well, there are lots of other ways to donate to support breast cancer research and treatment, like these good folks.  What if instead of spending that time fiddling with the CSS to turn their blogs pink, hundreds of bloggers just gave some money and wrote a post that said, "I just gave some money and you should too." ?

That's more or less what's happening over at Blog Action Day, unfortunately acronym'd BAD.  As they describe it, "Today thousands of bloggers will unite to discuss a single issue - poverty. We aim to raise awareness, initiate action and to shake the web!"  There's lots of awareness building stuff, but reasonable attention is being made to raising money.  They have a Kiva lending team with $1,500 loaned, and have raised $1,700 for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  Still not a lot per blogger, but it's a start.

As for the dialog on poverty, I'm a dismal scientist with a liberal bent.  I don't believe in voodoo economics but I do believe in microenterprise.  More learned folks than I can contribute more to the discussion.  I will contribute to the awarness and also some money.  I've added the banner, pinked the blog (every so briefly), and even made a couple of donations.  I hope you can find something woth doing that will help.  There's no shortage of choices, that much is certain.  Just choose.

4 Responses

  1. Meg
    Hi David, Thanks for your comments on SM4SC -- we certainly are excited that we were able to help Jane Doe out, since that was the true goal behind the project. Social media provided us with the tools to reach out to the community that contributed to the cause, and we're inspired to see what's possible the next time around. A couple things -- I'm not sure where the statement comes from that we weren't using social media, since the entire thing was conceived on blogs and on Twitter, and then administrated and planned and promoted through a number of other social media tools. The only way it was promoted to anyone was through social media -- there wasn't a group email, a call or mailing list, or any other kind of mailout involved. It's a pretty radically different process from the days when I was a full-time non-profiteer. Perhaps you wanted us to use more tools? If you could elaborate on that, I'd love to hear your ideas so we can incorporate them into the next event. As far as transparency goes, can you give me more information about what you hoping for there? We communicated in detail (and in public) every time we made a plan, received a sponsorship or donation, or did pretty much anything (some would call us oversharers!) We linked to posts about SM4SC that others wrote, we blogged and tweeted about it ourselves pretty regularly, and took part in a number of podcasts where different members of the team explained the effort and answered any questions anyone might have had. We also fielded and responded to any questions anyone had about contributing or participating via email or DM or public communication streams. I think the only thing we kept on the DL was that I was attending from Canada.:) Thanks for linking to us, though, and I look forward to hearing more. Feedback helps make us better, but I want to make sure I get the whole story.
  2. I was going to ask similar things, but I think Meg's got us covered! Haha. I will say that I'm excited to hear your ideas, David. And you're right-- this was a bit of an experiment and we are learning. We look forward to your feedback!
  3. Well, it's the day after Blog Action Day and I can see they raised about $6,000 including Kiva lending with about 12,000 participating bloggers. Pink for October, I'm still not sure of the results at this halfway point of the month. Social Media for Social Change raised $20,000. So, as Rebecca and Meg ask, why am I critical of them? Mainly because I think the people involved, social media and PR pros, could have been even more innovative and more effective at the same time. When I first heard about the event back in the summer, it was going to change the landscape in some interesting way - not that I have any idea what that way should be. But as things developed, I saw a fancy party being promoted by social media marketing techniques. To me, that's not changing things enough. There were some stand-out ideas like the song auction, but why just one song? Why just one ticket price? Meg, Rebecca, let's meet up some time and we can talk more about it. But please, everybody, look carefully at the comparison here -- the "innovative" social media, web 2.0 stuff like Blog Action Day generates a lot of fuss all around the world, but little money -- while the "not innovative enough" SM4SC generates a local party and a boatload of money. Why can't I have the big involvement and the big impact too?
  4. Meg
    Thanks for your comments, David -- I like to get constructive info on expectations, and concrete suggestions on what people want to see and want to try... and since I didn't get a lot of direction from the comments in your initial post, I thought I'd follow up and dig a bit more into your thoughts. :) I think you'll have an easier time getting together with Rebecca, since she's in Boston, and I'm in Vancouver, but I'd love to hear about anything that comes from that discussion. I think the song auction was a fantastic idea as well, and there were some more shenanigans along those lines, and many more to come in the future, as well. Because this was our first event, we were basically testing the waters for much of the planning phase in regards to what the community would invest in and take an interest in. Now that we know what portion of our efforts were effectual and what we could have done better, we can push in different directions and try new ideas on top of what was already successful. What is most important to me is that we truly benefit the causes, not just the social media landscape. Taking risks and tearing up the envelope are important, too, but sometimes community building isn't a matter of capitalizing on the most "out there" strategies and tools you can get your hands on. Sometimes it's just a matter of communicating and being sincere and letting that shine through in whatever ways work best. And I think that was where sm4sc really made an impact. You will see us innovate. no doubt in my mind. And I'd enjoy anyone with ideas getting on board with advice and thoughts as we make it happen. If you think it can be done better, then we'd love to have you help us do it. :)

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