From addressing the challenges of nonprofit collaboration to understanding the value and importance of collective action to tackle large scale social problems: highlights of successful and failed initiatives, tools, and leaders!
Do you ever feel like you need a special app to keep up with the fads and fashions and attendant language and models of the philanthropic world? Meanwhile, life in the trenches goes on as so-called thought leaders say, “whoops!”
The good & the bad of old and new strategic philanthropy.
In response to John Kania, Mark Kramer, and Patty Russell's “Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World” article in the latest issue of SSIR, William Schambra, director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal explores the tangible implications this may have for nonprofits, and the practical challenges that transitioning from the old to the new model will bring. Though the new approach is more flexible, dynamic, and responsive, and aligns better with nonprofit operations, the structure and quantifiable nature of the old approach still have their benefits. Ultimately, the end-state will hopefully be a balance of the two.
As ThinkImpact grew, its founder, Saul Garlick, had to make a tough decision: remain a nonprofit, or change to a for-profit model? To do so, he had to consider some key elements: ownership, transparency, and profits.
Not arguing against one or the other type of social impact organization, Garlick has some interesting insights about nonprofits:
- If your beneficiary is not a customer, they may never tell you what you are providing is unhelpful
- The notion that nonprofits are the right—or even, better—vehicle for doing good in the world is no longer true
"Partnering with groups to enable them to do their work [is critical]. If they can do it more cost effectively and quickly, and reach more people, to a certain extent you should just get out of the way. Egos need to be checked at the door. Too many organizations were waiting for their logos to be on shipments originating in North America."
Sharing nonprofits’ Form 990 tax data in a comprehensive and easy-to-access manner may open the door to more collaboration and innovation within the sector.
Beth Simone Noveck argues that with greater government transparency and enhanced collaboration across philanthropy-focused institutions, there can be greater accountability and innovation within the nonprofit sector. #FreeForm990
Readiness of the fellows, host companies, and placement agency, accountability measures and mentorship, and a process for impact measurement are all critical components of a well-structured, effective nonprofit fellowship program.
(The following post is the final in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the scope of the...
Understanding that social problems can't be solved alone or in a vacuum, it seems obvious that collaboration is key, both within as well as across sectors. Yet the current way of doing "business" doesn't always align with this approach. "A social sector leader must put solving the problem first, ahead of building their organization or personal reputation." And "what the social sector needs most is a heightened ability to collaborate across organizations, solving problems at the ecosystem level." Thankfully, good social sector leadership skills, and collaboration in particular, can be learned - it just needs to be made a priority!
"Would you want to spend a long car ride with this person?" and "What's their talk-to-listen ratio" are just two of the 10 questions you should keep in the back of your mind when interviewing a candidate or evaluating someone's character and attitude.
Great considerations to help you determine what kind of person someone is!
With hard data and soft skills, Communities in Schools fine-tunes its model to reduce dropout rates.
Through a network-wide evaluation that led to the development of a set of best practices and an open-source approach to sharing data and results, Communities in Schools has set the gold standard not only for reducing youth drop out rates but also for how a nonprofit should behave.
Defining the problem and understanding who's best-suited to address it are questions that constantly plague those on the innovation frontier. Depending on where you stand on each will determine the best approach to solve the problem at hand.
Regardless of when you stand on each, however, "innovation is, above all, about combination."
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