One of the most frequently asked questions that many nonprofit organizations receive is, "How can I help the cause other than donating money?" We know there are many people who strongly believe in a cause but may not be able to contribute monetarily. Of course, there are a multitude of ways you can help an organization through volunteering, but what if you don’t live close enough to the organization? What if you don’t have transportation?
This is where the importance of being an online activist comes in. Activism can get a bad rap, especially when it takes place on social media, where many people refer to it as ‘slacktivism.’ A lot of people disregard the power of slacktivism, but it's proven to be a highly effective strategy that can strengthen any cause if utilized the right way.
The term slacktivism—a blend of slacker and activism—refers to social media activism (such as sharing posts and using hashtags that relate to a cause). The main criticism of slacktivism is that it takes such minimal effort to use a hashtag or repost a photo, but that's also the beauty of it! The ease of use and wide reach of social media makes slacktivism an efficient way to spread a message and educate multiple communities about an issue you care about.
In most cases, awareness is the first step to becoming involved in an issue, and slacktivism is an easy and free way to bring that awareness to people around you. Another argument against slacktivism is that it only helps raise awareness then is rendered useless afterward. Studies have been conducted that prove exactly the opposite, however, and that slacktivism is usually only the beginning of people’s involvement in a cause.
Slacktivists aren't slacking at all
A study conducted in 2010 by Georgetown University showed that, in a sample of 2,000 Americans 18 and older, those who participated in slacktivism were over 50% more likely to take additional steps to help those causes.1 Slacktivists were shown to be more involved in volunteering their time, attending events, buying products from organizations, and recruiting others to the cause. Long story short: slacktivists aren’t slacking at all.
Many organizations have realized the importance of having slacktivists support their cause. At The Exodus Road, we know how important social media activism is. It's a way to effectively share our message with a larger audience and educate people on the issues of human trafficking and modern day slavery. This is why we have created a name for our activists: Online Abolitionists.
Becoming an Online Activist
Online Abolitionists is a group we started over a year ago that has grown with passionate people who want to make a difference. Having a place where activists from all over the world can discuss and share ideas creates a space where we can all learn and grow together. Becoming an online abolitionist is easy; all you have to do is sign a pledge and download the kit–we provide you with all of the digital tools you need to be the best slacktivist you can be.
What our Online Abolitionists say
When asked why she thinks advocacy is important, one of our abolitionists, Christiana, answered:
“I care about raising awareness, because in a movement like this where justice is truly in the hands of the ordinary, a greater societal awareness is directly linked to the ability to solve the problem. We have the power and the resources to abolish human slavery…we simply need enough passionate people willing to come together and do it.”
We never know how many tweets, photos, or hashtags it will take for people to engage in the issue, but by being an online activist for a cause, you are helping to inspire change. As another one of our online abolitionists put it:
"Activism may often seem insignificant, but the effects are endless."
So, next time you're wondering how you can support an important organization or cause, don’t be too quick to write off slacktivism. It may just be the best way to become a strong advocate for the cause you really care about.
1 Georgetown University: Slacktivists Doing More than Clicking in Support of Causes