Connecting and Opportunities to Give Back

To quote Ask Leo! on Business, “The internet is connecting us – across the street or across the planet. Mankind is more connected today in more ways than ever before.

And yes, that has both upsides and downsides.

Today I’m grateful for one of the undervalued upsides: online philanthropy.

This is more than just your favorite old school charity having a web site and a “Donate” button — that’s almost a given these days. I’m talking about the next level: leveraging today’s technology and connectivity in ways that further a mission, support a cause, and make a difference.

Just a few examples:

Kiva wouldn’t exist without the internet. While they’re not the only “micro-lender”, they’re perhaps the largest. I’ve been lending with Kiva for a couple of years now, and in honor of my lending team’s 9th anniversary this month I’ll be upping my game. (Check it out and consider joining us, if you like.)

Corgiaid (you knew I would be bringing up Corgis, yes?) exists because of the internet. It was born out of an email mailing list, and is now the beneficiary of online auctions, internet-organized picnics and gatherings, and more.

Curious about a registered charity that you’ve never heard of? Online research tools like Charity Navigator and GuideStar exist to quickly help you find out more. Even online tools like Snopes can be incredibly quick and useful to research the random requests crossing our paths daily.

Services like GoFundMe and many, many others have brought fund-raising to the masses. Anyone with a need can plead their case publicly and get help. Yes, they’re largely unregulated, but this is part of the appeal as well; anyone can raise funds for a cause that they believe in.

There are so many more opportunities that the internet has enabled I can’t do them all justice. Even those that I’ve listed are all about fundraising in some form, but in fact people regularly donate skills online, or simply communicate awareness and educate the public on issues of concern – once again, in ways that were either unthinkable, or at least incredibly less effective, prior to the internet.

I’m grateful to see it, and to the extent and ways that I can, participate in it.