At some point during childhood, almost every American child who didn’t want to finish an evening meal was probably told there are starving children in the world who would love to have their dinner. My response to my mother one night when I adamantly did not want to eat my peas was, “Well let’s send it to them since they need it more than me.”
Some social entrepreneurs and organizations involved in charitable work and other socially conscious initiatives, often use a similar problem solving methodology to address global and local social problems. The issue can be Hunger, HIV/AIDS, Climate Change, Homelessness, Teen Suicide, Human Trafficking, Poverty or any other social problem; but key strategies are not designed around root causes or developed with a long term plan to bring about sustainable change. Instead, we use the equivalent of my childhood veggies as a solution to the issue, including efforts that are:
• Not enough to really make a difference
• Not a strategy to really end the social problem
• Not necessarily what the people in need even want
Sometimes, our solutions to social problems, awareness building campaigns and initiatives, create additional unintended issues or problems for local communities. If I send my food, could it lead to stomach problems or allergies? If we all send our unwanted dinners to an area where individuals are starving, how do local farmers and suppliers feed their families now that we have become the mass importer of all food consumed? How does someone heat your donation of a child’s leftover meatloaf when they don’t have a home? And how is a little meatloaf even helpful to a starving family of 8 that are vegetarians?
But most importantly, why should they be happy with my leftovers (something they don’t necessarily like, they didn’t ask for and something which won’t address starvation in the long term) just because I am willing to give and they are in need?
In theory my childhood suggestion was GOOD. I shouldn’t waste when others are in need and I have been blessed with more, so I should be more than willing to give back. BUT GOOD IS NOT ENOUGH.
Truly addressing social problems requires more than a band-aid, “do-gooder” approach and individuals should be empowered to assist in making real change happen. Campaigns to address global problems, charitable organizations, corporate social responsibility programs, institutions and groups working on social issues, need to work towards the highest standard, with best practices and long term strategies. Less competition and more cohesion, inclusion and partnership amongst individuals and organizations with the same goals, will allow social issues to decrease and for more positive sustainable change to occur.
Individual global citizens should be empowered with the knowledge of the root causes of social problems and empowered to help others and themselves. Ultimately, with stronger strategies and working together there will be enough “GOOD” occurring to actually bring about sustainable impacts and global positive outcomes.
To learn more about the work of our organization visit www.SISGIGroup.org