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10 Great Social Innovation Reads: October 2013

By Nell Edgington



10 Great Social Innovation Read Oct 2013It was really hard to narrow down to 10 great reads this month. People wrote some really compelling (even more than usual) things in October. And some longer pieces in particular were quite thought-provoking. Some asked searing questions like “Is arts innovation really innovative?” and “Is  increasing income disparity making us less empathetic?” and “Can philanthropy fix our broken democracy?” And that’s just a start. Lots to think about.

Below are my picks of the 10 best reads in the world of social innovation in October. But please add what I missed in the comments.

And if you want to see an expanded list of interesting reads, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+. You can also find past months’ 10 Great Reads lists here.

  1. The conversation about the overhead myth, the destructive idea that nonprofits should be evaluated based on how much they spend on overhead (fundraising and administrative expenses), still rages on. First Paul Hogan from the John R. Oishei Foundation reframes the argument to include general operating and program support.  Then Heather Peeler from GEO reports on a panel at a recent gathering of Social Innovation Fund grantees and grantors discussing what funders can do to build more sustainable organizations. And Julie Brandt writes a ringing endorsement of the overhead myth movement arguing that “Donors need to focus on evaluating charities based on leadership, transparency, governance, and results.”

  2. But lest you think that everyone agrees, Tiziana Dearing raises some good points about nonprofits not yet having the necessary resources or tools to boil outcomes down to short term ratios or ratings. As she says, “Everyone has more work to do.”

  3. There were some great examples of nonprofits using social media in interesting ways. From the Social Media BirdBrain blog comes 4 Best Examples of Nonprofit Video Storytelling and from the HubSpot blog, 10 Nonprofits That Are Totally Nailing Pinterest Marketing.

  4. And speaking of innovatively using media to move social change forward, this infographic on America’s school dropout problem demonstrates a concise and compelling way to explain a complex problem.

  5. Part of the potential solution to America’s education problems might lie in new science. An interesting new school within Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s Las Vegas Downtown Project is using neuroscience to teach children in new ways.

  6. If you really want to unpack the buzz around “innovation,” particularly in the arts, take a look at this really interesting, thought-provoking 6-essay series at Culturebot questioning innovation and the arts, what’s working and what isn’t. It is well worth your time and is guaranteed to make you think.

  7. On the Idealist blog, April Greene wisely counsels those entering the social change space, that if you want to pursue your dreams, don’t tell your mother. Such good advice, ha!

  8. Richard Eisenberg provides some really interesting analysis of recent data and what it tells us about how generations approach giving differently.

  9. Writing in the New York Times, Daniel Goleman worries that the widening income gap may be creating a widening empathy gap because “social distance makes it all the easier to focus on small differences between groups and to put a negative spin on the ways of others and a positive spin on our own.” Very scary.

  10. President of the MacArthur Foundation, Robert Gallucci writes a passionate plea that philanthropy help fix a quite broken (as particularly evidenced in October’s federal government shutdown) American political system.

Photo Credit: ekelley89

 

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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 2013

Marnie Webb
November 5, 2013

Just a note to say that I always find something valuable in your great reads links. Sometimes it’s the link itself other times is something that hits me (you know, in a good way) because they appear in the same list. This time, there seems something connected about the innovation in the arts series and the plea for philanthropy to help fix our broken democracy.

Nell Edgington
November 5, 2013

Marnie, I’m so glad to hear that the 10 Great Reads lists are valuable to you. I agree with you about the interesting connection between arts innovation and philanthropy’s role in a broken democracy. Lots to think about!

[…] The 10 best reads in the world of nonprofits, philanthropy, social entrepreneurship in October 2013.  […]

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