How did we get here....

In some ways, "how did we get here" and "where are we going" are the key questions of this blog. In this post on technology and philanthropy, Brad Smith of the Foundation Center joins me - and we hope you'll jump in - to discuss a third question, "where do we want to be going?" The (still in idea-phase) Philanthropy Policy Project is also about these questions, though framed more as "what should philanthropy be for?"

All very interesting, but NOBODY does big questions like "how did we get here?" like Maira Kalman - check out her blog on this very issue.

Map the (social capital) Market - links should work




NOTE: This is a re-post from yesterday, but with key links fixed (fingers crossed). Thanks to ALL of you who let me know that the mapping links weren't working - I hope this version will load. You get to the GSIX map at http://www.gsix.com/



Today the Global Social Investment Exchange - an emerging federation of social investment exchanges - launched an interactive, online map of the various players in this space. This is timed perfectly for the Second Annual Social Capital Markets Conference (#SoCap09) which runs from September 1-3 in San Francisco.

The purpose of the mapping:

"... create a searchable directory of global players active in the field of social investment in order to support consolidation and coherence within the overall social capital market, and make available to investors, donors and other interested parties detailed and easily accessible information on appropriate service providers who can meet their investment or grant making requirements."
In other words, the map will make it easier for everyone to figure out who is part of this emerging market, what they do, where they do it, and how to get involved. If you or your organization is involved in moving social investment funds, strengthening social enterprises, connecting investors to investments, or offering metrics and tools to this market then you need to "get on the map."

As for #SoCap09 - the conference has attracted more than a dozen Canadian social investment organizations, hundreds of people from a dozen other countries, representatives from for-profit social enterprises, investors, foundations, nonprofit, individuals, activists, and scholars interested in this space. Two days of workshops and plenaries, mixed in with a variety of on-site demonstration efforts, launches of various new databases and ratings tools, and a final day where the conference attendees take over the schedule and talk about what really matters - that's what SoCap is made of.

I'll be there - looking forward to learning more about IRIS, GIIRS, PULSE and the new McKinsey/Foundation Center database of evaluation tools, the social entrepreneur project created by SocialActions and their partners and, of course, the social investment exchange session. . I'm moderating the Metastasizing Metrics session (Weds 2:45) *, featuring speakers from The Rockefeller Foundation, Acumen Fund, McKinsey, SalesForce, and the Mulago Foundation. I'm also coordinating an "unconference" session on Thursday at 9 am on the Philanthropy Policy Project (#philpo).

*I'm moderating it. I didn't name it. However I can tell you this - if you only go to one session this year on measuring success in the social enterprise space - you should make it this one. If you'll be joining us and twittering the hashtag is #socap09.metrics





Map the (social capital) Market


Today the Global Social Investment Exchange - an emerging federation of social investment exchanges - launched an interactive, online map of the various players in this space. This is timed perfectly for the Second Annual Social Capital Markets Conference (#SoCap09) which runs from September 1-3 in San Francisco.

The purpose of the mapping:

"... create a searchable directory of global players active in the field of social investment in order to support consolidation and coherence within the overall social capital market, and make available to investors, donors and other interested parties detailed and easily accessible information on appropriate service providers who can meet their investment or grant making requirements."
In other words, the map will make it easier for everyone to figure out who is part of this emerging market, what they do, where they do it, and how to get involved. If you or your organization is involved in moving social investment funds, strengthening social enterprises, connecting investors to investments, or offering metrics and tools to this market then you need to "get on the map."

As for #SoCap09 - the conference has attracted more than a dozen Canadian social investment organizations, hundreds of people from a dozen other countries, representatives from for-profit social enterprises, investors, foundations, nonprofit, individuals, activists, and scholars interested in this space. Two days of workshops and plenaries, mixed in with a variety of on-site demonstration efforts, launches of various new databases and ratings tools, and a final day where the conference attendees take over the schedule and talk about what really matters - that's what SoCap is made of.

I'll be there - looking forward to learning more about IRIS, GIIRS, PULSE and the new McKinsey/Foundation Center database of evaluation tools, the social entrepreneur project created by SocialActions and their partners and, of course, the social investment exchange session. . I'm moderating the Metastasizing Metrics session (Weds 2:45) *, featuring speakers from The Rockefeller Foundation, Acumen Fund, McKinsey, SalesForce, and the Mulago Foundation. I'm also coordinating an "unconference" session on Thursday at 9 am on the Philanthropy Policy Project (#philpo).

*I'm moderating it. I didn't name it. However I can tell you this - if you only go to one session this year on measuring success in the social enterprise space - you should make it this one. If you'll be joining us and twittering the hashtag is #socap09.metrics





(How) will technology change philanthropy?

(how) will technology change philanthropy? This is a frequent topic of this blog, and also the subject of a piece of research and eventual article I've been working on for some time. The research has given me the excuse to talk to some of the most forward-looking people in tech, some skeptics, some entrepreneurs, lots of donors, lots of foundation executives, lots of people who work in nonprofits, and lots of other folks.

It is also partly responsible for the new project I seem to have launched with a blog post last week - the philanthropy policy project -(#philpo in twitterese) which will be an attempt to raise the discussion up from the weeds and tactics of metrics and online grant applications to the tree canopy and bigger vision of how the systems that shape giving and social investing can be improved. Or - as the tagline asks - can we change the rules to change the world? If you want to join in that discussion, please check out the placeholder blog, the emergent policy map (editable with a free mindmeister registration) or join us on Thursday September 3 at #SoCap09.

But let's go back to technology and philanthropy. Here's some of what my co-authors and I are working on:

  • Mutual aid, human kindness, and altruism are not technologically bound
  • Faster, global, easy access information sharing is a landscape shifter for giving, just as it has been for recording, publishing, stock trading, newsgathering, and countless other industries
  • The data-scape will change in cycles similar to industries - and the last several years of idiosyncratic innovation may be about to birth a period of consolidation. The data-scape cycles are definitely beginning to have ripple effects out from the data sources to broader markets such as analysts, information providers, intermediaries, and financial product vendors.
  • Remixing information from different sources shifts the business proposition for foundation staff, philanthropy advisors, family office staff and others (see many posts on the changing data-scape of giving)
  • New business models for institutional philanthropy - not based on asset management fees - are being created as donors manage complex giving portfolios and rely on multiple information sources.
  • Organizational charts, job titles, and professional roles in philanthropy will see a great deal of re-structuring in the next phase of innovation - managing grant portfolios will increasingly require investment-level financial analytic skills, information will be omnipresent so a market may emerge for strategy and analysis capacity, and top-notch program officers may find themselves competing to influence donor dollars across institutional boundaries, rather than simply guiding grants within a single organization. Imagine a marketplace for freelance program officers...
  • Attention and commitment to causes and institutions is harder to maintain over time, and those whose work involves generating or supporting those commitments in others are finding new ways of doing it.
  • The long tail of giving (pdf) has benefited from more dynamic technology innovation than has the head of the system, and the latter can increasingly learn from the former
  • Omnipresent online networks have made exclusive information access and face-to-face learning opportunities ever more desirable.
  • In a venn diagram drawn from acting, giving, and learning, technology has fully disrupted the two bottom circles (giving and learning). Acting (for institutional philanthropy at least) has been the slowest to change, but it too is beginning to show signs of disruption.

There is a lot more (including detail and examples!), but that is a taste of what we're finding, hypothesizing, and documenting. My colleagues at Duke University and I will be using the paper as part of a larger project engaging those who are making these changes happen to imagine where this is all leading, what might come next, and what - technology of old or technology yet to be invented - will never change. Thanks to the many readers have helped all along as I've tested ideas, tried out various hypotheses, subjected you to my terrible graphics - please keep the ideas and comments coming.

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NPR interview on embedded giving

Here's the story that ran Wednesday morning on NPR's Morning Edition.



Thanks to friends on twitter for alerting me to it - I turned off the radio one story too soon this morning!


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Philanthropy Policy Project Mind Map

Lots of positive response to this post about building a crowd-informed Philanthropy Policy Project. You can join the conversation on twitter at #philpo. Here's a rough cut mind map of the policy domains that matter:



Here's a link Policies that influence Philanthropic Giving where you can edit and add. We may try to gather a working discussion on the 3rd day of #SoCap09 if you'll be at the conference.


Please let me know who you are and if you want to stay in touch with the work. You can do so in the comments on this post, by DM'ing me @p2173 on twitter, or emailing me: at lucy at blueprintrd dot com. If you want to build a wiki to host the map or other materials that would be great! If there are other blogs or communities you think would be interested, please cross post, tweet-invite them, or comment and direct them here.

Thanks to those who directed me to Mindmeister (@manmeetmehta) and suggested the #socap discussion (@sinatraj)

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Philanthropy Policy Project

The most recent complete review of regulations, policies and practices for the nonprofit sector (of which I am aware) was the 2005-2006 Panel on the Nonprofit Sector, hosted by Independent Sector, which produced a first report with 120 recommendations and a supplemental report a year later.

Since then we've seen the development of new reporting and ratings systems (GIIRS, IRIS), whole new "sectors" such as Social Capital, a steady increase in online giving, a rise in international giving flows, the expansion of two new organizational forms through state law - the low profit limited liability company (L3C) and the B Corporation and probably lots of other system-oriented innovations of which I am not aware.

We've also seen a boon in citizen participation in reading, informing, mashing up and making sense of government data and regulations as a result of The Sunlight Foundation, Data.gov, and Government2.0. The federal government is testing new community-driven mechanisms for awarding patents that involve citizen experts, requiring public access publication of NIH funded research, and is now proud home to a Chief Information Officer and a Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government.

This is a perfect opportunity to invite nonprofit and philanthropy professionals, social entrepreneurs, social capital market makers, data wonks, think tanks and others to reimagine the regulatory and policy structures that guide and inform philanthropy.What policies or regulations would improve philanthropy? Here are some that are being discussed at Internet watercoolers (or even being debated in legislatures):

I'd like to propose a Philanthropy Policy Project as a way of inviting new ways of thinking about the regulations and policies that guide the flow of capital to social good. I tend to try to simplify complex problems in order to get started, so I'd approach this by asking a couple of basic questions:
  1. What would better philanthropy look like? (Is it more money? More focused money? More democratized? More visible? Better informed? More accountable? More market-oriented? Less market-oriented?)
  2. What is likely to make those improvements happen?
  3. Are there policies or regulations that could accelerate or direct the change? (Based on the ideas already mentioned there are viable debates under way on accounting rules, governance structures, reporting requirements, and organizational options)
  4. What are those policies/regulations and at what level do they need to exist or be changed? (Who needs to be involved)
If you have thoughts on any elements of this - the existing policies and regulations that guide philanthropy, the areas of policy that should be up for discussion, any of the proposals already on the table, or how to go about sparking this discussion in a meaningful, broad-based, and imaginative way, please let me know.

Conferences that Matter Fall Edition 2009.2.1

Back in the Spring I wrote about some conferences that matter to philanthropy. That list can be found here. As we head into autumn we approach the second great conference season of the year - here is my Fall list of conferences that matter.

Let me make something clear at the start. I go to a lot of conferences. I speak at a lot of conferences. And even with all that there are still some conferences that I wish I could get to but can't. The following list is a mix of the above - the conferences that I think matter enough that I've agreed to speak at them (note I think the conference is important therefore I accept an invitation. I don't think the conference is important because I'm there). Many on this list are conferences that I won't be going to (schedule conflicts) but wish that I could - because they offer new ways of thinking about social change, philanthropy, good work, or public benefit. And finally, there are some conferences that are on this list because others have voted with their feet - they've sold out already, so someone (especially in this economy) is clearly motivated by the program.

But not everyone likes conferences. For all of us, the decision to go is getting tougher - not just because of cost but because of choice. I was struck a few months ago by a tweet from Rosetta Thurman in which she asked

"Am I gonna attend any #nonprofit conferences this fall? Dunno. Paying to hear speakers is getting old when I can talk to my peers for free."

That's a key question. Clearly, conferences are tough sells in these times. Not just because of slashed travel budgets, but because twitter has taken the great "conference hallway conversation" and put it online. So the pressure is on. Which may be why Tides is challenging Stephen Colbert to attend their (must attend) Momentum. What other great conference PR tricks have you seen?

Here's my list. Please chime in with your suggestions.

Social Capital Markets 2009 - known colloquially as SoCap09, San Francisco, September 1-3 2009, Discount code available (through 8/14 only - use "NK40" for 40% off)
SoCap matters. Last year's inaugural meeting launched with great fanfare and 300+ day of conference registrants. The topic - where money and meaning come together. The focus - financing change - philanthropy, investment, social enterprise, social media. This year featuers some big announcements on measuring change. It's all here. Let's see if they can avoid a "sophomore slump" and continue to push the discussion further. They're already doing a great job on twitter, facebook, linkedin. Full disclosure: I'm moderating a session on metrics.

The Opportunity Collaboration has the potential to be another conference that matters. This one is about ideas and deals - bringing together actors to develop and act together. The specific goal is to matchmake global poverty fighting organizations. I wish them luck, and wish I could have fit it into the schedule. It is brand new this year - hope it works. Ixtapa, Mexico, October 17-20, 2009.

Government agencies may actually be leading social organizations when it comes to using new tools - the Government2.0 conference will show off some of the geekiest good government efforts. Washington DC, September 9-11. On this same topic, if the Sunlight Foundation hosted a conference or any events on the west coast, I'd be there in a heartbeat. For that matter, I'd head to almost any conversation hosted by the Berkman Center at Harvard. I also think that the State of Play conversations are key to understanding where we're all headed (Even more so now that Beth Noveck has joined the Obama adminstration)

PopTech, Camden Maine, October 21-24, 2009
Big ideas on tech and social change. This year the group will "reimagine America." Pop!Tech will "take a top-to-bottom look at America’s opportunities, its challenges, and its future."

Design matters. Thinking differently matters. A few places that I think will be putting out some great ideas - from sources well beyond the usual philanthropy conference suspects - are The CUSP conference in Chicago (September 16-17) and A Better World By Design, Providence RI (October 2-4). Design is more than making things look good and work well, it involves a methodology for thinking, an openess to creative ideas, and a willingness to take on complicated problems. Both of these conferences would be great fun.

Then there is the IdeaFestival in Lousville, KY (September 23-26). This has been on my radar screen for awhile, partly because its tagline reads "If it can possible go together it comes together here." Sounds like a way to think across disparate sectors with a wonderful group of thinkers. I can't make it to Louisville, so I've been following on Facebook.

When it comes to technology and change Tim O'Reilly and crew should be followed. This October (20-22) in San Francisco brings the Web 2.0 summit - always interesting and horizon- setting. I'm a BIG FAN of the magazine Next American City - and think that the Global Creative Economy Convergence Summit looks verrrry interesting (It has game designers and social investors on the agenda). Maybe I can get to Philadelphia on October 5 and 6th.

Major foundation conferences this Fall include the Community Foundation annual gathering in San Antonio (October 5-7) and the Communications Network meeting (October 14-16 in NYC, which sold out months ago, must be something going on there). Business for Social Responsibility, Investors Circle, and Social Venture Network (my company is a member of SVN) all hold useful gatherings for commercial enterprises with a social mission.

Finally, I'll also be following the "techforsociety" event series from Ashoka Tech - I've been promised they'll be covered on twitter.

Many thanks to @sinatraj for offering up his suggestions for this list. What about you? What conferences will you attend and why?