By Kathleen Murphy Toms, Director, Digital Communications, GivingTuesday
In a world where digital connectivity has reshaped the way we communicate and connect, the act of sharing generosity online has become a topic of debate. Critics argue that true acts of generosity should remain private, asserting that once posted online, they lose their altruistic essence and become selfish ego-boosters. But here’s the thing: sharing your acts of generosity on digital platforms can have a profound impact. From inspiring others to fostering a culture of giving and sparking important conversations, sharing your kindness online can be a force for positive change. This is not to say that we should use exploitative framing or skip informed consent in our content creation. There are responsible and respectful ways to create content that doesn’t exploit or demean others, which we’ll discuss in a future post.
Let’s explore why sharing generosity online might just be the key to making the world a better place.
- It amplifies the impact: Sharing acts of giving online can inspire and motivate others to join in. When people witness the positive impact of generosity, they are more likely to be inspired to take similar actions themselves. It spurs a tidal wave of generosity, not only in our own communities but around the world.
- It builds social norms: Publicly sharing acts of kindness helps establish and reinforce social norms that prioritize generosity and compassion. When people see others engaging in pro-social behavior, it becomes more normalized and can lead to a collective shift towards a more just and giving society.
- It helps spread awareness: Sharing acts of giving online can raise awareness about social issues and organizations that need support. This increased awareness can lead to more public discussion, empathy, and support for addressing these challenges effectively.
- A bonus side effect is that you could be connecting people you care about with services that can help them.
- It fosters accountability + transparency: Publicly sharing acts of giving can create a sense of accountability and encourage transparency. It holds individuals and organizations responsible for their promises and commitments, ensuring that the resources donated are utilized effectively and that the impact is visible to the community.
- It inspires reciprocal behavior: Research suggests that witnessing acts of kindness, even through digital platforms, can evoke a desire in others to reciprocate or engage in similar acts. Public sharing can create a positive feedback loop where one act of giving inspires many more, leading to a ripple effect of generosity and compassion.
- In a new study, researchers found that people who perform a random act of kindness tend to underestimate how much the recipient will appreciate it. And they believe that miscalculation could hold many of us back from doing nice things for others more often.
- It builds community and combats isolation. Sharing and mobilizing generosity can help you grow your community of like-minded people who want to move the needle on a cause. It helps create civic homes and promotes cooperation and social connection.
- It catalyzes solidarity and collective action. Publicly sharing acts of generosity fosters a sense of solidarity and collective responsibility. It encourages individuals to find people who share the same passions and concerns and work towards a common goal. By highlighting the power of collective action, shared generosity can mobilize communities, organizations, and institutions to address systemic issues at their root and work towards sustainable solutions.
- It helps change perceptions + broadens horizons. Sharing your generosity can teach people to see the world differently: that there are many different ways to give, that money isn’t the only resource we can give, and that generosity is abundant.
- It challenges the status quo: Sharing acts of generosity challenges the prevailing systems and structures that perpetuate inequality. It disrupts the narrative that resources are scarce and fosters a belief in abundance. By sharing our resources, knowledge, and opportunities, we challenge the notion of hoarding and promote a more equitable distribution of wealth, resources, and privileges.
- It can call out the root causes of inequity: Generosity that goes beyond immediate relief efforts can tackle the root causes of societal problems. By sharing resources and opportunities strategically, we can invest in initiatives that directly address systemic issues such as poverty, education inequality, healthcare disparities, and discrimination. Shared generosity can challenge oppressive structures, build power, and contribute to the creation of more inclusive systems that prioritize justice and equality.
When you share your acts of generosity online, you amplify their impact, inspiring others to join in and create a tidal wave of generosity. Additionally, it helps build social norms that prioritize compassion and spreading awareness about critical issues, organizations, and services that need support. By fostering accountability, transparency, and inspiring reciprocal behavior, we’re not just making our own communities better; we’re contributing to a global shift towards a more just and giving society.