Friday, November 14, 2008

Small Actions. Large Impact

I responded to this question this week: "I am looking for examples where making a small behavioral change can have a large impact on a problem." I received this via an email list from a Social Marketing Consultant in North Carolina.

I figured since I took the time to respond, I might as well share my response here:
I encourage you to visit and

These links go to two parts of a single organization started by myself and six other volunteers in the fall of 1992. It's an example of how small actions, repeated over a long period, can grow.

I also encourage you to view the maps at . We began to create maps in 1993 when a librarian at the United Way of Chicago asked me how I was going to show the locations of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago that I was collecting via the first T/MC survey. I said I did not know and she showed me a Geography magazine, where maps were used to show information. I took that inspiration and have found a variety of volunteers and a few donors, and have been making maps ever since.

This is the small action of one person, and one organization. However, as you look at the maps, you can see that if other individuals begin to use them, it can result in a more consistent flow of dollars, volunteers and programs into all of the high poverty areas of a city like Chicago. This lowers the costs of acquiring these resources, reduces the emotional burnout of fund raising, and helps programs keep key leaders longer, thus building human capital and experience. This leads to better results.

I write about this in this blog and encourage others to do the same. The small action of one person writing about this, and lead his/her friends to take a role. Depending on who your friends are, and who their friends are, this can lead to big actions and tipping points.

If people begin to use maps like this all over the world, we begin to create a bridge that connects "people who can help" with more of the places where help is consistently needed, and we show a role of the middle man, or the small-action person, who takes the time every day, or every so often, to point his friends to the map, with an encouragement to "do something", even if it seems just like a small action.

These add up.

Dan Bassill
Cabrini Connections
Tutor/Mentor Connection
800 W. Huron
Chicago, Il. 60642

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