Category Archives: Effective Giving

The Decline Effect & “Proven” Nonprofit Interventions

One of the great buzzwords of the effective philanthropy movement is the idea of “proven effective” programs. Since so many nonprofit programs are never tested and are based on ideas that have little research behind them, it makes sense to encourage the funding and deploying of programs that have proven to be effective. While sensible, […]

External Accountability in Philanthropy

It takes self-discipline to stick to a workout schedule and get in shape. However, research shows that one of the best ways to stick to your plan is to voluntarily create external accountability by getting a “workout buddy” to go to the gym with you. While both of you might feel like skipping the gym […]

The Disenchantment of Philanthropy

In recent posts I’ve explored the “creative tension” between rigor and moral clarity, described effective philanthropy as a process of “learning how to love”, and published a guest post by Phil Buchanan about the need for passion to animate data driven philanthropy. At the risk having readers keep using the word “mushy” to describe the […]

Adaptive Philanthropy

This is a guest post by Susan Wolf Ditkoff, a partner at Bridgespan and co-leader of the firm’s philanthropy practice. Susan also writes Bridgespan’s Give Smart blog. By Susan Wolf Ditkoff Decisions in philanthropy are sometimes painted in terms of false dichotomies – either you’re thoughtful and strategic, or you’re whimsical and opportunistic. But in […]

More on Philanthropy’s Natural State of Underperformance

Reaction to my column reviewing the books Leap of Reason and Give Smart generated a range of responses. I appreciated the positive comments I received, but want to focus on addressing some of the concerns that were raised. Phil Buchanan of the Center for Effective Philanthropy via Twitter argued that I should not be singling […]

Underperformance is Philanthropy’s Natural State

This is my latest column for the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Is Underperformance Philanthropy’s ‘Natural State’? By Sean Stannard-Stockton | Chronicle of Philanthropy The nonprofit world is full of technocratic conversations about how to measure and improve results. But two new books, Leap of Reason, by Mario Morino, and Give Smart, by Thomas J. Tierney and […]

Passion Needed For Data Driven Analysis in Philanthropy

This is a guest post by Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy. By Phil Buchanan One of the most perplexing aspects of discussions about philanthropy that I hear and read is the tendency to portray passion and emotion and data and analysis as in tension. As if it’s zero-sum. Add passion and […]

Philanthropy’s Community: Observers, Fans, Evangelists & Ambassadors

Speaking at the Millennial Donor Summit this morning, Matt Britton of acclaimed social media agency Mr. Youth talked about what makes a community. In his words, the key elements of community are: Observers, who watch, Fans, who participate, Evangelists, who recruit, and Ambassadors, who represent. Now there are all sorts of models like this that […]

Pay For Success

President Obama’s 2012 budget includes an innovative proposal called Pay For Success that has the potential to revolutionize the way the government provides funding for social services. The program creates a framework for government payments to be contingent on positive program results rather than paying for program delivery. Pay For Success is a nonpartisan program […]

Good Intentions vs. Good Results Part II

Saundra commented on my post about her anti-TOMS Shoes video from Friday: “I may occasionally put things too harshly, but it’s often because I’m one of the few people out there making noise. I’ve seen some extremely questionable donor advice out there and myths and misconceptions are commonly reinforced by the people that donors turn […]