Strengthen The Good

Using the power of weblogs for open-source charity. Don’t just fight evil: Strengthen the good.

Archive for August, 2004

The Good Keeps Getting Stronger

What do Al Franken, Virginia Postrel, Michele Catalano, Solonor, Seldom Sober, and Jeremy Grimshaw have in common? They’ve all joined the Strengthen The Good network. We’re at 89 blogs and counting, and the response continues to be wonderful.

In terms of a charity update, Tammi, Wolf, and Jay are either on the ground in the Gulf Coast looking for the right charity or talking to people who are. We have several medium-sized options right now, but are still searching for just the right person or group who fits our micro-charity mission (the lack of power in the area continues to be the problem … in many places information transfer is still face-to-face, so ideas aren’t diffusing quickly). When I find the right person or group, and I will, we’ll activate the network.

That said, I already have group number two … a person who does something so touching and remarkable it’s nearly hard to believe. But that story will wait for another day.

I’ll keep you posted, and thanks again for working to strengthen the good.

A Fantastic Initial Response

We’ve had a fantastic first-day response to the idea of Strengthen The Good, with nearly 70 bloggers having joined the network. I’m adding members to the blogroll as fast as I can given my schedule today … if I’ve not yet blogrolled you, trust me: I will.
Thanks again to everyone who’s signed up so far … please don’t hesitate to forward the Strengthen The Good URL to any other blogger who you think might join the network. And if you want to strengthen that which is good yourself, read the posts below and click here.

Finally, I’m still working on the Florida micro-charity. Things are complicated by much of the print media (and blogs) being off-line down there, but we’ll have a candidate soon. Until then, read the post just below to see how you can offer immediate relief.

Thanks for helping to strengthen the good.

How We Can Strengthen The Good

The Idea & Call To Action

Create a network of bloggers who raise awareness of “micro charities”—charitable opportunities that are simple, personal, non-bureaucratic, and inspiring. Charitable opportunities where someone can feel great about giving $1, or even just from reading the story of the charity, it’s sponsors, and it’s beneficiaries.

I’ll find them, if you’ll link to them. Every third Sunday night at Strengthen The Good I’ll post about a micro-charity with enough detail that people can qualify the charity and feel good (or even inspired) by what the charity stands for and who it benefits. I won’t ask for donations; the mission is only to raise awareness.

All I ask is that you join the network and every third Monday link to that month’s charity post. To help us all remember, I’ll email a reminder and permalink to the network on Sunday night.

To join the network and use your blog the strengthen the good, click here.

The Full Background

This past May, I made an open call at The Command Post to counter the evil of Nick Berg’s murder by strengthening the good of Susan Tom and her kids. It was an easy promise to make—we would donate any funds deposited in our PayPal account over a 48 hour period to the Tom Family Education Trust—and I never really thought we’d meet the $10,000 goal. Indeed, I had been casually planning my “well, we gave it a good show and at least we helped” post literally from the moment I made the initial request. People are, I thought, just too often asked to contribute to charity, from their United Way Drive at work to the CF candy bar drive at their door to their church tithe.

But people DID respond, and not only did we meet the $10,000 goal—we did far better, raising $15,000 for the education of the Tom children.

From reading the comments and emails I received, it wasn’t just the idea of countering evil by helping good that attracted people to Susan Tom and compelled those people to give. For many, it was just reading her story and hearing about something noble and caring in this difficult world. It was about having a break from constant reminders of death and terror and crime. And for many, it was the chance to help in a way that was immediate, simple, and very, very personal. The chance to give to something they could trust … something with a face where they knew their impact would be felt, even if they only gave $1. The chance to actually make a difference.

I think there are many, many such chances in the world. I also think the sentiment to read about something good and strong, and to have the opportunity to make a difference if one so chooses, runs very deep.

And so, in late May I had an idea, and now I have a proposition.

With The Command Post, regular folks from all walks of life and from all points of the world—over 120 bloggers in all—came together to create something wholly new: decentralized journalism … journalism by the people. And while the Post isn’t the day-to-day bandwidth hog she was during the run to Baghdad, her power is in her network, and the model still works: when news happens … be it the 2003 Northeast Blackout, the New Hampshire Primary, or Hurricane Charley, our contributors know where to post, and people all over the world know where to turn to get the story from multiple sources in real time.

It’s proof not just of the power of the Web. It’s proof of the power inherent in the global network of blogs, and in the end, of the power of people within that network to create something greater than the sum through individual but coordinated action.

Now I think it’s time to extend that power to something good … to make the leap from decentralized journalism to decentralized charity.

Here’s the idea: Create a network of bloggers who raise awareness of “micro charities”—charitable opportunities that are simple, personal, non-bureaucratic, and, like Susan Tom, inspiring. Charitable opportunities where someone can feel great about giving $1, or even just from reading the story of the charity, it’s sponsors, and it’s beneficiaries.

We’ve had starts at this … TroopTrax and Wiggles’ work being examples. But what we’ve lacked so far is the critical mass in the network to create truly widespread attentiveness to charitable opportunities. Metcalfe’s Law states that the usefulness, or utility, of a network equals the square of the number of users. Command Post worked not because it was a great idea, but because of the size of it’s network: we had over 100 people all over the world posting to, and more important, linking to the site.

While the Command Post was about aggregating information, Strengthening The Good is about amplifying awareness. And for that to work, the size of the network is everything.

So here’s the proposition: I’ll find them, if you’ll link to them.

Last May I registered the domain, which now is the home for a blog of the same name. (It’s a placeholder design for now while Sekimori works her magic.) Every third Sunday night I’ll post about a “Susan Tom-esque” micro-charity. I’ll find them, I’ll qualify them, and I’ll post their story with enough detail that people can qualify them for themselves, and feel good (or even inspired) by what the charity stands for and who it benefits.

I will NOT ask for donations, or set a goal for donations, as I did with Susan Tom. Instead, the mission of the site is only to raise awareness of the charity in question … to simply say “Look at this, it’s a great and inspiring example of good in the world, and if you’d like to contribute $1 or more or get involved in some way, here’s where you go to do so.”

All I ask is that you join the network: every third Monday, link to that month’s charity post. To help us all remember, I’ll send an email to every blog in the network as a reminder on Sunday night, including the permalink for the post.

With enough blogs in the network, we should be able to generate significant awareness for each micro-charity, and benefits for each charity should naturally follow. Further, if traffic on the site is high enough to support ad revenues, I’ll donate all revenues for that period to its appropriate charity. I’ll also pay the hosting fees.

Now, to action: Charley presents the first opportunity. Indeed, I threw the blog up before Seki’s design was ready because we’re already getting requests from readers about how they should help. Rather than give to the Red Cross, however, I’m working to identify a more local cause, which should pop up in the next day or so. When it does (and it will), I’ll post it as the first Strengthen The Good micro-charity. I’ll send the reminder email, and I hope you’ll join in with your link.

One link is all it takes. The Strengthen The Good blogger network. If we can do it for Carnival of the Vanities, we can do it for people in need.

I’ll keep you posted as things progress. If you’re not interested, please email me so I can remove you from the list. If you DO want to join the network, please join the mailing list. I’ve posted this same email to the site, and I’d be glad if you’d link to it as well. I’ll also build a blogroll as I go, and will roll everyone in the network on the site.

And if you have any questions, please email those as well.

Thanks for reading this long note, and thanks for being such a great blogger. It is a hell of a hobby, and now, it just might become a wonderful way to strengthen the good.

Best regards,


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