Category Archives: Opinion
July 30, 2012, 4:57 pm
To tackle problems in a rapidly changing world, nonprofits need to adopt a new mind-set, one that emphasizes improvisation, ad hoc networks, and adaptation, says Andrew Zolli, executive director of PopTech, a New York charity focused on innovation, and co-author of a new book, Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back.
Because the world has entered a period of “extraordinary volatility” and the problems society faces are increasingly complex, he argues, figuring out why some individuals, organizations, and systems are resilient in the aftermath of a crisis while others are not is paramount.
“We’re all ballroom dancing in the minefield,” says Mr. Zolli. “In an environment like that, we have to be able to prepare our companies, our communities, our organizations to be able to deal with those disruptions. And that is a different agenda that we have had, even in the recent…
July 6, 2012, 10:27 am
Nonprofits need to get a lot better at asking clients what they think — and acting on the information they receive, says Peter York, director of research for TCC Group, a management-consulting company that advises charities.
Information from beneficiaries can help organizations improve their programs and spark new ideas for fighting tough problems. For real-world examples of charities using client feedback to strengthen their programs, read an opinion piece from The Chronicle’s current issue.
Too often, nonprofits are uncomfortable asking clients what they think about programs and fail to appreciate the value of their feedback, argues Mr. York. Instead, he says, charities prefer to ask employees for their comments and suggestions, and hire outside evaluators.
“Self-reporting has gotten such a bad rap,” says Mr. York, “and the entire private sector would just guffaw at…
March 23, 2012, 6:02 pm
“Innovation” has become such a buzzword lately, particularly among people working on social change. But let’s take a step back and talk about what the word could really mean. Innovation is more than just new ideas. To me, it means taking a completely new approach to how we finance, structure, and prove social change.
The nonprofit world has never lacked new ideas to address problems. In fact, you could argue that nonprofits are innately entrepreneurial, being borne out of a recognized market failing and a new idea to remedy it.
The need, then, is not more new ideas. Rather, true innovation lies in reinventing a field built on social change.
Here are some ways that is starting to happen:
New support mechanisms. The avenues for sending money to social-change efforts are increasing significantly. What started 10 years ago with venture philanthropy has now expanded into…