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10 Great Social Innovation Reads: April 2012

By Nell Edgington

The month of April in social innovation was all about change. From a changing landscape between nonprofits and public policy, to new nonprofit sector trends, to how foundations and boards need to restructure in response to changing environments. And that’s why social innovation is so interesting– it is a work in progress.

Below are my ten picks of the best reads in social innovation in April, but as always, please add what I missed in the comments. If you want to see other things that caught my eye, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest. And if you want to read 10 Great Reads lists from past months, go here.

  1. The Nonprofit Finance Fund released their annual State of the Nonprofit Sector survey results, which are always fascinating, but this time they included a really cool Survey Analyzer Tool.

  2. On the Harvard Business Review blog Mark Bonchek discusses 3 steps to “create a gravitational field that attracts customers into orbit around your brand.” These steps apply to nonprofit and social entrepreneurs hoping to build support for their cause as well.

  3. In a really interesting post, Ami Dar, Executive Director of Idealist, argues that we need to change the language of social change in order to convince “real people” to get involved.

  4. Writing in FastCompany, Alexa Clay and Kyra Phillips, compare street gangs to Google to prove that the idea that innovation comes from the top down is a misconception.

  5. In Governance in the 21st Century, Lucy Bernholz describes a new kind of public accountability that nonprofit and foundation boards must embrace. They must recognize that “the days of “broadcast” and “isolation” are over and structure themselves accordingly.”

  6. David Brooks wrote a piece in the New York Times arguing that social entrepreneurs are too idealistic (when he has in the past been very supportive of social entrepreneurship). But Echoing Green and Dowser quickly came to social entrepreneurship’s defense.

  7. On the New Philanthropy Capital blog, Matilda Macduff breaks the sometimes overwhelming impact measurement (evaluation) puzzle down into easy, concrete steps for small nonprofits. This is really helpful.

  8. Katya Andreson lays out 4 Trends that Should Shake up Nonprofit Marketing, but I’d take it even further and say that these 4 things should shake up how nonprofits do business overall.

  9. There is something interesting going on at the intersection of nonprofits and public policy. Robert Egger launched CForward earlier this year to be a public voice for the nonprofit sector. At the same time, Congress is working to further limit nonprofit advocacy rights. Gary Bass and Mark Rosenman strike back with a scathing editorial in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

  10. Writing on the HealthAffairs Grant Watch blog Tom David lays out a wish list for how foundations could dramatically shift to become much more effective.

Photo Credit: takomabibelot

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About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (, 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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