Posts Tagged ‘Mark Kramer’

How one donor achieved impact beyond check-writing

“Philanthropy is neither a solitary effort by the donor nor even a dialectical effort between the donor and the grantee. Social change involves many different players from all sectors of society. It is through the engagement and alignment of these multiple players that catalytic donors achieve their impact.”

A best practice worth repeating

I recently taught a philanthropy class where we discussed the merits of this sentiment published in Crutchfield, Kania and Kramer’s book, Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World. While this book has been widely discussed since it was published in 2011, revisiting it with my class reminded me that the principles are as relevant today as they were four years ago. I have a renewed appreciation for some of the case stories that illustrate what it means to be a catalytic donor so I’d like to return to one of the authors’ great profiles about a donor by the name of Emily Jackson Tow.

Jackson Tow is an example of what the authors call an adaptive leader or someone who fully evaluates the issue and hand and determines how she can facilitate transformative change beyond funding. These adaptive donors “are not content to merely give a man a fish, or even teach him to fish; these entrepreneurs won’t stop until they’ve revolutionized the entire fishing industry,” says Ashoka founder Bill Drayton. In this particular case, Jackson Tow demonstrates the first of the six highlighted best practices in the book: advocate for change.

How Emily Jackson Tow advocated for change

The authors highlight the Tow Foundation’s advocacy efforts to demonstrate the power of a donor’s influence beyond financial impact. The Tow Foundation maintains a portfolio approach to giving, but its greatest impact comes from its nonfinancial contributions, such as sweat equity, knowledge of best practices, national and local networks, relationships and perseverance to reform the state’s juvenile justice system.

Emily Tow Jackson became aware of a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of adolescents who were jailed for minor offenses, such as graffiti, in the same facility as serious offenders and confined to small, poorly ventilated cells for up to 21-hour stretches with two inmates and no toilet. Beyond the horrible conditions, the larger issue was Connecticut’s escalating youth imprisonment rates. Many of the juvenile offenders did not require high-security prison facilities; rather they needed counseling, safe and stable homes, and other basics.

Tow Jackson immediately set to work by enlisting three nonprofit organizations to establish the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance with a start-up grant of $25,000. Additionally, the foundation engaged in advocacy activities that included the following:

–        funding and participating in collaborations,

–        educating legislators with forums at the state capitol,

–        participating on local and state government committees,

–        raising public awareness through media,

–        and giving general operating support to nonprofits focused on this issue.

By 2009, referrals to juvenile court dropped by more than one third and the number of youth convictions dropped by almost two thirds. At the time the Do More Than Give was published, Connecticut was recognized nationally as an innovative leader in handling juvenile cases, rather than as a leading incarcerator of minors.

Nuances of advocacy

The authors explain an important piece about this best practice: Some funders avoid lobbying because of a fear or misunderstanding of how much lobbying is allowed, so the authors define advocacy and related terms as:

–       Advocacy refers to activism around an issue such as climate change, free trade or youth justice. Examples of activities range from educating and mobilizing voters to pitching media stories and raising awareness to directly influencing public officials.

–       Policy advocacy (a.k.a. lobbying) refers to specific efforts to change public policy or obtain government funding for a social program.

–       Lobbying versus advocacy: Most of the confusion lies with advocacy. Lobbying is prohibited by foundations in the U.S. and advocacy is an all-encompassing term for a whole range of activities.

Private foundations, which include most family foundations, cannot fund or engage in direct lobbying, but they can make general operating grants to nonprofits that lobby. Large private foundations have a long political history because they generally have a larger staff of trained professionals who have a deep understanding of the issues and social sector.

Conversely, public foundations, such as community foundations are allowed both to engage in lobbying themselves and to fund nonprofits that lobby. Because community foundations find themselves at the center of many different stakeholders, most shy away from lobbying. However, the authors explore a case study about The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and how it successfully positioned its lobbying activities so its constituents would embrace them.

–       Corporate foundation lobbying: Good corporate foundations reconcile lobbying activities that benefit their company with those that lend strength to the social causes they support for a win-win. Corporations can leverage vast brand recognition and marketing channels to broadcast policy messages and they can mobilize entire industries. In contrast, some companies still support legislation that directly contradicts their socially responsible images. For example, Toyota, maker of the eco-friendly Prius, lobbied with other carmakers against tougher fuel economy standards.

Working together for maximum impact

To create systemic change, nonprofits today need catalytic donors in their court to leverage the full participation of every sector in society. According to the authors, the number of billionaires has tripled since 2000 and nearly half of the 75,000 private foundations established in the U.S. were created in the last decade. We’re also seeing growth in private enterprise where new corporate entities are created to blend profit with social purpose, as well as in government’s willingness to partner in nonconventional ways.

Within the context of these societal trends, there is no question that donors are positioned like never before to help orchestrate an integrated approach to problems and embrace catalytic philanthropy. Visit the Do More Than Give website for more stories about donors who create catalytic change in their communities.

See also:

Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner

Mission-Based Management: Leading Your Not-for-Profit in the 21st Century, 3rd Ed.

The Ask: How to Ask for Support for Your Nonprofit Cause, Creative Project or Business Venture

Image credits: ask.com, towfoundation.org, stlucianewsonline.com, parksandrecreation.com

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Collective impact and what this trend means for your organization

Many trends in the nonprofit sector pop up and then fizzle as quickly as they have appeared, while a few stick around and have a significant impact on how organizations operate. After having the opportunity to work with a few organizations that are pursuing a collective impact model and hearing this term at nearly every meeting I attend, I am convinced this trend is one that will stick around and could result in fundamentally changing the way some organizations do their work and achieve their missions. Additionally, many funders are enthusiastic about the concept of collective impact and how such models have the potential to really advance social change and improve outcomes in specific sectors, like education.

If you are not familiar with this concept, an article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Winter 2011 edition (see link at the bottom of this article) summarizes it this way, “Unlike most collaborations, collective impact initiatives involve a centralized infrastructure, a dedicated staff, and a structured process that leads to a common agenda, shared measurement, continuous communication, and mutually reinforcing activities among all participants.” Essentially, individual organizations, often from across the different sectors, work together to define common goals and intended outcomes and then work in a coordinated manner to achieve their often audacious goals over time.

One long-time critique of the nonprofit sector has been that many small organizations work in isolation, essentially using up resources to only peck at very complex problems. In the view of the authors, John Kania and Mark Kramer, of SSIR’s “Collective Impact” article, the result is that “nearly 1.4 million nonprofits try to invent independent solutions to major social problems, often working at odds with each other and exponentially increasing the perceived resources required to make meaningful progress.” With a collective impact approach, organizations across sectors start working in a coordinated and aligned manner with the goal of making significantly greater progress on the issue they are addressing with the additional goal of better utilizing resources.

Moving your organization toward a full collective impact model requires willing partners across sectors, a long-term view and often a dramatically different approach to your work. Thus, it can be out of reach for some nonprofit organizations. Still, organizations can learn from and adapt some of these approaches to improve their effectiveness without becoming part of a full collective impact project. Consider the following ideas as a few places to start in thinking about what the collective impact trend means for your organization:

Help board and staff members understand the collective impact model as an emerging and important trend in the nonprofit sector. Share the SSIR article during board and staff meetings and allow time to discuss the implications for your organization’s work.

    Get a sense of how other organizations, inside and outside of your community, are using this approach to accomplish goals that are similar to your organization’s goals.

      As part of your next planning process, consider how elements of a collective impact approach could be applied to your organization’s approach and programs.

        Consider how better aligning your goals and measures of success with partner organizations could help improve outcomes and effectiveness for everyone involved.

          If you could see the collective impact idea working for your organization and your mission focus area, start working with partners to possibly put this kind of model into effect. More organizations are becoming involved in these kinds of initiatives, so some of your colleagues maybe able to share ideas and lessons learned to help you get started in advancing this kind of approach. Nationally, the Strive Partnership (www.strivetogether.org) is one of the more prominent examples of collective impact in action. Locally in Colorado, Boulder IMPACT (www.bouldercountyimpact.org) and the Adams County Youth Initiative (www.acyi.org) are two examples of organizations advancing this model in different ways and at different stages of development.

            With the concept of collective impact gaining momentum and support and resources continuing to become more scarce, it is essential for nonprofit leaders to consider how their organizations could achieve more through these kinds of deep partnerships. For organizations working on complex social problems, collective impact approaches may become the standard, so your organization should be prepared to shift your approach, take part and possibly provide leadership in this new way of working.

            You can read more about collective impact, example initiatives and how such initiatives are often structured here: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/collective_impact.

            See also:

            Do More Than Give

            The Power of Collaborative Solutions

            Image credit: unitedfrontmn.com

             

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            Social good by the slice

            You love pizza. Why not be purposeful about it? A new company called Naked Pizza agrees. Naked Pizza’s mission is to demonstrate, by example, that fast food can be part of the solution in the global epidemic of obesity and chronic illness by, 1) proving that an unhealthy and popular fast food can be made healthier and tasty, and, 2) making a business case for investment, profit and scale. Naked Pizza’s corporate social responsibility strategy is textbook, or in this case, business book—Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World to be exact. Naked Pizza now shares company with GE and other large companies that are opening up new business markets by blending social good with the bottom line.

            According to Do More authors, Crutchfield, Kania and Kramer, one of the six best practices of highly effective donors is to blend profit with purpose. Businesses have a lot to offer as vehicles for social progress, and donors can engage business tools in three ways:

            1) They can tap corporate know-how to create direct social impact: They can utilize the knowledge, skills and abilities of employees, as well as company systems and processes; intellectual property such as patents and trade secrets; and other assets. For example, GE used their industry know-how to upgrade thirty-seven clinics and hospitals and retrained local staffs in poor communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, all without charge. GE continues to open a new clinic every month as part of its $90 million annual budget for philanthropy.

            2) They can create shared values through profit-making initiatives that serve social objectives: In the GE example, senior executives saw a tremendous range of opportunities for their business. The company invested $6 billion to develop new, inexpensive products and treatments that meet the health needs of low-income populations around the world with a goal of reaching 100 million new patients every year. GE partners with Grameen Bank, the microfinance institution, to build a sustainable rural health model, reducing maternal and infancy mortality rates by 20 percent.

            3) They can use their investment capital to further their social impact: The authors report that catalytic donors are using their vote and their cash to further social issues through “impact investments.” The authors explain a strategy called “shareholder advocacy,” where a foundation can purchase shares of stock in a company in which they wish to have policy influence. For example, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, whose interest in the environment prompted them to purchase stock in Smithfield Foods so they could file a shareholder resolution requesting complete disclosures of environmental impacts. They filed annually, eventually gaining 29 percent of the shareholders’ votes, and the company began to negotiate with the foundation. The foundation brought in their grantees for expertise, which led to the company’s commitment to track and report environmental indicators relating to its farms.

            Even more immediate social impact can be accomplished by foundations offering low- or no-interest loans to grantees, which has been done for decades. These loans qualify as program related investments, which means foundations can count these loans as part of their payout requirements. This strategy allows foundations to “recycle” their funds because they can be used multiple times to achieve social impact.

            Another example of impact investing is when foundations or donors are willing to be the lead investors in a socially responsible business solution to attract other venture capitalists. Kiva is a great example—in 2010 users lent more than $100 million in microloans. The Packard Foundation similarly was the first investor to the table in their case, taking the risk and lower return in order to fund a sustainability project, which eventually attracted substantial venture capital from traditional sources.

            For more examples about blending profit with purpose, visit Joe Waters’ blog www.selfishgiving.com.

            For more information about Do More Than Give, visit www.DoMoreThanGiveBook.com or our Page to Practice book summary library.

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            “Letting Go” and “Do More Than Give” share views

            An interesting article was brought to my attention this morning by a tweet from one of our CausePlanet contributors, Michaela Hayes. Published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review and written by Kristi Kimball and Malka Kopell, “Letting Go” highlights a handful of ways that foundations are getting in the way of their grantees’ work. Micromanaging is just one of the ways that foundations undermine the work of their recipients, say Kimball and Kopell, who work within the foundation world.

            In fact, the first problem was described as “foundation-designed solutions.” Crutchfield, Kania and Kramer discuss this problem in Do More Than Give. The Do More authors describe number four of their six best practices as “empower the people,” which explains that when foundations or donors sit shoulder to shoulder with recipients and even the communities’ served at the same table, creating social change becomes more collaborative and results-oriented rather than the give, spend and report cycle, we typically see between grantor and grantee. Crutchfield, Kania and Kramer say that catalytic donors view individuals as “essential participants” in the process of solving problems for themselves. Listening to stakeholders is a powerful engine for change because of the ideas that emerge and the solutions that result from brainstorming.

            Another problem Kimball and Kopell expose from their view inside the foundation world is that funders typically make grants with “tunnel vision.” They choose one organization to make the change they are looking for in the entire system. “Instead of letting 1,000 flowers bloom, they think they can afford just one variant. But focusing narrowly on one solution is a fragile strategy, particularly in complex, unpredictable environments,” say Kimball and Kopell. Do More authors would agree by sharing best practice number three, which is “forging nonprofit peer networks.” Instead of focusing on a few grantees, donors are in a unique position to look at an issue in its entirety and call for convenings among all nonprofits who focus on the same issue to benefit from information sharing and collective impact.

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            Blending profit with purpose

            Do More Than Give is an important read for many reasons. Here are two: 1) This book takes a rare and intelligent look at what the donor can do beyond selecting a good cause and 2) Each of the donor recommendations fuels your imagination to explore how you can cultivate the catalytic behavior in your followers, friends and philanthropists.

            Also worthwhile in this book are the case studies of individuals, corporations and foundations—large, small, private and community—who have played a unique role in advancing a larger issue with nonprofits at the table. For those who haven’t read its predecessor, Forces for Good, you can read a summary of best practices in the book’s appendix, which essentially means two books in one. Overall, the book contains a great deal of innovative thought and approaches to working collectively with donors.

            This week, I’m highlighting Crutchfield, Kania and Kramer’s best practice #2: blending profit with purpose, thanks to a recent blog post I read today at SelfishGiving.com.

            The post is called “Cause Marketing versus Sponsorship – What’s the difference?” and is coincidentally written by one of our featured authors, Jocelyne Daw, who wrote Cause Marketing for Nonprofits.

            According to the authors, businesses have a lot to offer as vehicles for social progress, and donors can engage business tools in three ways:

            1)   They can tap corporate know-how to create direct social impact: They can utilize the knowledge, skills and abilities of employees, as well as company systems and processes; intellectual property such as patents and trade secrets; and other assets. For example, GE used their industry know-how to upgrade thirty-seven clinics and hospitals and retrained local staffs in poor communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America, all without charge. GE continues to open a new clinic every month as part of its $90 million annual budget for philanthropy.

            2)   They can create shared values through profit-making initiatives that serve social objectives: In the GE example, senior executives saw a tremendous range of opportunities for their business. The company with a goal of reaching 100 million new patients every year. GE partners with Grameen Bank, the microfinance institution, to build a sustainable rural health model, reducing maternal and infancy mortality rates by 20 percent.

            3)   They can use their investment capital to further their social impact: The authors report that catalytic donors are using their vote and their cash to further social issues through “impact investments.” The authors explain a strategy called “shareholder advocacy,” where a foundation can purchase shares of stock in a company in which they wish to have policy influence. For example, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, whose interest in the environment prompted them to purchase stock in Smithfield Foods so they could file a shareholder resolution requesting complete disclosures of environmental impacts. They filed annually, eventually gaining 29 percent of the shareholders’ votes, and the company began to negotiate with the foundation. The foundation brought in their grantees for expertise, which led to the company’s commitment to track and report environmental indicators relating to its farms.

            4)   Even more immediate social impact can be accomplished by foundations offering low- or no-interest loans to grantees, which has been done for decades. These loans qualify as program related investments, which means foundations can count these loans as part of their payout requirements. This strategy allows foundations to “recycle” their funds because they can be used multiple times to achieve social impact. Another example of impact investing is when foundations or donors are willing to be the lead investors in a socially responsible business solution to attract other venture capitalists. Kiva is a great example—in 2010 users lent more than $100 million in microloans. The Packard Foundation similarly was the first investor to the table in their case, taking the risk and lower return in order to fund a sustainability project, which eventually attracted substantial venture capital from traditional sources.

            Watch for more Do More Than Give highlights during the month of April. You can also visit DoMoreThanGiveBook.com. For more information on this book and other features, visit our Page to Practice library or follow us at Twitter and Facebook.

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            Empower the people

            Last week we had a terrific article, “Language Matters,” presented by Marco Montenegro, Senior Associate of La Piana Consulting, who discussed the notion of language usage and how it’s become imperative to check your definitions at the door when working with vastly different constituents in the community. Be they funders, recipients, stakeholders or bystanders, individuals and organizations must respect perspective when collaborating with one another.

            Montenegro says, “As the gap between rich and poor widens and the ability to connect in an ever shrinking world increases, today’s nonprofit leaders need to be the conscience for our varied definitions for the social issues we are working to improve. How would someone raised in the U.S. define educated and unemployed or government corruption in contrast to a recently arrived Egyptian immigrant? How would a woman from the U.S. define women’s rights in contrast to a woman from Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia?

            I couldn’t help but think about Montenegro’s article in light of our upcoming Page to Practice feature, Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World by Leslie Crutchfield, John Kania, and Mark Kramer. In Do More, “Practice 4: Empower the People” refers to the fact that systemwide change cannot be attributed to a single organization or donor. In reality, it is the “collective action” of many individuals and entities that create transformative change.

            Donors who want to catalyze change must acknowledge that our collective communities don’t view philanthropy in the same way. For example, the authors explain that what a white American might call philanthropy, a black American might call self-help. A Latina might say the most important service she provides is filling out her Census form so her people can be counted. The reason this discussion is so important is that donors who want to make the biggest change in their communities or globally must empower and mobilize people at the individual level. The people most affected by a problem aren’t always closely affiliated with the organizations that support their issue.

            According to the authors, specifically engaging and empowering individuals helps funders and collaborators to:

            Generate new and better solutions to pressing problems.

            Build collective will to solve problems on a wider scale.

            Bridge divides of class, race and place.

            Watch for more Do More Than Give highlights during the month of April. You can also visit DoMoreThanGiveBook.com. For more information on this book and other features, visit our Page to Practice library or follow us at Twitter and Facebook.

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