09/11 Spencer Moros

Blog #3 Spencer Moros

Grassroots Diplomacy Case Study: Youth Center Gifts

Step 1: Facts

  • Children living in youth center in Kenya
  • Children of all ages 3-14 yo
  • Youth center received gifts from donor
  • Gifts already allocated for specific children, Jack is meant to distribute gifts
    • Four children did not receive gifts
    • Staff unconcerned about these children that didn’t get a gift
  • Have black hats which are available to distribute as an alternative
    • These children are unhappy with Jack and feel excluded
  • Assumed cultural difference between Jack (who is American) and the Staff (who are Kenyan)
    • It may be a cultural normal that when gifts come to the center, not every child gets a gift every time
  • Black hat assumed to have some sort of negative stigma for being viewed as less valuable than other gifts

Step 2: Problem & Stakeholders

Problem: Four children at the youth center didn’t receive a gift from the donor because they were short. They were given hats to supplement, but now it looks bad that Jack didn’t get them a similar gift. 

  • Children Without Gifts
  • Children With Gifts
  • Jack 
  • Youth Center Staff 
  • Donor of Gifts

Step 3: Personal vs Professional Motivations

  • Children Without Gifts
    • Personal: might want to take the other children’s gifts because they feel left out 
    • Professional: N/A
  • Children With Gifts
    • Personal: might make the children without the gifts feel bad, want to keep their better gift
    • Professional: N/A
  • Jack 
    • Personal: doesn’t want the kids at the youth center to hate him, wants to be “the good guy”
    • Professional: doesn’t want to upset the staff by blaming the mix up on them or overstepping with his solution; concerned about well-being of children
  • Youth Center Staff
    • Personal: be trusted and liked by the children, wants to be “the good guy”
    • Professional: want to be respected by the children and not to be taken advantage of, wants the operation to keep running smoothly
  • Donor of Gifts
    • Personal: make kids happy
    • Professional: reach as many youth centers as they can

Step 4: Solutions

  1. The children can share the gifts so that no child goes without a gift. This solves the problem by combining all gifts for use by any child at the youth center. Assign gifts on a number system each week (to mitigate the effect of cons).
    • Pros: no child will feel excluded, and each child can have access to a variety of gifts rather than one gift. It will instill a positive lesson in the children, as sharing is important for the kids to learn. Jack will save face providing a quick solution to the imminent issue involving the shortage of gifts. 
    • Cons: children may fight over the gifts, some gifts may be neglected because the children choose others. In this situation, it is likely that the children will want something that they can call their own. Asking the children to share the gifts they were given as individuals may take away some of the feelings of pride of ownership. Not all gifts may be appropriate for all children due to the range of ages.
    • Saves Face: No child will feel completely left out anymore and everyone will be able to play at some point
    • Implications on Relationships: In the short term, some of the children might be upset they have to give up their personal gift for everyone to share, but in the long term all the children should be happy because they now have more gifts overall to play with.
    • Implications on Venture: The youth center will have to monitor when each child can play with each toy to allow everyone to play equally, so it is a little more work in the short term. But long term, hopefully everyone is happier.

2. Jack can tell them their gifts were lost, delayed, give them the hats for now. Get the children gifts at a later date.

  • Pros: eventually all children will have a gift, everyone is leaving with something at the time (although some just have hats).
  • Cons: children will be disappointed until they receive their actual gifts, may not be as interested in the gift at the later time, have to go out and acquire additional gifts.
  • Saves Face: Jack doesn’t blame any specific person for the children not receiving their gifts, and promises them that they will get the same gift eventually so hopefully saving his relationship with them.
  • Implications on Relationships: Children will be unhappy until they receive their gifts, putting more responsibility on Jack to make up for shortcoming. Once they receive their gift they will be happy with Jack after that.
  • Implications on Venture: Short term the youth center (or Jack) will have to spend money out of pocket to get the children their gifts. The children will potentially be upset until they get the gifts. But long term everyone will receive a gift of the same caliber.

3. Jack can take the children who received the black hats aside and make up a fun story to tell them about why the hats are special and how they can use them to play a game of some sort. Make modifications to hats to make them more appealing, add a fun experience to the gift.

  • Pros: This will make the children feel better about not receiving one of the other, more exciting, gifts. It will allow Jack to preserve his relationship with the children. It will avoid setting a precedent or creating a conflict with the staff at the center. This also preserves Jack’s status with the children, which will prevent them from walking all over him because he acts too sympathetically.
  • Cons: The children may see right through the act, making them still feel left out. The staff may be wary that you have chosen to act when they did not perceive a problem. Making decorations on hats requires additional resources- sets precedent. Kids without hats feel excluded.
  • Saves Face: Children will feel better about not getting the other gifts and they will still like Jack. Jack will make them and their gifts seem special.
  • Implications on Relationships: This is a “goldilocks” approach that will not completely satisfy the children because they are still without a conventional gift, but it does not cause conflict with the staff. By acting in this way, Jack is able to preserve relationships with the children and the staff for the long term.
  • Implications on the Venture: By preserving relationships with all parties, the motivation of the venture is saved. If partnerships were strained by the decision made by Jack, they may be less likely to continue working together / work effectively. 

Step 5: Additional Info

  • From personal experience, children like when they are singled out in a good way, so the solution that makes an interesting story about the hats may be even happier than the other kids because they now feel special.

Step 6: Best Action

  • Give the children the hats initially and do an activity / customization of them. Then, go get them their gifts. Combination of #2 + #3.
    • Avoids having any child leaving with nothing at the time
    • Customizing hats gives a fun experience for them to associate them with, so although it is perceived as “less” than other gifts originally it helps to make up for that fact
    • Does put additional responsibility on Jack, however this is essential to keep the venture and relationships running smoothly (saving face of Jack, donors, and staff)
      • Must make clear to staff and donors that this is the only time he will provide this type of charity – to avoid being taken advantage of
  • Please see above in #2/#3 for Saving Face and Implications on Relationships / Venture

Step 7: Sequence of Action

  1. Distribute available gifts along with hats to those without gifts.
  2. Take the children aside with hats.
  3. Speak to the children to establish special quality of hats / decorate the hats.
  4. Acquire additional gifts. (Inform donors that this personal donation is a one-off, and tell staff and children that gifts came from the same donor to avoid conflict about personal contribution)
  5. Distribute gifts to those with only hats.


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