We’re always on the hunt for the deeper news about social change, and it’s been two months since we’ve had a chance to sit back and sift through the many headlines that have popped up. Here’s what we’d recommend:
“There is an unprecedented and largely overlooked opportunity to harness digital data for global development efforts,” from tracking the outbreak of disease to coordinating relief efforts by tracking population migration as a result of natural disasters. Three quarters of the world’s six billion mobile phones are in the developing world, and the ubiquity of these devices provides valuable digital traces of activity that have never existed before. Although we are the in the early stages of properly utilizing this data for social causes, the potential benefits are enormous.
Networked nonprofits are open, transparent, and see every person and organization in their network as assets for reaching their mission. To embrace a networked mindset, leaders must exhibit decentralized decision-making and embrace collective action, while operating with an awareness of their surrounding network and cultivating those strong and weak ties to achieve the impact they care about. However, putting a network approach into practice is not easy. The CEO of the San Francisco Goodwill, Debbie Alvarez-Rodriguez, shares her experiences transforming her own organization into a networked nonprofit, along with additional insights from Beth Kanter.
According to this piece from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, many of the assumptions about innovations in the social sector have been misleading, and pushing innovation can actually stifle progress just as much as it can enable it, due to innovation’s perception as a development shortcut. The authors lay out six concise recommendations for productive innovation in the social sector, urging organizations to approach innovation as an straightforward process rather than an outcome or ideology.
According to William Gibson, “the future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” But what if tech advances powering the rest of the economy were indeed widely adopted in the social sector? Targeted messaging, lean startup methodologies and the proliferation of production networks hold enormous potential for nonprofits and social organizations in the right circumstances. While some nonprofits are beginning to employ these tools in their own organizations, Fast Company argues that adoption in the social sector should be far more widespread than currently exists.
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