- Social Media
- Active Citizenship
- Good Giving
- Corporate Responsibility
- Be Fearless
A fellow once wanted to give away $100 bills to people in New York City. Because he was wheelchair-bound, he hired a young fellow to help him out. Together, they found that giving away money was not the easiest thing to do.
Through trial-and-error, they came upon a way to do it without inciting riot or getting robbed. They would go into a bar, buy a drink, and then, moving toward the exit, toss the money into the air, lingering just long enough to see the perplexity on their recipients’ faces.
This story, a fictional one by Paul Auster, has less in common with philanthropy than you might think. While latent jealousy, unpredictability and the possibility of riot are all present in philanthropy, storytelling too often is not.
All the more of a shame, since storytelling is now in all of our hands—with blogs and Twitter and YouTube video. The tools to tell stories that effect change have never been more egalitarian. Who’s using them?
- In philanthropy, Katie Moore, of Washington Grantmakers reported on a session at last month’s Council on Foundations conference Telling Your Story: Letting People Know How You’re Changing the World. The group’s conclusion? Authentic, personal accounts have power—even for institutions like foundations.
- In advocacy, activist Eric Sheptock uses Twitter and his own blog to advocate for the homeless in Washington, DC. Sheptock is homeless himself. I know about him because NPR picked up his story.
We haven’t seen much of this kind of advocacy—yet. Hunger, housing, poverty are all topics that could benefit from storytelling by those affected. Do you know of other examples of folks using stories like this social media to advocate for their people? Let us know in the comments.