Stanford Social Innovation Review : Informing and inspiring leaders of social change




Articles on social change from the latest edition of SSIR


Summer 2014

Volume 12, Number 3

The summer 2014 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review includes the Up for Debate feature—“Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World.” In this article, the authors argue that philanthropists should shift from the prevailing model of strategic philanthropy that emphasizes predictable outcomes, to an emergent model that accommodates uncertainty and learning. Joining the conversation are prominent thinkers from academia and philanthropy. 

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Technology & Design

Big Data for Social Innovation

Nonprofits lag behind business and science in using big data effectively.



Philanthropy in a Time of Polarization

The polarization of US politics is imposing new limits on how foundations can influence the policy process.


Socially Responsible Business

Creative Financing for Social Enterprise

Hybrid legal forms offer only a limited solution to the challenge of helping organizations access capital. Includes magazine extras.


Up for Debate


Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World

Foundations need to adopt a more emergent approach to strategic philanthropy.


What's Next

Urban Development

Pop-Up Housing

In London, the YMCA is combining prefab construction with stylish design to create a new kind of affordable home.

By Suzie Boss | 3

Technology & Design

Putting Bullies in Their Place

A Web-based initiative uses analysis of social media chatter to locate hotspots of antisocial behavior.



Good Show

Presenting content with a social message is the focus of a recently launched movie-streaming company.



A Mandate for Responsibility

In the wake of a recently passed law, companies in India are figuring out how to meet their CSR requirement.


Field Report

Economic Development

Making Cash Pay Off

GiveDirectly relies on high tech and hard data to test whether large cash transfers can alleviate extreme poverty.


Urban Development

Safe at Home

Thanks to ROC USA, residents of mobile home parks can gain a real stake in the places where they live.


Human Rights

Applied “Womenomics”

How Goldman Sachs deployed a far-reaching, data-driven strategy to further the cause of women’s entrepreneurship. Includes magazine extras.


Case Study



Franchising a “Fireball”

Aflatoun, a global social and financial education program, is relying on partnerships rather than centralized control to scale up.




The Artful Juggler

Foundation CEOs play a complex, ever-more-demanding role—a role that may not lend itself to on-the-job training.

By Fay Twersky | 4

Nonprofit Management

Planning Meets Strategy

The work of transforming an organization starts with a readiness to question its scale, its scope, and even its core identity.

By John Anner | 7

Measuring Social Impact

Lost in Translation

It’s time for people in the nonprofit community to reclaim the language of nonprofit evaluation.



A Global Family Affair

Philanthropic efforts funded by private family wealth—long common in the United States—are on the rise worldwide.



Civil Society

Big Box Protests Can Be a Big Deal

Community activists have a lot of potential influence on whether large retailers enter a local market.



Auditing the Auditors

Simple steps to reduce conflicts of interest can improve both pollution reporting and regulatory compliance.


Individual Giving

Not “Better Than Nothing”

Combining charity with financial gain can seriously tarnish others’ appreciation of altruistic efforts.


Socially Responsible Business

The Upside of CSR

For companies, higher levels of social performance often translate into improved access to funding.



Broken Rules, Better Loans?

Loan officers’ discretion plays a large role in determining the success of a micro-lending organization.




Government by Toolkit

The first chief technology officer of the United States offers a vision for remaking public services.

Reviewed By Sonal Shah

Economic Development

The Trouble With Top-Down

The limits of technocratic, one-size-fits-all approaches to economic development have become all too evident.

Reviewed By Kevin Starr

Socially Responsible Business

An Insider’s Tale

A veteran corporate social responsibility leader reflects on “doing well and doing good” at a big oil company.

Reviewed By David J. Vogel | 1

Technology & Design

A Messy Solution to Messy Problems

An emerging method for enabling innovation focuses not on plans or projects, but on broad social challenges.

Reviewed By Lucy Bernholz

Last Look

Human Rights

Survivor of an Acid Attack

Women and even girls continue to be the victims of acid attacks by men in Bangladesh and other countries.

By Eric Nee