By Rachael Chong
Giselle Diaz Campagna is a media entrepreneur whose daily mission is to actively promote social change.
Our list of social media mavens would not be complete without recognizing this outstanding professional from the Catchafire community whose pro bono work using social media inspires us. She is the founder of Bodhi Media Labs and in her spare time doubles as a yoga teacher, snowboard instructor, experimental artist, and die-hard social activist. Personally motivated by organizations that give a voice to children, she eagerly accepted the challenge to help Sahasra Deepika (one of Catchafire's partner organizations) compete in the Chase Community Giving Campaign. With only 325 Facebook likes the tiny, volunteer-based organization that houses and educates underprivileged children in Bangalore relied on Diaz Campagna's creative and strategic storytelling skills. After long nights of collaboration and without spending a cent, they found their story in the children. With Diaz Campagna's help and in true underdog spirit, Sahasra Deepika got enough votes to be one of the winners of the campaign and received $10,000 to send their children to college.
What is the mission of Bodhi Media Labs?
To promote authentic public dialogue by exploring emerging technologies and developing communications campaigns, tools, and content that inspire individuals, organizations, and communities into action.
What did you learn about yourself as a professional from working with Sahasra Deepika on the Chase Community Giving Campaign? What was most surprising to you?
I learned that meaningful content inspires action. I was surprised how much we achieved without spending a single dollar. We've just begun to explore the impact of the use of social media to promote prompt global community action, expand the reach of social causes and ultimately bring meaningful change. We are living in very exciting times and this project allowed me to experiment with content and strategy to gain financial support and an expansion in constituency. We were all so thrilled with the results. Personally, I learned that enthusiasm matters tremendously, it is the spark that gets everyone's buy-in, from planning to implementation.
Why is giving time different than giving money?
Giving your time and expertise to organizations in need is a tremendously rewarding experience, both at a professional and personal level. Pro bono work offers invaluable opportunities to intimately explore areas outside of your established career, expand your footprint in the world, develop new skills, engage different professional networks and more importantly, make a difference. While financial donations are very important, donating your enthusiasm and expertise, re-energizes communities and inspires others in your network into taking similar actions.
What was your motivation to get involved with skills based service?
I have volunteered my time to various causes for years, but never had the opportunity to make a significant contribution on a more strategic level, using all of my professional expertise. I jumped at the chance to explore that level of giving back. I am very excited to continue to find new skill-based projects, as offering my life's work has been one of my most rewarding volunteer experiences of my life. A culmination of sorts, a coming of age.
What does generosity mean to you?
To be generous is to deeply empathize with those around you, so much so that you are compelled to help, that you feel personally connected to their lives, triumphs and struggles.
Was there a moment that you realized your life would be dedicated to giving back, to giving more than you received?
I don't think it was a particular moment in my life, but rather the transformative effect of a long chain of small acts of giving. Every single time I gave to another, selflessly, however small the act and especially when there were no witnesses, I experienced tremendous personal growth and a new ease in living. Every moment I cared about the plight of another and put my struggles on hold, my problems instantly diminished in scope because my life had greater purpose. So clearly, this way of experiencing life, was worth my constant investment and small personal sacrifices.
Tell us the names and stories of three individuals who inspire you most with their generosity.
Ive never been more inspired and energized than by the acts of people who help others every single day, without any recognition. Like an older lady I met many years ago at City Park in Denver, who was giving lunch bags to homeless people. I noticed she knew all of their names and treated everyone with such dignity, like family. I immediately wanted to join her, so when I asked her for information about the organization she worked for, she laughed (at me) and said, "I guess that would be humanity!". I was left speechless, but forever inspired. Turns out, anyone who cared enough could join her and humanity. Giving didn't need to be structured or by way of invitation, giving could be spontaneous, intimate and even entrepreneurial. This woman was on a big personal mission.
The all-volunteer staff and board at Sahasra Deepika Education Foundation. I thought I was doing something good by offering my skills to this tremendous organization, but what I received was much more than I could give--a lesson in what it means to be generous. These tenacious individuals not only provide education and housing for severely disadvantaged children in India, but they are there to guide them through their youth and ensure that each and every one of "their children" have an opportunity to go to college and reach their dreams. I could not believe how they've achieved so much with their beneath-shoestring annual budget. By working with this awesome group of people, I realized that simple generosity can move mountains. Perhaps the most meaningful contribution is to be blindly generous and ever hopeful.
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (commonly known as Mother Teresa of Calcutta). Generosity can transform from quality, to your essence, that which solely describes your being. I don't think Mother Teresa could have ever imagined how many lives she would touch, just because she did "what she had to." She touched my life by shedding light on the plight of children everywhere and by raising the bar on what one single person is capable of contributing to the world. Her inspiration imparted the simple, yet profound knowing that I give, because it is my duty as a fellow person, because I have to.
Copyright 2012 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.