When it comes to giving, slacktivism versus “real” engagement is a false dichotomy. Critics need to get used to the idea that we live in a time of innovative new ways for people to get involved – including things that might not have qualified as “volunteering” or “donating” once upon a time. In volunteering, particularly, there are still many questions about how these new forms of online helping actually relate to traditional engagement.
Does the ladder of engagement, which seeks to move folks in an orderly fashion from bystanders to committed movement leaders, still make sense in a crowd-sourced, free-agent, sharing-enabled, microvolunteering world?
Not only are the rungs becoming blurry, it may be that “ladder” is the wrong metaphor completely.
At the 2011 SXSW conference in Austin, panel moderator Robert Rosenthal from the popular volunteer network VolunteerMatch (www.volunteermatch.org) discussed this with four technologists who are also creating innovative tools to engage audiences in social good.
How can their tools live beside other innovative, non-technical forms of volunteering -- such as pro bono and skilled models? What are the right business models for social enterprises that are involved in these technologies?
Most importantly, how can SXSW audience members make sense of these emerging technologies so their own online social change campaigns can be as engaging as possible?
George Weiner, DoSomething
Laura Cochran, Gannett
Patty Huber, Groupon.com
Tom Dawkins, HopeLab & StartSomeGood.com