Best of Stanford Social Innovation Review

The Stanford Social Innovation Review is a must read if you care about philanthropy. They manage to straddle the line between offering academic journal type articles while at the same time offering up compelling, engaging writing. They even play host to a large group of philanthropy bloggers (including me).

You have to subscribe to the magazine to read most of the articles. But the SSIR is currently offering their five most read articles of 2007 for free:

Creating High-Impact Nonprofits

Conventional wisdom says that scaling social innovation starts with strengthening internal management capabilities. This study of 12 high-impact nonprofits, however, shows that real social change happens when organizations go outside their own walls and find creative ways to enlist the help of others.

Microfinance Misses Its Mark

Despite the hoopla over microfinance, it doesn’t cure poverty. But stable jobs do. If societies are serious about helping the poorest of the poor, they should stop investing in microfinance and start supporting large, labor-intensive industries. At the same time, governments must hold up their end of the deal, for market-based solutions will never be enough.

How Nonprofits Get Really Big

Since 1970, more than 200,000 nonprofits have opened in the U.S., but only 144 of them have reached $50 million in annual revenue. Most of the members of this elite group got big by doing two things. They raised the bulk of their money from a single type of funder such as corporations or government—and not, as conventional wisdom would recommend, by going after diverse sources of funding. Just as importantly, these nonprofits created professional organizations that were tailored to the needs of their primary funding sources.

Social Entrepreneurship: The Case for Definition

Social entrepreneurship is attracting growing amounts of talent, money, and attention. But along with its increasing popularity has come less certainty about what exactly a social entrepreneur is and does. As a result, all sorts of activities are now being called social entrepreneurship. Some say that a more inclusive term is all for the good, but the authors argue that it’s time for a more rigorous definition.

A New Era for Business

More and more business leaders recognize that their company’s future is increasingly intertwined with the needs and demands of society. What many executives don’t understand is how best to manage that changing relationship. In this article, McKinsey & Company consultants provide a model for incorporating sociopolitical issues into the strategic decision-making process.