Brian Mullaney’s epiphany occurred back in 1994 in Vietnam. He was traveling as a board member with Operation Smile, a charity that performed cleft-repair surgery on poor children around the world. Because the organization flew in doctors and surgical equipment from the United States, its time and capacity in a given locale were limited. “On every mission, 500 or 600 children would show up begging for treatment,” Mullaney recalls, “but we could only help 150.” In a small Vietnamese village near the Chinese border, there was one kid who played soccer every day with the volunteers; they took to calling him Soccer Boy. When the mission was over and Mullaney and the others drove away, he saw Soccer Boy chasing after the group’s bus, his cleft lip still unrepaired. “We were in shock — how could he not have been helped?” That’s when Mullaney realized that charities like Operation Smile were badly in need of a new business model — or any business model at all, really — and he set out to invent one.
Monday, March 10, 2008
A new model for Philanthropy
Freakonomics in the Times Magazine: Bottom-Line Philanthropy