Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Share the wealth...

Share the wealth of information, that is. Here are Tactical Philanthropy's comments on my company's (Blueprint Research & Design, Inc.) standard business practice of generating public reports from all the work we do for foundation clients.

Answers to FAQs:
  • Why does Blueprint include this public report clause in its contracts? So that research on a social issue can be used by others who care about that issue.
  • How do the foundations react? Once we explain what we're trying to do, most of the foundations that we work with are very positive. In fact, most of them have welcomed the opportunity as a chance to discuss Intellectual Property issues. Some foundations won't use our contract - this is fine because it is a chance to change their standard contracting language. Sometimes there isn't anything in the work that either we or the foundation thinks will be of interest to the public. The clause gives us a chance to discuss this upfront with the foundation.
  • How can an advisory firm require something of a client? How can they not? Good working relationships are built on mutual trust and benefit. Our values are as important to us as are our clients' values - the contract negotiation stage of business development is one, of many, opportunities to express and stand by what we care about and are trying to make happen in the world. This is also why Blueprint is proud to be one of the nation's first B Corporations.
  • Have you ever lost business doing it this way? Sure. We've also built long term relationships with key foundations, influenced their contracting procedures, opened up the door a little bit on IP issues in philanthropy, influenced our consulting firm colleagues, and leveraged dollars to certain issues by sharing the research.
This kind of sharing is all good. It is also not enough. Most foundation research is site and topic specific, written for a professional audience, and requires patience and context to be useful in making grant decisions. We are actively addressing these problems with several ventures we have underway, all of which are designed to help make the best information on what works and what is known available to donors and philanthropic organizations so that they can improve their giving and achieve their missions. This is why I spend so much time monitoring developments in communications technology, social media, and intellectual property. This is why I care about the intersection of business practices and philanthropy. This is why I care about innovation, prizes, or buzzwords. This is why I write about philanthropic capital markets and social idea markets. This is why I write this blog and why I founded Blueprint - to help build better systems for using research to improve giving.

OK - I am stepping down off the informercial soapbox now. Thanks, Sean, for the post.

1 comment:

Jason said...

Great post. I am continually surprised at the kind of information you can find on the internet. I think it's a great idea to share what we find publicly. I find on the prospect research side often much of what is discovered is all public knowledge. You can find political campaigns, housevalues, marriage/divorce certificates all on public sites. I think that it is great that you are being open about sharing information.