Don’t be evil — that’s Google’s unofficial motto. But while some companies may take that motto to simply mean “don’t do anything bad”, some might argue that rather than being passive about avoiding evil, companies should actually be more active in combating evil and doing more good. For Facebook, doing good and giving back seems to be very much in part of their effort to give back to the world. Sure, their service allows people to connect themselves with others from around the world, but there’s always more that can be done and one might suggest that Facebook has strived to be good global corporate neighbors. Just take a look at recent events to gain a glimpse at what the power of Facebook has had over our lives–the service has helped directly/indirectly shake the foundation of some of the most totalitarian regimes across the Middle East during the famous Arab Spring event. And Facebook’s founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has not made it a secret that he intends to donate some of his wealth to charity, having signed onto billionaire Bill Gates & Warren Buffet’s “Giving Pledge”. And in 2010, Mr. Zuckerberg famously went on the Oprah Winfrey Show and announced that he was giving $100 million to the Newark Public School System as part of his effort to help Mayor Cory Booker revive the struggling education system.
Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg have clearly been corporate model citizens helping to illustrate that companies can do good for the public and that more can be done instead of simply pledging never to be evil–there are other philanthropy efforts that need corporate help and it seems that Facebook is leading the way.
One of the biggest acts of philanthropy that has probably ever been undertaken just took place this morning. For many, it seemed to be a complete surprise, but when you realize the potential of the act, it made more sense. Nevertheless, this morning, Mr. Zuckerberg invited “Good Morning America” to Facebook headquarters where an amazing announcement was set to take place. It was there, sitting with GMA’s Robin Roberts, that the plan was laid out: Facebook would now be a part to help stop the trend of 18 Americans dying each day just waiting for an organ transplant. Their plan is to help raise awareness about organ transplantation and encourage their Facebook users here in the United States and in the United Kingdom, that they should be organ donors.
This is definitely a bold move by Facebook and something that they should be praised for. It’s been a while since a major engagement machine like Facebook has come around with the enormous reach to help affect social policy. No, they’re not advocating for or against abortion rights or whether or taking sides in the #Occupy debate. Rather, they’re helping to save lives–because, quite frankly, if someone gets a new organ donated, then they live–and encouraging living can’t be that bad, right? USA Today reports that Mr. Zuckerberg’s initiative came as a result of the recent global disasters like last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. In addition, having these conversations with his girlfriend, a medical student, helped shape the course of action that Facebook has taken today.
OrganDonor.gov, a US Department of Health & Human Services website, currently estimates that there are over 114,000 people waiting for an organ. Just one organ donor can save up to 8 lives. In a CNN article, David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America, a partner with Facebook on this initiative, and one of the more prominent non-profit organizations leading the fight for more organ donors, said that as a result of Facebook’s efforts, thousands of lives each year could potentially be saved and all they need are a few million more registered–after all, it’s kind of like playing the odds…the more donors that are registered, the greater the chance of finding a match.
Why is this such an important accomplishment for the pro-organ donation camp? Because Facebook has become an important media for friends and family to express themselves and share their intimate moments with each other. Facebook is banking on the fact that if someone sees that their friends are all organ donors, then they should register to be one themselves. In addition, not many people would take the time to become one–maybe it’s laziness or the process to become one just doesn’t seem enticing enough? Whatever the reason, Facebook has made it “easier” for people to do so. Let’s face it, the user is already on a site that has wide appeal and is quite addictive, so why not take two extra seconds to register. The reward? New life event status update on your timeline and that you’re registered to potentially help save someone’s life.
Take this interesting point from the New York Times:
They say people declaring on Facebook that they are organ donors could spur others to sign up at motor vehicle departments or online registries. But these experts say Facebook could create an informal alternative to such registries that could, even though it carries less legal weight, lead to more organ donations.
That is because a disclosure on Facebook could provide the evidence of consent that family members need when deciding whether to donate the organs of a loved one, said Dr. Andrew M. Cameron, the surgical director of liver transplantation at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
If you’re an organ donor, or if you want to register to become an organ donor, Facebook makes it quite simple for you to do. Go to your profile on Facebook and add a Life Event. Once you click on it, you’re going to go to Health & Wellness and then select “Organ Donor” as illustrated above. If you’re already an organ donor, just enter in the date and the state where you’re registered and hit “save”. That’s it, you now have promoted the fact you’re an organ donor. However, if you’re not an organ donor and you want to register, then never fear, because Facebook and Donate Life America have teamed up to make it easy for you to do. Instead of adding the date of when you signed up to be a donor, there’s going to be a link that will enable you to register. Once you see a map of the United States, you can click on a specific state to register as an organ, eye, and/or tissue donor. Each state has a slightly different registration process, but you’ll be able to get it taken care of real quick.
Just how successful would this program be? Well being an organ donor isn’t necessarily a glamorous thing for people to want to clamor over and be the first in line…or is it? Apparently it is and right here in California, the local chapter of Donate Life America announced that a few hours after Facebook’s announcement, they received a huge spike of registrants by about 800% and by 5:00pm today, the registrations had jumped to over 1400%! Just take a look at this interesting statistic: USA Today reports that only about 43% of US adults have signed up to be an organ donor through a state registry–often done while being at the Department of Motor Vehicles and having it listed on their driver’s license. But how often will friends and family ever see that on their license or parse through DMV records to find who is an organ donor? Facebook’s efforts will surely bolster those amounts of registered donors and hopefully we’ll see people living longer thanks to the effort by Facebook and Donate Life America.
Right now this historic and momentous initiative only applies to those here in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Depending on the success and further research, it looks like other countries could be added into the mix and help spur organ donor registration spikes there. By leveraging what Facebook calls the “power of friends”, the hope is that Mr. Zuckerberg’s initiative will better help create goodwill, openness, and a better connected world. And as Facebook’s post said: Even one individual can have an outsized impact on the challenges facing another, and on the world. I think that Mr. Zuckerberg has just proven that it’s 100% true.