Closing The Opportunity Gap: How To Give By Teaching What We Know

pencil with a lightbulb

By Burr Purnell, Executive Director of Social Good at VidMob

When I started running long distances, I surrounded myself with experienced runners. Runners that could teach me about nutrition planning, optimizing my training blocks and insights on how one’s mind tends to oscillate from extreme highs to extreme lows.

Both in running and in life, I was fortunate to have roads paved by the expertise and generosity of others who were willing to show me the way. Many do not.

As we approach the holiday season, I am reflecting upon the last twenty months and how our world has turned upside down. If we have learned nothing else from the pandemic, it’s the power of the collective: from supporting each other through grave uncertainty to accepting that what we do each day impacts others, whether we like it or not.

In my opinion, society suffers from a crisis of singularity. There is a grave danger in a world where every person is living for themselves. An individualistic mentality is compounded by infinite micro-moments (i.e. I’ve got mine, I really don’t care if you have yours) and it adds up to a net loss.

Together, however, we can work to close the opportunity gap, create access to learning, and give to one another without expectation of anything in return. As the old adage goes: “Give a person a fish and you feed them, for a day; teach a person to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.”

In the media and advertising industry, we sit on a wealth of knowledge, tools, and expertise that can help organizations grow.

When it comes to supporting nonprofits around the world, we can ‘like’ photos. We can write checks. We can give time. However,  when we implement a mindset of “teaching a person to fish,” we see a beneficial, lasting impact.

In 2018/19, my family embarked upon a year-long service trip. Our first stop was at Yoga and Sport with Refugees in Lesvos, Greece and I was the running coach. On paper, my commitment was to be the running coach but with each passing day, more refugees started showing up.

Some were in flip-flops, most were in jeans. If I was going to help the asylum seekers find normalcy in their lives, we needed to buy equipment. Many only had the clothes they were wearing.  From running coach to marketing, we leaned in to help the organization share its mission with others who could help.

Relying on my own career background, my family and I wrote and filmed a fundraising video. Within days, and with help from VidMob.Gives, we recorded, scored, edited and posted a call for help on social media.

Our goal was to raise $10K in two weeks. Fortunately, with the support of family and friends, we raised $20K. Boom!

For the past four years, VidMob has helped nonprofits create videos to inspire audiences to take action. Partners like Edna Adan Hospital Foundation and Medair who help vulnerable women and girls in Somaliland and Afghanistan, respectively, share that learning how to creatively showcase their work leads to raising exponentially more than previous campaigns.

Like Yoga and Sport, every nonprofit has a story.

VidMob empowers nonprofits to make their stories heard. Whether you are a nonprofit, an individual, or a company looking for ways to give back, here are a few best practices as we collectively seek to give back and teach what we know:

  1. Harness the power of creative storytelling: After experiencing the success of one creative campaign, Yoga and Sport leveraged the tools and learnings to continue the powerful momentum of outreach through media in times of need. They learned to fish, with intelligent creative, and this new skill will grow their impact for years to come.
  2. Mobilize your community to amplify the good: Reaching audiences is one of the top challenges nonprofits face. In the example I shared above, we shared the need and goals first with family and friends to raise the money, asking them to share too. This grassroots approach helped the organization afford shoes, shirts, socks, and more to provide runners with things many of us take for granted, along with the dignity and assurance that there would be a spot for each of them on the track.
  3. Teach what you know: VidMob is not the only company that follows the philosophy to “teach a person to fish” using its superpower for good. I look at other companies in tech using their platforms for good. From Salesforce offering nonprofits access to products and to Meta enabling nonprofits to fundraise on Facebook, we all can find a way to use our tools to create opportunities, to give what we know.
  4. Take a stand: The time is always now to take a stand, to DO something. Over and over we need to step off the sidelines into the field to help each other and global organizations learn to grow.

When we give what we know, we give with purpose. Unconditionally.

So how are YOU and or your company taking action to make the world a better place? In the last year, has anything, or anyone, lit a fire under your butt and inspired you to “step off the sidelines” to take a stand for a cause you believe in? Trust me when I say that you have a superpower.

I challenge you to use it and see what happens. You might just like the result.

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