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10 Great Social Innovation Reads: March 2012

By Nell Edgington



March, perhaps because it included SXSW Interactive, seemed to be largely about the use of new media to tell social change stories. There are an increasing number of ways and examples of how those working to solve social problems can tell their stories and get people motivated to act, from video, to Pinterest, to infographics, to data visualizations and much more.

Below are my ten picks of the best reads in social innovation in March, but as always, please add what I missed in the comments. And if you want to see other things that caught my eye, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest.

  1. By necessity, nonprofits and social entrepreneurs are turning to new mediums to tell their story. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has created a showcase of nonprofit infographics and visualizations, and the MediaShift blog profiles the various ways educators are using Pinterest for curation, and finally while at SXSW Interactive, The Chronicle of Philanthropy got 25 nonprofit leaders to film their elevator speeches–it’s fascinating to see the various ways people tell their story quickly.

  2. Speaking of video storytelling, there was much debate about the Kony 2012 video produced by nonprofit organization Invisible Children. But I think Paul Shoemaker from Seattle SVP had the most reasoned and interesting take on it all when he argued that nonprofits should not be evaluated based on “one-size fits all” metrics.

  3. A new campaign aimed at solving staggering youth unemployment combines technology, crowdfunding and social entrepreneurship. It will be interesting to watch.

  4. From the Atlantic, the results of a new study that demonstrates that because of technology and the social media environment how Millennials think and process is changing dramatically, so how we educate future generations must change dramatically as well.

  5. Amy Sample Ward gives a great recap of the social good focused sessions at SXSW Interactive.

  6. Writing in the New York Times, David Carr, examines “Hashtag Activism,” and whether someone clicking a “Like” button can really change the world.

  7. As the arts continue to struggle to find funding amid shrinking audiences and competing charitable priorities, crowd-funding may be the answer.

  8. Beth Kanter hosted a great group of guest bloggers from the GeoFunders National Conference on her blog in March, my favorite of which was Adene Sack’s post describing the 3 myths about scaling nonprofits.

  9. Writing on the Harvard Business Review blog Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, Simone Ahuja argue that Millennials take a do-it-yourself approach to solving large social problems, “they rely on a frugal and flexible mindset…and use the tools they have on hand to create a simple but effective solution to a highly complex problem. They are the contemporary MacGyvers.”

  10. Rich Tafel takes social entrepreneurs to task for “failing to recognize the complex nature of the problems we face [and] engaging in linear, simplistic solutions, when lasting change requires collaborative efforts.”

Photo Credit: kadorin

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About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (www.socialvelocity.net), a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability. Social Velocity helps nonprofits grow their programs, bring more money in the door, and use resources more effectively. For more information, check out Social Velocity consulting services and clients.


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