Charity has come a long way since the days of mindlessly outsourcing our goodwill to institutions by paying a monthly donation and hoping that they did something good with it. These days we have fundraising apps, a whole host of campaign events and gimmicks, so-called social enterprises that claim a whole range of social good if you buy their products, and behemoth NGOs spending millions of dollars on marketing.
Amidst all this, there is still an incredible paucity of knowledge in the public about what actually works and what any organisation – NGO, social enterprise, fundraisers etc. – is doing with the money that they raise. In all this confusion, many high-profile businesses and organisations that have built their brands on the back of a reputation for social good actually have little to no impact on the world, and in many cases, are causing direct or indirect harm, both to the supposed beneficiaries of their causes, as well as to the causes themselves by peddling misleading or incomplete information. In some cases, this is simply well-meaning ignorance, but in others it is calculated manipulation of gullible or underinformed good-hearted customers to build their profits and brands under the guise of ‘social good’.
These issues are very close to our heart, as many of us at ValueLab.Co have been at the coalface of charitable and development efforts all around the world, as development specialists doing quality monitoring of projects, to corporate partnership managers dealing with social enterprises and corporations seeking to gain social capital through participating in ethical projects. We've spent many years at the world’s largest NGOs in a variety of roles, including in director roles dealing with corporate partners, innovative fundraising projects and a global supply chain department shipping goods to natural disasters and development projects, and in our time we've saw a lot of nonsensical, zero-impact, borderline unethical activities carried out by very well-known social enterprises in the name of ‘helping’, but often the only thing they were helping was the growth of their own brands.
As such, we hope to shed light on the right and wrong types of charitable and philanthropic activities, and why it is critically important to not simply file them all under the banner of ‘good intentions’, because the wrong initiatives can have a devastating effect on the world and on ethical efforts generally as good people become disillusioned.
Here at ValueLab.Co we also hope to highlight key ‘silver bullet’ initiatives around the world that will have the greatest impact on poverty alleviation over the next decade. Specifically:
We believe strongly in universal girls’ education as the single most important initiative currently available to change the world for the better.
Also, we know that immediate needs must be catered for in order for bigger cultural and structural change to occur, so we support local feeding programs that provide food for the malnourished and undernourished .
Finally, we know that the economic health and equality of a society is an underpinning condition for universal food and education, so we support efforts towards large local business creation.