Welcome to Fanlanthropy – a new series here at The Honey POP where we shine a light on incredible stans who are using the power of fandom to do good in the world and help out important causes. Fandoms are super powerful in sharing information and working on projects, so using those impressive skills for a good cause ends in some great results.
Over the past few years, BTS has quickly become one of the biggest artists in the world. With their fanbase growing by the masses every day, they continue to become the takeover group of the century. They’ve taken the opportunity to use the position they find themselves using their platform to promote doing good. Partnering with UNICEF to create the Love Myself campaign to #EndViolence against children and teenagers, hoping to make the world a better place through their music. In addition to this, they have often quietly offered a helping hand financially to important causes. Still, being the biggest band on the planet, their humble helpings are often shared by others.
Their ever-growing list of good deeds and hearts of gold have inspired their enormous fandom and have led to projects and initiatives being created in their honor. Most notably, One In An ARMY is a fan-created initiative that is continuously campaigning and fundraising for vital causes, using the power of fandom to help raise awareness of organizations, charities, and causes. We caught up with them to learn a bit more about what they do.
You’re quite an impactful charity project within the BTS ARMY – what was it that motivated you to create One In An ARMY?
Basically, an ARMY after seeing much terrible news of what was going on in Syria at the moment and felt like, with the message of BTS’s Love Myself campaign and the power this fandom have shown on social media, that we should be able to do something together that could make some kind of change in the world. She might not be able to do something impactful alone, but together with her community, there might be something to be done. She put out a tweet of her thoughts, and it became somewhat viral (in ARMY twitter standards back at the beginning of 2018.) People who had shown interest by commenting were put into a Twitter group chat where continued brainstorming was performed, and discussions on how this didn’t need to be a one-time thing came to fruition. To become more organized, a discord was made, together with social media accounts and emails, and the rest is history.
You’ve supported a number of charities over the years – how do you decide on which charities to support?
Our research team is continuously on the lookout for organizations that might fit our criteria. All organizations that look like they might work, and all organizations that are suggested to us by ARMY are added to our master list. Once there, our research team can evaluate them more thoroughly and bring them forward to our meetings, where all team members visit the organization’s website and discuss as a group. We first went to ARMY to find out what kinds of causes they wanted us to tackle and in what order of importance.
For months where a BTS member has his birthday, ARMY have voted on what kind of cause we’ll be supporting. We then try to find organizations that match this cause, and if possible, something that might have the fandom think of the member as well. We get suggestions all the time, and our research team also go out and do their magic on the internet to find suitable ones. For nonbirthday months, we try to see if there is something we haven’t supported yet, or maybe a part of the word we haven’t done a project in, in a long time, or something like that. Once suitable NGOs have been verified, they’re put up for a vote internally within the team, and the top voted ones are reached out to. If possible, we’ll go with the one with the most votes, but sometimes we don’t get a reply or something else like they can’t provide a satisfactory fundraising platform for us, will have us go with the second (or third) most voted.
BTS have done their fair share of philanthropy in their seven years together – how have they inspired you as individuals and as a collective?
BTS are quiet givers – we’ve never heard them talk about their charitable donations, but they do it often and support things that have personal meaning to them. They are, however, very vocal in their sincerity to ensure that their music and their work is helpful to someone. This idea – that if their work or their efforts end up helping someone else even a tiny bit, it has all been worth it – that is a powerful motivator in knowing that we all can take that stance in our own daily lives. And ARMY has taken that notion and run with it, and people all over the world have been helped or had significant life improvement because ARMY chose to follow that example. It’s actually amazing when you ever stop to think about it.
This year you set up the ‘Match a Million’ fundraiser to match the $1 million donations BTS donated to Black Lives Matter – how did the idea come about?
First, we’d like to point out we didn’t really set it up. A few weeks before BTS donation to BLM was made public, a majority of our fandom had been passionate about the cause after what happened to George Floyd. Because there was so much information flowing around on social media, we were asked to share a few organizations that had been verified through our processes, and we made a card for them. We had then also seen a few accounts use a website called ActBlue for those wanting to split their money between different bail funds (and organizations). Since many didn’t know where it would be best to donate, we also used the site to set up a fundraiser (since it was required to use the feature) so that people could split their donations between the NGOs we had verified to the best of our ability.
A week or so later, BTS donation is made public, and the fandom starts talking about matching it. Twitter user @naija0329 seemed to be the one rallying the most around her and wanted to create a hashtag (final hashtag suggested by @monosplaylist). It was brought to our attention, and we said that we had the split function fundraiser available if they wanted to use that to track donations. The amount donated wasn’t visible then, but a team member made it possible with the features on the site. And the rest is history… again.
Do you think that the charitable efforts of ARMY have helped shape the general impression that the fandom gives? How so?
We have seen plenty of instances where learning about ARMY’s vast network of charity projects have completely shifted some people’s concept of a fandom. The diversity of ARMY’s passions and engagement with the issues that can be solved in our societies by utilizing our collective is something most people don’t think of when they think of a fandom. ARMY has a uniqueness that starts with our relationship and level of support for BTS, continues through getting inspired by them as artists and individuals, and then goes forward to where we work together to make changes in the world. It’s a far cry from the general conception of a fandom as nothing more than a collective of people swooning and fighting over which artists are better. We have even seen instances where people who scorned and mocked BTS due to preconceived notions were so surprised at learning about ARMY’s charity work that they decided to finally give the guys’ music a chance – mostly to see what it was that inspired such actions. Some even became ARMY themselves once they took that deep dive!
It’s pretty evident how powerful fandoms are as a whole – what do you think about fandoms and the importance of using that platform for important causes?
Everyone should have the ability to engage with their society in whatever way they see fit. It can be a tricky idea to pressure people into utilizing their fandom in a way that is not organic to the fandom. Some people wish to support an artist’s music and keep their personal beliefs separate, and there is nothing wrong with that. BTS are artists for healing, and so it is natural that ARMY became a fandom for healing. If people support artists because they believe in the message they promote, it makes sense to move forward in that support. But not everyone who enjoys an artist’s music should be put under an expectation that that will be a catalyst for their work in society. There’s an incongruence in that idea – “I love Artist X’s music, and therefore, I have to save the whales.” If the two have no relation, there is no point trying to force that. It just so happens that with BTS, it’s an organic process because of who they are and what they put out in the world.
What’s the most rewarding part of One in an ARMY to you?
We’ve literally changed lives by working together with our fellow ARMYs. And we’ve seen our fellow ARMYs have their own lives and perspectives changed as well – as they began to see how much impact our collective efforts have for others and how much each of us can accomplish together, even if we individually can only do a little.
A lot of charities are in contact with you about your incredible work – is there something that any of them have said to you which has stuck with you and reminded you why you do this kind of work?
Two examples come to mind; one was from an organization we worked with last year called Pets For The Elderly. The second was most recent, from Jin’s birthday campaign at the beginning of December with an organization called Goedgedacht, based in South Africa. We posted the exchanges we received that really touched us; you can see them here:
💜Joyous Seokjinnie Day, ARMY! We are enjoying all the love & support you are showing in Jin’s honor for @Goedgedacht & the rural 🇿🇦 youth they serve!
— One in an ARMY⁷ Charity Project 🦾💜 (@OneInAnARMY) December 3, 2020
— One in an ARMY⁷ Charity Project 🦾💜 (@OneInAnARMY) December 4, 2020
For a whole month, these Adorables worked to help @Pets4TheElderly as they made happy connections between Nanas, Pops, & Fluffs.#OneInAnARMY spent some time telling the lovely lady named Susan who runs the program all about @BTS_twt & #BTSARMY!💜
Susan, a grandma herself, said: pic.twitter.com/irvXwmQy6r
— One in an ARMY⁷ Charity Project 🦾💜 (@OneInAnARMY) March 17, 2020
What can you tell us about the current fundraiser(s) are you working on?
We are currently working on the birthday project for BTS member V (Kim Taehyung). Due to our 5-day flash fundraiser format, this project will actually launch the day after Christmas – so we’d ask ARMYs to remember to come and check it out – it will be an incredible project that everyone will not want to miss!
How can people support One in an ARMY?
We can be reached @OneInAnARMY on most SNS platforms. Feel free to stop in anytime to check out the current campaign, and we’d love it if you share it!
Thanks, guys! We are so proud of you and know that BTS are, too!
Have you supported One In An ARMY? What fandom do you know that does good? Let us know down in the comments below or by tweeting us @TheHoneyPOP!
Featured Image Source: Bibi Lara
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Creative Director of The Honey POP. Disney and pop culture enthusiast.