Blogging for Philanthropic Causes

I was out of town all last week with incredibly limited access to my laptop, so I missed a lot of the brouhaha that erupted following Heather Armstrong‘s trip to Bangladesh. As my family and I drove south through Michigan, back into civilization, I sat shotgun, and scrolled furiously through posts about the controversy on my iPhone, trying to get up to speed with what went down.

For those who were also out of the loop last week and are clueless about the above, check out these posts by Sway bloggers Liz Gumbinner and Katie Allison Granju, and then come right back. I’ll wait. :-)

OK then, here’s my take:

I created Sway Group to generate revenue for bloggers. For the most part, bloggers do not receive revenue commensurate with their influence and value. However, there is one instance in which revenue isn’t first and foremost in a professional blogging relationship, and that is when philanthropy comes into play. Full disclosure, I do paid consulting for Johnson & Johnson, and my work for them is centered around their corporate equity initiatives (highlighting the philanthropic good that they do throughout the world). As part of this work, I have been fortunate to hear from multiple charitable programs about their specific needs. They all need money, of course. But, do you know what they all need as well? Awareness. They need people to know that their initiatives exist. This is how they can raise more money and help more people. And guess who excels at raising awareness? That’s right… bloggers.

Good bloggers have influence (sway) over their readers because they are amazing storytellers. They can create compelling stories out of anything, be it the mundane (what they ate for dinner) or the not-so-mundane (the suffering of women in Bangladesh for example). For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone would begrudge the benefits of great storytelling to a charitable organization.

Again, as per my disclosure, I have indeed profited from advising a large company on this exact concept, so I might be somewhat biased, but from where I stand, there need not be any controversy here. Heather lent her amazing storytelling abilities to a charity with a story that needed telling. End of discussion, and time to move on.

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