Monthly Archives: March 2012
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…
March 19, 2012, 11:32 am
Something as simple as a map can help organizations make sure they’re reaching the people who most need services, says Holly Ross, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network. As an example, she tells a story she heard from an employee at a local Red Cross.
The organization’s education department had a map on the wall with pins that marked the schools where the charity had made fire-safety presentations. One day a disaster-response colleague came by and asked about the map. He looked puzzled for a moment, and then he started to mark the locations of recent house fires.
The pushpins marking the fire-safety presentations and the X’s marking the location of the house fires were in different parts of town. Seeing the discrepancy, the organization realized it needed to reach out to schools in neighborhoods with a high incidence of fires, instead of just responding to…
March 10, 2012, 1:56 pm
Open-source technology thrives by letting anybody know how it works and encouraging them to come up with new ideas and to tailor software to their own needs.
Could your nonprofit work the same way?
Any organization can, said Rebecca Suehle, a writer and editor at the open-source software company Red Hat, in a session Saturday at the South by Southwest Interactive conference.
“Just be open, that’s the lesson here, but it sounds scary,” she said, because many organizations are built to keep their work to themselves and out of the hands of competitors.
Nonprofits, though, may be the most qualified type of institution to adopt an open business style.
The principles of open business are community, transparency, meritocracy, rapid prototyping, and sharing, similar to the ideas that guide many nonprofits already.
Ms. Suehle said organizations that want to be more open should…
March 7, 2012, 2:36 pm
Charities that want to evaluate how well they’re carrying out their missions have a new tool at their disposal.
PerformWell, a Web site more than two years in the making, is designed to help social-service groups collect and analyze real-time data to help them improve programs and measure their impact. The site provides a detailed introduction to performance management and offers performance indicators, questionnaires, and other tools charities can use in their measurement efforts.
The site is a project of Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization; Social Solutions, a company that provides assessment software; and the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy
“When you think about the people who are providing programs for children, families, adults, they get up in the morning to help people,” says Kristin Anderson Moore, a senior scholar at Child Trends…
March 4, 2012, 12:50 pm
A growing number of charities are turning to infographics and interactive data visualizations to explain complex issues succinctly, spur advocacy, support their fund raising, and show donors where their money is going. Click on the images below to see examples of their work.
Learn more: Data-rich graphics are transforming how nonprofits reach the public and helping them improve the way the serve others.