Do You Give Good Blog?
There are a lot of ways to change the world. Because, face it: bringing about any of kind of change is best effected incrementally. You don't just set off one morning to run a marathon; you put on running shoes, you do some stretching, you run around the block, you come home and then you keep repeating, running longer and faster with every new attempt. Likewise with changing the world: it's the little incremental steps that do the trick. If we set out to just all of a sudden force a transformation, we wouldn't be very successful. Also, we'd probably get really bad cramps.
We think about this every day at BlogHers Act Canada. Every post that goes up, every brainstorming e-mail that goes out, every reflection on whether or not hipstertastic condom campaigns count as health activism, we're asking ourselves: are we making a difference? Does it matter that the difference sometimes seems so small? And it was this specific question - do small difference count? - that was plaguing me for a while before the holidays last year. How was I making a difference? Was BHAC enough of an effort? Was I using my Internet powers and resources to the best of my abilities? Was I slacking off in the MAKE A DIFFERENCE department?
Here's what was bothering me in particular: I was being sent a lot of stuff.. Like, tons of stuff. Multiple boxes weekly, and multiple offers in my inbox: can we send you this? would you like to giveaway that? And throughout my community I could see the same thing - giveaway after giveaway, review after review, product after product - and I thought, wow. This is what might be called an embarassment of riches. And then I thought, maybe I should be thinking about putting those riches to better, more distributive use. So I made a commitment to doing exactly that. I decided, among other things, to give away some share of the stuff that I receive. For example - as I explained at BHAC - I decided, for the duration of the holidays, to take multiples of toy-type stuff to a toy drive or shelter, and with anything I received that was not toy drive appropriate, I pledged to purchase toys in lieu of those products and donate these (with my children in tow) to the toy drive. I also pledged to amend my advertising and review policies for my personal blog, to the effect that I would ask companies that approach me for advertising or reviews to consider offering charitable donations and/or extra products for me to donate to charity. Basically, I decided that I wanted - needed - to bring an element of social responsibility to the way that I did business (collected ad revenue, conducted giveaways, reviewed products, etc, etc) online. And then I decided - in consultation with my BHAC co-founder - to bring that project to BHAC.
Give Good Blog is our humble effort to bring an element of practical social responsibility to blogging. There's already much such effort out there... but this, we thought, would be something a little different, something a little more focused, something a little more oriented toward the little things that we already do with our blogs. Our idea: encourage bloggers to use their blogs as platforms for helping others, in little ways and big ways and all the ways in between. From paying-it-forward with blog giveaways to using blogs to raise money for causes to just writing about the little things that we're doing in real life to make the world a better place - we just want to encourage and promote anyone who is giving good blog.
Bloggers like, for example, Mamalang:
I don't do give aways (yet) and my review blog is pretty much non-existent, but I try to do good things. And I love the whole idea behind this project, so I signed up... Right before I found this post, I signed up to volunteer at a web-based
mail charity... I want a way that feels like I'm giving to someone else in the world, a way that I can include my children, and I think this is it.
And oddly (or not-so-oddly, depending upon how you look at it), the readers of my blog, as I recounted here:
I was trying to give good blog by doing a giveaway that asked participants to say how they would pay the giveaway forward (and that I was going to match by using ad revenue to purchase for my nephew and his family - to whom the post was dedicated - a camera, so that they might have a means of digitally recording his life) when I was out-done by my commenters... When I drew the name of the winner - Pink Asparagus - she declined the giveaway, insisting that another name should be drawn so that someone who needed it more could have it. And then when I drew a second name - Stimey of Stimeyland - she insisted that she wanted to pay the giveaway forward immediately - by giving the prize - a Motorola ZN5 camera phone - to my nephew's mom, so that she could take pictures of him and share them and be in
closer touch with the rest of the family. With me... I would not be exaggerating if I said that my heart very nearly bust open.
It was like, good karma piling up upon good karma: Motorola gave me an extra phone to giveaway, which I used to help draw attention to a post about issues faced by my disabled and terminally ill nephew, which led to a mountain of pledges via comments from folks promising to pay-it-forward regardless of whether they won the phone or not, which led to the generous offers from two readers to really pay forward what they'd won (and the ad revenue that was going to the purchase of a camera for my sister and her family? Now going to Muscular Dystrophy Research.)
Which is why, I think, this project is so awesome, and why I hope that it gets some wings. Even if the particulars don't take off, I hope that the spirit does. It's just about thinking, whenever we can, about whether whatever it is that we're doing online affords us an opportunity to make a difference, no matter how small or incidental. Whether it's getting charitable mileage out of a giveaway or a sponsorship, or sharing stories about the little offline things that make a difference, it's all good blog. Give some.
(Share your stories or your examples of giving good blog - your own, or those of others - at the GGB page at BHAC or by e-mailing them to us at givegoodblog at gmail dot com. We'd love to hear them, so that we can share them. Good Blog is best when it's shared ;))
(Also? I'll be moderating an expert panel discussion on a broader variation of this topic - Social Media, Social Responsibility, and Social Impact - at next weekend's Mom 2.0 Summit. If you're attending, please come join in!)