My Top 21 Social development Take aways

Social development is a critical area that focuses on social welfare and the upliftment of the less fortunate

in society. Here are my top 21 learnings gathered in the past few years:

1 First, gain a deep understanding: Before initiating any social development work or project in any

given area or location, try to understand the culture that exists there, the people, the history of the

place, and the social dynamics at work there

2 Compliance is just the starting point: While there is no doubt that the law of the land is supreme

and must be abided fully in letter and spirit, it is only the starting point as far as social development

is concerned. If you really want to make a difference in the society, you should transcend beyond

the law and follow ethics and values to achieve real and long-term impact.

3 Communicate your Policy clearly: Unless you clearly c ommunicate about what you can do and

what you cannot, beneficiaries will start assuming things and start expecting a lot from you, some of

which may not be in your agenda that you will not be able to give them. Hence, also communicate

the ‘exit’ policy very clearly to the beneficiaries.

4 Try to find out the Root Cause: Do not try to implement a solution without figuring out what is

causing the social issue at hand. If you do not find out and address the root cause, the remedy (based

on your initial assessment) will be temporary, less effective, and unsustainable.

5 Overnight changes are not possible : You cannot create social improvements overnight because

lasting change takes time in society – it is tough to make quick changes in the society since there

are so many factors at play. Therefore, you must be patient while working on social development


6 People remember Change Makers they see on the ground: While funders play a pivotal role

in enabling social development, beneficiaries remember those who are implementing change on

the field. In case an NGO partner is implementing the project, the beneficiaries are more likely to

remember the NGO than the funder unless the funding organization participates in the process of


7 Mantras for Project sustenance: The key enablers of project sustainability are Engagement,

Checking, Monitoring, and Continuous Connect.

8 Compassion is the key: People working on social development projects should possess one key

quality: compassion and adherence to values. Only motivated team members can contribute to

society; the rest are only ticking boxes.

9 Human minds are complex: It is mostly impossible to predict human behaviour when it comes

to money or anything related to money, particularly in India.

10. Never give anything free: Free things never acquire respect, nor can you sustain them for long

since they have their own costs. It is important to ‘partner’ with the beneficiaries, not just give.

11. Progress gradually: Do not try to solve all the problems in one go , let beneficiaries collaborate

to solve some of the problems – just empower and support them.

12. Not you, but let the beneficiaries praise your project: It is easy to fall into the trap of self-praise,

but try to resist that temptation! Instead, allow the beneficiaries to praise your project. Never steel

the identity of the beneficiaries by putting your branding board in front of individual beneficiaries

13 Build trust first: To be effective, a project requires time, effort, money; ongoing engagement,

and, most crucially, willpower—build trust first, and then proceed.

14. The Three-point Checking Rule : If you are inclined to help a specific beneficiary, double-check

his or her real financial status from three different sources.

15. Never have unlimited funds for any project: It is essential to define caps for social development

projects since constraints can be a positive catalyst for Innovative solutions.

16. More than charity: Rather than mere charity, allow beneficiaries to earn it by putting in some

effort. They will respect it in the future.

17. Never underestimate the underprivileged: Just because the beneficiaries are from poor

backgrounds, it does not mean that they are not aware of the situation. They are well aware!

18. No generalization please: Please do not generalize the opinion of all beneficiaries because it

varies from individual to individual.

19. Be neutral: When people realize you have power or money, their expectations increase.

20. Money is not enough: For social change and results, money is insufficient without adequate

engagement, focus and commitment.

21. Work with the Government: Do not try to create a parallel system to the government but be a part

of it.

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