17/09/2015 12:15 BST | Updated 16/09/2016 06:12 BST

Being Charitable Has Never Felt So Good: The Rise of the 'Vanguardian'

Last year the ice bucket challenge took centre stage on social media at a global level. From Kim Kardashian to your local postman, it seemed everyone was taking part in this form of cool altruism. Aside from wanting to join in on some good old-fashioned fun, why did so many people across the globe get involved? The answer is that our goodwill and social consciousness is higher than it's ever been.

The trend for 'doing good' has continued to build in 2015 as we see the rise of the 'Vanguardians' - intrepid individuals and brands who foster positive, global change. At Getty Images the search term 'social responsibility' alone has seen a rise of 73 per cent in the past five years. With brands like 'Always' running campaigns such as #LikeaGirl, redefining the sleight 'doing something like a girl', people, businesses and brands are fast taking it upon themselves to action real social change. This is something we've been exploring visually through the Getty Images Lean In Collection - challenging the way gender stereotypes are depicted in advertising and media.

But what has triggered this sudden desire to make change, or do our bit to improve the world around us? The rise of digital - social media above all - has brought the world to us and made us far more aware of important social and international issues. We are finally becoming one global community, not just in the connected sense but in the caring sense too. Digital has become the enabler, putting power in our hands to rally support, to campaign and change the world for the better. At the very least, it allows us to expose important issues on a global stage.

Potentially this united global community with shared goals and responsibilities can be harnessed and encouraged to achieve great things, as with Richard Curtis' 'Global Goals' campaign for the United Nations, which aims to reach seven billion people in seven days. It highlights the 17 Global Goals of the UN, which include ending poverty, ending hunger and making clean water and sanitation available to all by 2030.

With such ambitious objectives to engage the many, how do you spread the word successfully?

While digital allows the global community to connect, we still remain a community with hundreds of different cultures and languages. This is where imagery plays an increasingly important role in reaching audiences and making messages accessible on a global scale. Imagery has the power to transcend language and speak to everyone. As a founding partner of the Global Goals campaign, Getty Images is putting our imagery to use with the aim of driving engagement with the goals and stirring people into action worldwide. The gripping, humbling and sometimes horrifying reality cannot be ignored when it is placed right in front of you in pictures and video. So images can inspire us to step forward, help make a change and spread the word.