Co-author: Eva Forde, the Rich Social Worker. Eva Forde is the President of the Jamaica Association of Social Workers and blogs at evaforde.com -- the place for social workers who want to be rich.
Talk to any social worker around the world and they'll likely tell you that they pride themselves on their ability to work on behalf of people in need. Not surprisingly, people in need are often people who live in poverty or lack the needed resources to improve their lives.
So the obvious challenge for social workers becomes finding enough resources to help meet the needs of those they serve -- and they generally do -- often providing their services for free in the form of charity. But that doesn't mean that these services don't cost money -- they do. Social workers are well educated professionals and command a professional salary. So what do they do instead? They use their fundraising and solicitation skills to ask for money: first for their clients, then for themselves.
This kind of built-in system of asking for money has always existed, which was fine when our world was divided in two parts: the profit world and the non-profit world. This system divided the rich and profit-making businesses on one side and the poor social workers and their clients on the other. For decades everyone understood this system and lived by its rules: the rich took care of the poor, and the poor, helped by their social workers, asked money of the rich.
But in the last 20 years our world has drastically changed
The dawn of the internet, global economic crises, and managed care have all brought about stricter policies and practices for funding agencies and contracts. Whereas once clients' needs were paramount, now the bottom line prevails. Ironically, the more money funders have given to social causes, the less they have connected with the actual needs of clients and social workers on the ground, concerned instead about and the quantity of resources given than the quality of their gift.
And guess what: charity doesn't evoke change. Research shows that for lasting change to take effect people have to be invested in their own transformation. So consistent charity or free services can actually harm service users, encouraging dependance and defeating the purpose of the help intended. As role models for their clients, social workers can't afford to set such poor examples.
Social Workers can create money
So what should they do instead of asking for money? We believe they should create it, and in this new day and age of conscious capitalism and technological advancement they can -- we do it ourselves. Here are 3 starter tips to help other social workers capitalize on the opportunity that exists to turn their real value into real cash.
1. Improve your money mindset.
Having more money starts with one's mindset about it. Many social workers have historic negative experiences with money and negative emotions that keep coming up for them. The most common way Social Workers deal with these is by ignoring the importance of money and saying things like, "I do this work to help people, not for the money," and, "Money is not important." But nothing could be more dangerous to the work! It's dangerous because that kind of thinking makes money less important than it really is thereby sabotaging social workers' own empowering efforts.
The solution? An abundant money-mindset practice with the goal of neutralizing the meaning of money altogether. When Social Workers no longer view it as something that is hard to get, they learn that money is just a thing they can exchange for the value that they give, and so there is no limit they can make!
2. Diversify your use of the Internet
The internet age has presented an abundance of opportunities for people from all walks of life to leverage their skills and expertise, and there is no reason why social workers can't take advantage of this opportunity as well.
Many social workers restrict their online activity to scholarly research and surfing. But when Social Workers fully embrace the internet and use it to connect with diverse professionals, showcase their expertise and explore their creativity, their prowess in creating money increases. In The Netherlands, always known as an open and innovative country, Social Workers are inventing surprising ways to create money and even connect more purposefully with those in the for-profit and corporate sectors. That might be scary for some, but the best innovations always come from innovations across industries, and with today's technology social media makes it easy to connect!
3. Become an entrepreneur
Without a doubt entrepreneurship is the quickest path to cash for the social worker. Not only does it allow social workers to expand their social work skills, but the additional money that entrepreneurs make can assist in helping others in need. If social workers mix their passion and profession with some savvy business skills they will see their profits an their impacts increase!
If you are a social worker, you can use a simple business model that focuses on money in exchange for value. Start with finding future customers who need what you know. Be crystal clear on what problems are keeping them up at night and then build solutions to address them. Finally, market those solutions by making them super attractive so that every potential client feels attracted to you and your products. And for goodness sake, don't be afraid to charge a fair price for your service, because that simply represents the value that you deliver. So, go ahead; tell your story, spread your word, and if you do this with heart and soul your future clients will come looking for you.
We know that the change won't be easy. Social workers have to make a deep shift of their mindset and attitude about worth, value, and money in order to see results. But we believe that the more Social Workers can create money and income for themselves, the less they will need to rely on donor funding to earn a living -- and they can still be social! This is what we do, and other social workers are doing it too. Join us?
Eva Forde is the President of the Jamaica Association of Social Workers and blogs at evaforde.com - the place for social workers who want to be rich.
Anneke Krakers teaches Social Workers about marketing and branding their services in a simple system. In her homeland, The Netherlands, she is well known as a business coach, blogger, and advocate for Social Workers.