In business, the market development approach demands that an organization develop strong market systems in communities so as to increase its income and productivity. An interesting factor of this approach is the local participatory economic development. It encourages collaboration and project ownership by all acting entities within an economic market(community as a whole), i.e. government, the private sector, civil society and the local community. Majority of the time, what separates the corporate from the non-profit organizations is that one is geared towards maximizing profit while the other towards social value, respectively. However, something both worlds have in common is the connection with people: thousands of us feel the twinge of guilt as we pass by a person sleeping on the side of the street. But here is the reality, you can’t bring help and justice to the poor if you don’t know them.
Some of the most successful businesses have mastered the craft of knowing their market. By knowing this, they can make better products, deliver better services and thus increase profit. If corporates have the ability to understand how important knowing the people we serve is, where is the gap when it comes to aspiring change makers towards social justice? We have set the bar so low . Giving money is fabulous, non-profits need donations, people still need to be fed, clothed etc but along with that you need to be building relationships with those who are impoverished and oppressed to get to the root cause. Justice work takes time. It seeks large-scale goals, which do not come quickly. It does not deal directly with immediate, urgent needs. It involves risk-taking and the investment of large amounts of human and financial resources. One thing’s for sure, the only resource that grows with use is relationships. Let us value them with the utmost importance they deserve.
Let us raise the bar higher to what non-profits should be, maximizing social value: from demonstrating outcomes to impact. From programs to solutions. From measuring results to measuring value. From fundraising to selling impact. From donors giving money to donors investing in sustainable impact. Only then will we continue to really solve social problems from the root cause.