If you haven’t seen The Girl Effect video produced by the Nike Foundation and the NoVo Foundation, take a minute and check it out.
The video has been around for a while, but I bring it up now because the head of the Nike Foundation, Maria Eitel, has just been nominated by president Obama to run the Corporation for National and Community Service. As Nathaniel Whittemore recently explained:
CNCS is in charge of a variety of programs, including the AmeriCorps program. Under the new Serve America Act, the program is supposed to grow from 75,000 to 250,000 placements, with an emphasis on filling unmeet needs in “an Education Corps; a Healthy Futures Corps; a Clean Energy Corps and a Veterans Corps.”
So here’s the thing, if philanthropy’s biggest opportunity is to figure out how to effectively share information, then spreading ideas becomes a core competency of great philanthropists. The Girl Effect isn’t just a moving video, it is a case study in effective idea propagation. That’s not just my opinion, the authors of Made to Stick literally used it as a case study and deconstructed the video to show why it works.
I think understanding how ideas spread is so important in philanthropy (and yet so poorly understood by a community who seems to revel in making philanthropy sound boring and academic) that I have books like The Tipping Point and Seth Godin’s books in the Tactical Philanthropy Bookstore (it is not a coincidence that the Made to Stick authors found the Girl Effect video on Seth Godin’s website. I’m reading Made to Stick right now and believe me, when I finish it will find its place in the bookstore.
So here’s what’s cool. Maria Eitel gets how to spread ideas. And now she’s in charge of dramatically expanding our national service program. AmeriCorps won’t swell in size AND impact simply because we present young people with statistics on why it is needed and monetary incentives. It will only occur if an certain kind of idea spreads.
Imagine if every foundation understood how ideas spread the way Maria Eitel does?