Social media is one of the main ways we communicate these days. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – hundreds of millions of people around the world use these platforms frequently. Whether it’s breaking news, politics, fashion, music – the world learns about it usually through the expanding influence of social media networks.
However, social media is much more than sharing pictures from our latest trip or favorite restaurants. In the face of natural disaster or conflict, it has proven to be a great resource for letting our loved ones know we’re safe. It can mobilize movements, inspire mass protests, and even topple authoritarian governments. The power of social media lies in its ability to unite people for a common cause.
Perhaps more than ever before, global leaders in tech are approaching organizations committed to humanitarian work (NGOs, non-profits, human rights agencies) to understand how we can bring the world closer together.
A few weeks ago, Facebook invited Zakat Foundation of America to its second annual Social Good Forum held in New York City. The event focused on introducing new digital strategies and applications to enhance the work of humanitarian organizations. The forum began with a keynote speech by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, who personally congratulated humanitarian organizations such as ZF for the work they’re doing around the world.
Below are some of the new features Facebook introduced, many of which are now active:
- Crisis Response: Facebook is committed to building safe and supportive communities by connecting people during and after a crisis and helping affected communities recover.
- Blood Donations: In 71 countries, more than 50% of the blood supply is still dependent on family or paid donors. This feature makes it easier for people to request/donate blood based on demographics, geography, and blood types.
- Suicide Prevention: Finding innovative ways to merge technology and support circles to be part of suicide prevention, ultimately saving lives.
- Mentorship & Support: Supporting and inspiring connections outside your existing social circle. Two people who have a common goal are matched together in a mentor/mentee relationship. They work together through guided programs created by the partner (mentor) achieving goals together along the way.
- Fundraisers API: Syncing fundraising campaigns with personal/business Facebook accounts. This means donations made on Facebook will be reflected on their campaign page, and vice versa. Connecting to Facebook can help participants meet their goals faster by allowing them to easily reach all of their Facebook friends. So what does this mean for humanitarian organizations like ZF? For one, it makes our job easier. Nonprofits and NGOs already rely on social media to create waves of awareness about their campaigns. Now, Facebook is going the extra step to develop applications which can be utilized by many humanitarian organizations. This has the potential to attract larger audiences, which translates to increased donations.
Although the Social Good Forum only lasted a day, it brought together various humanitarian organizations working on a range of issues from emergency relief and development to cancer research. Furthermore, it reminded us we’re all in it for the same reason: to make the world a better place. And to do that, we must take advantage of emerging technology. By doing so, we not only bring the world closer together, but respond to global issues with resounding humanity.