Contributing Author

3 Ways Affinity Creates Social Impact

This is a guest blog by Cindy Jones-Nyland, the Chief Marketing Officer for Heifer International. This year, Cindy joins us on the esteemed Leadership Council, voting alongside other industry leaders to determine the final 10 Classy Award Winners.

I’d like to build the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow-white turtle doves

—The New Seekers, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”

Sometimes I wish I could give the world a big hug, because it needs it. The world has many hurts and triumphs. Luckily, thanks to technology, we have the power to make a positive social impact on the world more than ever before. Virtual hugs, emoticon kisses, and support of all kinds builds connections, from friendship to funding.

Thanks to the internet, we can spread our PDA all over the place. Not public displays of affection, but public displays of affinity. The idea that we can extend gratitude, assistance, kindness, and support in all forms to someone or something is very powerful. The possibility of spreading joy and the anticipation of creating change can be infectious and prompt genuine engagement. The outrageous success of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is proof.

Here are three ways online PDA(ffinity) has the power to create social impact and change the world.

1. Affinity for Another

When a dear friend goes through a life-changing experience—the birth of a baby, an unexpected move, starting a small business—the internet gives us the power to show our support. We can cheer them up by posting jokes and memes to their Facebook walls. We can cheer them on by promoting their successes on our own social profiles. We can help change their dire situation or make their entrepreneurial dreams come true by contributing to and sharing their crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. The idea that strangers can, and want to, support you because of the networks you have built is astonishing. That’s the PDA spillover effect.

2. Affinity for a Cause

As a marketing professional, I am interested in affinity. When we can move people from donating to our organization because it makes sense to them logically, to donating because they love us and the work we do, that’s when the magic happens. When we strike a balance that allows for deeper engagement and personal fulfillment as a result of affinity, everyone wins.

In the nearly two years since Heifer International has used Classy’s platform to empower our donors, we have seen 26 campaigns raise an incredible $2.8 million. And the variety of ways in which our supporters raise money for our cause is amazing. We’ve had a 9-year-old boy play the cello every day for six months to raise money for chickens—he raised $6,600! We’ve had thousands of dollars raised by people who donated their birthdays to Heifer. Currently, there’s a team raising money for Heifer by running a cinemarathon—an event where participants watch 26 hours of movies without stopping. These public displays of affinity strike a chord of human interest and the desire for a better world.

3. Affinity for Humanity

We can show public displays of affinity for humanity both collectively and individually. Collectively, we can turn our one voice into the voice of thousands and affect real change—that’s the power of online petitions. A society can rise up and change immediate outcomes of real-time challenges. Technology allows almost everyone to have a voice and the ability to be connected. One of my favorite individuals who shows PDA very openly is twelve-year-old actor Robby Novak in his role as Kid President on YouTube and TV. His character’s exuberance for humanity is a beautiful thing to behold and allows us all to see that passion can be ignited everywhere.

Affinity relies heavily on connection. It is nearly impossible to feel affinity for someone or something to which we have no connection. The wonder of the internet and our world today is that it provides limitless avenues for connections.

Heifer works with millions of smallholder farming families around the world. So much of their lives are unbelievably different from most of ours. But we all yearn for change and to make our own part of the world a better place. Classy enables us to forge the connection between supporters wherever they may be and the families we work with around the world. We have many stories to tell, some tug at the heartstrings and some lift the spirit. These stories, powered by the Classy platform, help us both cultivate new donors and steward them in the future.

Peer-to-peer fundraising empowers supporters to share their affinity—publicly—for our work and to turn that affinity into funding and support that can bring lasting change. It is an immediate legacy and an immediate response, that feel-good feeling that brings a smile to your face and warms every corner of your heart—similar in so many ways to public displays of affection.

I’m reminded of Maya Angelou’s famous words, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. “ – Maya Angelou

PDA makes people feel good–not only giving or accepting, but even simply observing. How do you see PDA creating a better world? Let us know in the comments below.

Cindy Jones-Nyland is the Chief Marketing Officer of Heifer International. She leads a global team responsible for raising funding for and elevating awareness of Heifer’s global work. See Cindy’s full bio and the rest of the Leadership Council.

Find Heifer at the Collaborative this June

Collaborative Classy Awards Tickets

Where social entrepreneurs go to learn and grow

Join over 20,000 leaders just like you who get their weekly dose of technology, innovation, fundraising ideas, and the latest industry trends.

Subscribe to the Classy Blog