Slacktions Speak Louder Than Words

When you support a charity’s good works, do you use social media to spread the word? If so, then oops. You may have cost them some cash. According to new research from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, when we publicly show our enthusiasm for a cause – such as clicking “Like” on Facebook – we are actually less likely to donate money towards it. I guess we figure that by clicking or sharing or tweeting or messaging, we’ve already done our part.

Apparently we have a need to look good in front of our social network (admit it, we’ve all Facebragged about our exotic vacations, our brilliant kids or our, ahem, writing awards). Showing our support for a charity satisfies this need, say the researchers, so we’re less likely to open our wallets later. It’s known as slacktivism.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge promoter of cost-free good deeds. After I did 50 good deeds in 50 days, I cheered the fact that three quarters of the good deeds hadn’t set me back financially by a single penny. But on the other side of the coin (pardon the pun), these non-profit groups do depend on donations to carry out their work. So perhaps it’s helpful just to be aware that by applauding worthy causes in front of all our friends, followers or contacts, we may end up a little tighter-fisted than we intended. And that won’t change the world, my friends.

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