|Combining technology and flexiblity (Alamy)|
by Nicole Darabian, The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2013/sep/27/top-tips-global-social-impact
Having developed and launched Get Water!, a game raising awareness about water scarcity and its impact on girls' education, and worked internationally for its diffusion worldwide, social enterprise Decode Global has adopted a strategy that promotes collaboration and youth engagement at the international scale.
Here are our top tips for social enterprises looking to increase their outreach and impact internationally.
Technology is part of our everyday life and through mobile phones we have the power to reach virtually every human being on the planet. If you want to maximise your chances of generating an impact, leverage technological tools that help you reach a large share of the world's population. For this matter, you'll also find yourself drawing the young generation's attention to your cause. Mobile games are played and enjoyed by individuals worldwide – being able to convey the message you want to spread through a medium inherent to people's life will offer more possibilities at making an impact.
Engage youth in your approach
In today's digital world, we have to find new ways of using technology to engage youth in global issues. At Decode Global we encourage an inclusive approach where young people can participate in the development of our games and their content. Whether it's through our fellowship programme or calls to action through school networks, we continuously seek to involve youth in our activities to get them thinking critically about world disparities and spark their interest around social issues.
Focus on a solution-oriented approach
It's all about the messaging. The tone with which you choose to convey your message defines its receptivity. Rather than focusing on the problem you are trying to address, focus on solutions you're promoting to help solve the problem. Individuals are easily alienated by initiatives that focus on negativity and despair. Choosing a compelling and optimistic route will be more likely to inspire individuals to take action in spreading the word about your cause. We have found an opportunity in storytelling in games - a simple yet powerful medium to get a message across.
Surround yourself with a multicultural team
If you're looking for international reach, recruiting international team members is key. You can benefit from greater collaboration abroad and a larger network that will help extend your reach not to mention counter language barriers. Having an international team has helped us gain market insights and feedback on how the game was received across the world.
Any collaboration at the international level requires significant communication commitments and reporting. Working with India, Singapore, Europe and US has taught us the importance of regular check-in meetings and flexibility in working hours. Thankfully, free communication tools such as Skype and Google documents have made it easier.
Partner with organisations for sustainable solutions
Greater things are accomplished together and finding the right partners with aligned mission goals is key. Raising awareness is our first step in making a difference in the world. We partner with non-profits that work towards alleviating the issues highlighted in our games. Recently, we've partnered with a non-profit bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries to strengthen the message of our game and maximise its impact by committing ourselves to real field projects.
Measure your impact
As with financial evaluations, measuring your impact is becoming critical for both the credibility and success of any social enterprise. Taking the necessary steps to assess your social impact should be as important as your mission at making an impact. Measuring the impact of games is a relatively new concept and tools designed to this effect have yet to be developed. This is where we collaborate with academic institutions and research centres to help us develop metrics and understand the impact of our games.
Nicole Darabian is the partnerships manager at Decode Global.