Adin Miller's blog

SOCAP10: A Preview of Ideas and Issues – Part II

SOCAP10: Preview of Ideas and Issues – Part I

 

Yesterday’s post began a summary of a preview session of the discussions that will take place at SOCAP10. Hosted at the Commonwealth Club of California, the program featured many of the key people behind this year’s program. The panel used the recent “Money for Good” report (PDF)issued by Hope Consultingto frame specific issues related to the session tracks at SOCAP10. My post yesterday summarized Hope Neighbor’s presentation of the report.

After Hope spoke, the panel began a conversation that will hopefully continue throughout SOCAP10. It focused on both how organizations can address the report’s findings and some of the challenges moving ahead in this direction.

SOCAP10 - A Preview of Ideas and Issues - Part I

Last Friday, I sat in on a preview of the discussions and sessions that will take place shortly at SOCAP10. Hosted at the Commonwealth Club of California, the program featured many of the key people behind this year’s program. The panel included three SOCAP10 track curators:

It also included Kevin Jones, founder of Good Capital and the convener of SOCAP10, as well as Hope Neighbor, founder and CEO of Hope Consulting. The panel was moderated by Amy Benziger, who is co-producing SOCAP10.  

The panel used the recent “Money for Good”report (PDF) issued by Hope Consulting to frame specific issues related to the session tracks at SOCAP10. Having Hope Neighbor on the panel also provided us with a great opportunity to hear first-hand about the key takeaways from the study.

SOCAP10 - Decriminalizing Fundraising

The SOCAP10 conference agenda (PDF) keeps growing; the latest is the addition of FAILFaire to discuss projects using mobiles and ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in international development that have failed spectacularly. Embracing failure with the intention of learning why an approach did not succeed is not only appropriate and logical; it’s a necessary step in developing projects that will ultimately succeed.

Sadly, open discussions by philanthropic institutions and nonprofits about failures (and yes, it happens) remain infrequent, which leads me to the Decriminalizing Fundraising session at SOCAP10. This session for the Tactical Philanthropy track will feature George Overholser of Nonprofit Finance Fund Capital Partners and Dan Pallotta of Springboard. Sean Stannard-Stockton provides a good overview of the session and a little bit on what to anticipate.

SOCAP10: There Can Be Only One Impact Challenge Winner?

Today brings a close to the SOCAP10 Impact Challenge, a competition launched in July that will award one individual with a complementary pass to the upcoming SOCAP conference in October. Designed by SOCAP, Triple Pundit and Myoo Create, the competition encouraged 500-word posts that “explore what’s next in social enterprise.”

The competition specifically requested submissions to address the recent “Money for Good” report (PDF) released by Hope Consulting this summer. That report has several fascinating conclusions including one that identified a potential $120 billion market of individual investors interested in impact investments. A total of 51 posts were submitted by the September 7 deadline offering a range of ideas and opportunities.

SOCAP10: The Challenge of Moving Beyond Metrics – Part II

The Challenge of Moving Beyond Metrics – Part I

 

In my first post on moving beyond metrics, I reflected on the challenge of moving beyond the fixation of assessing nonprofits based on their overhead ratios and executive compensation. New assessment frameworks, championed by organizations such as Charity Navigator, GuideStar, GiveWell, GreatNonprofits, and Philanthropedia, will promote and embrace new ways to evaluate nonprofits and identify nonprofits. 

These new assessment frameworks will be discussed and used at a SOCAP10 session led by Ken Berger of Charity Navigator, Andrew Wolk of Root Cause, and Elie Hassenfeld of GiveWell. That session will review three analytical approaches to assessing DC Central Kitchen (per this post by Sean Stannard-Stockton). In Ken’s case, for example, the session will allow him to clarify the new approach to rate a nonprofit on its financial strength, accountability, and effectiveness.

Summary of this weekend's Social Innovation Fund posts

Apparently, the Social Innovation Fund writing community does not rest on weekends. Nor do the folks at the Corporation for National and Community Service. As I was writing this post, the Corporation released most of the proposal narratives, application materials and review comments; this tremendous level of information is available here.  I also have to acknowledge the Corporation's willingness to post the information.

Below are links to this weekend’s posts and articles, most of which came out on Sunday:

What Should the Social Innovation Fund Do Next?

The attention lavished on the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) this week has been far from positive. Building on posts by the Nonprofit Quarterly and Paul Light, Stephanie Strom’s New York Times article in today’s edition cites possible conflicts of interest by SIF Director Paul Carttar and Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Patrick Corvington and calls into question whether these pre-existing relationships affected the selection process.

In actuality, I believe that these possible conflict of interest issues are matters of perception instead of reality. As noted by Marta Urquilla, a senior adviser for the SIF, in the New York Times article, these conflicts of interests were anticipated and addressed in advance. For example, Steve Goldberg well-researched letter to the Nonprofit Quarterly, meticulously documents how the Corporation made sure to avoid any conflicts of interest. I can understand why people are fixated on these conflict of interest possibilities, but I think that's somewhat misguided and potentially harmful.

Why Do We Care About the Social Innovation Fund?

I’m still processing Paul Light’s post yesterday about the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). The implications in his post are damning. If true – that a proposal ranked weak and nonresponsive (the lowest possible score)in a first-phase review – ended up being funded through a process full of questions about “fairness, conflicts of interest, and undue pressure”, then we’re looking at a possible failure of leadership and management within the Corporation for National and Community Service. And the only way to start resolving that would be for the agency to immediately address these allegations and to embrace full transparency on how the grant review was conducted and the proposals it received. Already, people on Twitter are speculating on the name of the intermediary left unnamed in the post. The Corporation needs to step ahead of the wave.

SOCAP10: The Challenge of Moving Beyond Metrics – Part I

On December 1, 2009, a major shift in assessing nonprofits was announced by Charity Navigator, GuideStar, GiveWell, GreatNonprofits, and Philanthropedia. The announcement (PDF) aimed to repudiate the myopic focus on nonprofit overhead ratios and executive compensation as metrics to measure their effectiveness. The five oversight organizations also set out a course to establish and embrace new ways to evaluate nonprofits and identify nonprofits.

SOCAP10: Learning More About the Gates Foundation Approach to Program-Related Investments

One of the keynote presentations offered at SOCAP10 as part of the Tactical Philanthropy track will focus on impact investments and on how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation incorporates Program-Related Investments into its philanthropic strategies. Julie Sunderland (Senior Program Investment Officer at the Gates Foundation) and William Foote, Founder and CEO of Root Capital, which partners with the foundation on its PRI efforts, will provide keynote addresses highlighting their PRI approach. The keynote addresses and subsequent smaller breakout session reflect the tremendous infusion of philanthropy into this year’s conference.