…my question to both Sean and Holden, is then "So What?" More press coverage and the outcome of that is …? To me it’s like some famous world-ranked tennis players, some of which if they spent less time in front of the camera for sponsor promos, may have had a better year on the court.
The point is to be great not big. Sorry, I don’t think more press coverage is the answer to what you think they should try to be accomplishing.
As I said in my response to Cheryl’s rant, foundations have no market or regulatory forces facing them that encourage innovation. I then listed a number of innovations from foundations and philanthropy that the mainstream press has covered in limited fashion or not at all. People who create innovations are risk-takers. Most people are not risk-takers, so for more people to innovate or follow other’s innovations there must be mechanisms to limit their risk. Press coverage is one such mechanism because it let’s people know that 1) “everyone else is doing it” and 2) “people who innovate will be celebrated for their innovations”.
I just started reading The Slow Pace of Fast Change, a book about how innovation happens. From the books cover:
While everyone loves a great idea, individuals will embrace it only if they believe others will too.
Safety in numbers and all that. Maggie is right that press coverage will not lead to innovation, but it will lead innovations to be embraced. I’m not a very cutting-edge kind of guy. I’m not an early adopter. In my response to Cheryl’s rant, I said that she was wrong or “too far ahead of her time”. Press coverage of philanthropic innovation is the key to the mainstreaming of philanthropy. That’s what I’m interested in; the ideas and innovations that are about to, or just have, made the jump into the mainstream.
Speaking of the mainstreaming of philanthropy, the Chronicle of Philanthropy has a comic this week that shows a man walking past a coffee house. The window sign is advertising private foundation set-up services when you buy a cup of coffee. For now, that comic is only funny to the readers of the philanthropic trade journal. When that joke is funny to readers of the New York Times, we’ll know that the Second Great Wave of Philanthropy is cresting. But that’s a long way off.