What does it mean to do social design in financial crisis time?
Of course NGOs around the world are so different to generalize, but that social sector is suffering more than others the economic crisis is almost a fact . It doesn't make a lot of buzz, but it is!
The crisis effects on charities and NGOs have different aspects:
- 1 Poor money to invest (in a sector already not really known for the salary standards)
- 2 A large number of employees that quit (with all the consequences that this forced turn over has)
- 3 Worse service standards - if not disappearance - for beneficiaries (usually the most vulnerable part of a society that suffers an increasing pressure during a financial crisis)
- 4 Lower attention on the customers and on services standards (considering that NGOs are mainly concentrated on their survival)
Maybe the urgency of the situation is not so evident, also because the motivation in social sector is the most used currency to pay for work (if money is scarce) and volunteers are always at disposal. But I feel this urgent from inside and I have to launch an alarm: service standards are getting worse and NGOs and charities are not always clear to understand and afford the situation (could you blame them?). Considering NGOs' role in social cohesion, consequences are going to have a cascading effect.
If it is true, as many people say, that crisis could be transformed into opportunity and that design techniques should tackle more complex problems, then there's a lot of work for service designers: to develop a new business model for NGOs which rewards them for the value that they are creating.
I am working on it. Suggestions, information and insights are really welcome!
Photo credit: REGIONAL - International office for development and design