The past year has seen activism merge into mainstream social media. Every average Instagram user has seen an infographic and (sigh) a black square or two. I’m no stranger to online activism – I have my wee highlight of resources; Facebook features, the odd change.org, and I can recognise So You Want to Talk About… slides from a mile away. It has its worth, and I understand the importance of introducing the everyday person to a wide variety of worldwide issues.
The worry lies in how engaged we truly are with these issues. Particularly when money comes into play. As our awareness of worldwide issues grows, and we learn of more initiatives that need support, how do we know which are the “right” ones to help? Do we always look critically enough before sharing? Here’s some questions we should ask ourselves before pressing “Donate”:
- How will my money help the cause?
There’s a big difference between description-less fundraisers titled “Stop AAPI Hate” and fundraisers with extensive action plans to support Asian-run businesses. Look beyond the buzzwords: how much of the donation is actually going to the cause? Who exactly is the money supporting – is it a specific person, a community, or an organisation? Basically, imagine this as a transaction: what “products” are you “paying” for?
Most credible bodies will share what they’re doing and how your donations help. If you can’t find anything, it’s worth getting in touch and asking for this kind of transparency first.
- Who’s behind this fundraiser?
What’s the organiser’s relation to the cause? Are they someone who will directly benefit, is it a supporting organisation, or just a random person who reads the news? Surprisingly enough, there are fundraisers that the actual victims have no desire for. What support is being provided and how will your money help? This is especially important for international aid – being from the Philippines, I’ve seen how politics can form a blockade between donors and those on-the-ground.
Consider researching organisations and see what the people from the community are saying; big-name groups and dot-govs aren’t always reliable.
- How much monetary support do they need?
With so many links being shared, what is the actual support needed? Some fundraisers often have already met their needs, yet continue to be promoted. This happened at the height of the BLM movement last year with the Minnesota Freedom Fund, who subsequently asked for funds to be redirected.
Listen to what the organisers are saying and decide where your money is really needed. You could donate to rapidly developing crises needing immediate funds, or to long-term charities that depend on regular donations.
- The bottom line; how can I show my support?
There are plenty of non-monetary ways to help. Consider what you can do on-the-ground: are there grassroot movements or volunteer drives in your area? For example, you might not have money to give to Kanlungan, but you might have time to deliver food to the Filipino migrants they support.
Don’t underestimate the power of raising awareness. If you can’t donate, you can always share links and resources. Check for credibility and accessibility (you won’t believe the number of broken links and UK-inaccessible donation drives I’ve seen shared). Take a second before pressing share – think about why you’re sharing the link. As long as you are confident in your cause your voice can be powerful, being sure of where your money (and others’) is going is only going to make it even more powerful.
[Monique Joy Raranga – she/her]
[Photo credits: Liza Summer]