26 September 2010

Slacktivism & the Degradation of the Philanthropic Community

donateImage by Mindful One via Flickr
"I've written a lot about my feelings on the rise of "slacktivism"--that is, the growing prevalence and acceptance of all the small, simple, easy things people can do to make a difference: Embedded philanthropy, tweeting for donations, virtual volunteering, signing petitions, running races, etc. When I saw this new list of "5 Cool Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Make a Difference" (OMG!) I thought I'd fire off another snarky post lambasting this degradation of the philanthropic community." - Jeff Raderstrong 'Change Charity'
There is quite some furore around the internet over the merits (or lack thereof) of "slacktivism" - and I have to admit that I lean quite heavily towards the "I LOVE IT" side of the debate.  (I even wrote the list of 'slacktions' that nearly tipped poor Jeff over the edge!)

Far from causing "the degradation of the philanthropic community", I believe these kind of actions give a much broader base to the 'activist' community by engaging people that otherwise might choose to do nothing at all, or due to limited time and/or resources may be unable to more actively support every cause that moves them.  In my community I see the value of reducing the barriers to action in order to get people involved in or, at the very least, enthused about the rejuvenation and revitalisation of our town. The easier and more attractive we make it for people to act or to support what we are doing, the more people we have who are prepared to do something.
Sure, we need some people to roll up their sleeves and get actively and passionately involved in solving the problems of the world. And wouldn't it be just wonderful if everyone was prepared to get their hands a little dirty. But, as Randy Paynter of Care2 says "different strokes for different folks".
I believe the real degradation of the philanthropic community lies in judging the efforts of others.
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