In the summer of 2020, there was a significant increase in donations and public support for BIPOC advocacy organizations in response to the overwhelming digital presence of civil rights infringements filmed by witnesses to these events. Companies and organizations were being spotlighted for their willingness to engage or lack of engagement in social issues. In general, companies are expected, now more than ever, to contribute to the communities in which they exist. Typically, companies who choose not to engage their communities in supportive and supplemental ways are seen as selfish, tone-deaf, and unrelatable. Regardless of how you feel about social pressures in this area, online advocacy is a wonderful way to pursue what you believe in and support others who are doing the same. If you want to engage in social change online, here are a few ways you can do that easily:
Decide what you stand for.
It is no longer a safe bet to randomly select a non-profit organization to receive your donations, attention, or human resources. The internet makes it incredibly easy to research and understand the founding principles and present actions of any organization you would like to support. Because of this, these organizations can not only receive benefits from you, but they can guide you as your company finds more diverse avenues to support the causes you believe in.
Know how far you will go.
Online advocacy as a company is great but it is important to remember that a company is made of individuals. When you are committing to support organizations, acknowledge that you may only be able to do so much. Forcing your employees to volunteer their personal resources or courting burnout by making advocacy your second job due to social pressure isn’t sustainable for you or your company.
Do it for the right reasons.
If you are only engaging social issues and online advocacy because of the social pressure to do so, you may need to take a step back and consider if this kind of participation will add value to your online presence. Ultimately, this kind of participation is easily seen through by your audience and can ruin your public image. What may help in this case is to choose a cause that really is close to your heart even if it is not particularly popular. Online advocacy is about how your heart intersects with the needs of others and, ultimately, that is a very personal experience.
Make a long-term commitment.
The one thing you can take away from the increase in online advocacy is that your customers are paying attention. If you begin your advocacy with gusto and they find you never mention your adopted cause again for months and months, you may find that they feel betrayed or lied to. If you choose to advocate for a social cause, make sure that you are committed to supporting this cause regularly and with the same amount of energy as when your commitment began.
What cause have you considered for your brand or organization?