2007 Philanthropy Buzzwords #4 and #5

Continuing my annual accumulation of philanthropy buzzwords...here are the latest two nominees. Drum roll, please.....

#4 - Open Philanthropy
#5 - Aligned Investing

Now, a little hubris is in order. Like "aligned investing," I can lay a pretty good claim to having coined the term open philanthropy (though William Safire may need to weigh in on the actual etymology). I first used the phrase "open source philanthropy" in several presentations back in 2002 and 2003; the fundamental concept appears in my book Creating Philanthropic Capital Markets, published in January 2004; I've got a chapter with the phrase in the title in Peter Karoff's 2006 book, The World We Want; and I've blogged the concept here, here and here.

But something doesn't get buzzword status until others start to use it - so here you go, this post from MIT Media Lab researcher Ed Boyden presents a "free market for research and donors" that he calls open philanthropy. Here's another, rather different take on the concept by blogger Mark Surman, an "Open Philanthropy Fellow" at The Shuttleworth Foundation in Cape Town, SA. And then there is this article by Paul Brest, President of the Hewlett Foundation on opening up information sources for donors - essentially open philanthropy.

And, in reviewing the blog archive for this post I realized I had not named "aligned investing" a buzzword, so I'm going to go ahead and do that now. This umbrella term for aligning your investment strategies with your organizational mission has roots in the Blended Value work, incorporates all three tactics of Mission related-, Socially responsible-, and Program related- investing, and (deliberately) stays away from the words "value" or "values," which invariably lead us into a rat hole of empty political rhetoric that I find to be utterly useless.

To recap the other Philanthropy Buzzwords of 2007 are:

  1. Hyperlocal
  2. Microphilanthropy
  3. Microfranchising
  4. Open Philanthropy
And, finally, Buzzword #5, Aligned Investing. Several more links about it are available here.


1 comment:

Mark Surman said...

Great to see your piece from 'A World We Want' up in blog bits. I'd wanted to read this earlier, but couldn't get hold of the book.

The seven principles you outline are all good ones, but I'd be interested to dig deeper on which ones make for 'open philanthropy' (adaptability for sure) and which ones are just 'good philanthropy' (diversity as opposed to one size fits all).

Also, I really see missing some of the core things that make *open source* work:

1. networks (living organisms that let you look sideways)

2. community (more specific and intentional than networks, a way of working)

3. leverage (a culture of treating all that came before as lego, which I guess is like your adaptation bit)

4. open licensing (ensuring that ideas remain free, legally)

While these are all open 101, far too few foundations and gov't know what it means to play with these basics. They know even less how to enact policies and invest money to make sure these things are paid attention to in the domains where they work.

Anyways, it would be fun to collectively evolve a definition of open philanthropy. Maybe a blog conversation, a wikipedia article, a coffee clatch? A number of colleagues like ex-OSIer Johnathan Peizer are interested in doing something like this.