Slacktivism, a portmanteu of slacking and activism, is all the rage right now. Instead of actually going to a protest, you can tweet in support of it. Why give money to a charity when you’ve already liked their Facebook page? And you’ve signed so many petitions, there’s really nothing else you can do, right? Wrong.

While social media campaigns can help raise awareness of causes, the easy out of liking or retweeting a post results in less actual action. Because the person liking or retweeting has already been publicly validated for their “action” they often feel no need to do something concrete. Nonprofits need to learn how to combat this phenomenon or risk having thousands of supporters in name only. Adam Grant, author of “Give and Take” offers the following advice:

Make the Behavior Public

Slacktivism is so popular because it requires little effort and provides immediate validation. Your Facebook friends see when you’ve liked a cause or nonprofit, and (hopefully) think better of you for doing so. Instead, nonprofits should shine a spotlight on the actions people take. Public thanks on a website, a “thank you” video to sponsors, an “I Gave to [Blank]” button that donors can put on their profiles – all of these highlight the tangible action taken, and encourage future giving.

Highlight the Reason to Give (but only one)

Research has suggested that citing a specific reason to give is highly effective in soliciting donations. But campaigns that cite multiple reasons dilute their own message – and allow people to pick the least compelling reason as their excuse for not giving. The study researchers found that “three times charms but four alarms.”

Humanize the Need

We all know that the more personal the ask, the more effective it is. This holds true for nonprofits as well. Putting a human face to the cause and citing specific ways to help can greatly increase giving. But just like the tactic above, it works less well as you include more people. After all, when one person is in need, the giver can believe that they are making a noticeable difference in that person’s quality of life. But when there are multiple people in need, potential donors can feel overwhelmed, and may decide they aren’t able to make a difference.

‘Tis the season for charitable giving. This year, if you’re able, make a private commitment to give to a worthy cause, and follow through. Individuals can make a difference.

Image Credit: WePay Blog