For all its frivolity, there's no doubt that doing good is woven into the very fabric of social media. Many of us use our blogs to raise awareness and funds for an issue we've become passionate about. We work with brands on "cause marketing" campaigns. We chime in on a hashtag, then get caught up in a debate about whether joining "awareness memes" is helpful to a cause. Maybe we're microdonating to a project we believe in, or participating in Blog Action Day each October.
All this—all of it—is the legacy of the dedicated do-gooders, those bloggers who work with a singular passion for change. Issue and nonprofit bloggers shaped social media from its very beginning. They were among the first to frame their blogs as projects, taking on challenges to demonstrate the change they wanted to see in the world. They were early to see the power of social media to amplify a message, and to give voice to people who traditionally went unheard. If personal storytellers are the heart of the blogosphere, these women are its sage conscience.
This week, I challenge and encourage you to share your admiration for a blogger who is a passionate about a cause. To get you inspired, I'll start by celebrating 10 do-good blogs by women who have worked with BlogHer (and inspired me personally) in some form or another over the past 10 years.
HELPING NONPROFITS: Beth Kanter
A veteran of nonprofit learning, Beth knows that every cause needs as much help as it can get (and then some). Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media is THE space to learn how to use technology to inspire change. Check out her many presentations to see how she's approaching social media and nonprofits from as many angles as possible.
Studying computer programming and biotech in college, Kimberly loved her field, but hated feeling isolated from people of her same background. She started Black Girls Code to bring interest and opportunities in the technology field in the next generation of African American girls and young women through her blog, classes and workshops in several series, and a documentary series.
Maggie founded Violence Unsilenced in 2009 to bring bloggers together to support one another as survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and domestic sexual abuse. It has grown into a movement to give a safe, empowering, validating space for all survivors to tell their stories, and to educate the public about the violence that is everywhere in our culture—yet so rarely talked about.
Like BlogHer, Katherine's blog, Postpartum Progress, is celebrating 10 years in 2014. Her widely read blog so profoundly affected so many women struggling with postpartum depression and related illnesses over the last decade that the Internet held a blogathon to thank her on her anniversary.
In 2010 and 2011, "Mrs. Q," an anonymous elementary school teacher, put her job in peril by using Fed Up With School Lunch to eat and photograph the food in her school's cafeteria. Shocked by the subpar meals and by the realization that parents often don't know what their kids are getting to eat, she joined the school food reform movement and eventually published a book under her real name (Sarah Wu). Since then, she has shifted focus to teaching and family, but her blog remains a benchmark of online activism.
Caitlin's mission for Operation Beautiful is to end negative self-talk ("fat talk") among women. She started her project by posting anonymous sticky notes in public restrooms that say things like, "You are amazing just the way you are!" Now, she urges you and everyone you know to do the same, and provides resources for all women to change the way we see our bodies.
Luvvie and Karyn founded The Red Pump Project because the HIV/AIDS epidemic had touched both of their lives. It started simply as a call for bloggers to wear red shoes on March 10, National Women and Girls’ HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Now, it's a nonprofit that hosts many (very stylish) fundraisers throughout the year, with participation in the annual Red Pump Day growing each year.
Disgusted by an article that showed the impact of trash on marine life, Beth Terry was inspired to stop buying new plastic in 2007. Since then, My Plastic-Free Life documents her personal struggle to find alternatives to plastic waste, campaigns asking companies to change their practices, and challenges to think about and document your own habits. Her own plastic waste is now under 2% of the national average.
Rather than focusing in on just one issue, Britt inspires "changebloggers" at
Have Fun Do Good, which she started in 2005, and in her online Veg Cookbook Club. Check out her series of podcast interviews with people with "big vision."
Cynthia Liu founded K-12 News Network to identify what is and isn't working with our public schools by connecting and organizing parents, teachers, and students to share information and advocate for the best possible education for all children. She won the BlogHer.com / HTC Innovators Award for creative use of technology in the women’s blogosphere at BlogHer '11, and will be a 10X10 speaker at BlogHer '14.
Which cause/nonprofit/change/activist bloggers have made a difference to you? Add your favorites in the comments.
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