The death toll in Haiti is surging towards a frightening figure. A massive tragedy that has shaken the world just like the quake that left ruins in its wake.
But the sunshine factor has been the massive show of solidarity and support from all corners of the globe. Millions are being raised. It will not dispel the gloom but may help to lessen it.
New age media is chipping in and doing it by the bits and bytes. A recent news item in the Washington Post says that U.S cell phone users raised $22 million via a text campaign. Twitter updates are spreading the news. That’s social media lending a hand to humanity.
The money may be peanuts compared to the lot that will be required, but it is true that social media is not only making people aware but also helping them to loosen their purse strings. The amount though takes the second spot behind the greater impact of generating awareness for a cause. The “˜here – there – everywhere’ nature of social media is taking the hitherto local cause to global eyes and ears.
You can’t escape from it. And if you don’t want to, let me give you five websites that can help to keep social issues on your radar and provide you with opportunities to make a difference.
AlertNet brings you the latest in humanitarian news from around the world. What gives it top billing is that it’s a Reuters site. So you can expect the same up-to-datedness and accuracy of news reporting.
AlertNet draws ten million users a year. It has a network of 400 contributing humanitarian organizations and its weekly email digest is received by more than 26,000 readers. A couple of mapping tools also give a graphical picture of emergencies and relief work around the world. And if you want to jump in, the Job Search tool is a help.
Visit the site’s About Us page – it is definitely one of the most informative I have read. Some features are open to only aid workers and organizations but the site is free as a whole.
A TechCrunch website, Causecast is a meeting place for nonprofits, community leaders, activists, celebrities, brands, and the common man. You can use the site to find volunteer opportunities, post articles, connect to community leaders and celebrities, learn about causes and of course, make donations.
Just like any online forum, Causecast encourages activities. You can also log your offline humanitarian activities in your account. The sum total of achievements can help you earn “˜Kudos’ (a digital Thank You). The Kudos can be exchanged for tangible gifts when the Causecast Marketplace opens up.
Read this as “˜Agents of Change’ and you will get what they are all about. Changeants is a social networking site for learning about the causes around us. The mission is powered by a community of dynamic individuals and their activities for social/environmental good. These change agents are socially connected to their network of friends and backers who are helping them to achieve their cause and make a difference.
The inspiration for a cause comes from stories (i.e. blog posts) that get swapped across this social network. Change agents send out volunteer requests and you can join up and contribute in small or big ways. But if you want to lead rather than follow, become a change agent yourself.
We have featured Care2 before as a site which supports green living. But the site is not only about that or their well designed free ecards. Environmental issues are not the only thing on their agenda. Apart from watching the causes that are on around the world, you can also read up a lot on it. You can also as free members spread the word out about things that are interesting and important to you, by sharing and rating news stories.
Any activity on the website can earn you credits. These credits are redeemable as cash which goes to a non-profit of your choice. Care2 calls it the “˜Butterfly Rewards’. The easiest way to earn credits is to set Care2 as your browser’s home page and use Care2’s web search for all of your web searches. The Care2 community numbers nearly 12 million – a very large company for goodness.
The organization behind Idealist.org is the nicely named non-profit called Action Without Borders (AWB). Idealist is like a common platform which connects those who need volunteer services with those who can offer them. It is a large web directory of non-profit projects, non-profit organizations, fundraising events, socially relevant issues, humanitarian jobs etc.
If you are really looking to give your two cents worth of time (or money), this is a place where you can log on. The site has blogs, podcasts, email alerts and also a social community that helps to connect with the larger world picture.
The site presently lists about 93,000 organizations from across the globe and 17,000 jobs in its index. The site also holds career fairs and graduate degree fairs for the inclined.
These five sites are just the tip of the iceberg as far as social and philanthropy websites go. What I have tried to present is the variety that’s on offer for the serious volunteer. So you have a news site like AlertNet to begin with and then a web directory like the Idealist.
To paraphrase Admiral Nelson’s words, let’s say that the world expects every man to do his duty. Whether big or tiny, a little effort goes a long way.
Maybe you have already participated in a social project through social media. Share it with us in the comments.
Image Credit: woodleywonderworks