What makes BTS different from most artists is their passion for their advocacies. They are not afraid to tackle social issues in their music, no matter how controversial they may be in Korea. Not only that, but they also voice out their stance through activities outside the music industry such as addressing the U.N. General Assembly during the launch ceremony of Generation Unlimited and launching the Love Myself campaign in partnership with UNICEF.
The amount of dedication and love BTS pours into advocating for social change is one of the main reasons why ARMYs stand by their side. BTS’ music encourages ARMYs to become better versions of themselves, and the groups’ initiative to participate in such campaigns has also inspired ARMYs to help in their own way. One in an ARMY (OIAA), is a group of ARMYs who followed BTS’ footsteps in striving hard to make a difference.
Get to know more about the amazing OIAA in this interview! Learn more about their campaigns, and how YOU can help.
- Please tell us more about One in an ARMY! How does the project work?
At the beginning of each month, we run a new campaign supporting one organization. The campaign stays open until the end of the month. In the meantime, we create posters, activities, and spend the month encouraging ARMYs to support it by sharing the campaign and donating. We spend the time explaining what they do, how the organization works, where they operate, and what ARMYs’ donations will be used for, as well as giving updates on the progress, and a report from the previous campaign.
We do not collect money on behalf of the organizations. Our role is to connect ARMY directly to the org to donate, and encourage us all to give together in order to make a big impact for people somewhere in the world. We also organize activities for people who may not be able to donate, but wish to participate all the same. At the end of the campaign, we collect all the data and prepare a report to tell ARMY what they accomplished.
- How was the group behind this project formed?
Initially, it was an ARMY (@rwapmon) who put out a thought on Twitter that she would like to do something about the ongoing crisis of Syrian refugees. She stated that maybe as a fandom we could do something about it. Several people responded to her, as many of us had also been thinking similarly of doing something good with the power of ARMY. Pretty soon, a discord was set up, and those of us who were interested volunteered to join, then we started organizing ourselves and figuring out how we could best be effective. Before long, we were contacting Syrian relief organizations, and decided to go with Medical Teams International as our first effort, and we went on from there. We started thinking that this project could touch issues all around the globe, since ARMY is a global family. So we kept going!
- What are your project’s goals?
Our goal is to take the initiative from BTS themselves and to use the power of our fandom to do something good in the world. As there are millions of ARMYs, our impact can potentially be very large and help many people, even with each of us only contributing a tiny bit.
BTS are now known as the “Next Generation Leaders”, and as ARMYs are their family, we take that title seriously. So we want ARMY to be synonymous with positive influence and actions for a better world. We like to keep our focus on the positive, so though we explain the situations we’re addressing, we don’t spend too much time hammering into people how bad the problems in the world are. Rather, we prefer to focus on how much positive impact ARMYs can have to address and alleviate those problems. We also don’t put a lot of stress on the dollar amount raised each campaign, though we do report it. We prefer to focus on the actual impact we had for the organization and those they help through our donations. A dollar amount is just a number and it will change every time, but what ARMYs working together actually DID for people – that’s where the heart of the project is.
- How do you plan your campaigns?
In the early days of OIAA, we ran a poll to see what types of causes ARMY were most interested in working with. We try to rotate through the options on that poll and try not to work with similar organizations back to back (for example, if we did a human rights organization in March, we’d try to pick something different like an environmental org for April). Each month we work on a different type of cause, which could be decided from a previous survey to ARMY – or in the recent cases of the birthday months, something that we feel is particularly meaningful to the member whose birthday it is.
Once we have a cause in mind, we refer to our master sheet of organizations suggested by ARMYs or ones we’ve found ourselves, or we begin a new search. When we find some good candidates, our research and outreach team looks into the work they do, and reach out to them to find out if they are willing and able to work with the model that we’ve set up. When the org has been settled, our maknae starts working on the campaign video, and our design team begins working on an artistic theme for the posters that they will create for the campaign. Then we come up with a hashtag and an activity concept.
As soon as those are settled, the design team will start to make posters for the campaign and activity to be posted on our various platforms. We prepare a google doc for tracking ARMY’s donations and begin the countdown for the new campaign at 12 hours before launch. At 1 hour to launch, we release our maknae’s campaign video, and then we officially open the campaign. Then for the rest of the month, we are working on promoting the current campaign as much as we can, and we start the cycle all over to prepare for the next!
- Do you experience conflicts while handling the campaigns? If so, how do you handle it?
This is really an amazing team. I can’t remember any real arguments. We’ve debated, certainly, about this way or that way to handle something, but always on the level of ‘I think this might work better.’ We are a very open team, and everything to be decided is open for all members to weigh in and vote on, and after discussing the different options or points of view on any issue, we will go with whatever most decided makes the most sense. We flow very well, and everyone is respectful or other opinions and open to take other ideas over our own, if the other works better. With regard to organizations, the biggest hurdle we’ve had is the occasional lack of communication from an org we were working with or trying to work with, which can get frustrating if we’re trying to keep to a schedule. But so far, all the organizations have been extremely kind and supportive, delightful to work with. With ARMY, the biggest challenge has only been the occasional misunderstanding about how our process works, but those are always cleared up with some explanation.
- How did ARMYs react to your initiative?
There was already a lot of initial interest in the project, thanks to @rwapmon’s thread, so we tried to move quickly and work with that momentum. But of course ARMY didn’t know who we were at first, or understood our process and purpose, so it just took time to build that trust and understanding. The first few ARMYs who participated in the campaign while we were still a fairly unknown element with no proof of anything – those were definitely heroes, and they made the first campaign a success. After that, we were able to continually provide reports of what the campaigns are accomplishing, and we find that ARMYs always respond positively to the evidence that the fandom is accomplishing some really great things.
- Are there non-ARMYs who gave feedback?
We’ve received feedback from certain news outlets, both directly to us and sometimes we find our projects were mentioned in Kmedia. Mostly around the AnpanARMYxLYTour project and also the campaign results for MindLeaps got some attention because the children made a thank-you video. We’ve also received a lot of love from the directors of the organizations we’ve had campaigns for, who were really impressed with BTS’ influence, and with ARMY’s initiative, organization, and willingness to do good things with our fandom.
- How can other ARMYs help you in your campaigns?
Donating to campaigns is always a good option! But we also hope to have as many ARMYs as possible participating in these campaigns as time goes on, because with the size of our fandom, our numbers can have a huge impact if it were all focused someplace all at once. So sharing, telling people about the campaigns, encouraging them to follow, mentioning to other ARMYs what we can all do if we do it together – that is immensely helpful. We hope to see some amazing results in 2019.
We also love to have people translate our posts and share them in other places. It is so amazing each month to see the number of countries where ARMYs have participated, and we’d love that number to grow. Getting our K-ARMYs, J-ARMYS, and C-ARMYs on board would be a huge win as well.
- What are your future plans?
We have some big ideas on the horizon; some we think we’ll be able to get done in 2019. We’ve seen a few projects that we’d love to do, but we are still a little too small yet to get them accomplished in our campaigns, so we’re keeping them in our pocket for the time when our donor base grows enough for us to do that level of project. So our plan for the future is to really grow, and become a focused force for ARMY charity efforts. It will be good for the philanthropy world to see that BTS has created a movement of people wanting to help other people, and an ARMY that is powerful enough to make it happen. We’d also like to see a lot of local projects happening with AnpanARMYs like we had with the LY Tour. When BTS plans another world tour, we’ll be very ready to try again and make it even better!
- What is your message to ARMYs?
There’s no such thing as ‘what I’m doing is not enough, or won’t make a difference!’ We learned through ShareTheMeal that as little as $0.50 can feed a child for an entire day. We learned through many of our campaigns that the simple act of sharing the information and encouraging one another not only gives more ARMYs a chance to participate, but makes us feel good about what we can accomplish together, and brings us closer together as a family. Anything that you decide to do to help someone – whether it’s us or anyone else – it’s never too small. Just by making the decision that you want to do something rather than pass (or scroll) on by, you’ve changed something for someone. We love this fandom (famdom!) so much! Thank you all for showing us the beauty of this family called ARMY.
For more updates on OIAA’s campaigns, check out their website where you can see their other social media links.
Interview by: Euni 🌞