Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So you want to save the world...

ello my non-existent lovelies,

They say tone means much in this lavish world of dots and dashes that we all spend far too much time living in so let me invoke the spring zephyr to whirl me into the zeitgeist of your collective unconscious. Potential run-on sentences and smug post-modern self-awareness aside, I feel the need to rave about the daze we currently find ourselves in.

The world is going to hell in a rather distastefully purchased Prada handbag and, we, being the good Millennials that we are, are actually stepping up to do something about it. Much to the shock of the previous generations we are engaged and in tune with the world in ways and numbers never been seen before. And this is a wonderful phenomenon that shouldn’t be discouraged but it does need to be directed. It seems now that everyone I know is working for a non-profit, myself included. Every day on Facebook I get invited to fundraising events that my friends are throwing for their cause and dutifully attend to support them, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but think, yes, but what about “my cause”?

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some new-aged-social-responsibility-pissing-contest we’ve all engaged in. Having ‘a cause’ isn’t just the best new single’s bar in town – although on a side note it isn’t half bad - it comes from a real place and a drive to change the world because we don’t have another choice. If we don’t change it now we won’t be able to later; that message has been clearly etched in our head from masturbating to an inconvenient truth until we chaffed.

The problem is that social responsibility is going to become the new green-washing as anarchy activism becomes the new black. The result of course is that we get death by pilot project, or in this case charity burnout. No one will want to give any more because it doesn’t seem like it is actually doing anything, which is fair, because it probably won’t be.

I may not have done very well in my microeconomics class, but I seem to remember a theory about marginal value going down the more businesses enter the market. The more non-profits that get in the game the less money there is to go around, and it’s not like the pool of money to draw from is going to get magically bigger. We are not, after all, the US Federal Reserve.

So now then, my fellow riled up bedmates who now wish to bludgeon me with a blunt object because I’ve popped your ability to sleep at night, what shall we do? Well, for starters, we have to actually dig deep and do our research. I know it feels like we are already giving more time than we have by volunteering in record numbers but that actually isn’t enough. We need to take a step back and ask ourselves why are we actually volunteering? What does this non-profit tangibly contribute to the world, and is the non-profit itself sustainable? We need to stop creating new non-profits just because we can, and only create them when we must. Make no mistake, I am not simply advocating that we go out and join the biggest organization, many of them are bloated and would be more useful to us if they folded, but we actually have to look behind the curtain to see truth.

In some cases, we also need to not join with non-profits. This is not to say we should do nothing, but there are many advocacy groups and governmental organizations that could use the skills and tools that we bring can bring them. After all, if the end goal of this movement is to change the world for the better someone is going to have to write the new laws. Someone is going to have to get the message out to the public as to why this is in our best interest, even if it means knocking on all the doors in your neighborhood.

So, you want to change the world, that’s great, come help us out. But don’t do it blindly, do it because you know in your heart that you have to, and do it with a group of people who are actually going to create a better sustainable future for us all.

1 comment:

sophiasian said...

Nice post. It's true - the best intentions without focus are pretty much useless.