Skip to main content

Weekly News Alert: Nonprofits, Social Capital, "Minnovation," and the Corporate World

Submitted by: Natalia Castaneda on Nov 19th, 2009 at 5PM PST

Bookmark and Share

Top Trends:

On Nonprofits, Values, and Building Social Capital...

  • According to Sean Stannard-Stockton of Tactical Philanthropy, trust is a necessary component in building social capital in philanthropy.  He cites a Forbes article that argues that trust (in its broadest definition) is responsible for the difference between the richest countries and the poorest, demonstrating the value and utility of trust.  Although philanthropy is, at times, a dysfunctional system, trust is still a vital and necessary component of making it work.
  • In his blog, Richard Marker says that before an organization can innovate, it must first understand its “culture” and “values.”  He proceeds to explore these concepts within the nonprofit world more generally.  The culture of nonprofit organizations has drastically changed with the arrival of new technology and communication; the blog claims that young people believe that privacy has essentially disappeared and loyalty has adopted a different (more insubstantial) meaning as well.  The question, Marker says, is whether the values of the nonprofit world have changed as the culture has changed.  He concludes that it is the responsibility of everyone (not just the younger generation) to redefine our values in this changed culture.
  • At the recent Independent Sector’s annual conference, held in Detroit, an emerging theme among young leaders was that they did not feel they received enough feedback from the organizations they worked for.  Most people in the nonprofit world like to be “nice” to each other, but being too nice and never criticizing our performance can lead to serious flaws in an organization.  Instead, nonprofit organizations should build a culture that values feedback and seeks continuous development.
  • A conversation, “What Capital When” looks at the way that foundations and financial intermediaries finance social goods.  The organization launching the experiment, Blueprint Research & Design, are asking for ideas and questions about the initiative.

On "Minnovation," Innovation and Learning...

  •  A lot of emphasis has been placed on the idea of innovation, especially among entrepreneurs.  An article in Harvard Business Review, however, says we are placing emphasis on the wrong concept.  We should actually by focusing on "minnovation" or “mixing small parts of novelty and creativity with huge helpings of flexibility, scrappiness and a generous portion of hard-driving execution.”  The argument says that focusing on innovation can actually stunt growth, as the majority of entrepreneurs are not going to come up with completely new ideas and sell them to the public.  Instead, they should concentrate on tweaking older ideas, product adaptation or putting together a fantastic team to execute existing ideas.
  • As people grow older and more established within their professions, they tend move away from new ideas and enter a comfort zone.  Great leaders, though, are those who make an effort to actually de-learn what they have come to accept as time-tested truths and “display childlike enthusiasm for radical ideas,” according to an article in Harvard Business Review.

On Collaboration and Crowdsourcing...

  • The Interaction Institute for Social Change shares its collaboration model, entitled Pathway to Change and encourages other organizations to look to the model as a roadmap.  Included in IISC’s collaboration process are steps such as vision space, solution space, problem space, pathway design space and implementation space.
  • Great ideas can be generated through crowdsourcing, but poor ideas are generated as well.  A blog post on The Buzz Bin looks at the pros and cons of crowdsourcing and states that while there is a lot of intellectual material generated through crowdsourcing, those ideas can be difficult to organize, making it a challenge to decipher between stronger and weaker ideas.
  • Crowdsourcing can also be seen as a “discussion about how to organize around expertise,” according to Lucy Bernholz.  In her blog she speaks of a new initiative called Expert Labs.  Expert Labs acts as a link between policymakers  and citizens by creating a technology community where citizens can share their expertise with policymakers.
  • The Joint Conference of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Minnesota Council on Foundations, entitled “Transforming Our Work: From Challenging Times to Hopeful Futures” focused on collaboration and private/public partnerships.  Specifically, the conference looked at the four C’s – Connections, Communication, Capacity-building and Convenings – which are essential in facilitating these partnerships.

On Class...

  • One of the exercises at the Making Money Make Change conference is the Money Stories Session.  The session involves young people with wealth sharing how they made/accumulated/inherited their money.  According to Jen Willsea of IISC, this task is “scary, challenging and powerful” as it lends itself to complicated emotional revelations, especially for those present who do not identify as part of the owning class.  To address these issues, the conference this year will be structured differently and will look at ways to create “productively uncomfortable spaces for people with multiple class backgrounds” in order to ensure a safe space where these stories can still be told.  They are asking for comments and suggestions about the best ways to do this.

On Leadership, Philanthropy and the Corporate World...

  • John Baldoni, of the Harvard Business Review, takes a look at what it takes to be a leader in the corporate world.  Many of these traits can be applied to the nonprofit world as well.  Baldoni writes that leaders should “reframe what inspiration and direction mean” and need to have the ability to foresee the direction of their company/organization in order to execute their strategies and grow.
  • Bill Shore of the Washington Post says that “corporate philanthropy can be extremely relevant when it is strategic.”  He says that, generally, corporate philanthropy aligns itself with short-term marketing objectives, which makes this kind of philanthropy more sustainable.  Where corporations should be concentrating though is on the strategic value of corporate philanthropy, which takes the form of meeting the long-term needs of philanthropic partners.

Top Articles:

Trust in Philanthropy
Author: Sean Stannard-Stockton
Date: November 19, 2009
Source: Tactical Philanthropy

The Economics of Trust
Author: Tim Harford
Date: September 25, 2009

The Innovation Generation – The “Values” Proposition
Author: Richard marker
Date: November 9, 2009
Source: Wise Philanthropy

Challenging Times, New Opportunities
Source: Independent Sector and Council of Michigan Foundations

Emerging Nonprofit Leaders: “More Feedback, Please”
Author: David Simms
Date: November 19, 2009
Source: Harvard Business Review
Introducting the “What Capital When?” Conversation
Author: Tony Wany
Date: November 11, 2009
Source: Blueprint Research & Design

Entrepreneurs: Stop Innovating, Start Minnovating
Author: Daniel Isenberg
Date: November 19, 2009
Source: Harvard Business Publishing

When was the Last Time you De-learned?
Author: Vineet Nayar
Date: November 19, 2009
Source Harvard Business Review

Collaboration R Us
Author: Marianna Hughes
Date: November 16, 2009
Source: IISC
Should We Trust the Crowd?
Author: Geoff Livingston
Date: November 16, 2009
Source: The Buzz Bin

Experimenting around expertise
Author: Lucy Bernholz
Date: November 19, 2009
Source: Philanthropy 2173

We Know The Experts Are Out There
Source: Expert Labs

2009 Joint Annual Conference
Source: Minnesota Council of Nonprofits & Minnesota Council on Foundations

Connecting the Dots: The Core of Public/Private/Philanthropic Partnerships
Author: Chris Murakami Noonan
Date: November 10, 2009
Source: Philanthropy Potluck

Making Money Make Change

Let’s Talk About Class
Author: Jen Willsea
Date: November 13, 2009
Source: IISC Blog

What It Takes to Lead Now
Author: John Baldoni
Date: November 13, 2009
Source: Harvard Business Publishing

The best of corporate philanthropy
Author: Bill Shore
Date: November 19, 2009
Source: The Washington Post