Nancy Says: New Social Innovators Are Shaking Up Non-Profits

Quite the headline.  Close to what I read when I scanned through an article last year in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (July 14, 2015). I recently picked it up again and re-read it.  Each thought jumped off the page and I realized that I was much more ready to hear the message.

It is a full-on criticism of non-profits as “largely antiquated institutions,” asserting that they are sitting on billions of dollars in charitable donations and, perhaps even more damaging, the author asserts that the non-profit’s “primary currency of exchange is recognition and reputation, not effectiveness.”

Strong words but have we in the non-profit realm brought it upon ourselves?  Have we kept up with a new wave of thinking being played out in the young entrepreneurial world that has generated approaches that would greatly benefit us?  Lest you go running for the door, check out this terrific article on “disruption for good”.   It’s happening.  It’s time to start paying attention.  What can we learn and improve what we do and how we do it?

The call is out for young tech entrepreneurs to start giving earlier, deploy more capital, “bigger bets”, and at earlier stages to “social startups” who are engaging in new ideas to take on social problems.  Could that be you?

Here are some of the most intriguing:  Fast Forward has created an Angel investor-type fund to support something close to a model of tech startups for social good.  Each summer they bring a small number of fellows together who have already received strategic and business mentoring to develop new organizational models, which Fast forward then funds. Some of the projects they have funded are Sirum, which has developed a mobile app to redistribute unused medicine; One Degree, which connects under-served populations with social services through a Yelp-type app; and Medic Mobile, which helps community health workers around the world provide medical services more efficiently through a cell-phone technology.

Creativity and innovative, bold thinking is flourishing and it’s time to re-think how we might affect the population we serve.  Ready?

To hear more from Nancy, visit the Brimhall & Associates website.

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