Articles on social change from the latest edition of SSIR
Volume 7, Number 1
In the winter 2009 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review, “The New Volunteer Workforce” highlights just how poor a job most nonprofits do of utilizing volunteers—to the tune of $38 billion a year in lost labor. This is an area worth focusing on, as retiring baby boomers begin to turn their attention to volunteer opportunities. And, in “Romanticizing the Poor,” Aneel Karnani tackles the fundamental flaws in viewing those at the “bottom of the pyramid” as fledgling entrepreneurs who only need a small boost in order to turn their lives around.
By estimating the social return on their investments, funders can deploy their dollars more effectively. To demonstrate the power of these calculations, the authors show how three organizations—the Robin Hood Foundation, Acumen Fund, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation—use cost-benefit analysis to evaluate their ongoing programs, choose mission investments, and plan long-term strategies.
Market solutions to poverty, which include services and products targeting consumers at the “bottom of the pyramid,” portray poor people as creative entrepreneurs and discerning consumers. Yet this rosy view of poverty-stricken people is not only wrong, but also harmful.
Nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers, but most CEOs do a poor job of managing them. As a result, more than one-third of those who volunteer one year do not donate their time the next year—at any nonprofit. That adds up to an estimated $38 billion in lost labor. To remedy this situation, nonprofit leaders must develop a more strategic approach to managing this overlooked and undervalued talent pool. The good news is that new waves of retiring baby boomers and energetic young people are ready to fill the gap.
In their efforts to be socially responsible, most companies fail to wield their most powerful tool: lobbying. Yet corporations such as Mary Kay, Royal Dutch Shell, and General Motors are increasingly leveraging their deep pockets, government contacts, and persuasive powers for the cause of good. Not all kinds of socially responsible lobbying are created equal, however. The authors discuss which forms are best for companies and society.
Paying people to practice safe sex.
Grab a mocha and brainstorm.
A new evaluation tool allows donors and investors to track their investments and compare their data to those of organizations doing similar work.
Mathematical tool helps countries weigh the pros and cons of using biofuel.
Two new players in the world's social investing scene seek financial returns along with social impact.
Kids win beads and help give loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Rockers go green.
GreenNote helps students with no credit history obtain college loans.
Britain tries building carbon-neutral housing to address its housing shortage.
When Nau, an outdoor clothing start-up from Portland, Ore., launched in 2005, word on the street had it that the company would push socially responsible business to new heights. But barely a year after putting its earth-toned parkas and virgin merino wool sweaters up for sale in its übercool “webfront” stores, Nau pulled the plug. Find out how Nau tried on too much, too fast.
VisionSpring picks promising social entrepreneurs to restore the eyesight of poor people.
E + Co connects the dots between energy, poverty, and the environment.
National Instrument's partnerships not only energize science education, but also boost the company's brand and employee morale.
Left: An engineer readies her robot at the 2008 FIRST Lego League World Festival, an annual competition that brings together teams of students to show off their engineering chops. Powering her robot was sophisticated software developed by National Instruments. Her team, the Power Peeps of Swartz Creek, Mich., placed third.
Serving more than 110 million people per year, BRAC is the largest nonprofit in the world. Yet it doesn't receive the most charitable donations. Instead, BRAC's social enterprises generate 80 percent of the organization's annual budget. These revenues have allowed the organization to develop, test, and replicate some of the world's most innovative antipoverty programs.
It's time to rethink the "C" in CSR.
How best to assess program performance.
To grow to full scale, serving 50,000 students a year, YouthBuild's federal funding must increase from $60 million to $125 million annually. Local programs will also need to raise $250 million annually from state and local education and criminal justice funds, and from private donors. How does YouthBuild plan to achieve this breakthrough and help five times as many people?
Successful entrepreneurs show characteristics of both men and women.
We don't necessarily like people who do the right thing.
Leaders should rethink how they treat their subordinates.
Research finds human extinction looms near if consumption levels do not decrease.
Group attachment and commitment are what drive protesters to act.
Role ambiguity dampens board member's commitments.
Universal child care may not be the best option.
Research shows branding differentiates nonprofits in stakeholders' minds.
The Search for Social Entrepeneurship by Paul C. Light
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn
Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery by Siddharth Kara
Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently by Gregory Berns
Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World by Matthew Bishop & Michael Green
William Brindley spent most of his career keeping financial institutions at the leading edge of technology. Now, as CEO of the nonprofit consortium NetHope, he is using those same skills to help nonprofits do the same. NetHope now has 25 member organizations, among them Save the Children, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and Catholic Relief Services.
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