The Ice Bucket Challenge has caught everybody’s fancy. Everyone from your neighbour to Bill Gates has already participated in it and by now, your Facebook wall is probably overflowing with videos of people dousing themselves in cold water. The flash popularity of The Ice Bucket Challenge has put the spotlight back on what the media has termed, “hashtag activism” – movements that gain widespread publicity through social media platforms, inviting participation from the world around through the use of hashtags.The incredibly low barrier of entry for participation coupled with the viral nature of social media has made hashtag activism the new poster-boy of awareness movements. And as it goes with all things popular, it has also invited a lot of criticism and has been accused of being too flippant and distracting.So, before you douse yourself with a bucket of cold water and post that video on your Facebook wall, here are some questions to ask yourself…
Do I Know Enough About the Cause I am Supporting?[caption id="attachment_4881" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Ice Bucket Challenge has attracted over 700,000 new donors and raised over $41m to date.[/caption]If you have drenched yourself with ice water and still don't know what ALS is all about, you need to step back and think. It is easy to get swayed by the frenzy and forget the real reason for participating in a hashtag movement. Sadly, that defeats the purpose and takes the shine off the effort you have taken.Hashtag activism will always attract a whole bunch of one-time do-gooders - people who don’t really know or care much about the cause or the charity being spoken about but just want their 2 seconds of social media popularity. Make sure you are not one of them.Take the time and effort to understand the cause before participating in any widespread community movement. If 6-year-old Natalie can do it, so can you![video width="400" height="224" mp4="http://blog.milaap.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/little-girl-explains-ALS.compressed.mp4"][/video]Here at Milaap, every borrower’s journey is documented and their progress tracked so that the donors are always completely aware of the people and causes they are supporting.
Will I Remember to Participate Again?[caption id="attachment_4573" align="aligncenter" width="920"] Milaap started modestly with a aim to empower the Sakhis of Maharashtra. Today, sustained efforts and contributions have helped changed over 50000 lives.[/caption]Hashtag movements have the reputation of being notoriously short lived. They become overnight sensations, raise a truck load of money in a short period of time and then disappear without a trace.Supporting any charity must be a sustained effort. Spreading awareness about a cause takes time and working towards a viable solution takes money. If you are donating for a cause, it would help to make sure that your donation and efforts have long term benefits and do not fizzle out once the hype has died.Charity works best when it is a long and meaningful relationship. Milaap's modest journey began in 2010 with an aim to empower the Sakhis of Maharashtra. Today it has helped change the lives of over 50000 people through sustained efforts and contributions. You can start a fruitful journey towards supporting a cause here.
Am I Supporting a Cause I Can Relate to?If you see yourself booting out of the movement once the frenzy has died, it might help to rethink your position on the cause you are supporting.The best thing about hashtag activism is that it is flexible and open-ended. You can use the platform to raise awareness about a cause that is dear to you. Like Mona Dutta and Khuze Siam who took up the ice bucket challenge to create awareness about rural sanitation in India.[video width="224" height="400" mp4="http://blog.milaap.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/boy-does-it-for-sanitation.compressed.mp4"][/video][video width="320" height="240" mp4="http://blog.milaap.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Mona-ice-bucket.compressed.mp4"][/video]Or better still, you can start your own hashtag activism. Milaap celebrated Independence Day with the #SkillIndia project and women’s day was remembered through the Devadasi Hope Project with the hashtag #hope.The Ice Bucket Challenge itself has an Indian spin-off in the form of the #RiceBucketChallenge* that is urging fellow Indians to give a bucket or bowl of rice to a person who needs it the most!Find a cause you can relate to here and start your own hashtag project!
Am I Making a Real Difference?[caption id="attachment_5036" align="aligncenter" width="650"] The Rice Bucket Challenge, a localised spin-off of the Ice Bucket Challenge has sought to solve local problem and make an immediate difference to the lives of people[/caption]It is not enough if you post a video of yourself and challenge three of your friends to do the same. Any hashtag movement only works if you see it through to the end – actually make a donation to the cause you are supporting.Merely sharing, liking and tweeting without actually contributing makes you guilty of Slacktivism - feeling good about having made a difference without actually having made any difference at all. Make sure you are not trapped in what the media has termed as “altruism in the garb of narcissism”.When done right, hashtag activism can lead to widespread awareness and enormous help from society through donations. But it can lead to slacktivism just as easily. So the next time you give in to the almost guilty pleasure of hashtag activism, make sure the outcome is long-term, sustained and actually making a difference!
[stag_button url="http://m-lp.co/YXbUhV" style="red" size="large" type="stroke" target="_blank" icon="" icon_order="before"]Want to Do Good? Start Your Own Movement![/stag_button]