UNICEF takes a stand against ‘slacktivism’

UNICEF Sweden's Ad

UNICEF Sweden’s Ad

It’s almost impossible to avoid ‘slacktivism’ these days, with people changing their Twitter pictures to represent a cause or issue and liking nonprofit organizations on Facebook with the best of intentions. But how much does that really help? UNICEF Sweden put out an ad and video last week, admonishing those people who just post on social media about their support for a cause. In an article about the campaign, The Atlantic wrote:

Now, UNICEF Sweden is the first major international charity to come right out and say that people who actually want hungry, sick children saved need to donate money and supplies — not just virtual support.

“We like likes, and social media could be a good first step to get involved, but it cannot stop there,” said UNICEF Sweden Director of Communications Petra Hallebrant. “Likes don’t save children’s lives. We need money to buy vaccines for instance.”

UNICEF’s might be an extreme perspective, but it does raise interesting questions about how charity organizations should spread their messages online without allowing their potential donors to get stuck in slacktivist land, retweeting links and changing profile pictures without ever opening their wallets.

The article goes on to cite a study from Georgetown University and Ogilvy Worldwide, which found that “social promoters were just as likely as non-social-promoters to give money, but they were slightly more likely to volunteer their time (30 percent, versus 15 percent for non-social-promoters).”

Is ‘slacktivism’ really a problem or should organizations enjoy the awareness and buzz, and try to raise money another way?

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