This Saturday October 10th 2015 is The Social Good Summit Australia, a one-day conference examining the impact of social good initiatives around the world. The aim is to unite a dynamic community of global and local leaders and grassroots contributors to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time.
But what exactly is “social good”?
Is it making a donation to charity? Is it a random act of kindness? Is it volunteering? Is it advocating for a worthy cause? Is it Liking a post on Facebook?
Social good is typically defined as an action that provides some sort of benefit to the general public. In this case, fresh water, education and healthcare are all good examples of social goods. However, new media innovations and the explosion of online communities have added new meaning to the term. Social good is now about global citizens uniting to unlock the potential of individuals, technology and collaboration to create positive societal impact.
Today, social good is about getting people to engage in pro-social actions that benefit society, often by harnessing the power of technology and social media in particular. It is about engagement, shareability and bringing people together to change the world for the better. Gone are the days when governments, multinationals and large NGOs were the only institutions with the reach and resources to initiative change.
Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are fantastic tools that can be used to engage people in social good actions. They allow people to share ideas, advocate and fundraise to solve pressing societal issues. Through online platforms and communities, individuals can add their voice to a cause more easily than ever before and feel like they are an agent of change.
There is nothing wrong with tweeting the change that we want to see in the world. It can create awareness and bring attention to otherwise invisible social challenges. However, it is not an end in itself.
Detached support for an issue soothes the conscience, but is not really standing for something and, most of the time, it won’t have any practical effect. Creating social good takes more than a click (#HashtagActivism, Slacktivism, Clicktivism etc.). It is more than Shares, Likes and Followers. Meaningful social good is about rolling up your sleeves and taking tangible action to create engagement, community building and discourse both online and offline.
There is no doubt the incredible impact that technology and new media is having on social good initiatives around the world. However, confusing clicks for action and solely banking on technology and new media to drive change is not social good. Instead we should see them as tools that can be used to unite people from around the world who can go on to affect change. If we really want to create sustainable social good outcomes then it is the measurable societal impact of our actions, not just online but also offline, that really makes a difference.