Using Digital Media For GOOD!

Happy July, everyone!

Last month, I had the opportunity to create social awareness around Capital One’s Digital For Good Summit — which is a free event designed to empower charities and non-profit organizations to use technology as a force for good. The Summit aims to help bridge the technology gap these groups are facing by providing attendees with access to tech leaders and like-minded peers they might not have access to otherwise.

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As a Communication Studies major myself, finding tactics to thrive amongst the growing changes in digital media is a huge passion of mine. When I started my first Communications Studies class in 2012, only a handful of my peers used social media. By the time I graduated, there were countless courses on topics that pertained to social and digital media. In *four* years, we went from low awareness of digital media, to teaching about it in classrooms.

Imagine what it must be like to be a charity or non-profit in the last handful of years. While changes in digital media have been favourable for private organizations to reach a larger audience, charities and non-profits often fall behind due to lack of funds or resources.

Early last month, I had the opportunity to spend the day at the People With AIDS Foundation (PWA), to learn about their struggle in today’s digital divide. After spending just a few hours at the organization, I learned that PWA is often the first point of contact for young HIV+ individuals in Toronto. Their services play a crucial role in guiding vulnerable Torontonians towards a sustainable and accepting life with HIV. However, fast changes in digital media haven’t left the organization with much time to grow and adapt. In fact, 74% of Canadian charities believe a growing tech gap threatens the long-term success of their organization. Charities like PWA provide vital services for so many HIV+ people in Toronto, including many of the LGBTQ+ community, who are often at a higher risk of becoming HIV+.

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Myself & Mike from the People With AIDS Foundation (PWA)

SO, this brings me to the Capital One Digital For Good Summit. Through the Digital for Good program, Capital One is able to utilize their network, talent and resources to close the tech gap in communities. Capital One’s work in this area focuses on supporting charities with their tech infrastructure and preparing people for 21st century jobs. It was a lot easier for someone like me to adapt to new changes in digital media — I mean, I literally went through an academic institution while these changes were occurring. However, for charities and non-profits that weren’t as lucky, they’ve needed an educational and supportive resource to help their organization adapt to an ever-changing digital world.

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The summit featured a series of panels from various figures in the Canadian & international charity community. Additionally, one of the speakers was Shiza Shahid, NOW Ventures & Co-Founder of Malala Fund. As a young entrepreneur, Shiza Shahid has found a way to harness the power of social media to literally change the lives of young women all around the world. See below for a snippet of her speech!

As well, one of the featured organizations was Kids Help Phone, who I learned uses AI word-recognition technology as part of their services. They utilize word-recognition technology to streamline the most vulnerable people who contact their services. In my opinion, having charities and non-profits who have already adapted themselves to digital media was incredibly helpful to those who attended. When there’s like-minded people from similar background in one space, it can often become easier to ask the right questions. I equate the Capital One Digital For Good Summit as a similar event to YouTube’s VidCon — at it’s core, the event aims to bring likeminded people together for thoughtful discussion, and a goal to find resolutions.

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Even though the summit is over, the conversation doesn’t stop! If you know a friend or family member who works at a charity or non-profit organization, invite them over for a coffee! I think a lot of us have crucial knowledge about digital and social media that they’d love to learn about.

— MR

Disclosure: This blog post was made in partnership with Capital One & their Digital For Good Summit. All opinions are my own.

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