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There are always those who need help and those who can help

Who said that a benefactor cannot be a beneficiary?

A new social technology is being tested in Khabarovsk. Its creators have come up with a mutual search system that allows donors and beneficiaries to find each other and ... change roles. Now this is done with the help of short announcements, which the authors of the project called "Search cards".

There are always those who need help and those who can help
Photo: Alla Dzhan-Sha

Alla Jan-Sha

director of a production company, curator of social projects, member of the Khabarovsk city public chamber

It all started over a year ago. Once, in a conversation about what kind of real help the municipality provides to the Khabarovsk residents today, the head of the social work department Lela Krush shared with me the problem. It turns out that the point is not even that there is not enough money or resources to help the so-called “unprotected segments of the population”. There are city programs, non-profit organizations are active, social institutions work. The bad news is that many resources remain unclaimed. People either do not know about their capabilities, or do not want to use them.

Our team has been promoting for many years - from social initiatives to advertising - and we were interested and wanted to find a solution. We studied working cases, the experience of successful non-profit organizations. And one day I came across a report that was published in the spring of 2019 by the research center of the Higher School of Economics. It said that more than half of Russians are involved in charity work. In general, our fellow countrymen are responsive and friendly. But what form does this charity take? It turns out that this is mainly alms or point help, from hand to hand. 2% of respondents acted through charitable organizations and foundations, through initiative civic groups and movements - another 2%, through social services only 1%.

First thought: it is necessary to promote funds and services (long, expensive, hardly effective). Second thought: if people want to help people personally, it's easier to give them that opportunity.

In fact, everything turned out, of course, not so simple. But we found a solution that seemed interesting to us as a pilot. True, in order to test it, it was necessary to organize a large city event, attract dozens of partners and interest hundreds of ordinary Khabarovsk residents. This is how the “Towards” charity festival and its main communication platform, which we called “Search Cards”, appeared.

Later, when the project "Towards" took 1st place in the national competition for the development of public relations "Silver Archer - Far East" (our nomination - "Charity"), the experts confirmed - yes, now it is. The ways of communicating ideas are getting more and more expensive. To be noticed and heard, you have to make every effort. We had to organize a festival for the whole day and twelve venues in order to collect three hundred beautiful and sincere "search cards", and then be able to study them.

So what are our "Cards"?

At first glance, these are ordinary printed ad forms. We offered all the participants of the action to fill out a short questionnaire, in which they had to tell about themselves and write what kind of help the author could provide and what he would be glad to accept.

We placed the completed advertisements on a special structure, and those who were interested had the opportunity to get the necessary contacts. Thus, people who need help had the opportunity to find those who can provide it. And vice versa.

It is important that our cards consisted of two parts. It is no coincidence that the slogan of our project sounds like this: “There are always those who need help. There are always those who can help. You can be both at the same time. " In order to take part in the promotion, it was necessary to fill in both parts. Required. Otherwise, the cards were invalidated. Why is that? The fact is that during the development of the project, we discovered another problem. It consists in a kind of social confrontation between beneficiaries and benefactors (we will continue to call these social groups this way). Often one can observe the position of some, something like “Everyone owes us!”, And the position of others “We are already tired of helping everyone!”.

After all, it is believed that charity is when the strong help the weak, the rich help the poor, the healthy help the sick. But if you think about it, it turns out that the strong, the healthy, and the rich themselves often need help. And the weak, the sick and the poor are also capable of helping. You just need to understand who needs what and who can help with what. In our opinion, society is not divided into those very benefactors and beneficiaries. We are all human, and we find ourselves in different situations. And sometimes it is important to be able not only to offer help, but also to ask for it. Even if it is not typical for you. We came to the conclusion that it is with the idea of ​​mutual assistance (the key word is “mutual”!) That the very civil society about which so much is said today begins.

Another important point. We wanted to “facilitate” the very concept of charity as much as possible, not in general, but at least within the framework of our project. Our story is not about sacrifice and wear and tear at the expense of personal life. An extra bag of potatoes left? You need? Excellent, I will go from the dacha, I will deliver. No one to leave the cat with during the vacation? I can shelter. Are the flowers withering? We'll take it to the office, our secretary has all the plants sprouting. In the end, it happened.

And do you know what else our experiment showed? There were almost no cards with financial requests at the stand. Approximately 6% of the participants expressed a desire to become volunteers, and about the same number of volunteers needed help. The second most important request is to get a job or training (almost 20%). And about the same number of participants were ready to provide work or training. But the most important and interesting thing - in the first place, in requests, in proposals - the need for communication. Search for a community of interests, requests for psychological help and simply offers of companionship. People need people. But this is exactly what we proceeded from at the very beginning.

What now? In a pandemic this year, it was not possible to hold a similar festival. But this is what made us look for a solution on the Internet. Now we are working on creating a specialized online platform to maximize the scale of work. As it turned out, this process is also long and difficult. In the meantime, we have posted those cards that were already at our disposal on the festival website "Towards"... Previously, of course, after asking how relevant the requests are and asking permission from the authors. Come in, look, choose, find each other. True, the contacts of the participants can only be obtained from our coordinator, we do not distribute them to the right and to the left. First, you need to make sure that the interest is not idle. But even being at the pilot stage of the project, we consider it very important to see, understand, talk, and delve into everything.

Indeed, in the future, we want to help not only the participants find each other, but also charitable foundations, non-profit organizations and various socially oriented structures to build their work in accordance with the real needs of the Khabarovsk citizens. However, not only Khabarovsk residents, we can safely talk about the entire Far East, the territory where mutual support is a historically formed part of the local mentality. What we had the opportunity to see.

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