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10 Great Social Innovation Reads: October 2012

By Nell Edgington



It seems that October had two primary themes: moving nonprofits to measure outcomes and the evolution of philanthropy. The drum beat that nonprofits must find a way to measure what change they are creating has been growing louder, and every nonprofit leader would be wise to listen and understand this new trend. But in order to get to a place where most or all nonprofits are measuring outcomes, philanthropists must start paying for measurement. It is interesting to watch this all evolve.

Below are my top 10 picks for what was worth reading in October in the world of social innovation. And as always, please add what I missed to the comments. And if you want to see an expanded list, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or my newest social media network, ScoopIt.

You can see the 10 Great Reads lists from past months here.

  1. There were several great articles about the need for nonprofits to prove the change they are creating. Steve Boland at Nonprofits Assistance Fund kicked if off by encouraging nonprofits to compare their resources to the outcomes they achieve.  The New Philanthropy Capital blog encouraged nonprofits to approach measurement with theory, courage and creativity. And on the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s blog, Lauren Gilbert provided a case study of BELL and how they measured outcomes.

  2. And then to the ultimate question, “Will funders pay for measurement?”. Beth Kanter asks the question What is the Funder’s Role in Supporting Good Measurement? and Mario Morino (author of Leap of Reason) weighs in.  And Phil Buchanan, CEO of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, argues “Foundations must step up and support robust nonprofit performance management systems.” Oh yes, please.

  3. Writing in the New York Times Paul Sullivan explores how the advent of impact investing is pushing philanthropists to measure the impact of their dollars.

  4. Even though the premier social entrepreneurship conference, Social Capital Markets, was in September, there were two great round-up blog posts about how SoCap moved the conversation about investing in social entrepreneurship forward. First was Jeff Raderstrong’s argument that we need to beware of the hype around impact investing and focus on solutions to social problems. And Christine Egger wrote a fabulous post on the Idealist blog about new ways to think about, fund & inform social change.

  5. There were a couple of great posts about (the really sexy topic of) nonprofit budgeting. It may sound dry, but a nonprofit’s budget is an incredibly powerful tool for creating social change, so the more organizations that can harness that tool, the better. On the Nonprofit Finance Fund blog, Peter Kramer demonstrates how to connect your budget to your overall organization strategy. And Kate Barr argues that breakeven budgeting is the “biggest barrier to nonprofit financial health.” Amen to that!

  6. Two great pieces this month from Lucy Bernholz who always makes us think, especially about the future. First is her piece on libraries and the future and then her laundry list of  things we can no longer assume about the world around us.

  7. I always love a well done infographic and PhilanTopic offers one with their Nonprofits’ Impact on the Economy.

  8. Writing on the Social Earth blog Ashok Kamal reminds us that the work of social change is an exhausting roller coaster and we all need some “inspiration capital” to keep us going.

  9. Nancy Lublin, CEO of DoSomething.org, describes that for the millennial generation, innovation is the status quo and they are “poised to bring the social and business worlds closer together – tying profit to social change, and strong local communities to a new global society.” Let’s hope!

  10. It looks like the old is becoming new again as cities revive the idea of public, inner city markets.

Photo Credit: x1klima

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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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3 Comments to 10 Great Social Innovation Reads: October 2012

[...] Social Velocity picks the ten most interesting blog posts from the world of social innovation, nonprofits, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship in October.  [...]

Christine Egger
November 11, 2012

Thank you for the great wrap-up here, Nell, and for including the Idealist post. Here’s to all of the slow-but-sure tectonic shifts underway :)

Nell Edgington
November 13, 2012

And thanks for your great post, Christine! As always, you’ve very smartly and thoughtfully distilled the important points for us.

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