As technology has evolved, so has activism. Initially people could show their support for a cause by mailing in a check or calling a donation over the phone. These charitable acts offered little to no recognition from their peers.
The act of giving has slowly evolved to supporting trends: pink ribbons on your lapel, yellow LiveStrong bracelets, and even companies pairing up with charities to raise money – and of course to improve their image. Although still giving to good causes, these acts have now become highly fashionable and trendy.
Social Media has taken this trend one step further; people can now “support” a cause simply with the click of a [Like] button. Although this allows organizations to spread their name without cost, what kind of support is solely liking a Facebook Page really offering?
Causes is the primary application organizations use to raise money through Facebook. Though it is easy to use, how many people are really benefiting from it? The American National Red Cross’s Causes page has over 1 million members, but of that only 10,703 who have donated. That means only 1% of people who “support” the Red Cross on Facebook have actually ever donated any money.
Despite the success in building online social communities, nonprofits still have not seen much benefit from fundraising through these means. The 2011 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study indicated that only 2.4% of non-profits surveyed were able to raise over 10k through Facebook that previous year.
I’m not commenting so much on the over-emphasis on activism in the realm of social media, but rather the slacktivism that this platform encourages.
I don’t mean to belittle any organization that promotes themselves with a handout or a Facebook Page. I think these are all excellent tools for long-term awareness.
I am solely pointing out that people who boast their support of a cause – whether by wearing a bracelet, hosting an event, or liking a page on Facebook – should continue their support for the right reasons, and not just because it’s trendy or it’s easy.