Each week, the editors of PhilanTopic compile a list of noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector. Here are a few posts from March about impact and effectiveness for your reading pleasure. Have a post you'd like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below.
In a post on the GiveWell blog, Holden Karnofsky considers the case of mothers2mothers, a nongovernmental organization based in South Africa that has been criticized for publishing what Karnofsky calls erroneous figures about the number of women it serves. Writes Karnofsky:
We certainly don't think the anomalies we've found show that m2m isn't doing great work, or that its support and awards are undeserved (and we are still considering the possibility of further investigating m2m as a potential GiveWell-recommended group). Still, seeing this sort of problem from an organization that gets as much attention as m2m seems significant. It's another piece of evidence that the philanthropic world -- including many of the largest and best-resourced funders -- is not asking all of the critical questions that it could be asking....
On his Harvard Business Review blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta offers a "unified theory of social change" for nonprofits and institutions seeking to "change the world." The plan, in three parts, looks like this: 1) set big, hairy, audacious goals and deadlines for each problem you want to tackle; 2) collaborate and communicate like there's no tomorrow; and 3) invest in fundraising to dramatically increase the capital available to solve those problems. "It's not rocket science," adds Pallotta. "So let's get on with it."
In a guest post on Beth's Blog, Greater New Orleans Foundation president and CEO Albert Ruesga takes a closer look at the report Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter? (20 pages, PDF), which is based on a recent GEO survey. According to the report, not much has changed in the field of grantmaking since the last time GEO conducted the survey, in 2008. Indeed, "while the survey holds some interest as a mirror held up to the nature of US grantmaking," writes Ruesga, "foundation staff might use it most effectively to reflect on their own practices." For example, "The survey can help convince trustees who...still object to the idea of making grants for general operating support. When so many grantmakers have adopted the practice, and for so many good reasons, there's strong motivation for their reexamining the basis of their resistance....”
On the Center for American Progress site, Jitinder Kohli, Douglas J. Besharov, and Kristina Costa take a closer look at the potential of -- and some of the challenges associated with -- social impact bonds.
Last but not least, the Global Impact Investing Network shares a recent interview with Rockefeller Foundation head Judith Rodin about the foundation's catalytic role in the impact investing space and the next phase of its efforts to build the industry.
-- Regina Mahone