How many times do we ask ourselves if what we are trying to solve is really a problem? Traditionally they tell us why to fix what is not broken. And perhaps this phrase will help us prioritize the problems we must address first. It is important to ask ourselves what is important to correct because it will be useless to solve what, although we think it is a serious problem, it is not for the people who actually live this problem. We go by parties.
Social and non-profit organizations and many social enterprises (also concerned about the environment) do an enormous job to make this world a better place. There is nothing left to thank that his great work and little is reprehensible when it comes to helping vulnerable sectors, in danger of violence or marginalization. Less reprehensible are all efforts that are made environmental conservation, the right of animals or mitigate climate change. In the absence of these organizations, we would surely be much worse than we are in this fast-paced world.
However, it is also very important to define that the great achievement of these organizations is based on knowing exactly where they are going, what problems they address and how to generate that change, or in other words, they know about impact; how to generate it, how to measure it and how to expand it. And this is where many of the social projects that at first seem powerful and impact, when they are not professionalized, are diluted and lost in the great chaos of the world. Why? Because the professionalization of the impact, social change and environmental intervention helps achieve the objectives faster, more effectively and above all, with greater scope.
Who has not thought that the solution of this or that problem is one and that if the necessary resources were put together, could this problem be easily eradicated? “The problem is education …”, “… If everyone were more civic …”, “… what they really need is work and not subsidies …” or hundreds of other phrases they do believe that society’s problems gender violence, poverty, environmental deterioration, injustice can be easily fixed. Because when taking action blindly (be it philanthropy in education, environmental reforestation, productive training or other forms of actions that can improve a society), one of the most curious paradoxes in the world of social impact can happen: that a problem can be solved It really was not a problem.
There are absurd examples where it can be seen very easily that the solution to food insecurity is generated by providing training in orchards or through the provision of food supplies to vulnerable groups, and not by donating a thousand hamburgers or donating a machine. of coffee. It is clear that one solution is more strategic than the other. However, it is more common than it seems, when trying to bring solutions to the field and vulnerable sectors without asking them what they really need. We saw it recently when millions of televisions were donated instead of better educational tools but we commonly see it when we try to bring urban solutions to rural communities or technological instruments to environmental problems instead of traditional and traditional solutions.
It is very common that the beneficiary community is not asked what they really need. And we do it because we think, from our authority, that we have the most accurate answer for our studies, experience or other reasons. This is called Materiality Analysis, which determines what is really important for people and what is not a priority. This is important to avoid problems such as taking thousands of cans of food to a community and not giving them a can opener or like that astronaut joke that asked for all the cigars for their trip but did not take a lighter. What happens if we take a reading circle to prisons but what matters most to the prisoners is to survive the internal violence one more day? What would happen if we teach the best online tools to a group of peasants to protect their harvest but nobody thinks to install internet in the area?
What would happen if hundreds of dry toilets were installed in an area but they were not used because what the inhabitants really wanted was to have a firm floor in their houses? Interestingly, many of these problems are solved with a good theory of change, a good strategy of social intervention and a process of community empowerment.
This is the future of social impact.