How to maximize community positive impact

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As a Social Entrepreneur or a NGO professional, you are probably passionate about maximizing your target community positive impact.
To maximize that impact and better engage with the community, I suggest thinking it in a more holistic way. By this I mean to be aware of all interconnected areas of life within a community: education, food, energy, transport, health, …

 

Having them into account when putting a project into action, helps you to:

  • Promote a deep change in the community and the people that live there. Many times a particular problem is transverse to many areas of a person’s life. Having that into account, hugely increases the changes of having a root positive change.
  • Create a long term design. You’ll be working with many variables at the same time, where some of them only have a real impact if others are already being tackled. This means you need a more long, more prepared and more careful step-by-step intervention.
  • Be aware of potential side-effects. If you analyze different areas in the life of a community, it is more easy to encounter those ‘not-so-obvious’ negative side-effects. An interesting example of that is the so-called one-for-one business model. Here, for every product bought, the company gives away the same product for free to someone else in the world. Obviously it can have positive impact in the life of many people within the target community. But, at the same time, the local producer that made that same product, might go out of business. There are many things that an one-for-one business model could do here. But if you try to see it in a more holistic way, from the beginning, you have a higher change to predict this type of chain reaction and choose a more appropriate approach to the particulars of the community.
  • Be more inclusive. Having a more depth overview of the community, helps you to identify ways to include those individuals to whom your project doesn’t have a positive effect.

 

Designing and putting into practice a project like this can be a big challenge and a never-ending story. It’s a constant learning and adapting process. But what I’ve learned from different projects I’ve been involved with, is that it’s doable!

If you have any more tips, suggestions or even study cases or success stories, you are welcome to write them below, as a comment. Thank you!  🙂

Practical Tips to maximize community positive impact

  • Go slow. By doing it slow enough, you are able to adapt the project to unwanted side effects, changing them into opportunities.
  • Include the community. Making an effort to include the community in the project design, helps you to predict problems in advance. It also helps you get local support to implement it and to increase the possibilities of a longer project lifetime. Depending on the project, you can include them in the project design and implementation, in it’s management, or they can even collaborate with you as suppliers, workers, clients, …
  • Focus on one thing at a time. There’s a tendency for these type of projects to disperse. And when this happens, you end up doing a lot of things, but none of them well. Plus there’s some difficulty in evaluating the outcome. My suggestion to work around this problem, is to think it in an holistic way, but focus on one thing at a time. This would imply to have partners, within and outside the community, that would focus on the other areas. A good way to integrate all these groups can be done by including them inside a bigger context – like a Life Plan or a Transition Movement .

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