The abrasive and shocking statement is just what the Savvas Panas was going for. The Pilion Trust is a London-based charity that works to help discriminated and socially-excluded people. Their CEO came up with an interesting social experiment. Faced with a nationwide donation decrease of 20% and governmental cuts of 60%, Savvas Panas thought to hire an actor to play the part of a street activist.
The actor wore a sign that read "fuck the poor". Multiple people stopped to voice their disgust. One person told the actor he "would become bitter inside." A police officer even stopped to tell him the sign was offensive. One man asked if it was a joke. But the point is that everyone paid attention to him. They read his sign and stopped to see what he was saying. They were outraged. They stopped to defend the poor and advocate for them.
When the actor flipped his sign over, it read "help the poor". No one stopped; no one took a pamphlet. It's sad and it's frustrating, but I'm guilty of the same thing. When I see people on the street handing out pamphlets or looking to talk to people, I usually smile but try to avoid eye contact. I hate that I do that, but I do.
The Pilion Trust and Savvas Panas' point is that clearly people care about the poor to a point that they get extremely angry when someone is coldly disrespecting them. Panas argues that people need to care enough to give.
Savvas Panas came up with this idea in part out of his own interest in how people think. He knew people cared about those less fortunate, but he couldn't understand the disconnect between caring and not giving. In many ways he was influenced by Collins and Amabile's ideas on motivation. Panas' creative idea came out of his enjoyment and satisfaction he gets from his job and helping people. Like Collins and Amabile say, Pavas' creativity came from a desire for self-evaluation rather than evaluation from others. While he clearly wants more donations for his charity, his creative experiment was more about understanding for himself. He is very clearly intrinsically motivated.
Savvas Panas' idea is so creative in that he tries to shake up traditional donation techniques. He wants to market his charity and spread awareness, but overall he wants to understand people. He didn't understand how people could care so deeply about the poor without reaching out to help them. Savvas Panas' social experience taught me that those advocates on the street deserve attention. Stopping to hear what they have to say is not difficult, and really, how hard is that?
You can watch Pilion Trust's full video here.