Founded by two Millennial leaders in September 2008, following the ServiceNation Summit, myImpact.org contributes to a new era of service, where serving one’s community is seen as a critical solution to solving societal problems.
Chris Golden, 21, is the Executive Director and co-founder of myImpact.org, an online platform for Americans in national and community service programs. In his role, Chris leads daily efforts to recruit partners and users to leverage myImpact.org’s social media tools in order to engage more Americans in citizenship, increase the effectiveness of service programs and demonstrate the impact of service and volunteerism.
Chris states that there is a three step approach when considering civic engagement in the era of new media:
"Simple. Scalable. Social. We believe that we can engage more people in volunteerism and citizen service by sharing stories of those already involved, demonstrating their impact, and catalyzing them into action. We seek to drive offline change and advance service as a solution to societal challenges by leveraging online activity and social networks.
The first step is making it simple. Engagement is tough- there are a lot of competing demands in our time and it’s hard to prioritize. I want to take action on the causes I care about, and with the organizations that I’m a part of- but I only have so much time to give. Only so much money to donate. Only so much talent to contribute. Organizations can recognize this need by lowering the barrier to entry for the audience they are seeking to engage.
Next, context counts. I’m just one person maybe giving two hours of time to volunteer. If two people give two hours, that’s four hours. Five people, ten hours, and so on. Instead of assuming that solutions to problems are going to come from a few people working on a problem for a long time (a top-down approach), a new paradigm suggests that a lot of people working on a problem in small pieces add up to something greater than whatever would have been accomplished before.
Finally, the last step is embracing a social approach to engagement. We know that somebody is more likely to become involved if their friend tells them to do so. Today it is easier than ever to tell our friends what we are doing- wherever or whenever. By recognizing the potential, those we seek to engage have to be ambassadors of causes to their personal networks. This is an exciting prospect.
What is interesting about this approach is that it is applicable both offline though traditional engagement and online through leveraging new social media. These principles are embodied in new media tools. Twitter, for example, makes it remarkably easy to send a short message (in 140 characters or less), and allows for a lot of people to organize as a result of those messages. Just look at the revolutions happening in the Middle East for an example. New media tools like Twitter embrace openness and transparency as they allow for broadcast through social networks."
People care about the issues that surrounds them but they sometimes do not have the resources needed to take action. Making things simple, scalable and social are critical factors in encouraging people to civically engage. With people constantly being on the go and relying on many forms of new media to interact with each other, civic engagement in the era of new media is sure to increase in popularity in the near future.
myImpact.org piloted a Twitter-based application for volunteers to record, share and track their impact in late 2010. This year, their pilot phase continues as they build towards re-launching their platform and bringing it to scale.
Follow their progress by following them on: @myImpact or facebook.com/myImpact. Also check out Chris @ChrisGolden.