The concept of charity often rattles its collection tin irritatingly while I'm trying to do other things. That rattle is an alarm bell (See what I did there?) - a warning - that charities are dangerously behind in terms of utilising the accumulative energy of the connected world. If anything, charity remains very introverted.
When it comes to charity, people tend to get muddled between their own needs and the aims of the charity they support. I won't start philosophising about whether true altruism is a myth, but I will share two examples of charitable solutions (that I witnessed within five minutes today) to make a point.
This morning I left my house to get some lunch from Tesco. As it happened, I had just been browsing the apps on Facebook and had come across the Causes
application. This application is designed simply to feed off the Facebook community - and the energy and connections in it - to act as a conduit for activism
. It seems pretty basic and I'm sure there are better ones being developed, but it is potentially a very efficient way (results pending) to not only raise money but to educate and create discussion about different causes.
Three minutes later I was walking into Tesco where an elderly woman was collecting money for Macmillan
Cancer Support. She looked grumpy. She shook her tin. She probably sat there all day.
This woman represents the old world. Compared to the potential of charitable Facebook applications, her effort is not even comparable. But I couldn't possibly walk over and tell her that. She is there because she wanted to do something
The whole world needs to change. Attitudes need to change. And social values need a bit of a kicking too. Charities are losing out - for many reasons - but a key reason was personified in the doorway of Tesco. The intentions of that woman are worthy, but misplaced. We all
want to do something. So rather than stay in silos, each 'doing our bit', we are in need of simple solutions that harness this collective desire.
As more and more disparity is broadcast to us, it's tempting to think we have to try harder, but Facebook apps show us that there are simple solutions out there - built by one person and more powerful than a thousand street collectors.