Monday, December 21, 2020
My newest Blueprint is here: Philanthropy and Digital Civil Society: Blueprint 2021.
The buzzword list is here: Buzzwords 2021
May 2021 be safer, more humane, more just.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Alt Headline: Thoughts on Non-public digital infrastructure for civil society. (I've been hosting this conversation on Reclaiming Digital Infrastructure for the Public Interest - the following post explores an example of what happens when we don't do so)
I've been thinking for awhile about how nonprofits and giving are becoming "locked in" on commercial platforms. A lot of giving happens on software from Facebook or GoFundMe, nonprofits use a variety of corporate systems for managing their donations, and people use Venmo/Paypal etc. to move money between people and events. Each of those companies "owns" their aggregate data. For decades the sector has relied on analysis of of tax forms, survey data, and foundation reporting to see big trends in giving - these trends and data are useful to practitioners in the sector, researchers, and policy makers.
But these users don't have access to data from the companies. There are some efforts underway to change this - hats off to GivingTuesday's data commons and the work of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (donor software working group). But, for the most part, we've privatized the data sources for tracking trends in the sector.
So, nothing new there (though I think this needs to change, which would probably require regulatory action). But a couple of headlines today made me think there's something else going on also.
Here are the headlines:
From NBC News:
Friday, October 09, 2020
I am delighted to be speaking in a master class for Columbia University's Nonprofit Management Masters Program. Join us on October 15 for this event:
Master Class | Digital Civil Society and Democracy: How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go
The Nonprofit Management Program at Columbia University School of Professional Studies is pleased to present the next Master Class in our Program's thought leadership and professional development series: "Digital Civil Society and Democracy: How We Got Here and Where We Need to Go" with featured guest Dr. Lucy Bernholz, a renowned expert, researcher, author, and lecturer on digital society and the nonprofit sector.
Over the last 20 years – and ever more so in the last seven months – people, nonprofits, and foundations have become dependent on commercially made and government-monitored digital systems for basic operations, communications, fundraising, program delivery, advocacy, organizing, and reporting. In so doing, we have enclosed civil society within the bounds of the marketplace and public sector, obliterating any meaningful sense of an independent sector. Digital threats to democracy run much deeper than digitally influenced elections and include the demise of independent civil society. Bernholz will describe how we got here and what we need to do to reclaim civil society and democracy.
You can sign up directly here -