Philanthropy is Not the Solution to Sustainability. Here's Why.

Philanthropy is Not the Solution to Sustainability. Here's Why.

Updated: Jan 29, 2019


Ecosia is a commercially-driven and clever search engine powered by Microsoft. But why would anyone want to change search engines from Google or Bing? Well, there's one huge difference. Ecosia is 'the search engine which plants trees.' Every time you make a search on Ecosia, income is created through ads and the profit generated is spent on planting trees. Genius right?



"Social enterprise has the power and scaleability to solve global sustainability problems by re-channeling money to good causes. Why? Because Google-sized problems need Google-sized solutions."

That means that just by changing your search provider to Ecosia and going about your normal daily life, you can plant trees everyday and improve the environment by barely lifting a muscle! Ecosia.org provides excellent search results, complete transparency with business reports and tree planting receipts, has already invested €7 million in reforestation projects in places that need reforesting most, and they are a 100% CO2-neutral organization. Trusted partners include The Jane Goodall Foundation, Eden Reforestation Projects, PUR Project, OZG and many more around the world.


Why Are Charities Flawed?


Ecosia is a social enterprise model and this could be the future for good business. Social enterprise has the power and scaleability to solve global sustainability problems by re-channeling money to good causes. Why? Because Google-sized problems need Google-sized solutions. How can an organization create the impact needed to solve problems on a planetary scale by relying on charitable donations?


To be clear, I'm not undermining the good work of charities - they'll always be an essential part of the solution. But the simple truth is: charities are unable to create the impact they deserve relying on donations alone. But if we flip this model on its head, and harness commercial business practices using an ethical and environmentally-friendly approach to business, we can have Google-sized impact, power and resources to throw at the 21st Century challenges we face.



The uncomfortable truth is: every time a not-for-profit charity grows, so does its impact (woo hoo!) but ultimately so do its organizational overheads. It's illogical to think that most people in the developed world have little concern about splashing out on an expensive consumer item, produced in a factory with poor labor practices and bad environmental records by a global for-profit corporation. However, when they donate $1 to the charity of their choice, they want to know that 97% of their donation goes straight to the cause. But why is this logic flawed?


"...let's judge the worth of a non-for-profit organization, not merely by how many cents on the dollar go directly to the cause, but by the accumulative positive impact it creates for society."

With this approach to solving social and environmental problems, charities are purposefully kept small. Not-for-profits typically have a 'bare bones' staffing structure. But with limited hands on deck, limited growth potential and sparse resources for hiring good talent, there's no way they could ever match the resources or impact potential of a global for-profit corporation. To put things into perspective, how can a charity with the noble mission of providing safe drinking water to every human being on the planet ever actually achieve their vision? They couldn't! But Google could.


Combining the For-Profit & Not-for-Profit Worlds


So let's judge the worth of a not-for-profit organization, not merely by how many cents on the dollar go directly to the cause, but by the accumulative positive impact it creates for society. Big organizations require complex organizational structures to operate effectively, together with talented people to make big change a reality.


Let's not hack impact potential down at the trunk, but instead encourage it to grow and flourish into a fully-fledged tree. Perhaps it's now time to embrace the social enterprise model, and get the best of the for-profit and non-for-profit worlds in one, so that we can drive change forwards on an unprecedented scale! To start with, let's change our default search engine to Ecosia on our web browsers.


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#ecosia #socialenterprise #charities #economicreform #education #outdoorlearning #businessmodel #creating #change #socialchange #sustainability #changemakers #sustainabledevelopment #business #bethechange #outdoortopia

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