The #1 Thing You Need to Know about this Post:
You can use social media to raise more awareness, more resources, and keep people better informed, but we’re still working on how to use these tools to fix the actual social problems.
A More Detailed Exploration
For anyone who doubts we have entered a new era when it comes to charity, you can return to the salt mines. For the rest of you reading this, let’s reflect back on the last fourteen days:
- Two weeks ago, I’m willing to wager that you (except for a select few) didn’t know about Daniela and her three kids. Heck, you might not had even known about David Armano;
- Twelve days ago, you probably came across Daniela’s story and felt compelled to give;
- Ten days ago, you might have been part of the well-deserved digital ticker tape parade celebrating this outstanding show of support;
- Seven days ago, you were in the midst of a heavy discussion about the ramifications of what has since been termed Free Lancer Fundraisers;
- Four days ago, you found out Daniela had secured an apartment for her family and your collective generosity had made it possible; and
- Yesterday, you read that the move-in had begun.
The speed of these events should blow your mind for many reasons, but none of it should surprise since you’re already part of this revolution. The Interconnected Age is redefining how we connect, communicate, and collaborate. While this is true for every industry and facet of life, it is of great interest to me how we can use this shift to improve solving the most social pressing issues of the day.
Whether or not you work for a non-profit organization, you have the social media tools to bring causes and people-in-need to the attention of any of the 1 billion currently using the Internet. You also have the tools to raise money and other resources from them. And, you have the tools to show how everyone’s efforts have made a difference for your cause or person-in-need.
But, What Happens Next?
When the digital ticker tape parade is over and everyone goes back to their respective daily lives, who is there to do the heavy lifting with the actual work to solve the immediate crisis and root issues?
I don’t think the problem lies with Armano or social media, it lies with the difficulty humans have with nuanced cause and effect relationships…It’s much harder to break the cycle of poverty when the work it requires is intellectually and emotionally difficult, involves frequent heartbreak and let downs, and may never show a quantifiable return.
Some of you in the Chicago area have played an active role in helping the Armano family and Daniela’s family with the immediate crisis. Furniture has been donated and boxes have been moved. But for the rest of the digital neighborhood, you have gone back to your daily lives aside from periodic updates David share via the blog and twitter.
While all this is good, the actual work of solving the problem is still underway and will continue for some time.
The Work Still to Be Done
This fact became clearer to me on Friday, when I met with David Armano at his office in Chicago. As fate would have it, I had a window of availability during my pre-planned business trip to the city and David was gracious enough to spend time with a guy who just a week prior was questioning his actions.
We discussed a wide variety of things during our visit, from the profound to the mundane. At one point, he introduced me to one of his colleagues and prefaced it by saying, “You know how I’m helping out Daniela and everything that’s going on with that…” For some reason, that statement stuck in my head.
Maybe it was because he was saying it in a face-to-face environment. Maybe it was because it sounded like what I have heard other co-workers say when they were volunteering or helping someone out. For whatever reason, I have kept thinking about how David, Belinda, and a small group of people are shouldering the heavy lifting of the immediate crisis.
Certainly, David is shouldering the responsibility of stewarding the gifts those of us who donated. He’s taking strides to keep us informed on progress. In reality, he’s taken on the unglamorous job that comes with raising money. Not only has he rallied his neighborhood, his family has become the neighborhood community center as well.
To complete this good work, it will require good old fashioned elbow grease, trench work, and sweat equity. It will take effort and persistence of those directly involved on a daily basis.
The Questions Yet to Be Answered
I have found great insight and wisdom from the ongoing conversation and think you can help us drill into other half of charity. Given the understanding we have on how to raise support, I’d like for you to consider how we can use social media tools to help do the heavy lifting.
Can we use these tools to solve the actual problems? If so, how?
What are your thoughts and ideas?
One stipulation – I ask you to maintain a sense of decorum and keep a civil tone during the conversation. I reserve the right to remove any comments making baseless accusations or other inappropriate statements.
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