What can four crudely-drawn, foul-mouthed little boys teach us about saving the world? Quite a lot, actually. Seriously, you guys.
The starving philanthropist vs. the soulless business magnate. We can grow up to be either successful or fulfilled, but not both, they say. Now, this is not entirely true. One can become financially successful in a compassionate field, and a wealth-seeking person can end up doing a lot of good, but by and large, you accomplish what you spend most of your time and effort working toward. If you try really hard to save the whales or whatnot, odds are you won’t make near as much as a pure moneygrubber who devotes his entire focus to the grubbing of said money.
And so it is that philanthropists become beggars. Every nonprofit has to devote a significant amount of time and effort to fundraising, because they don’t actually do anything that people are willing to pay for. Try as their development team might to sell a contribution as actually buying something, a donation to a nonprofit is an investment at best… and pricey wishful thinking at worst. This situation can be brutal in a bad economy. Weak.
The magic fairy-dust solution? The social enterprise. Defined as an “organization or venture that achieves its primary social or environmental mission using business methods,” this game-changing concept is all we need to pimp out our altruistic endeavors, while still having enough left over for those spinning rims we always wanted on our Prius. It’s not as hard as it seems to do good through doing business (as opposed to doing business with a side-effect of doing some good). A prime example of a functioning social enterprise is PR/advertising firm Berman and Company, which offers services that both benefit its clients and its own individualistic crusade. But it gets even better. South Park does it. And if it can be done with so much fun, and earning so much money, what could be better?
Simply put, South Park is an animated show that lampoons many aspects of American culture and current events, doing so while remaining as politically incorrect and vulgar as possible. More importantly, it contains a strong undercurrent of individualist and libertarian philosophy. Don’t underestimate the culture-changing power of this goofy little show: We’re talking about around three million viewers per episode, spanning a decade and a half. What political organization wouldn’t love to have that kind of exposure, and not having to beg for one cent of their budget?
A little out-of-the-box thinking is really all it takes to either put the money in the good, or the good in the money. That thought should bring you enormous hope. If cardboard cut-out drawings with no intentions of great success can launch a huge, beloved, and lucrative series, while inadvertently spreading the message of freedom and individualism far and wide, then maybe there is hope for the future.
So get going. Change the world, have fun at it, and laugh all the way to the bank.