Thursday, July 17, 2008

More on cross-platform philanthropy

OK, I may be beating this into the ground, but two more items caught my attention that furthered my thinking on cross-platform philanthropy.

  1. As if my ponderings on public media and cross-platform content weren't topical enough, yesterday I read that the NPR staple, "Car Talk" has migrated to tv. As the daughter of an MIT alum/car nut, Car Talk has been background chatter for my entire life - and now it is an animated television show. If this were April I would have checked the date on the story, but I think it is for real - Click and Clack have found their way to toon land.
  2. Just before going on this rant about the cross-platform nature of philanthropy I had been re-visiting the issue of conversion foundations. Yesterday's paper/blogs brings the news that Online Privacy Nonprofits - namely TRUSTe - are the latest to convert from nonprofit to commercial status. Venture capital infusion, needed for growth, is driver of this change - but one more data point in the accumulating scatter graph of public goods with many sources of finance and from many types of organizations. There was no mention in the news about whether or not the organization will spin off some philanthropic entity in return for its 11 year life as a tax exempt entity - stay tuned.
Ever more proof- public goods are being provided by all kinds of organizations (nonprofit, public, commercial and hybrids) and the financing for those goods is a similar mix. In thinking through the implications of this kind of cross-platform philanthropy I posted a couple of key questions for funders and doers. Here is the original list of questions again, and some new ones added to the bottom:
  1. What is the mix that affects the work you are doing, either as service provider or funder?
  2. What is the best (most efficient? most effective? most sustainable?) mix for your services?
  3. What does best mean in your situation (see number #2 above)
  4. Where do you fit in the mix?
  5. Who else is in the mix that you care about? How do you work with them? How does your success link to theirs?
New Ones:
  1. Cross-platform also means the obvious - how does your funding or doing strategy take into account real life involvement or financing, virtual worlds, and online giving, social networking, information sharing?
  2. Can you build your organization, funding strategy, or services in effective, efficient ways that can succeed across different platforms (profit generating and not-for-profit)? Should you stick to one platform or financing type?
  3. What do different scenarios look like if you consider all the potential platforms for your work, whether it be advocacy, direct services, research or funding?
  4. What expertise does your organization need to understand these different platforms or markets?

1 comment:

Lucy Bernholz said...

Posted by Lucy Bernholz on behalf of an emailed comment:

Lucy -- Very provocative and absolutely the right questions - with one
exception. Shouldn't there be a greater focus on the effect of all this
mixing and hybridization on service delivery and the quality of
care/service/attention received by the recipients of these hybrids? So
far, I think, there have been no cross institutional studies about which
model(s) delivers the best outcomes. Money (going back 15 years to the
wave of privatization) is forcing the changes, as you note. For example,
HMOs were established through Federal legislation with a mandate to be
established as nonprofits that serve all classes. But absent sufficient
capital and the implicit government guarantee, the for-profits moved in.
So we have the reduced, miserable system we have today.