How Do We Value Activism?

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We all know that different levels of activism will naturally have different levels of social impact. Activism that is well-researched and informed will have a greater social impact that activism that isn’t, and giving $2 to a cause will not have as great an impact as giving $2 million. That said, not all of us have $2 million that we can afford to give away, and not all of us have the time to thoroughly research a 30 page position paper on the issues that affect our world. Being an activist means that you are doing something – even something small – to make the world a better place. While many detractors would pick on people who make low-stakes investments in a cause (such as social media sharing), shouldn’t we instead be directing our energy toward a positive impact?

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Forward-Thinking vs. Backward Philanthropy

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Philanthropy comes from the Greek term meaning “love of humanity,” but when you take a realistic look at the way we view charity today, much of it stems from Puritan ideas about penance and making up for wrongdoing or selfishness in other aspects of one’s life. A more forward-thinking philanthropist, instead would take a practical look at how they can integrate philanthropy into all aspects of their life, and achieve the greatest good overall, not just enough that they break even. Today, I’m going to take some time to explore what forward thinking philanthropists are doing, compared against old-school styles of philanthropy.
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Understanding Nonprofit Data: The Basics

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So, you’ve made sure that the charity you are interested donating to is actually a legitimate charity, but how do you know if they are actually making a positive impact in your community or the world? There’s a lot of talk about nonprofits becoming more “data-driven” or responsive to metrics, but in a world where you are continually bombarded with shiny imagery and smooth-talking infographics, how can you tell which charities are doing good, and which are just doing marketing? This post explores the different types of program impact data you’ll see nonprofits sharing, and how to sort out what it all means. Let’s start with the basics: Continue reading

Be Good at Being Charitable

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If you are looking to make a positive impact in the world, giving to charity is one of the most direct ways that you can contribute. But, with over 1.5 million different nonprofits in the United States alone, figuring out how to give in a meaningful, impactful way can be an incredibly daunting task. Here are some ways for you to narrow down the causes and charities that will be most meaningful for you:

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How Social Good is Becoming a Real, Measurable Thing (and why that’s wonderful)

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Once upon a time, the “goodness” of an individual person or entity could only be measured in vague perceptions of public opinion, and “well-being” could only really be measured in terms of financial comfort. Interestingly enough, despite the fact that philanthropy and social welfare have existed as concepts for hundreds (if not thousands) of years, the concept of thinking strategically about social problems is very new, just gaining in popularity over the past few decades. We are still new to this age of organized efforts to improve the world we live in, and though we have not yet come out with one standardized measure of social impact or well-being, we have come out with many different tools for measuring benefit to society and well-being. Do-gooder culture is indeed shifting in favor of us data nerds (or perhaps us data nerds have just been more effective at doing good?). Continue reading

Strategic Acts of Kindness are Better than Random Acts of Kindness

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First off, I want to say that I think that it’s wonderful that the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation teaches children the importance of being kind, and I very much agree with the idea that kindness is contagious (in fact, it’s been backed up by science). However, the randomness factor is one I never understood. Showing kindness is not a random act, and it doesn’t even need to be a selfless one. Many studies have demonstrated helping people not only makes them happier, it also makes you happier. This led me to the belief that being compassionate and being logical are actually the same thing. So why are we labeling acts of kindness as “random”? Here are some reasons why I think we need to look at kindness from a more strategic perspective:

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What NOT to do when raising awareness online

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I did a post recently about getting beyond “slacktivism” and actually posting on social media in a way that is impactful. Today, I wanted to dive a little bit into what NOT to do. When you’re a person like me who cares a lot about a cause, or even many causes, it’s very easy to get worked up and start posting things that make you feel good and use some activist language, but are not actually effective at creating social change. Here are a few examples of things that might make you feel good, but do not actually do anything to improve the world we live in.

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Goodness Geek Valentines!

Is there a special someone in your life who happens to geek out a lot about the state of the world we live in? Perhaps a huge nerd who likes to think about compassionate subjects in terms of cold, hard statistics? Maybe you just know and love someone who is seeking a higher purpose and is fascinated with issues of social justice?

Well good news for anyone lucky enough to be dating (our casually flirting with) a social justice nerd – I went and created some special Valentines just for you! I’ve got Valentines for every kind of goodness geek:

For the heroic…

GG Valentine #2

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From Inspiration to Effective Action

Happy New Year everyone! For my first post of 2015, I wanted to share a resolution I made, and dive into what it actually means:

For me, this gets at the core of what this blog is all about – not just inspiring people to action, but inspiring people to action that is informed by facts. The truth is that there are many places along the way for the train to get derailed or run out of juice on the way from inspiration to action. In order to clear a path (or lay down some tracks if we’re sticking with the train metaphor), let’s first chart our course:

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Factual Inspiration – Facts that will make you happy in 2015!

This week I’ve noticed a lot of sites taking a look back a 2014 – best, worst, most memorable, most forgotten, etc, etc. Rather than focus on the past, or tell you what you should do to stay on track for your resolutions, I thought it might be nice to dish out some straight-up inspiration to get you pumped and ready to make this year an awesome one. Here are a few ways that we’re already halfway there:

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