This post was first published on PhilanTopic.
As philanthropy has gotten more strategic over the last decade, many foundations have begun to lose their appetite for risk and experimentation. But a small number of funders have begun to intentionally seek out and support high-risk, high-reward innovations with the potential to truly transform our most intractable social challenges.
In our recent article, “The Re-Emerging Art of Funding Innovation,” we explore the processes and practices used by these “innovation funders” and look at how funding breakthrough innovation differs from more traditional grantmaking approaches. The article is the cover story for the just-released Spring issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and can be found here on their site. MORE ››By Gabriel Kasper and Justin Marcoux , practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / March 2014
“Systemic challenges can’t be solved by visionary leaders alone. They require creative collaboration among colleagues with different roles and perspectives. They require strategic conversations that get above the fray of daily concerns and narrow self-interest to focus on longer-term priorities and collective purpose.”
That’s the core contention of our long-time colleagues Chris Ertel and Lisa Kay Solomon in a new book/toolkit combination called Moments of Impact: How to Design Strategic Conversations That Accelerate Change. MORE ››By Noah Rimland Flower / January 2014
This post was written as a response to the new report “Impact Investing 2.0,” and was first published on the report’s micro-site.
Make no mistake: the new research reported in “Impact Investing 2.0” is a significant contribution. We applaud it, even though the authors take direct aim at some of the concepts of “Impact Investing 1.0” we helped create.
In our widely distributed and discussed January 2009 report, “Investing for Social & Environmental Impact: A Design for Catalyzing an Emerging Industry,” we argued that impact investing was in the midst of a MORE ››By Katherine Fulton and Carolien de Bruin / November 2013
Earlier today, Monitor Institute and the Foundation Center released a new report called Harnessing Collaborative Technologies: Helping Funders Work Together Better. As part of the research, we looked at more than 170 different technological tools now available to funders, dove deeply into the literature on philanthropic collaboration, analyzed the results of recent Foundation Center surveys, and spoke with a wide range of experts from the worlds of both technology and philanthropy.
The report’s main headlines won’t come as a huge surprise to MORE ››By Gabriel Kasper / November 2013
By Curtis Ogden (originally published on the IISC blog)
During his presentation at this week’s Council of Foundations Conference for Community Foundations, Monitor Institute’s Gabriel Kasper talked about the need for innovation in community philanthropy. This included a call to examine orthodoxy in our organizations and communities, that is, the behaviors and procedures that we often take for granted with respect to the way we go about our business. This notion of orthodoxy was developed by the MORE ››By Guest author / October 2013
This post is the sixth (and final) in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.
We’ve learned a lot from our work helping large-scale nonprofits find ways to create social innovation at scale. As we’ve explored in the last five posts, we’ve helped them reconnect with their core purpose and realign their network around shared goals, and in the process, we’ve worked with them to reinvent their organizations, business models and brands. Looking across all of these cases, our single most important lesson learned is that this work is most effective MORE ››By Heather McLeod Grant / September 2013
This is the fifth post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.
In our last post we took a close look at how UNCF found its new north star, as an example of what social innovation at scale can look like on the ground. Another example of innovating at scale is the transformation work that our team led at Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that helps produce homes affordable to lower-income families in MORE ››By Heather McLeod Grant and Carolien de Bruin / August 2013
This is the fourth post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.
In our past three posts, we’ve made the general argument for funding social innovation at scale rather than only scaling social innovation. But the real value of this work can only be understood through the individual stories of the larger-scale organizations that are now charting a new course to greater impact and newfound relevance. Monitor Institute’s work with UNCF began two years ago as an organizational transformation effort to take it from “good to great.” CEO Michael MORE ››By Allan Ludgate and Frances Messano , practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / August 2013
This is the third post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.
In our last post, we made the case for why it’s important to invest not only in scaling social innovation by building startups around new ideas, but also in social innovation at scale by helping mature, legacy nonprofits extend and reinvent their impact. We looked at the assets that these nonprofits bring to the sector: national distribution platforms, social networks of members, reliable revenue from loyal donors, well-known brands, and the heft to shape their broader ecosystem. MORE ››By Heather McLeod Grant / August 2013
This is the second post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.
As we explored in our last post, much of our sector’s attention in the past few decades has been focused on early-stage social innovation and entrepreneurship—yet this focus comes at a cost. In some instances, too little attention has been paid to helping reinvent large nonprofits already operating at large scale, perhaps because many of them are older and are perceived as being less relevant. But these organizations can be gems for funders looking to have an outsized MORE ››By Heather McLeod Grant / August 2013
This is the first post in a series published by Stanford Social Innovation Review.
For the last two decades, the movements for social entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and social innovation have been working to identify new solutions to old problems and take them to scale. These movements identified and filled a critical gap in our sector: how to get high-potential entrepreneurs and high-performing organizations the startup and mezzanine funding they need to bring new solutions into the world. That work has flourished in the MORE ››By Heather McLeod Grant / August 2013
We’re happy to announce the release of a new resource, GATHER: The Art & Science of Effective Convening. GATHER is a hands-on guidebook for all convening designers and social change leaders who want to create convenings that tap into a group’s collective intelligence and make substantial progress on a shared challenge.
It provides simple frameworks for the questions that are often ignored: whether convening is the right MORE ››By Noah Rimland Flower / June 2013
The authentic, unfiltered voice of parents is largely absent from the education reform dialogue. Hearing that voice was an important objective for UNCF (United Negro College Fund) when we at Monitor Institute worked with them on their strategy. As a result, we conducted a two-pronged research study, including focus groups and phone surveys, with a sample population of approximately 1400 low-income, African-American parents and caregivers with school-aged children (aged 4-18) living to their household to understand their views on K-12 education. MORE ››By Frances Messano, practitioner at Deloitte Consulting LLC / June 2013
Last time, we discussed three more ways that strategy at a for-impact enterprise is different than at a for-profit. Today let’s wrap up with the final two that we’ve experienced: different data requirements and a longer time horizon.
6. The supporting analysis is qualitative and targeted
While data-driven decision making is equally important in any strategic planning process, the kind of MORE ››By Dana Burgess O’Donovan, Allan Ludgate, and Noah Rimland Flower, practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / April 2013
As we’ve been discussing, strategy at a for-impact enterprise can be very different than at a for-profit. Last time, we discussed how growth is not always the goal and the organization’s purpose is rarely settled. Today let’s discuss three other areas of difference: process, audience, and decision rights.
3. Bottom-up engagement can be essential
In our experience, corporate strategic planning processes often start from the C-suite down, MORE ››By Dana Burgess O’Donovan, Allan Ludgate, and Noah Rimland Flower, practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / April 2013
As we mentioned last time, we’ve noticed seven distinct ways that creating strategy for a social problem can be quite different from creating strategy for profit. We’ll start today by digging into the first two: how the goal and the starting-points can be the opposite of what you might expect.
1. Growth is not always the goal
Corporate strategic planning processes focus on analyzing how the organization can increase its growth and profitability in new and existing markets. MORE ››By Dana Burgess O’Donovan, Allan Ludgate, and Noah Rimland Flower, practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / April 2013
A few weeks ago, world leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland to map a path forward for accelerating the flow of capital into impact investing, a discussion which was facilitated in partnership between the World Economic Forum and member firms of Deloitte TTL.*
A group of approximately 50 participants – including multibillion dollar hedge funds, private equity firms, sovereign wealth funds, asset managers, financial services companies, foundations, and social enterprises – spent over two hours brainstorming and MORE ››By Carolien de Bruin, practitioner at Deloitte Consulting LLP / March 2013
Imagine that you’ve just joined the leadership team or the board of a nonprofit, social enterprise, or a foundation. It comes time to re-examine the strategy, and so you reach back into your memory banks for the last time you went through a similar exercise. If your career was in business, you probably have a model in mind of how strategy works—and so you do your best to contribute, jumping into the conversation with various suggestions for how to shape the organization. Yet there seems to be something missing MORE ››By Dana Burgess O’Donovan, Allan Ludgate, and Noah Rimland Flower, practitioners at Deloitte Consulting LLC / March 2013
The United States’ single greatest collective investment in human capital—and in its future generations—is public education. Yet today that investment is generating very poor returns for low-income students.
Members of the lowest-income U.S. families are 10 times less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than members of the highest-income families. This situation would be troubling in any environment, but with income inequality only increasing and global job MORE ››By Allan Ludgate, Frances Messano , and Owen Stearns / January 2013
In today’s fast-changing world, why freeze your strategic thinking in a five-year plan?
This post was originally published on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog.
Take a moment and read these two words: strategic plan. Now close your eyes and picture one. If what comes up is a thick binder, gathering dust on a shelf next to other thick binders from five and ten MORE ››By Dana O'Donovan and Noah Rimland Flower / January 2013