There’s been a lot of negative press about the failure of System 001, the brainchild of Boyan Slat designed to clean up the millions of pounds of trash and debris that has collected in the Pacific Ocean. Deployed for the first time in September 2018, System 001, also affectionately called “Wilson,” represents the first significant effort of any kind to address the increasing pollution of Earth’s largest bodies of water.
The Ocean Cleanup, nonprofit home of System 001, has been very transparent about the implementation of their project. They have provided information about their theories, successes, and now failures. They have been forthcoming about repairs and how they hope to improve from what they are learning from their first trial run of cleaning up the massive amounts of waste in the ocean.
There are many lessons to be learned from this young nonprofit and its experiences, but I would like to start off with this. Boyan Slat has earned my respect for having an audacious dream and a big goal. I respect him and his team for thinking of big, new, and innovative ways to address a huge problem. I respect him for tackling a problem that others say is too big to address. I respect his transparency with the process. I respect Boyan Slat’s enthusiasm for making the needed improvements and desire to push forward.
We are faced with many, many large challenges. Many people and organizations are working to address issues like poverty, hunger, education, homelessness, and addiction. What are some challenges that seem too big to take on? How can we learn from the Ocean Cleanup and be audacious and innovative in addressing social issues? Whatever we do, whatever our dream, let’s also be transparent, patient, willing to trial new things, and willing to press on until the needed change happens.
I wish I could claim to have come up with the term "Social Impact" organization.
I can't. But, I may be single-handedly trying to change the way we talk about nonprofit organizations today and for years to come.
Think about it. If you are reading this post, then chances are high that you are connected to the social impact sector. Some people also use the term "tax exempt" organization, which is a little less negative.
I like the term "social impact organization" because it is a much better descriptor for what we do. For what we are about. We are about making an impact in our world. We are about helping kids learn, finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease, providing homes for the homeless, food to the hungry and shelter for those experiencing a disaster. At some point, every one of us has been or will be on the receiving end of a social impact organization.
When we are, we don't care about whether or not they are in business to make a profit. We don't care whether or not a person gets a tax deduction for making a gift. We care about impact.
The impact these organizations make is tremendous. I, for one, am grateful that they exist. Our "nonprofits" deserve a name befitting of their duties.
In addition to my work in the social impact field, I have a great husband of 25 years and an incredible 18 year old daughter. Our family lives in central Mississippi and we provide a loving, but sometimes chaotic home to two awesome dogs and a turtle.