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Tag Archives: Online

Charity Begins Online

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock — which could be nice and cool in this weather, but is equally likely to be simply crushing — you’re probably aware that it’s not only November now, but also Movember (https://au.movember.com/). Chances are high that somebody you know — including perhaps your good self — will be growing an upper lip companion and hopefully generating some charitable donations (and as few jibes as possible) along the way.

Movember’s an excellent cause — I’ve grown a Mo’ myself for the past couple of years, but I’m not doing so this year as I reckon I’ve soaked about as many charitable donations out of those I know as it’s possible to do. Instead, I’ll be trying to write a 50,000 word novel as part of NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org) instead.

I would say that November’s a busy month for this kind of thing, but these days, charity drives run all year round, and especially online. Movember, like many other charitable causes these days, has a significant online presence, and the online world is a big part of the fundraising effort.

As an aside, if you genuinely don’t have anyone you know to sponsor, here’s a chap I know  who’s sacrificing one of the world’s finest goatees to grow a Mo’ all November long. Feel free to throw some cash his way — and remember, anything over $2 is tax deductible: https://au.movember.com/

Anyway, the online world makes charitable fundraising both very easy, in that the scope of the audience you can attract is as large as you want it to be, potentially up into the billions. At the same time, it’s also significantly harder, as the signal to noise ratio is immense.

Every other worthwhile charity is out there, and on the Web most pages are identical in terms of appeal unless you’re personally associated with the charity or its causes upfront. Movember does well in signing up celebrity endorsements; last year they had Hulk Hogan; this year “Baby” John Burgess, but I reckon it’s only going to get harder for worthwhile charities to generate interest. And that’s leaving the whole issue of dodgy charities entirely alone!

Charity, it used to be said, starts at home. I think that’s still true to an extent, but at the same time, I’ve given far more to fundraising efforts online in the past few years than I have to people turning up at my doorstep soliciting for donations. Online is faster, can be more secure (both for collector and donor) and doesn’t involve anyone having to trudge down rainy streets with a bucket full of coins.


Getting a Web perspective

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I don’t watch a lot of TV news these days, largely because I often find the news a little quicker online.  Just like watching the news on TV, though, it can sometimes be tough when following news to judge the scale of events, especially those of a tragic nature. I find that the often obvious TV film script is usually more concerned on the fate of individuals, because there’s no easy way to convey a disaster of any scale in simple TV terms.

The Web isn’t constrained by the terms of television, however. I’ve recently become aware of a fascinating project being undertaken by the BBC, called Dimensions. Dimensions is, in its own words, an experiment in “in trying to find new ways to communicate history.”. Specifically, what Dimensions does is use global map data — if you can name it you can find it — and then superimpose the effects of a given historical event over that area, to give the reader a genuine sense of the scale of an event.

There’s some fun stuff in there — like being able to see how long the Space Shuttle runway would be if it was located in the middle of Melbourne (howbigreally.com/dimension/space/shuttle_runway#Melbourne) or what would happen if you dropped St Peter’s Basilica in the middle of Canberra (howbigreally.com/dimension/festivals_and_specticles/pope_st_paul#canberra).

What really grabbed my attention were the disaster superimpositions. It’s all too easy to forget about a crisis when it’s a thirty second news spot and the camera only focuses on a couple of people. But drop it into your neighbourhood, and you get a proper sense of the scale, and almost inevitably start thinking about the consequences. The recent floods in Pakistan might seem quite far away, but if you dropped them, on say, Adelaide (howbigreally.com/dimension/environmental_disasters/pakistan_floods#adelaide), the scope of the disaster shifts from distant to breathtakingly close.

Or take the Pacific Garbage Patch. This was one I didn’t know anything about, and the short version is this; there’s two large swirling patches of garbage floating either side of Hawaii, held in place by ocean currents. When you think of Hawaii, you probably think of dusky island maidens and delicately lit beaches, rather than fetid stinking pools of swirling plastic and muck. But hey, it’s only a little garbage in a big ocean, right?

Well, not so small. If you superimpose it over, say, Alice Springs (howbigreally.com/dimension/environmental_disasters/great_pacific_garbage_patch#Alice_Springs) you’ll get a better idea of the scope of the problem — especially as that’s only half of it!


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