Creating Sustainable Change

Creating Sustainable Change

We (my amazing partners at Blankslate.Partners) had an fantastic opportunity yesterday to be part of a small, private event with We Free the Children; Me to We Day and Me to We founder, Craig Keilburger.  The event was hosted by the great people at Hootsuite (btw, they have an amazing work space!).

There are lots of good, well-intentioned traditional charitable organizations out there, but what Craig and his brother, Marc are doing is aspirational not only from a charitable, “doing the right thing” perspective, but also for any business, be it for profit or not.  The ideas hat really grabbed my attention were both ways of applying MBA level business smarts to a charitable operation.

First, measure your results against outcomes to create sustainable change.  This is a quantum difference from parachuting into a third world community with a group of well-meaning volunteers and cash-in-hand to create a one-off project like a clean water system.  Not to say this isn’t good work, but it’s not sustainable.  What happens when the volunteer team leaves and something breaks down?  Who has both the means and the knowledge to fix it and make it sustainable.  And what was the outcome you were hoping for by giving people access to clean drinking water (for example)?  Was it just to give them access to water (a great goal in and of itself).  Or did you want to enable girls to attend school or promote economic independence?   How will you know if you succeeded if you don’t define your outcomes, measure and then recalibrate?

“In eight countries, Free The Children works alongside the men, women and children who every day strive to free themselves from poverty, exploitation, disease and thirst. This effort is not charity. It is sustainability. It is freedom in action. It is Free The Children’s Adopt a Village development model.”

This is where the Free the Children group is light years ahead.  They define their outcomes, measure the results then pivot as needed.  And they create sustainability, not charity through their five pillars by linking clean water, education, health, alternative income and livelihood and agriculture and food security.

adoptavillarge

Secondly,they are using technology and social media to both track success metrics and get the message out there, instead of paying for traditional marketing and advertising.  Their Track Your Impact app allows you to scan a code on your purchase and see exactly where that purchase is making an impact.  And the analytics the information generates gives great data on which products are most successful in the market.  How amazing is that!

track

So to all the people who earned their ticket to attend We Day in Vancouver today, enjoy the entertainment, be inspired and go out there and do great things.  You get to enjoy the Bare Naked Ladies today, I get to see them tonight!

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