For most top business schools, Social Impact is the new black. It’s never been more in vogue; promotional literature touting sexy social impact “initiatives” and “experiential learning opportunities” are featured front and center on school pamphlets and websites. Wharton is certainly no stranger to this trend, and proudly tries to infuse social impact in its DNA. This is reflected in the school’s student life, curriculum, and is one of the three pillars it has so enthusiastically been trying to promote.
Although there have been effective organizations and engaging events that promote philanthropy on campus currently as well as in the past, many students feel there is a huge disconnect between the reality of social impact’s presence on campus and the idealized vision that Wharton loves to talk about. Rather than spark real conversation about making meaningful change, many times the real issues take a back seat to the galas, fashion shows, date auctions, and free food in which Wharton students love to partake in the name of Social Impact.
One club that is trying to cut through the Wharton Social Impact fluff and encourage a practical and hands-on approach to giving back is the newly WGA-approved One for the World. Started last year by two WG 14’s with the goal of making philanthropy an active part of Wharton culture by asking students to pledge 1% of their future income to highly effective charities, it has expanded its mission and scope under the helm of Amaan Banwait (WG 15) and Anita Hossain (WG 15).
The goal is simple: to educate and equip Wharton students to make smart and thoughtful decisions about the best way to donate their money to social impact causes. “We want to create a culture of philanthropy at Wharton”, says Banwait. “We want people to start thinking about giving today so that it becomes part of their daily lives and their norms.”
Last year, the organization’s main focus was to get students to make a pledge of donating 1% of their future income to effective charities. Although the club was created last April, it was able to get an impressive 5% of the Class to 2014 to make the pledge in a short period of time. This year, the focus has expanded to education. Through successful and highly-attended events such as the Peter Singer panel and “The Giving Game” with Bobby Turner,One for the World hopes to educate the Wharton community about how to think critically about the way we give.
The impact that 1% of future income can have on the world’s population can be astounding. “You have 17,000 kids dying everyday-that’s one kid dying every 5 seconds from causes that are largely preventable for a few dollars, “says Hossain. For example, for around 50 cents, a de-worming treatment can be bought to help kids fight the risk of intestinal worms, an extremely cost-effective way to prolong a life while keeping the kids in school.
Currently, the One for the World portfolio consists of four philanthropic-based organizations, including Against Malaria Foundation, Evidence Action, and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. These organizations have been put through a rigorous due diligence process and have been vetted by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy and a committee consisting of Wharton MBA candidates and a Penn P.H.D. student One for the World has been working with to ensure effectiveness and meaningful impact.
The club is looking to add more organizations to its portfolio, and will throw an event on March 18th to educate students on the criteria it uses to select donor organizations as well as encourage feedback from the Wharton community about other organizations students would like to see added to the portfolio. In addition, the club has recently launched a Student Ambassador initiative with help from rockstar Wharton professor Adam Grant comprised of 28 students to help promote its mission.
Says Banwait, “The Student Ambassador initiative was created mainly to create new, engaging events and messaging that helps promote the culture of philanthropy. These ambassadors will also have one-on-one meetings with interested students that have questions about the organization as well as ideas about philanthropy in general. We really want Wharton students to own their pledge and feel connected to their cause.”
“At Wharton, we focus so much on who we want to be professionally,” says Hossain. “It’s equally as important to think about who you want to be personally as well. Our goal is to make philanthropy a part of your identity early on.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to set-up a one-on-one meeting with a One For the World Student Ambassador, or sign up to make the pledge.