A friend posted this link to a Forbes article about how philanthropy tends to hurt rather than help. The basic premise can be summarize in this quote below:

“When you try to help, you try to give things, you start to have the consequences. There’s an author Bob Lupton, who really nails it when he says that when he gave something the first time, there was gratitude; and when he gave something a second time to that same community, there was anticipation; the third time, there was expectation; the fourth time, there was entitlement; and the fifth time, there was dependency. That is what we’ve all experienced when we’ve wanted to do good. ”

So then what? The answer isn’t simple but I’d like to put forward that we need to start “teaching a man to fish” rather than giving him a fish. In user experience we consider everything from a holistic point of view. We explore each and every view. We talk to users. We research. We pick people’s minds. We look at the marketplace. We look at the numbers. More importantly we look at behaviour and we try to find the solution in the midst of the haze.

To that point, Charity Water has an interesting story of revamping the philanthrophy model. You can go to their site and you can give to a specific project, which they post on a map via GPS, and you can follow the story of that particular location. Then they went after building an epic brand on the level of Coke & Facebook. They took a design approach to charity.

Perhaps it’s time not only for UX’ers to step up and volunteer for charities close to their heart but for charities to start looking for and hiring visionary UX designers who can help them revamp their business models through on the ground user research so we can do more than give. Let UX empower those in need to help themselves.