Tuesday, June 09, 2009

People who liked X also liked Y

You know those wonderful automatic recommendation engines we've come to rely on, courtesy of Amazon and Netflix? Well, here's one the old fashioned way:

If you liked this blog post on "What's Next?" you should also read Mario Morino's latest two columns on the VPP site. They are here: The Innovation Imperative and Nurturing the National Reef.

These are two great thought pieces, drawing from worked experience, on what is possible if we dedicate ourselves - as both public actors (voters, citizens, activists, legislators) and private actors (donors, entrepreneurs) - to recognizing the enormous opportunities that new information ecosystems provide to us. These are the lessons of experience - from VPP and others (REDF, SVPI, NewProfit, Inc) who fundamentally transformed the discussion of how capital works in the social sector.

Nonprofit leaders have known about, decried, and innovated around capital challenges for decades. I believe it took the shifting conversation that VPP and others have been part of for over a decade now (Letts et al published Virtuous Capital in HBR in 1997) to make social enterprise, social investing, funding networks and hybrid organizations as familiar a part of our current landscape as they are. This is a living and lasting legacy of the theory, practice, successes and failures of venture philanthropy - it changed (and is changing) how we think about financing social good. That is significant.

Those who entered the social sector in the last five or even eight years may think concepts such as social finance or for-profit philanthropy are "givens." In fact, they reflect essential changes in how we think about the social sector, markets and policy (a key intersection in Morino's writings), and are innovations in their own times. The next round - the "what's next?" that I write about and the ecosystem of innovation that Morino calls for - build from these evolutionary phases.

I know there are folks out there working on real recommendation engines for philanthropy. These kinds of engines are examples of both what is driving innovation in the information ecosystem and what will be possible as that ecosystem changes. But, in the interest of "retaining the personal touch" take it from me - read what Mario writes.

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