Research and development (R & D) is the second topic our Social Innovators Academy students learn, because it is so important to the success of your SIA experience and your social impact projects.

The main focuses of GivingPoint’s research and development workshop include:

  • Understanding the importance of defining and developing their problem statement.
  • Understanding how the research and development process informs social innovation as a creative way of addressing common social issues.
  • Understanding the difference between disruptive, innovative and competitive ideas.
  • Being able to apply the research process to their cause area and potential social impact project.

The goal of the R & D workshop is for you to understand the importance of thoroughly researching and understanding the issue which you want to address, and the community you wish to serve. What you may think is a great idea may not be what the community you are looking to serve actually needs!

Developing a problem statement is a great way to get started with the R & D process. Take a moment to identify the gap between the current state of things and the desired end situation. For example, currently there are students who lack access to the supplies necessary to be successful at school. The ideal situation is that every student has access to every supply necessary to make them successful in the learning process and at school. You need to identify both the PROBLEM and what an ideal END SCENARIO would look like. You don’t have to know yet exactly HOW you plan to solve it!

Creativity and innovation come into play when formulating potential solutions to your problem. For the example of school supply access, this could look like: getting students to donate new supplies for their classmates, or getting a large office supply company to sponsor a classroom and provide all the supplies, or doing a fundraising and giving parents gift cards so they are able to purchase supplies for their child. There are many options, and at this point it is important to research and figure out what already exists, what has already been tried, and what won’t work.

Once you’ve dreamed up an innovative solution to your problem statement, it is now time to start troubleshooting and testing! It is best to find a small group to test your project or product on first. For our school supplies example, it might mean choosing a smaller school to host your first supply drive, or working with one local office supply store, instead of a national chain, to get started. Starting small means you can make changes and improvements as you go – optimizing your project to be as successful as possible.

If all of the above reasons haven’t made you want to put in some time and energy researching your passion area, project idea, and potential solutions, then maybe this will: cause related statistics are one of the most effective ways to add credibility and make you stand out when you start talking to others about your project. As you do research to learn about the current state of your project or passion area, you are bound to find some hard-hitting statistics that you will be able to use in the future in your pitch, marketing materials, and more as you share about your project idea. Research helps you become an expert in your topic!

Spending time and energy on research and development at the beginning of your project will pay off big time in the end!

Want even more hands-on practice with research and development? Join our Social Innovators Academy to hear from an industry expert and learn the tangible tools you need to succeed in research and development. We still have applications open for our 2019-2020 fall semester Saturday SIA program! We would love to have you join us. Learn more and apply today!