design thinking

Expanding Philanthropic Outlook and Contribution

By: Nina
Nina participated in Allowance for Good's 2014 Global Philanthropy Summit program. 

How is it possible to continue to give back to society as we pursue different paths in life? On Tuesday, we had the opportunity to explore the answer to this question: social enterprise. We kicked the day off with an informative and engaging presentation by Elizabeth Coston of the Kellogg School of Management, where she introduced us to the 5 categories on the Social Enterprise Spectrum-we then proceeded to categorize a variety of for-profit and non-profit businesses and organizations into each of the 5 sections as follows:
Traditional Non-Profit: NPR, Smithsonian
Income-Generating Non-Profit: The Girl Scouts
For-profit Social Venture: Jail Education Systems
Socially Responsible Business: TOMS
For-profit Business: Home Depot
This presentation exposed me to the different ways in which you can incorporate social impact into a business model, something that is often overlooked, as we tend to classify businesses as either traditional nonprofits or businesses in a very black-and-white view.

In the afternoon, we went to Design for America, where we were given a variety of problems centered around sunscreen to creatively solve, using Design for America’s problem-solving processes. Such issues included a teenage surfer not applying sunscreen, a professional not being heard on the benefits of using sunscreen, and to help an overprotective mother let her children enjoy the summer. One of the exciting parts of this process especially was to see a number of people working collaboratively together even though we were from different schools, had different interests, and brought different ideas and experiences to the table. We completed the day with an art project based on the classic picture book The Giving Tree-we created our own giving trees in which the roots signified people and things that have guided and inspired us, the trunk represented our passion and goal, the branches represented our own values, and the fruit represented our own talents and assets.

Throughout the day, we were exposed to the idea of using what we have been given in life and how we are able to put it to use in order to make the world a better place. We learned that it is possible no matter what we decide to do in life, whether it be an entrepreneur or a computer scientist, an artist or a musician. These GPS experiences have taught me to expand my own views and look at philanthropy in a different light-one that is not limited to simply volunteering time or donating money, but which includes creating a new generation of smart, successful citizens who incorporate philanthropic acts into their daily lives and work.