Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Question You Were Too Afraid to Ask: What is Social Good?

September 22, 2013

This week thousands of world leaders, social innovators, and big thinkers will gather in New York City for the Social Good Summit to discuss the power of innovative thinking and technology to solve our greatest challenges.  But if you find yourself asking, What the heck are they talking aboutSOCIAL GOOD?  Don’t sweat it. You’re not the only one. So let’s break it down.

Traditionally, we could define “social good” as an action 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 a 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 duality of the word “social.” It seems everyone has “gone social” since the invention of new 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 your friends.

So what is using “social media for social good”? We suggest it is creating a positive societal impact using the vehicle of social media. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest – all of these tools can be employed to advocate, educate or fundraise for a cause.

Why does this matter? Seems pretty self-explanatory, right?

It matters because it means that anyone — an individual, company, government or organization – can be a change agent using social media to create social good. Nonprofits and governments are no longer the only sole driver of a cause. Anyone with access to a mobile or mouse can organize an impactful campaign.

What does social good mean to you? How are you using social media to further your social good goals? If you want to learn more, I’d suggest you start by tuning in to this year’s Social Good Summit.  Stream live … now!

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