Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘nonprofit’

Some of the best nonprofits have been prevented from growing as large or becoming as capable as they should be. What’s needed, according to Steven Goldberg, a consultant to nonprofits and social entrepreneurs, is a new nonprofit capital market that would take the form of a prediction, or information, market, akin to political polls. In a new book, Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets: Why Philanthropy Doesn’t Advance Social Progress, Goldberg argues that such a market, while not a silver bullet, would increase social impact by fundamentally restructuring the sector, turning philanthropy from being loyalty-based – guided by fundraising and relationships – to merit-based – guided by performance. The idea of a nonprofit capital market has been mentioned by many thought leaders in the sector, Goldberg acknowledges. Nonetheless, he feels it has not received sufficient attention to date. Such a virtual stock market or “Impact Index” would allow philanthropists to know what various nonprofits accomplish, through evaluation and transparency, and not just what nonprofits are trying to accomplish, through anecdotal reporting. Such data will help make the most promising nonprofits, with the greatest likelihood of “transformative social impact,” stand out from the “weeds,” he writes.

Goldberg is not alone. Most established foundations are making the case for improved impact assessment — and for a decision-making process that is based on objective measures. And most organizations that study or support the sector — including GEO,  FSG, Independent Sector, the Foundation Center and UPenn’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy — have made the case as well. But, we may be better at devising viable metrics than we are at changing behavior. And so Aspen’s program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation will convene thought leaders, practitioners and funders to consider how impact measures and other data can lead to field-wide learning — and changed behavior. Engaging in this workshop series will be members and partners of the Global Philanthropy Forum.

Before detailing his plan for this Impact Index, Goldberg writes about the problems of the current financial structure governing the sector. Traditional fundraising takes too much time and offers too little money, as foundations offer too many small, short-term grants with lots of strings attached. This practice reduces foundations’ risks of failure, he writes – but may also lead to less significant achievement. The sector’s most critical flaw, he says, is the fact that funding is tied to relationships, not performance.

The release of Goldberg’s book is timed to take place when the discussion of metrics and evaluation is taking place in all corners of the sector — but has not yet exhausted us. Superb work has been done and is being undertaken by many organizations on both the local and the national levels. For some, this is the time to take the discussion the last mile, from thought and successful experiment to field-wide change. But, in trying to do so, we might want to bear in mind the resilience of human nature. Both performance and relationships will surely play a role.

–Jane Wales

Vice President the Aspen Institute

President & CEO, The World Affairs Council/ The Global Philanthropy Forum

Read Full Post »

Jane Wales, World Affairs Council President and CEO, is honored as one the NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 in their 12th annual celebration of the sector’s top leaders. See the full article on the NonProfit Times website or download the pdf.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday, the U.S. House passed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.  Following Senate passage of the same language last week, this means the bill will now be sent to President Obama so that he can sign it into law.

Unfortunately, the bill does not contain language creating a Commission on Cross-Sector Solution, as we mistakenly reported last week.  It does, however, include a new Social Innovation Funds Pilot Project, through which the Corporation for National Service will award grants to local programs.  We are pleased to see that Congress appreciates the valuable contributions of social entrepreneurs and also understands the need to measure the effectiveness of programs so that philanthropists can identify and fund the kinds of programs that work.  Here are the congressional findings related to this program, along with its stated purpose:

(a) Findings.–Congress finds the following:

(1) Social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations are developing innovative and effective solutions to national and local challenges.

(2) Increased public and private investment in replicating and expanding proven effective solutions, and supporting new solutions, developed by social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations could allow those entrepreneurs and organizations to replicate and expand proven initiatives, and support new initiatives, in communities.

(3) A network of Social Innovation Funds could leverage Federal investments to increase State, local, business, and philanthropic resources to replicate and expand proven solutions and invest in supporting new innovations to tackle specific identified community challenges.

(b) Purposes.–The purposes of this section are–

(1) to recognize and increase the impact of social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations in tackling national and local challenges;

(2) to stimulate the development of a network of Social Innovation Funds that will increase private and public investment in nonprofit community organizations that are effectively addressing national and local challenges to allow such organizations to replicate and expand proven initiatives or support new initiatives;

(3) to assess the effectiveness of such Funds in–

(A) leveraging Federal investments to increase State, local, business, and philanthropic resources to address national and local challenges;

(B) providing resources to replicate and expand effective initiatives; and

(C) seeding experimental initiatives focused on improving outcomes in the areas described in subsection (f)(3); and

(4) to strengthen the infrastructure to identify, invest in, replicate, and expand initiatives with effective solutions to national and local challenges.

With respect to the evaluation component, the bill included language allowing the Corporation to dedicate up to 5 percent of the funds available to the program “to support, directly or through contract with an independent entity, research and evaluation activities to evaluate the eligible entities and community organizations receiving grants … and the initiatives supported by the grants.”

Read Full Post »