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Nurturing or Flow in Do-Good (socially-responsible) Communities

Primary Author: Jean Russell

Section Headings

Thanks for the opportunity to work on this...I have simply started sketching out some ideas...totally open for input.


Overview

Examples of Communities for Do-Good Purpose

Domains can offer online communities shared space for connecting and community-specific tools for engaging. That is not to say that communities retain the boundaries of a domain. Often causes and their communities exist in multiple spaces, having a domain of their own, presence on multiple other domain spaces, and perhaps additionally having a wiki.

  • Omidyar.net (now defunct)
  • Zaadz.com
  • Razoo.com
  • Dreamfish.com
  • WiserEarth.org
  • ned.com

Community within community--Facebook offers space for many causes and groups to focus on doing good.

Do-good communities share the interest of making good things happen. Some can be quite focused on taking action, together or individually. A very successful model of doing good through community and transcending a domain space comes from Genocide Intervention Network and their ally Stop Genocide Now. Participating in a wide range of domains, the community brings up issues of genocide, particularly in the Darfur region of Sudan, bringing a consistent message and "brand" to multiple spaces and thus educating and engaging a broader audience.

Levels of Engagement

Communities around doing good may have different levels of engagement. Spaces like pledgebank offer opportunity to take action on causes of interest to their members, but lack space for conversation and creativity. Facebook and other similar sites can offer awareness raising, event updates, membership drives, and a greater degree of member to member communication. Conversation space is opened which creates opportunity to move from participation (adding information, showing association/support) to collaboration (developing ideas together and setting goals together, and working in partnership to achieve shared aims).

The Value of Collaboration in Doing Good

While shared interest may bring socially responsible communities together, simply being together usually turns out to be insufficient for real engagement. Doing good is about making a difference, so starting with shared interest to develop actions to take together or individually offers high value in socially responsible communities. The real potential of online communities shines when an opportunity for collaboration presents itself. For example, a member of Omidyar.net became engaged in genocide issues after reading and conversing about it on the community space. Over time, through many conversations, actions evolved and relationships developed. Gabriel Stauring went from observer to participant to collaborator and, finally, to leader. Several years later he has taken two trips into the Darfur refugee camps to take video of his experience and witnessing there, and he currently runs the nonprofit that evolved out of those conversations, Stop Genocide Now. He tours the USA with a project that emerged from his conversations on Omidyar.net--Camp Darfur, which shows people a refugee tent and offers information about genocide and the specifics about Darfur. The project emerged from the collaboration of multiple members of the community, each adding their ideas and knowledge. Similar stories exist for organizations such as Global Peace Tiles. Organizations birthed in the collaborative conversational space of socially responsible communities, evolving from the germ of an idea, through to an initial project, and on to the development of an organization and full leadership by a key participant.

The Flow of Doing Good in Online Community

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