Back in the 1990s, I created a section on the Virtual Volunteering Project web site that was focused on how fans of TV shows, movies, singers, sports clubs and celebrities were using the Internet to coordinate philanthropic acts. This was everything from asking people attending a group viewing of a show to bring canned food for a local food bank to organizing an online auction to raise money for a celebrity’s favorite charity. These fans were engaging in philanthropy with no coordination from any charity or the celebrity – they self-organized and off they went, with the Internet playing a central role in their activities.
This kind of virtual volunteering is continuing today! While the volunteering or other philanthropy might happen onsite, the coordination and connection among volunteers is happening mostly online.
One of the most recent examples I found is by fans of British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who call themselves the Cumbercollective. They are organizing an event to coincide with the actor’s birthday, July 19:
While it’s wonderful that many are able to donate to charity fundraisers in honor of Benedict’s birthday… some fans might find ourselves unable to do so. So, Batch of Kindness was born. What better way to celebrate the birthday of this extraordinary man than to perform acts that show generosity of spirit?
Let’s see how many lives we can impact, even in the smallest of ways, as we fulfill his request to “throw love” to those that need it. The Cumbercollective can give a Batch of Kindness to the world by giving of ourselves in honor of Benedict, who inspires us by his example.
I hope the group will also explore virtual volunteering for their members, online micro volunteering, and group activities so that members can do something together.
Other recent examples:
The Harry Potter Alliance: “We are an army of fans, activists, nerdfighters, teenagers, wizards and muggles dedicated to fighting for social justice with the greatest weapon we have– love. Join us!”
The 501st Legion (Star Wars) “While our organization was founded to simply provide a collective identity for costuming fans with similar interests, the 501st is proud to put its resources to good use through fundraising, charity work, and volunteerism.”
Examples cited in my original article include fans of The X-Files Fans, Xena and Barry Manilow. I also have an archived list from the 1990s that lists fans of Star Trek, Elvis, Christian Bale and more.
I’m sad that I didn’t find a group of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fans that promote volunteering and donations to support nonprofits that work for the empowerment of women and girls. Is it out there and I just didn’t find it? Do I need to start it? (ha)