Competitions Seek Examples of Nonprofit Innovation

Several competitions that focus on innovation in nonprofit financing and programs are accepting applications:

• The Alliance for Global Good wants to encourage innovation in nonprofit financing to help top-performing organizations diversify their sources of revenue to become more sustainable and self-reliant.

The alliance is currently accepting grant applications for its Innovation Fund from charities that seek to fight poverty or focus on health, education, the environment, and global affairs. …


Real Innovation in Social Change Lies in Reinvention

“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 fai…


A Simple Map Can Help You Reach the Right Clients

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 looke…


‘Open Source’ Ideas for Nonprofits

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 …


Matching Data Scientists and Nonprofits

Participants at the DC Datadive

Participants at the DC Datadive (Photo by Craig Barowsky)

More than 100 data scientists, nonprofit employees, and others gathered in Washington this month to put their skills to use with three charities that want to do a better job of harnessing the information they collect.

The problems participants tackled:

• How to create data visualizations that show the many ways that growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods influences children.

• Whether the financial data on charities’ informational tax …


New Site Aids Evaluation Process to Increase Impact

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…


Nonprofit Data Visualization: a Gallery

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.


Charities Offered Chance to Win an Interactive Training Simulation

Screenshot from WILL Interactive simulation

WILL Interactive creates training movies designed to help people make better decisions. The company created this simulation on diversity and resolving conflicts for the Anti-Defamation League. (Image provided by WILL Interactive)

A Maryland company that develops interactive training simulations is holding a competition to put its technology to work for social change.

In the training movies that WILL Interactive creates, the viewer becomes one of the characters, and how the story progresses depen…


Nonprofit Innovation: a Free Webcast

The Taproot Foundation is holding a free Webcast on innovation in the nonprofit world. Scheduled for Wednesday, February 22, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time, the panel discussion will feature:

• Peter Sims, author of Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries

• Pete York, chief research and learning officer at TCC Group

• Laura Weiss, vice president for service innovation at Taproot

Aaron Hurst, Taproot’s founder, promises it will be a thought-provoking, grounded discussion. H…


How a Zoo Reduces Conflicts Among Workers

A Saint Louis Zoo employee at the Children's Zoo

A Saint Louis Zoo employee at the Children's Zoo. (Photo by R. Winkleman/Saint Louis Zoo)

To help employees better understand how their colleagues think and make decisions, the Saint Louis Zoo uses a program that distills academic research on personality types into four easy-to-remember colors: blue, gold, green, and orange.

“When you understand the personalities, you have more of an understanding of why and how people make decisions,” says Wyndel E. Hill, a vice president at the zoo. “Eve…