Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?
Citizens’ engagement in the social innovation sector has been changing dramatically these past few years. Whereas until recently organizations deployed vast marketing efforts to promote their mission statements and recruit volunteers, they are seeing that these strategies are bearing fewer and fewer results. Organizations are coming to realize that it is no longer enough for them to rely on a given circle of volunteers and to delegate low-value added tasks or even to rely on the pro-bono expertise of corporate partners.
In a rapidly changing and increasingly complex world, social entrepreneurs need a more and more diverse set of expertise and an extremely fast turnaround of intervention to resolve some pressing challenges. In this new world, collective intelligence and co-created solutions are a must. The aspirations of volunteers have changed: younger generations are less prone to engaging over the long term. They want the thrill and convenience of participating punctually in actions and to engage on a broad variety of issues and tasks but also to see the concrete outcomes of their participation.
There is hence an opportunity to move from the old citizen engagement paradigm into a new one. This is, however, extremely challenging: organizations do not have the tools, capacity or time to manage large groups of short-term volunteers, nor do they have the expertise to facilitate collaboration and the co-creation of solutions. Citizens do not know where to find relevant opportunities for engagement that meet their skills, time and aspirations for engagement, and oftentimes get frustrated when their attempts do not lead to concrete, visible results. There arises, then, an opportunity to match offer and demand, one that also requires careful design and well-engineered processes to ensure that this matchmaking actually triggers and accelerates social innovation and positive social change.
Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!
Christian Vanizette engineers and fosters a global community of thousands of individuals and groups who share a common passion for social change and engage with the goal of solving the specific challenges of social entrepreneurs. His carefully thought-through online and offline collaborative processes allow any social entrepreneur to submit a challenge to the MakeSense community and tap into its collective wisdom to obtain a satisfying solution within a few days.
Christian has made this possible through highly structured problem-solving mechanisms that use a foundation of collaborative design and that are open-sourced within the community. Every time a social entrepreneur submits a challenge to the community, Christian’s core community members, a group of highly engaged volunteers, define the best approach to resolve it, whether online or offline and in shorter or longer formats. In solving the problem, the core community members recruit the appropriate team of problem-solvers among the community, facilitate the challenge-resolution process, and derive lessons from the experience in order to constantly improve problem-solving tools and feed them back into the community.
The power of MakeSense also lies in the community’s openness. Christian has created entry points, engagement formats and incentives for anyone who wants to participate in positive social change to easily join the MakeSense community. He started with young idealistic youth who are familiar with new technologies and have fast-paced lives and engagement capacity, before developing strategies to include professors and students in university contexts, and professionals in their work environment. In doing so, he is mobilizing the broad range of skills and the necessary passion, time and commitment for the community to thrive and continue fuel social innovation.