June 1, 2012, 9:37 am
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. Applicants must be tax-exempt organizations in the United States that are at least 10 years old.
The deadline for applications is June 27. The alliance will host a conference call on June 11 to answer questions about the fund and the application process.
• Charities can apply for the 2012 Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation. The first-place prize is $100,000, second…
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.
February 16, 2012, 5:04 pm
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 depends on the answers people give to frequent questions. The goal is to help viewers make better decisions when confronted with similar problems in real life.
Among the projects the company has worked on: a simulation that the U.S. Army uses in its effort to prevent suicide.
The first step in creating a…
February 16, 2012, 4:55 pm
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. He says of the speakers: “Unlike many innovation peddlers, they each bring a pragmatism and humility to their work that is refreshing.”
January 18, 2012, 5:06 pm
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. “Even if it’s in opposition to what you would do, you’re more comfortable because you recognize the situation and you recognize the personality type.”
The program helps make disagreements less about a conflict between individuals and more a clash between the work styles that grow…