Bursting Bubbles for Good: Introducing IFA

Information for Action is honored to have been selected by Fast Company as a 2017 World Changing Idea. We look forward to promoting positive changes across communities driven by technology and citizens.

A plethora of articles and apps tell us about our bubbles, wherein we see posts, read articles, or hold opinions only from like-minded friends and media sources. From the Blue Feed Red Feed article published by the Wall Street Journal to plugins that help identify political biases, we are becoming more and more aware of how our opinions are influenced. Bubbles make it difficult to bring people together and effectively address what we care about.

So — we know we’re living in a bubble. Now what?

Information for Action was founded to help address this question. We envision a world in which citizens make positive changes in their communities based on unbiased, community-driven, and verified information. Through this process of taking action — volunteering, mentoring, diverting a routine to help someone — we are forced to interact with others from different backgrounds working towards a common goal. When a natural disaster strikes, we come together from all sides to hand out meals to victims, donate supplies, and help people find shelter.

Solving problems with others can be a key to battling community divisions, long-term partisanship, fake news, and apathy. Working together offers the opportunity to forge new memories around a common issue, ideally involving direct interaction with other people in a physical space.

This could be the first antidote to seemingly impenetrable bubbles.

Our Platform

Fighting for what we believe in may not be easy and it doesn’t always brings people together. Yet, at a minimum, we have the opportunity to shift our behavior for good: from individually passive to socially active.

One way Information for Action is promoting this shift is by building intelligent, innovative pathways to take action when we are motivated: when we are reading, watching and absorbing online content.

The IFA app is a browser extension and mobile friendly web application that gives readers a clear path to real-time actions on the issues they care about when reading any content online. When viewing any article online, you can click on the IFA icon and see what volunteer, petition, donation or other local and national opportunities are available to get involved related to the topic you are reading about. It is designed to be community-led: as more organizations sign up, you’ll start to see more ways to help.

The internet and social media have made news distribution more ubiquitous than ever. In February 2016, Yahoo news received 204 million unique views, AOL received 166 million and the New York Times received 77 million.

As we become more aware of issues and how they affect us, why are we confined to commenting, sharing or liking articles on social media? If even just a fraction of us were efficiently connected to opportunities to get involved in the precise moment we are struck with motivation, the impact could be huge.

We’re not alone. As we become increasingly aware of injustices and threats to our daily life, we want to get involved around the issues we read about, yet often do not know where to find these opportunities. According to a Google study on civic duty, “48.9 percent of people are paying attention to issues around them, but are not actively voicing their opinions or taking action on those issues.

At the same time, nonprofits are struggling to maintain the volunteer engagement they need to sustain their operations. There are several trends indicating a decline in traditional American activism. Donations declined by people making less than $100K by 34 percent between 2003 and 2013. Nearly 100 million tax filers, the vast majority of Americans, fall in this bracket. People are volunteering less and rates are the lowest for young Americans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Americans who volunteered once in the previous year dropped from 28.8 percent in 2005 to 24.9 percent in 2015.

Community organizations try to attract new members and advocate for their causes using expensive advertising campaigns or time-consuming outreach on social media. It shouldn’t be this hard. If organizations had an easier way to advocate and attract supporters they could spend more time organizing community advocacy groups, training volunteers, researching local policy issues and managing services.

Help Us Build a Better Model

Information for Action was founded amid the exponential growth of social media and online content production. Chances are your parents, like ours, signed up for Facebook and requested your friendship. Or, like our parents, your children finally accepted that friend request. At the same time, it seemed like an increasing number of social media posts resulted in strong, opposing positions expressed through multi-page comment threads powered by likes and replies.

We’re connected more than ever before, but less connected to foundations of change.

Help us change this.

Join us in our efforts to get from point A, popping bubbles, to point B, community involvement, to point C, bubble prevention. We’ve spent hundreds of hours trying to understand communities by interviewing community leaders, hosting hackathons, and attending government community meetings. The result has been the IFA app and a roadmap for change, partnership building, and collaboration. We’re committed to listening and building scalable, inclusive, bottom-up solutions.

Here’s a few ways you can participate:

Share with an organization you care about so they can get help faster.

When you tell an organization about IFA, they can visit our site and sign-up for free, then post actions like calls for volunteers, skills-based mentoring, donations, or emergency relief. We’ll be available to support them get started.

Join our amazing volunteer team.

Help us innovate and build new partnerships across issues, technology platforms, networks and movements.

Partner with us.

If your network or movement is action-oriented and working to build stronger communities, we’d love to hear from you.

Get in touch.

Simply reach out for more information, challenge our assumptions, or share your insights. We’d love to hear from you.

We believe we can re-focus conversations around the humanity behind another person’s position or the facts behind an issue by leveraging technology to develop intelligent, impactful, and empathetic pathways for change. It’s a matter of going from information to action.