Strategy

Elements of a New Paradigm: Evaluation

February 11, 2010

The shift away from a philanthropic paradigm based on demonstration projects and government-sponsored replication has also fundamentally altered the role of evaluation in philanthropy.
In the past, evaluation may have been the lynchpin to scaling social impact by proving the effectiveness of a particular intervention and thereby providing the justification for large-scale funding from government or other sources. (Although it has never been clear exactly who those “other sources” might be!)

Good-bye Philanthrocapitalism, Hello Citizen Philanthropy?

January 29, 2010

Given the rise of neoliberalism over the last twenty years—the extension of the market into every sphere of life—it’s no surprise that civil society has begun to receive the same attention. Large parts of politics and government, health care and education, knowledge production and the media have already been overtaken, but civil society, one could argue, is a more important case because it’s the ground from which alternatives can grow.

Six Ways You Can Maximize the Upside

December 11, 2009

Today, in my final post, I want to offer specific suggestions for Intrepid Philanthropists who want to maximize the upsides of transparency.
I want to start about by acknowledging—transparently—that my preaching below is ahead of my practice. These suggestions represent an amalgam of what I’ve observed from some of the country’s most forward-thinking grantmakers. No one grantmaker that we’re aware of does all of these things.

Failure Anyone?

December 7, 2009

Do social entrepreneurs and their ventures fail? You bet! Do philanthropists? Of course! Unfortunately, you probably don’t hear much about either’s flops, fiascos, and total failures. Why? For some pretty simple reasons: social entrepreneurs hesitate to speak publicly for fear of being labeled as “difficult,” while philanthropists have something of a “do no harm” credo to which they, consciously or unconsciously, subscribe.

Will the Real Nonprofit Sector Please Stand Up?

November 13, 2009

Where are the spokespeople for the nonprofit sector’s distinctive value?
Where are the people who will stand up and take issue when Jack and Suzy Welch write, as they did in their BusinessWeek column in 2007, "In most nonprofit situations, as long as you don't screw up, you're pretty much guaranteed lifetime employment." (Not so at the three nonprofits where I have worked, but true of some of the companies I consulted to in a past job as a corporate management consultant.)

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