Solidarity: Digital Volunteering through Social Networks in Argentina
Argentina, digital volunteering, organ donation, Paradigma PEL Comunicación, social media, solidarity
By Lucía Ferro, of GLOBALHealthPR Argentina partner Paradigma PEL Comunicación
Red Solidaria (Solidarity Network), founded in 1995 and active in 80 communities throughout Argentina, is one of the most important NGOs in Argentina. Recently this organization launched a new proposal to the whole community: solidarity through social media networks.
Juan Carr, founder of Red Solidaria, called for different local movie celebrities, journalists, athletes and key thought leaders to encourage digital volunteering. The initiative “Hoy me comprometo” (“Today I commit”) consists of donating one hour of our time to spread solidarity for various causes via social networks. For each day of the week, various topics are shared:
- Monday: share a photo of a missing woman.
- Tuesday: register as an organ donor and raise awareness about the issue.
- Wednesday: register as a bone marrow donor and raise awareness about it.
- Thursday: unplug your cell phone charger to save electricity.
- Friday: to prevent indoor air pollution, open the window while cooking if you use a gas stovetop.
- Saturday: download the mobile application “Frío Cero” (“Zero Cold”), to raise awareness about people sleeping on the streets.
- Sunday: raise awareness on road safety by recording a voicemail greeting on your cell phone that says “I cannot take your call because I’m driving,” and sending a text message to remind your friends not to text and drive.
This campaign has received 2,423,000 views on Facebook, gotten over 5,300 participants via Twitter and generated more than 6,500 digital volunteers. “In addition to the reach we’ve had on Facebook and Twitter, we received nearly 3,800 emails from people asking to join the campaign and make videos, which they then shared as part of a viral campaign across different social networks in just two weeks,” Red Solidaria campaign volunteer Martín Cagnola commented.
Promoting organ donation
Natalia, who is in need of a double lung transplant, is at the top of The National Organ Donation Emergency List in Argentina. Behind her, there are over seven thousand others, each hoping to find his or her own donor. In addition, each year about 70 people receive bone marrow transplants in the country, but there are many patients that still have not found their donors. This inspired Red Solidaria to invite the Argentine community to register as organ and bone marrow donors. Argentines registered on INCUCAI’s website (national institution in charge of the whole coordination of organ transplants in the country) then spread awareness on the national emergencies as well as on organ donation.
“We have carried out different campaigns together with INCUCAI and we have a very good relationship with them. We admire their work. In this specific case, they were aware of what we were planning, but we decided to make the campaign with famous, familiar faces in order to invite the community to engage. None of the celebrities taking part of this solidarity action was a specialist in the issue, and that is for us the key: anyone can be a donor and save a life,” said Martín Cagnola, who assured that donor numbers have been increasing: “It has to do with the increasing involvement and participation from the whole community and the constant media campaign on the subject.”
Today social networking generates a new form of immediacy in communication, something that the rest of traditional media fails to get. We can take advantage of social media tools in order to encourage organ donation and raise awareness of an issue that involves us all and unites us as a society.