Altruism in the Digital Age


When the Oxford Dictionary announced this month that “selfie” was its word of the year—noting that its use in the English language had increased by 17,000% in the past year—it confirmed in the minds of some that the open architecture of the web and social media has enabled us to “look like raging narcissists.” But as the number of digital platforms designed to encourage sharing, helping and giving—often with no tangible reward for users—proliferate, the web appears to be allowing our selfless, rather than selfish, side to thrive.

Altruism and philanthropy are hardly new to the web: many charities have successfully moved their fundraising operations online, taking advantage of platforms like Twitter, Facebook and JustGiving. But as Tom Serres, CEO and founder of, an online fundraising platform for individual causes, points out, the online social infrastructure that allows fundraisers to take advantage of these platforms has only come…

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