charity

The Internet of Good

“Life is full of ups and downs, you know that. But please take a deep breath, I can’t understand what you’re saying right now”- my mom.

And she’s right, I do know that, and so do you (the ups and downs, anyway)- it’s something we’ve all been told at some point or another. Over the past couple weeks, it seems the world (or the world according to me) is collectively experiencing the down. Some people are saying it’s the moon, but I’m not entirely convinced. It feels like every day, we wake up to more stories about data breaches, violence and terrorism, death, illness, and ongoing issues (drought out west, Ebola in Africa) that I’ve forgotten about because of the newer threats we’re presented with.

But, you know what? There’s always going to be a disaster or craziness. As I became increasingly overwhelmed (and called my mom, because she always doles out the facts of life when I need them), the notion of “you see what you look for” popped into my head. Basically, if you’re looking for something bad, you’ll find it. So, I thought it’d be refreshing to actively look for ways that people use social media and the internet to demonstrate kindness in all shapes and sizes.



Using Internet fame for a cause. Singers and actors are often praised for their charitable actions, but there are quite a few internet famous people who contribute to causes. You may have heard of certain memes using their notoriety for a cause. For example, all proceeds that Lil Bub (the cat) generates go toward animal sheltersThe girl behind “Overly Attached Girlfriend” created a fundraiser that donates to a different, predetermined charity every month. There’s also people who are famous in certain circles, like the gaming world. YouTube famous World of Warcraft player Athene created a charity called “Gaming for Good” after realizing tens of thousands of people regularly view his videos.

Kid President is another example of internet fame for a cause. He spreads his positive messages through short videos and social media in the hopes that it encourages kids and adults to work together to make the world a better place. His pep-talk video is one of my favorites:

These are all people (or cats) who have decided not to rest on their laurels of internet fame, but decided to use it to make an impact besides general hilarity.



Sharing the tough stuff. We’re all on a journey, right? While most people (myself included) share only their highlight reel on social media, some people share their difficulties as a way to raise awareness and/or help others who are also going through difficult times(like the “It Gets Better” campaign). These stories, wherever they are shared, are demonstrations of courage that encourage others to start a conversation.

Yesterday I saw this article about a girl on who has been on a difficult road to recovery since 2012, when she received  up paralyzed from the waist down. In spite of complications along the way, she started a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and documented her recovery process-the good, the bad, and the ugly, on Imgur (a site I admittedly know nothing about).  You can check out the original post hereI’ve also read a lot from those recovering from addiction, abuse, and eating disorders (here is one I read this morning). Even when these stories are submitted anonymously, they comfort people who, like me, tend to internalize their struggles.

A website built around sharing stories of everyday people, Humans of New York , shares stories of those who live in the city. Just the people you walk by on the street. The mini-profiles remind us that there’s always more than meets the eye.

hony

Reading these stories reminds me that a) everyone is experiencing their own adversity, and b) it’s pretty amazing that we can identify with people we’ve never met before.



Losing and Finding. This is probably the most common type of post I’ve seen, and a lot of times, it can be the most heart-wrenching. Any time a local pup gets lost, I’m amazed at how responsive people are on social media. People band together in interesting ways during moments of loss, including loss of tangible things. I guess the amazing part is that things get shared by strangers who have no connection to the people who have lost something- they’re just passing a message along and hoping for the best. No investments or ulterior motives, just people trying to help each other out.

This man found a wedding ring while scuba diving and shared it on Facebook, and after diligently wading through false claims, was able to return the ring to its rightful owner. Little did he know, the couple had been enduring an incredibly difficult time with the deaths of loved ones (on both sides), so the return of the ring served as a reminder “‘there are a lot of good people still out there.'”



Inviting Participation. People have created Facebook groups and websites dedicated to recognizing acts of kindness and general connections with humanity. It’s basically a way to pay it forward. I’m part of an “Awesome Acts of Kindness” Facebook Group, and basically people share the acts of kindness that they’ve either witnessed or experienced and want to share with others. There’s also “Giving Tuesday” and other funding related efforts. Inviting others to participate can mean sharing a photo, using a hashtag, making an online donation, or asking for physical volunteering help.

As a final thought on “The Internet of Good,” I couldn’t ignore Marcel the Shell, who always looks on the bright side (and is the best use of YouTube I’ve ever come across).



Movember: Mo Money, Mo ‘Staches

 

 

Fundraising campaigns are everywhere you turn this time of year, and honestly, seeing all that goodwill makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy. One of the fuzzier campaigns being the recently popular Movember, where men spend the month cultivating ‘staches that range from cringeworthy to glorious (Ron Swanson, anyone?), but it doesn’t matter, because it’s for a good cause. I remember when guys were participating in “No Shave November,” which is a bit more flexible in terms of facial hair and grooming (more on the guidelines later), but this was more of a “let’s see how crazy my beard can get” than “let’s grow facial hair for charity” situation. The only thing better than a man with a beard? A man with a beard who cares about charity.

FullSizeRender

How did someone come up with this, anyway?

The Movember movement originated in a bar roughly eleven years ago. It started as a friendly mo growing competition (Aussies call mustaches “mo”s, because they have cool names for things) among friends, and was ultimately fueled by a few beers. These facial hair sprouting gents had kind souls, and decided to turn this competition into something that would benefit others. So, they chose some charities which they found relatable, and away they went. The original 30 members paid $10, and it’s been growing ever since(…get it?).
“By encouraging men (who the charity refers to as “Mo Bros”) to get involved, Movember aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Besides annual check-ups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of family history of cancer and to adopt a healthier lifestyle.” – The Movember Wiki Page

 So, you just grow a mustache?



Well, not quite. There are rules for partaking in Movember. At the beginning of the month, men start with a clean-shaven face, as rule #1 suggests. My favorite is #5: “Each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman…” The rules are straightforward, much like the rest of the Movember marketing plan.
 MoRules

Why is it successful?

Movember isn’t just about who can grow the best mustache (though it’s definitely an incentive). The idea is that participation becomes a conversation starter. It raises awareness/increase funding for programs that aid prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health issues. In the past, men haven’t exactly been encouraged to talk about their feelings or illnesses. There’s been a stigma attached to men expressing a certain sensitivity, which I personally find absurd, but it exists. The Movember project is cool because it encourages men to be open and involved with their health. Going back to its roots, Movember represents a conversation.
It’s also an inclusive conversation: women can participate, too. Even though the foundation raises money for male-related issues, it doesn’t mean that ladies have to be cut out of the conversation. Women can still show their support, regardless of their ability to flaunt a ‘stache. This approach allows the discussion to grow- if the goal is to increase awareness about certain topics, limiting the audience is going to limit growth.
Another way the foundation has spread the conversation is collaborating with some corporate sponsors, such as Adidas, College Humor, Discovery, Toms, Jameson Black Barrel, and The Prevention Institute. They have a free App available for iPhone and Android, sell t-shirts and hats on their store, or offer collaborative items (shoes from Toms, razors from Harry’s) on their online store, too. In other words, they’ve taken the time to make connections and partner with other organizations that have similar target audiences or missions.  This shows that they’re serious about their own mission and are willing to do the legwork to get some big names on board.
The Movember Foundation’s philosophy is simple: do something fun for a good cause. For “Results We Seek,” the foundation has written “Havin’ fun doin’ good.”  Now, there’s a mission I can get behind.

Tech Thursday: Why You Should Have an Online Donation Form

Some statistics:

In 2013, 33.6% of all donations to charities occurred in the last 3 months of the year. In 2012, $24 billion in donations happened online.

Does your business have an online donation form? With the season of giving just around the corner, make it easier for your donors to give back. More people (especially millennials) are likely to give back online, plus, having this form directly on your website makes it more likely that they will follow through (rather than get annoyed by PayPal).

If you don’t already have an online donation form, but want to get one set up on your website, we can help! Start getting your donations here.

Marketing Monday: Las Vegas Casinos

You may have noticed I’ve been absent. I took my first full on vacation in two years this last week and went to Las Vegas. I spent a total of 3 hours online the whole time I was there, mostly keeping ahead of email. The rest of the time, I just took it all in.

The Fountain at The Bellagio

The Fountains at The Bellagio are always a good sight... and a free way to draw visitors to the casino.

The casinos had over-the-top Christmas decorations... but doing good (rather than just looking good) is really what gives people the warm fuzzies.

The casinos had over-the-top Christmas decorations... but doing good (rather than just looking good) is really what gives people the warm fuzzies.

It’s amazing what casinos do to market to consumers. Everything from walkways and escalators that always work going in (but not going out) to guys on corners handing out free night club passes, everything is designed to make you stay longer, and spend more money.



A few things I thought about while I was out there:

There is still a need for print…

Of the countless people handing out nightclub (and other) cards on the street, it begs the question: How is this affordable?

The answer is of course companies wouldn’t pass out these cards if they didn’t work on some level. Casinos might be able to afford to lose some money but they wouldn’t do something that was a constant drain on resources.

I did see a lot of tourists like me with their smartphones but many people still don’t have the easily accessed information. Hence the need to have something to give those tourists to hold in their hand and make their decision about a club, restaurant, or other destination choice.

… but good reviews will fill the room.

We went to Lotus of Siam, one of the best Thai restaurants in the country located off the Strip in a downtown strip mall. The restaurant has won numerous awards and always has diners, even at a ‘early bird special’ hour on a Tuesday night (when we went). They didn’t do any advertising that I saw but clearly, the reviews alone kept them busy enough.

Do some good, especially around the holidays.

Looking for a club to go to, we found out Tabu at MGM Grand was doing a food drive, letting club goers in for free (and giving a free drink) for showing up with canned goods.

So I spent a ridiculous amount of money on a can of soup and headed over. The servers were dressed in ridiculous Santa suits but smiled at our small offering as they ushered us in. This made this slightly pretentious seeming club give me the warm fuzzies. And if a night club can do that, imagine what your business could do in terms of reaching out to charities around the holidays!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed last week. I sure did! Nice and rested and ready to be back on the internet…