The Costs and Benefits of Social Betterment Efforts

Activists, politicians, directors of social service nonprofits, and community organizers might benefit from using some relatively simple tricks to improve the results they can get from whatever resources they’ve got.

That objective can be attained in two ways. Using a simple form of cost-benefit analysis can help you see what good can come from a certain project and compare the outcome with the resources needed. Asking some questions about the proper “target” for a social betterment campaign can make the most difference.

First, let’s have a closer look at the concept of cost-benefit analysis.What is it anyway? Cost-benefit analysis just calculates the economic outcomes anticipated from a business decision with the costs. Sometimes, maybe once a year, someone must conduct a cost-benfit analysis on a government program or regulation or law. I can’t think of any examples. The potential for cost-benefit analysis in social betterment is still there.

Likewise, questions about your plans might help you get the most for your time and money. Here are a few broadly applicable questions:

1. How common is the specific activity or behavior in question? How does that compare to the others that seem to contribute to the problem?

2. How bad is each instance of the activity or behavior you addressed in question 1? Again, how does that compare to the other potential contributors?

3. How much do other people really care about the behavior or activity in question? How does that level of concern compare with concern over other likely contributors to the problem?

4. Do we know how to change the behavior or activity in question? What about the other contributors to the problem?

5. Given our knowledge and resources how effectively can we really hope to be in dealing with a particular behavior or activity?

Ideally, you could identify some contributor to the problem that is common and/or quite serious each time it happens, that causes susbstantial concern, that we know how to affect and that can really be addressed with the available resources.


~ by chetdavis on October 4, 2007.

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