Women Want to Make a Difference, But We Want to Succeed

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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.-- Margaret Mead

This quote has become a cliche, and yet there is nothing more true in the world. Except recently, the expectation that we will constantly take small actions to change the world can feel overwhelming. The incredible adoption of social media to drive social good means that each day, we are faced with many opportunities to act just by opening our email, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. Women, in particular, are marketed to by not-for-profits and cause-driven marketing campaigns, and women respond to the calls to help.

Did you know the average woman makes over 20 charitable donations a year? Women give to charity twice as often as men, and women in the U.S. give an average of 3.5% of their wealth to charity, while men give an average of 1.8%.

Women want to make a difference, but we want to succeed. We need to succeed: more than two-thirds of us are equal breadwinners at home. We want to succeed on our own terms, and we know the Internet is key to achieving it.

I speak to thousands of women each year about how they can use their online presence to create a “digital brand.” I tell them that if they have a digital brand, they can continue to build the value of their career and professional reputation no matter where they work or what they do; they will be inoculated from the high likelihood they may dip in and out of paid workforce when they have children. A strong personal brand is the key to success in the digital age, and social media is the way to make it happen. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and being linked to by influencers online: that’s how we cultivate our power in a networked world.

With The Mission List, I believe we have a way you can increase your social media influence and make the world a better place.

Whether you blog, tweet, pin, tumble, or talk with friends on Facebook, you can use your influence online to spread the word about issues that are important to you– and get compensated for using that influence you’ve worked hard to build. You don’t have to be a celebrity blogger or have a million followers on Twitter. We know influence is not about numbers, but about passion.

Speaking of compensation, here’s the question you’re probably mulling over: Why are you compensating me to do something good for the world?

It's about accountability. Stewardship. Fairness. I’m a long time non-profit and political consultant, and I get paid by clients. I believe that my work offers excellent value for the money, and represents good stewardship of donor dollars. In the same way, I could not ask you to use your precious time and personal network to promote a cause-- even if it’s one you care about-- without compensating you for your time and talent.

Another question I get a lot is, isn’t it better for me to find one thing I really care about, and pursue that? What good am I really doing by using social media to promote social good?

I could give you a lot of metrics about the insane reach of #KONY, the impact of the online protest against Susan G. Komen de-funding Planned Parenthood, or the Arab Spring and the Tea Party and Obama campaign in 2008, but I’d rather share an anecdote. When I was 22, I worked at iVillage.com, and co-founder Nancy Evans suggested I read a book called Composing a Life, written by Margaret Mead’s daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson. I just reread Bateson’s book, and her point about the trajectory of women’s lives is powerful today.

Bateson emphasized that women’s lives--marked by caretaking-- so often veer from the paths we may intend them to take. This is a wonderful thing, but we’re not taught to think of it that way. Bateson writes of the huge creative potential of a life that twists and turns, and is not “pointed towards a single ambition.” These are not lives without commitment, “but rather lives in which commitment is continually refocused and redefined.”

It strikes me that most of the remarkable women I know are composites of many selves, and that their charity, philanthropy and social justice work ebbs and flows with the other commitments of life. Interests change throughout our life cycle, and our causes change too. We are multi-faceted, overcommitted, and occasionally distracted and cranky. That’s ok! I believe that The Mission List can be an enjoyable and valuable part of your life, and I look forward to growing it together.

We hope The Mission List will be an exciting way for you to engage with the issues you care about most and the social networks you love. Soon, we’ll be in contact with new opportunities for you to engage with. We’ll let you know about the issue area, what leading non-profit, NGO, or brand The Mission List is working with, what simple and effective actions you can take, and how much you’ll be compensated.

Thank you for joining us in the journey! You can email me any questions at morra[at]wearewomenonline.com.

Morra Aarons_Mele