For the past few years, a growing number of influencers have initiated community projects aimed at solving current global issues, with the hope of inspiring audiences to fight for the common good of humanity.
Projects such as the MrBeast and Mark Rober-led “Team Trees” project back in 2019 vows to plant roughly twenty million trees, aimed at removing over 116 thousand tons of chemical pollution from the atmosphere. Moreover, support from high-profile figures such as Elon Musk have only publicized this project to a wider audience, sparking interest to hundreds of people all around the world. Aside from this, numerous other food drives and other initiatives started up by social media influencers has allowed hundreds of people to be properly taken care of.
However, researchers and experts have come out and criticized the marketing strategies employed for these projects. Oftentimes, these initiatives come out as euphoric, stimulating the audience’s mind into thinking about the positives of the project. With this, researchers have continuously found numerous flaws in many community-building projects revolving around global forest reforestation. Because of this, it is important to find out: What is the fine line between influencer philanthropy and the well-being of our Earth?
Self-Licensing and its Effects
According to a study conducted by the Rights and Royals Institute, forest conservation efforts done by the United Nations have harmed countries such as the Democratic People’s Republic of the Congo (DRC), while also doing little to slow deforestation. Seemingly, the lack of cooperation between parties have caused ripple effects in other aspects as well. Because of this, the initiative failed to recognize community land and Indigenous People’s rights, which was one of the reasons for the limited impact of the project.
Moreover, many psychologists point to the concept of self-licensing as one of the challenges that social influencers have to face while putting up a project. Heavy marketing and influence in a particular video or media cause people to worry less about the consequences of their actions. With mind-boggling numbers and flashy statistics shown in almost every initiative, this has led to a counteracting effect in many people's actions. Seemingly in a blink of an eye, past good actions from these influencers liberate the rest of the audience to engage in immoral and unethical behavior, which leads to even more negative outcomes.
As a result of this phenomenon, society typically becomes indulged in certain luxuries and new items, which are totally contrary to the original vision of the initiative.
Modern Philanthropy and Its Problems
As more and more philanthropists are starting initiatives aimed at trying to tackle global issues such as healthcare, poverty, or the environment, a lot of people come to the false belief that any monetary and non-monetary ‘donation’ would provide the direct solutions to solving these problems. However, certain inequalities still are prevalent in the world, proving how charity should not be the main generator of income for progressive change.
Considering how the amount of money being donated to charity dwarfs the budgets of many national governments from around the world, it should come to no surprise that there is still a long way to go in trying to fix the current system. At the moment, charitable organizations have been “crowded out” by government funds, finding a new approach in tackling the world’s problems that needs to be implemented.
Apart from this, seeing that philanthropic dollars are heavily concentrated in North American and European countries, it poses new questions on the necessary reform and action that needs to be taken by current administrations, to be able handle current crises in the future.
Short-Term vs Long-Term Sustainability
In addition, many of these projects look seemingly more difficult with time, as constant succeeding projects for initiatives such as food drives leave affected communities heavily reliant on these drives, without finding a unique solution to be self-sufficient.
As a result, long-term sustainability seems to be completely forgotten by philanthropists around the world, with only a small minority of people focusing their efforts on self-sufficiency.
Cooperation Between Government and Citizens
Currently, government funds still remain supreme, dwarfing the numbers presented by philanthropists and other organizations alike. With this, cooperation between parties is necessary to be able to tackle the necessary issues present in the world.
Incentivizing collective action and cooperation could prove vital in ensuring that goals are met, and problems are solved in the near future. Strengthening democracy through these actions could foster more prosperity in society.
At this point, innovation still is extremely important to helping tackle the many problems that the world still continues to face till this day. Philanthropic efforts that focus on the investment on new technologies with the potential to positively change communities could be a powerful driver of discovery.
With high-profile entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos investing in healthcare and space travel respectively, it comes to no surprise that humanity has seen major improvements in those aspects of society. A new perspective and discovery could be a major turning point in the world, and it is a must to properly invest in these new technologies.
Humanitarian projects involving high-profile influencers and entrepreneurs allow for one to be of service to others, for the benefit of humanity. However, with recent trends and studies showing that the current status of philanthropy is not sustainable, new approaches and techniques need to be done to be able to properly address these issues.