I’m all for slacktivism after all.

Does this guy look like a slacktivist to you?

Oh, haters. I understand you. I am one, too — critical of anything that looks too cool, to0 simple or too clever.

I’m the one who coined the term “slacktivism” in the first place … well, I mean, I used it on this blog about a year ago, before it was cool. (Is it cool, yet?)

Back then I was worried that these acts of slacktivism were replacements for genuine engagement in social issues, and now I know better: They’re not replacements, they’re a part of something bigger.

Let’s take HelpAttack, for example. It’s  a new application that works with your Twitter account. You register with HelpAttack by connecting it with your Twitter account, pledging a penny or 10 cents or a dollar – any amount – per Tweet to any nonprofit organization of your choice. The system estimates how many Tweets you tweet per month and estimates what you might donate to that nonprofit per month, and even lets you set a limit just in case you find yourself in a Tweeting frenzy and wind up pledging your house away.

Simple? Yes. Too simple? Maybe. And your point is…?

“But these people aren’t doing anything! They don’t care about that organization! Why wouldn’t they just donate the money directly to the nonprofit? This makes them feel like they’re doing something — they’re not!”

Here are three reasons I think these actions are worthwhile.

1. Slacktivism is an entry point to philanthropy. For people who have never donated to a cause before, apps like these can be a simple way to start. Philanthropy has offered these types of opportunities for years; think about the Salvation Army’s red bucket or the Jerry Lewis telethon. What’s the point of making it difficult for people to make a donation? Remind me…?

2. Slacktivism is another way for people who already give and care about a cause to give even more. If I’m already a volunteer and I make an annual donation, why not tag on an extra 10 cents per Tweet? It’s simple to do and even kind of fun. Again, remind me why this is bad…?

3. Slacktivist enablers (yes, I just coined that term) bust their asses to bring you these “simple” applications. Have you ever met Alex Winkelman, founder of Charity Bash? She has every opportunity to spend the bulk of her time shopping, but she’s chosen to organize these parties that raise about $5,000 per month for charity. Yes, attendees just have to pay $10 at the door and look hot, but if you’ve ever organized an event with sponsors, entertainment and a beneficiary, you know what a ton of work it can be. Sure Alex is an enabler… an enabler that donates about $75,000 a year to local nonprofits.

And as for HelpAttack… I was actually asked by Dave Neff to serve on the board for HelpAttack, and I have to say I’ve learned more than I’ve given back (as usual). What I’ve learned is how much time, money, sacrifice and long nights it takes to create and launch these applications. Sarah, Dave and Ehren have every right to have ignored their idea for HelpAttack and pursued something sexier — like bringing the world another location-based application. (Yawn.)

But they chose to use their powers for good. In the meantime, they’ve taught themselves how to launch a new business, how to promote cause-oriented applications, how to partner with nonprofits and how to work together as a team. And, by the way, they’ll probably raise thousands of dollars for charity.

Too simple? Hardly. Worthwhile? Totally.

Donate: The man is selling space on his arms, people.

Rob increased the distance "to give my donors the feeling that they're getting their money's worth."

On September 2, Rob Cunningham will swim in Town Lake from the 360 Bridge to Tom Miller Dam, 4.1 miles total.

Then, in October, he’ll ride his bike from Dallas to Austin, 200 miles.

He’s not a “fitness freak,” per se. No, Rob’s more of a philanthropy freak. Because you don’t just jump in the lake or on a bike and go, by the time Rob completes these tasks, he will have trained for months, swam about 100 miles and biked about a 1,000. All to raise $4,000 and awareness for four Central Texas nonprofits.

And you can either make a pledge or purchase space on his arms — think, Your Ad Here.

“I honestly want my donors to think of me in a lot of pain on event day and to be satisfied that they’ve given money for a significant effort.”

As per usual when I come across crazy interesting people, I have to ask a lot of questions.

Q What are you doing, swimming out there in Town Lake every morning?

Usually trying to keep my mind off of how bad my arms hurt. That is, until they go numb.

I made a commitment to my supporters and four local nonprofit organizations to not only raise money but to complete this physical challenge.

Thinking of my supporters and the nonprofits that I’m working for is a pretty powerful motivator for long training sessions. I know that if I’m not out there training and getting ready, then I run the risk of falling short of my physical goal on event day, and I don’t want that to happen.

Plus we have a great team of 19 other Got2Swim(mers) who have taught me a lot.  They’re a big group of fun loving people who make great training partners.

Q. Group training makes a difference. And no one ever does this stuff alone, do they?

My family has also been an integral part of my fundraising efforts over the last seven years.  For the 100-mile-rides for the Ronald McDonald House, Amy, Finn and Barton served as our rest stop coordinators and traveled with our ride team, over a 10 hour day. In the sixth year of that ride Amy even took on the 100 mile challenge herself.

The memories that my family have from those events are some of the best memories we have together.

I’m also fortunate to work at FOX 7, a company that is a big part of the community and has a big commitment to giving back.  I’m certainly not the only person at the station that supports a nonprofit or two throughout the year or raises money for a good cause.

To name only a few, there are ladies at the station that have a bake sale every year to raise money for the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes; Keri Bellacosa is on the Board of Directors of JDRF Austin; and Loriana Hernandez co-founded Maggie’s Hope, which is a nonprofit that helps families dealing with Autism.

From FOX 7’s the top floor down to the lobby we feel a strong sense of being a community builder here in Central Texas, and I’m just happy to be a part of it.

Q. Why did you choose these four organizations?

I chose the Ronald McDonald House, Colin’s Hope and the Capital Area Food Bank’s Kids Café Program because I like the idea of helping local kids. I may not be able to give my own kids everything I’d like but at least they know that they’ll always live in a loving home and (by the grace of God) always have food on the table.

It breaks my heart to think that not all kids are that fortunate so I gravitate to causes that focus on helping kids. I also like the idea of giving back to wounded soldiers in the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior program. Those “kids” deserve all the help we can give them.

Rob in the water, training for the big swim on Sept 2, with help from his wife.

Q. What’s your “dream” for all this? What impact do you hope to have?

This all started seven years ago when, as a new board member of the Ronald McDonald House, I was trying to figure out a way to make a significant financial contribution to the House. Since I couldn’t just write a check, I made an impromptu decision to ride my bike 100 miles and ask people to sponsor me by the mile. That year I raised $1,700.

After that first year, through word of mouth, other riders joined in the fun and over the six-year history of that ride together our ride team raised a little over $200,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.

Q. How can we support you?

You can support my 204.1 mile effort by making a donation on-line at www.Got2Give.org/rob.html.  If you prefer to write a check you can make it out to Got2Give and mail it to 102 Squires Drive, Austin, Texas, 78734.

I’m also selling both of my arms to help raise money. I have ad space available on each shoulder for sale to a corporate sponsor for a donation $500 or more.  Just think, I’ve been training really hard…your logo here?

(Editor’s note: Rob is about 6’13” tall, so no worries about running a big logo.)

Trying to raise a minimum of $4,000 I really need support from anyone and everyone in the community that I can reach for both small and large donations, they’re all important and every donation makes a difference.

I was thinking that if all of my Twitter followers and Facebook friends donated just $10 that would equal $8,000, which is a real illustration of how everyone can help no matter what size the donation is.

Oh, suddenly digital magazines are so cool, and whatever

Hello, Glamour, it's 2010 calling.

Glamour magazine, which I love if only for its resilience and relentless relevancy to women who really care about buying stuff and killing time on the sofa, is discovering the power of digital publishing, via iPad, of course.

This from a FOLIO magazine, the magazine about magazine publishing:

From Ben Berentson, Glamour’s online managing director: “There has been a well-documented affinity between magazine content and the iPad. The way you interact with the device, the quality of the screen, its size and even its weight, all of that is very complementary to a magazine experience. But the iPad isn’t just a static reader—it’s connected to the larger world of the Web—and we think that offers great potential for giving our readers an enhanced experience beyond the kinds of multimedia extras we’re already including. For example, we have special, app-exclusive tap-to-buy shopping pages that take you right to the retailer’s site to buy the items that have been chosen by our fashion team.  We’re also very excited about the potential of pairing Glamour.com—which is over 80 percent online original content, posts 50 times per day and has its own distinct style—with the magazine on the same device.”

Hey, Ben, guess what? A computer is connected to the “larger world of the Web,” too. And from what I hear, the Web has a lot of potential… Hence, our model of publishing GivingCity ONLINE. (I am saving up for an iPad.)

In the context of what I learn and share all day — the need in Austin and what people are doing about it — digital publishing is probably the least interesting. I am, of course, obsessed with it. But that’s kind of my job.

I just wanted to say this, and then I’ll shut up about it on this blog forever (fingers crossed):

DUH, BEN. We’ve been making digital magazines for four years. So glad Conde Nast is figuring out that expanding magazine content and brand online is a fantastic and fascinating way to strengthen that relationship with the reader.

(Whereas magazine content extended to television or radio or other media hasn’t worked out so well. Think Martha Stewart, Real Simple. BUT notice how nicely television content can extend to magazines — Food Network, Everyday with Rachel Ray, O. Cool, huh? I love this shit.)

Okay, back to the stuff that matters.

Nonprofit pros, do the best you can

Oh, it's not that bad. Our office is way less 1988 than this. Silly.

“Welcome to nonprofit world.” What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Like you nonprofit people have such a uniquely sucky work situation. Have you ever worked at an ad agency? For the state? At a start-up? In retail?! Work in one of those places, then give me a call and we’ll chat about what sucks.

Oh, but now…. Monica starting to get it. Monica understand. Monica stuff envelopes at work.

I know that sounds royal — surely any of you who know me, who know that I’ve had two or more jobs for 15 years, who know I’m a mother of two strong, willful children who enjoy experimenting with fluids that stain and insects with hair, know that I am not afraid to lick a few envelopes. The princess thing is not even what I’m talking about (also, we have an envelope-licking machine, thank goodness).

What I’m just now starting to understand is the frustration. The public perception that a nonprofit can and should operate with the lowest possible overhead can be utterly defeating. I can imagine how a nonprofit professional can spend half the day researching, planning and preparing for a high-impact project, and the rest of the day wondering how they could be so stupid and naive.

Suddenly the realization hits: Of course, you can’t get all that done in time! Nor could you possibly spend the money to get it done right! Oh well, just do the best you can. And get used to being overwhelmed.

That versus working at a drkoop.com sometime around 2001, say, where, when you said you had a great idea for a five-part story about Medicare, your boss suggested you hire a full-time reporter straight out of Medill. (Welcome to Texas, Eileen Smith!)

And don’t give me the collaboration suggestion. The fact is, that happens more and less than people think. And it doesn’t always work out.

Torquil says I have the unique ability to complain about everything, but with this post, I am trying to express my solidarity with the hardworking people of nonprofits. Where I work, in all honesty, it’s pretty great, even compared to drkoop.com because here I’m surrounded by smart people. (Burn! Not to Eileen. She’s obviously very smart. Taking my burn back.)

But to those of you who work — who are driven by the need to do good – at a nonprofit, I say, “I think I get it. You’re doing a great job.”