Thursday, December 27, 2012

Philanthropy Buzzword 2012.10 X

Here's the full list of Philanthropy Buzzwords for 2012 as reported in The Chronicle of Philanthropy

(Headline from The New York Times, November 30, 2012)

X is a great buzzword.

In its algebraic context it means "unknown" as in 3X + 59 = 1217.

In its arithmetic context it means "multiply" as in 2 X 2 = 4.

In a geographic or literary context, X always marks the spot where the treasure can be found.

(Photo from Rob Myers)

In David Brooks' world, X means a consumption tax.

In its philanthropic context, X has come to mean "cool," "community-oriented," and "open." Think of: 
  • The X Prize (Revolution through competition)
  • TEDx (Independently organized, global and local)
  • EdX (The future, free, online)
X can also mean eXchange - as in Impact Investing Exchange Asia (IIx) or NeXii
Here is the full list of 2012 buzzwords:
10) X
9) MOOCs
8) Hackathon
7) Fiscal Cliff
6) Resilience
5) Social Welfare Organization
4) Sensemaking
3) Data Scientist
2) Flash Mob Philanthropy
1) Data

I have to say that X might be my favorite buzzword, right up there with last year's #10 - #.
Geoffrey Nunberg, linguist, told NPR that "Big Data" should have been the word of the year, not YOLO (You Only Live Once). I'm glad we started there.

Have a a wonderful new year and I'll see you all in 2013.

Remember - the Blueprint 2013: Philanthropy and the Social Economy will be available for a FREE download on January 7th at

Buzzword Bonus: And just for fun - how about we revisit "Disrupt" as an uber-buzzword of the year!? 2012 brought us an abundance of resilient buzzword possibilities. (Hat tip to @JuliaThornton for reminding me.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Philanthropy thought experiment

I had a great preview of the Blueprint 2013 yesterday with the staffs of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and the PACS Center. Among other things, we "crowdsourced" some ideas:
  • The majority of the group thinks that the charitable tax deduction rules will change in 2013,
  • They agreed with me (out of courtesy) that almost everything can be made into a data question, and
See that little widget over on the right side column headed "Thought Experiment Poll?" (mobile/email/RSS readers, you'll have to go to blog to see the poll widget)

Vote for "End charitable tax deduction" or "End anonymous giving" as bigger negative influence on giving rates and I'll report out on the findings in a week or two.

A little data to inform your vote.

According to Indiana University, as reported by the Foundation Center, the proportion of giving that is done anonymously ranges between 3 - 5 % of "big gifts." This doesn't capture any of the anonymity motivation that drives people to donor advised funds, nor does it capture smaller gifts (under $1 million).

As for the impact of the charitable tax deduction, well, the waves are awash with opinion and a little bit of data:

Friday, December 14, 2012

Global #philanthropy #buzzwords

A reader from Berlin (@Steph_Reuter) noted that my buzzword list from 2009 had some entries on it that were just peaking in Germany this year. Similarly, several ideas that have peaked elsewhere are just making their way to me now. What's buzzy in one place at one time may be old hat elsewhere or not yet on the radar screen.

Why don't we figure out a way to globalize the buzzword watching? Wouldn't it be fun if we could see where a phrase or an idea first becomes "hot," and where it moves to (as well as how fast or slow it travels?)

I have an announcement coming in January that will help make this happen (the announcement will come in regard to Blueprint 2013) but I will need to be part of a crowd to make this happen.

I'd love your ideas, your help, your insights to think through how we do it and then make it happen.
  • What would be the best storage and visualization technology tools for us to track and display the buzz phrases over time? 
  • Can we pull it together for the Buzzword 2013 list?
  • Can I get some volunteer "buzz ambassadors?" A "buzz posse?"
Speaking of your wisdom, thanks to those who've suggested nominees for the Beautiful and Brilliant Awards for philanthropic/nonprofit  data visualization and communications - that is another curation project for which I'd welcome your help.

The latest suggestion was for the Landesa Global Annual Report - 100 million families served with goals to serve 20 million more by 2016 - I'd call that beautiful and brilliant! Thanks to @EhrenReed for pointing me to it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A year in #socialmedia #datavis

Yesterday I posted my "prediction scorecard" reflecting on the #Ten for the Next Ten predictions I had made back in 2010. In the upcoming Blueprint 2013 you will find my scorecard for the predictions I had made in Blueprint 2012.

Today, in honor of the new Pew Global Attitudes Report on social media - here are a few snapshots of my year in social media.

A wordle of this blog, courtesy of Kyle Reis, a friend and attentive reader:

My year on Twitter, courtesy of Vizify. You can do this too at

For some context, here's the new Google Zeitgeist reports on what the world searched for in 2012.

And here is the "Pulse of the Planet" according to Twitter.

And, because I love cartoons, here's the year in cartoons from The Washington Post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Scoring my own predictions

Have you read Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise? You should. It will make you appreciate the  National Weather Service and shake your head again at the collateralized debt obligation/mortgage backed securities meltdown of 2008.

I always include a "Hindsight" section in my annual forecast, looking back at how I did with the previous year's predictions. Blueprint 2013 is now in final production stage (release on January 3 7, 2013) and so I've been keeping score for myself on how I did in 2012. You can see that scorecard in the Blueprint 2013.

Then a colleague reminded me of my decade-length list, Ten for the Next Ten, that I posted in 2010 with an eye on 2020. I thought I'd check in on that longer set of forecasts.

Here's the abbreviated list, with [my quick assessment on progress to-date in brackets]:
  1. The rules will change. [Yes, see fiscal cliff discussions and changes to charitable tax deduction]
  2. More spend down foundations [I don't know - do we have baseline data, anyone?]
  3. Gaming and game pedagogy will be built in to problem solving [Yep]
  4. Disaster relief giving will be more structured and planned [Maybe getting there.]
  5. Impact investing will surpass philanthropy [not yet, but time frame is till 2020]
  6. Institutional philanthropy will be more collaborative [Really? What was I thinking?]
  7. Data analysis and visualization will be key skills for philanthropists [Key skills they recognize that they need, not that they already have on hand. Search this  blog for datavis to find examples.
  8. Foundations and nonprofits will still be here [Phew. Although Johns Hopkins' findings of declining employment in nonprofit sector human services, education and healthcare jobs mean I'm on to something over the long run]
  9. Mobile phones will replace credit card donations.  [Coming soon]
  10. Scale will have a networked meaning. [Hmmm. The jury is out on this one]
I had some bonus tracks on the original list, [again, current comments in brackets]
  1. “Impact economy” will replace “social sector” as the term of art. [Nope]
  2. Foundation leadership and boards will not reflect the racial, ethnic, or gender makeup of the nation. [Yes, still a safe bet and a sad truth]
  3. China and India will be atop global philanthropy leader boards. [Getting there]
  4. There will be a multinational oversight organization for global philanthropy or social investing. [Eight years to go]
Seems like I should have some more things to add to this list or refine it. Maybe I'll do that in the new year. What would you add or remove from this list? What score do you give it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

and the final buzzword is....

....not going to be revealed until December 27th. And it won't be revealed here, but in the Chronicle of Philanthropy (as we did last year, and we shall do from now on).

The good news? That gives you an extra 10 days to keep guessing what it could possibly be. Anyone who guesses it (and posts it on comments of this blog) before midnight PST on December 26 will win a free, signed, hard copy of the Blueprint 2013.

The bad news? There is no bad news.

But to remind you, here's the list as it now stands: Philanthropy Buzzwords 2012.

10) ?
9) MOOCs
8) Hackathon
7) Fiscal Cliff
6) Resilience
5) Social Welfare Organization
4) Sensemaking
3) Data Scientist
2) Flash Mob Philanthropy
1) Data

Here are the Buzzword lists from 2011, 2010, 2009 , 2008, and 2007.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Beautiful and Brilliant Awards

I've called out great info presentation from Humanity United and the Knight Foundation over the last years. I'm happy to add the three following examples of "beautiful and brilliant" information sharing from foundations.
  • Mozilla Foundation for its Annual Report (includes videos, short sections you can click through, great photos, right information)
  • Irvine Foundation's Art Innovation Fund evaluation - engaging site, right-sized information categories, key points easy to find, useful, intuitive infographics.
  • The Hewlett Foundation's Periscope tool for its grants database. The plusses - you want to play with it, it's easy to look for patterns, find gaps, query clusters and ask new questions. Best thing - they're licensing the software under a Creative Commons agreement to other funders. The downside - it makes it clearer than ever before that grants data can only tell a small part of any story. 

Evaluation reports, annual reports, and grants databases - three common foundation communications. Thanks to Mozilla, Irvine and Hewlett for upping the ante on how to present this information in a ways that might encourage us to use it.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Guess #Philanthropy #buzzword #10 - win Blueprint 2013

Can you guess what the last #philanthropy #buzzword for 2012 will be? If you do, I'll send you a free hard copy of the Blueprint 2013. These are rarities - a limited number of the books will be printed and available.

(Watch this space for where, when and how you can get your own pdf download of the Blueprint 2013. But if you want a published copy you have very few choices - win this guessing game or re-start your lapsed subscription to SSIR)

Here's the running list of 2012 buzzwords, numbers nine to one:

9) MOOCs
8) Hackathon
7) Fiscal Cliff
6) Resilience
5) Social Welfare Organization
4) Sensemaking
3) Data Scientist
2) Flash Mob Philanthropy
1) Data

Here are the Buzzword lists from 2011, 2010, 2009 , 2008, and 2007.*
I don't (knowingly) repeat buzzwords.  

I will post Buzzword #10 on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's website on December 27, 2012. December 17, Pacific Daylight Time. Entries need to be posted to the comment section of this blog or tweeted to me (@p2173) before midnight PDT on December 16, 2012. If you win, I'll let you know and then I'll need a snail mail address.

*I should also have offered an award to guess how many years I've been doing this. I would have gotten the answer wrong. Thank goodness for blog archives.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Civic tech and listening for social change

The civic technology movement just got a big boost - a $45 million fund focused on technologies that help people engage with their governments and government agencies be more responsive to their people launched today.

The Making All Voices Count Fund (MAVC) is a partnership between Omidyar Network, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). 

I also just came across this useful report on Civic Technology from #openplans as part of the Living Cities initiative. It breaks civic technologies down into three categories: 
  • "Improving quality of and accountability in public service delivery – Help city residents more effectively access and track responsiveness of public service delivery, facilitate resident engagement with government around service delivery issues, and streamline resident access to public services.
  • Facilitating resident-driven improvements to neighborhood quality-of-life – Enlist city residents to provide new data to support or inform government efforts, to organize community-based efforts based on that data, or to participate in the development of strategies and policies to address these issues more effectively.
  • Deepening participation in public decision-making – Developing more effective ways to collect meaningful resident input, especially from low-income people, and bring low-income people more deeply into public decision-making processes."
These are helpful categories although they're very broad.  They focus on the interactions between residents and governments - as does the MAVC funding. I'm also interested in resident-to-resident versions of these technologies - where we're using them to connect to each other in pursuit of a shared goal. These include disaster response efforts like #hurricanehackers and #occupysandy, apps that let you share info on farmers markets, apps that faciliate produce or tool exchanges between neighbors.

Last night I attended a meeting hosted by the Knight Foundation that brought together a small group of Silicon Valley companies, nonprofits, city officials, techies, and activists interested in building the connections between residents and our governments. Knight's been hosting similar meetings in other cities, following on its TechForEngagement summit last year. It is all part of a small, growing, exciting movement happening all over the world. It ties in nicely to my post earlier this week about MySociety - the UK nonprofit that "tweeted for trustees."

The civic technology field is fascinating to me precisely because it's more than technology - it's about people:government, it's people:people, it's people:people:goverment and people:communityorganization:people.

It's all part of an emerging digital civil society.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Philanthropy buzzword 2012.9 - MOOCs

A MOOC is a Massive, Open, Online Course, or the somewhat bovine sounding name for a (usually free) class, offered over the Internet.

Classes developed and delivered by university professors are lighting up the airwaves, allowing people anywhere to take classes once open only to enrolled students. MOOCs have universities and colleges in a fever of disruption. As my colleague Rob Reich notes, MOOCs may send universities down the same path as newspaper publishers. Some students may soon be able to earn college credit through MOOCs. Minnesota briefly made the news by deciding to ban MOOCs in the state (regulators changed their mind shortly thereafter).

As the business models shake out and the questions of public purpose get real MOOCs will force open an important discussion for all nonprofits about “how, for whom, and who pays?” After religion, education is the biggest area of interest for philanthropic donations - how will donors get involved in MOOCs?

EdX is one example of a source for MOOCs. Coursera and Udacity are others.  Here's one set of opinions about MOOCs, and here's a view that argues "not much new here, move along." KCRW in Santa Monica ran this story back in November. (HT @davidalynn) Today I found this O'Reilly Radar piece on "true progressive" disruption in education.

Here are the rest of the 2012 Philanthropy Buzzwords: 

9) MOOCs
8) Hackathon
7) Fiscal Cliff
6) Resilience
5) Social Welfare Organization
4) Sensemaking
3) Data Scientist
2) Flash Mob Philanthropy
1) Data