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Good Cause 2.0 ~ how social media empowers giving [2]

In the advent of web 2.0 technology (that’s all the Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Crowdrise, and a plethora of other social media networks), it was just a matter of time when online communities started to use it to promote social causes. Ranging from searching for blood donors in the neighborhood, to more serious causes of helping keep young African girls in school, to empower them as solid foundation of communities to alleviate poverty, break the cycle of injustice and gender inequality, and reduce the spreading HIV/AIDS.

So how exactly does it work? Here are some excellent examples from around the world (written by Fred Stutzman from AOL Developer Network), among which the most notable is probably Kiva.org.

You will note that the story is from 2007, and in internet (read: social media network) technology is “eons” ago, in the dinosaur age. As social media has proliferated in the last 3 years… beyond recognition:

Web 2.0 technologies are impacting many of our lives in interesting ways. Whether it be the broadening or deepening of friend relationships with social networks, or the sharing of our thoughts and opinions with blogs, many of us have been impacted by the Web’s social revolution. The Web is evolving into a tool that fundamentally feels right to humans, and many people are taking note.

One of the more interesting areas where we see the impact of Web 2.0 tools and methodologies is in the online philanthropy space. Of course, organizations dedicated to doing good have been involved with the Web since their earliest days–the Web’s unique ability as an outreach and fund raising tool has proved very attractive to these organizations. With the advent of the social web, however, we are seeing new and interesting developments in this space, which I’ll explore in this article.

Using Networks To Do Good

Forward-thinking philanthropic organizations have long relied on networks to sustain their missions and accomplish their goals. Networks are required to mobilize, to spread information, and to raise the funds necessary to move organizations forward. The Web has long fostered the creation and maintenance of networks; even before Web 2.0, our web communities were inherently network-centric. With the advent of Web 2.0, the notion of the Web as a set of connected networks became more prevalent; as a result, philanthropic organizations are using the Web in new ways to organize those looking to do good.

Browsing the home page of Change.org, I am asked “What do you want to change in the world?” and presented a search box. Below, a list of issues is displayed as a tag cloud–issues such as universal health care, stopping child abuse, and protecting civil rights appear prominently. The purpose of Change.org is to bring together individuals who share a common issue or interest, and then provide them all the tools necessary to go forth and work on their cause. From the Save Public Broadcastingpage on Change.org, I can find out about fellow supporters of the issue, explore educational resources, find politicians friendly to my issue, and find organizations to which I can donate. (more…)

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