Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

7 Ways to Refresh Your Social Good Vocabulary in 2013

January 16, 2013

What’s “crowd-sourcing”? Where did the term “shared value” come from? What on earth is an “Armchair Advocate”?

It’s 2013 and now more than ever we have an excuse to revisit the basics in all-things social good. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, the following seven buzz words are must-haves. After all, a little New Year’s refresher in using “social media for social good” never hurt.

Cause Marketing :: A mutually-beneficial partnership between a nonprofit charity and a for-profit business designed to market, educate and sell a cause to the general public. This is different than a charity independently using advertising to showcase their issue. Cause marketing necessitates a partnership where the company or business uses its assets to help sell the brand of a cause. The most classic example is (RED) campaign, where a handful of companies marketed HIV/AIDS awareness by showcasing (RED) branding on their products and advertising. (Also check out Selfish Giving’s What is Cause Marketing?)

Corporate Responsibility (CSR) :: There are many fantastic definitions of CSR, so we won’t reinvent the wheel here. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines corporate responsibility, for example, as the “continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as the local community and society at large.” What’s most important to recognize is the growing integration of CSR strategies into every tenet of a company (both small businesses and global enterprises). CSR is not just “check-writing” to a charity; rather it reflects a cultural and structural shift within a company.

Crowd-Sourcing :: The act of “outsourcing” an organization’s brainstorming, programmatic design or decision-making (among other tasks) by extending the practice to a broader, more public group. The term was first coined in 2006 by Wired magazine author Jeff Howe in an article titled “The Rise of Crowdsourcing.” Howe suggested that crowd-sourcing encouraged the best-qualified and most creative participants to join in on a project. Now, crowd-sourcing plays a vital role in helping companies raise awareness and drive public engagement in charitable giving. By putting consumers in the driver’s seat, companies can rally mass audiences to help solve a problem, either through competition or collaboration. Pepsi Refresh and Chase Community Giving, for example, were two innovative campaigns that helped pave the way for using crowd-sourcing to drive philanthropic grants. (Also check out The Rise of Crowdsourcing Fatigue?)

Shared Value :: A model based on the idea that corporate success and social good are interdependent. For a business to thrive and be competitive, it needs to cultivate practices that promote “a healthy, educated workforce, sustainable resources and adept government.”  Meanwhile, for society to prosper, “business must be developed and supported to create income, wealth, tax revenues, and opportunities for philanthropy.” This model was developed by Michael E. Porter, a leading expert in the field, and has been the cornerstone for many corporate responsibility viewpoints. (Also see Creating Shared Value)

Slacktivism :: A “feel-good” measure, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. In today’s digital age, we are in no shortage of e-advocacy campaigns soliciting users to sign online petitions to advocate for a cause. This trend even gave rise to the popular Change.org or Care2.com that provide a clearinghouse for online petitions. Many critics have dubbed it “slacktivism,” a means for thousands to proclaim their support or criticism of a campaign with just a click of a mouse. “Slacktivists” don’t actually have to break a sweat, and thus can often be recognized as individuals not fully engaged in making change. (Also check out Cutting ‘Slacktivism’ some Slack?)

Social Good :: Traditionally, we could define “social good” as an action or item that benefits society. For example, education, potable water or even access to services such as healthcare. The term implies a positive impact – on an individual or society as a whole. This buzz word has gotten even trendier over the past few years (in lieu of ‘common good,’ ‘charity,’ ‘philanthropy’ and the like) due to the popularity of the word “social.” It seems everyone has gone “social” since the invention of social media. As a result, today the traditional definition of “social good” has broadened to encompass a “shareable” sentiment. Doing good can be just as share-worthy as sending a Tweet or texting a friends. (Also see Back to School Yourself in Social Good)

Armchair Advocate :: We’d be remiss if we didn’t include our own catchphrase. So what is an Armchair Advocate? These are global citizens who use a new age of media platforms to share, educate and advocate for the issues that matter most. Ideally, an Armchair Advocate uses innovative ways to move people from the comfort of their couch to action in their homes, schools, businesses and communities.

What do you think? Do you agree with these definitions? What other vocab is essential for all online do-gooders?

 
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