The return on investment for sanitation

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I need to replace a toilet in my house. I don’t like spending money on toilets. To me, toilets are like vacuum cleaners and car tires–things that I didn’t grow up looking forward to investing in with my adult money.

It’s easy to take public restrooms and private bathrooms for granted in my comfortable California life, but as this infographic from the World Bank points out, one in seven people on the planet literally have no place to go.

Lack of sanitation affects people through diarrhea, which can be fatal; through stunting physical development; and through lower academic and work achievement.That’s just some of sanitation’s impact on individuals. For communities and countries, lack of sanitation means lower tourism income, lower land values, and lower water quality.

Given all the impacts of missing sanitation, it’s easy to see how investing in sanitation yields five-fold returns.

In the context of this blog, this concept of return on investment is the deeper subject here. Improving our public and social spheres often means bringing new products and services to the citizens. For marketers, return on investment is part of deciding which products and services to bring to market. Well-run companies make this calculation all the time. What is the best investment of shareholder money?

For marketers in the public and social sphere, it’s a very similar question: what is the best investment of citizen or stakeholder money, time and effort? For you to make change in your community, making the ROI argument needs to be part of your design and promotion arsenal. When you can make the economic case along with arguments about equity, social justice, and community obligation, you’ll be on solid grounds to prevail in the market of public opinion and funding.

Posts in the this blog point to free tools and market research to help you assemble your economic case for change. You may not need to lobby for toilets, but I’m sure there are investments your community needs that pay a good return. Where do you want to invest?

 

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