The importance of this insight is even bigger than the HBR piece emphasizes, in my opinion. By focusing on the relationship between data and values, and looking at when and how they are best used, the article reminds us that there is much about philanthropy that is neither rational nor data-driven. While foundations are making progress in terms of sharing information, using data, and even seeking external feedback, there are limits to how rational and empirical (and strategic) these enterprises will ever be. It is easy to lose sight of this, given the current zeitgeist about market forces, the power of technology, new measurement systems, and so on.
"Galvanizing Philanthropy" is well worth a read. HBR subscribers will find it in their November issues. Others can request a free reprint directly from Bridgespan by emailing Chris.Lindquist [at] bridgespan[dot] org. Tell him Lucy sent you.