Thursday, August 13, 2009

Metrics and Management for Heart-Head Impact

My workshop last week at Stanford about technology fuelled social innovation as applied to the for-profit as well as non-profit world drew an exceptional group of change agents from industry, NGOs and universities. The theme- every transaction is a business - whether registered as a for-profit or non-profit and how technology can help. Some highlights:
1- A business "Metrics Intelligence Management" solution (MetrixLine) applied to Give2Asia as an example of how real time metrics generation is relevant for non-profits and can reduce the cost of data-gathering - with a live demo showing "customer" (in this case - donor) profile, balanced scorecard (management metric) and more. (by CEO Aman Walia)
2- A live interactive session showing the use avatars and game technology for education ( about social responsibility in teens. Our session had about 12 teens (under 14) who were asked what social issues they cared about among other things - Number 1: health care; number 2: providing a "family" for kids who didn't have one. (by Founder Jori Clarke)
3- An example of how to make a mainstream lending institution engage in micro finance through loan (social) guarantees ( while also providing the individual story just as an MFI would do. Another feature of this session was an illustration of partnerships (UnitedProsperity, MFI's and Banks) so each does what they are best at without re-inventing the wheel - a theme in the workshop (by Founder Bhalchander).
4. More to come...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Top 5 Myths in Social Entrepreneurship

The change-leader is a myth-buster. As technology fuelled business models change, nowhere is this more applicable than in the field of social entrepreneurship. The top 5 myths are:
1. If you want to do good, you have to create a not-for-profit company.
2. If you want to create a social enterprise with a mission, you cannot do this in a for-profit company.
3. For-profit companies are incompatible with a social mission.
4. Shareholders demand quick returns
5. Triple bottom lines (profit, people, planet) are incompatible
The fact is that the current legal and financial instruments are limited in how social impact is measured and hence the tools need to evolve. But tools can't evolve unless social entrepreneurs see them as tools to be changed. "Be the change" said Mahatma Gandhi. Nobody said myth-busting is easy - but its a lot easier if you firmly believe in the change.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Philanthropy Needs Technology

The NonProfit Times released its Power & Influence Top 50 list on Aug 1 saying-"Service is the new black. It’s so fashionable that those leading the national service movement have packed the catwalk of The 2009 NPT Power & Influence Top 50". I have no quibbles with the idea of service and "Volunteering as a Fashion Statement". However, I would like to see philanthropy shift from a "service" model to an "empowerment" model. I agree with, Nathaniel Whittemore who says social media is shifting the power dynamics of philanthropy when he writes-"Some are honored for their attempts to better train the nonprofit industry, others are noted for the innovation which they've instilled in their foundations. The one major homage to technology comes in the recognition of Holly Ross, director of the awesome NTEN nonprofit technology conference." He goes on to say that bloggers are missing from the list. The power of the Internet and social media is the ability to reduce emotional distance between people of different types. Non-profits and foundations have an opportunity to get more technology into their operations both to reduce costs as well as to engage both donors and recipients in a more "democratic" way - where both parties are seen as benefiting.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Muhammad Yunus Honored by Obama

Last week, the White House announced that Professor Muhammad Yunus will be one of the recipients of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Medal of Freedom is bestowed by the President and is the highest civilian award in the United States. President Obama said: "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds. Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way. Their relentless devotion to breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens sets a standard to which we all should strive. It is my great honor to award them the Medal of Freedom."
When Dr. Yunus receives his award, he will be joining a distinguished group of individuals that includes Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King, Jr. Adds Warner P. Woodworth, Social Entrepreneur & Professor, Organizational Leadership & Strategy, Marriott School, BYU: "I have had the privilege of working with Professor Yunus for over a decade as he has advised a number of the NGOs my partners and I have established around the globe. From those little efforts, mostly launched with BYU students using my courses as incubators for global change, over 50 projects have been launched, and 22 have become NGOs. Last year alone, we collectively raised more than $46 million, trained approximately 340,000 microentrepreneurs, and grew our client base to about 6.1 million impoverished individuals who received a loan during 2008."..."While critics say the poor are lazy and that they are irresponsible, our microcredit experience, not only in the Third World, but also now in America, is that they simply need an opportunity. Our NYC outstanding loan portfolio has grown to over $950,000, and these borrowers have also cumulatively saved over $150,000, which demonstrates the impact of our savings program ( <>)."