Category Archives: Spreading Ideas

Deviant Philanthropy

The word deviant is such a strong cultural label that many people interpret it to mean something similar to evil. Calling someone “deviant” calls up images of illicit or extreme criminal behavior. But that’s not what deviance really means. Within sociology, the phrase deviance describes actions or behaviors that violate cultural norms. Since cultural norms […]

Exploring the Edge: Social Sector Ideas That Matter

  “I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet. I like shorelines, weather fronts, international borders. There are interesting frictions and incongruities in those places.” Anne Fadiman The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down Today I’m happy to announce the re-launch […]

Building an Effective Philanthropy for Real Donors

Underlying much of the recent discussion about whether donors care whether nonprofits are effective and how to build a more effective field of philanthropy, is a recurring focus on how philanthropy experts think donors should behave. I thought the New Philanthropy Capital blog captured the silliness of this approach most aptly in their recent post […]

Tim Ogden on Whether Donors Care

Tim Ogden of Philanthropy Action weighs in on the recent debate: “Jacob has already pointed to the Hope Consulting study that Hewlett partly-funded. I encourage everyone to read it (it’s available at because it offers another important piece of the puzzle in this regard (note that, like Jacob, I have a connection to Hope […]

All Donors Care About Impact

In my post on Tuesday, I discussed a study that seemed to suggest that donors are not interested in information about whether nonprofits are any good at what they do. My conclusion was that donors are interested in this sort of information, but only if it is presented in an engaging way. In other words, […]

Jacob Harold on Whether Donors Care

Jacob Harold is the program officer at the Hewlett Foundation who manages the foundation’s philanthropy program along with president Paul Brest. The program is one of the very few foundation funded efforts to support the field of philanthropy. The goals of the program are to: Increase and improve information available to donors about nonprofit performance […]

Do Donors Care Whether Nonprofits Are Any Good?

Early this month, the British research and consulting firm YouGov released the results of a study on whether donors are interested in charity ratings.The report was headlined, ““Mixed response towards grading system for charities.” UK based New Philanthropy Capital, a nonprofit rating and philanthropy consulting organization, reflected on the results in a recent blog post: […] Made to Stick

What if there was a way to trigger a $150 billion influx of new money into the social sector? Recently, in my public speaking, I’ve been talking about and why Kiva is like a “gateway drug to social investing”. The fact is, most people are not sitting around wishing that they could make high […]

Words That Describe Great Philanthropy

On Wednesday, I asked readers to submit words that they thought best described great philanthropy. You will find all the details here. On Monday, we’ll be randomly selecting a reader who submitted a word and give them a $50 gift certificate to (microfinance for student loans in developing countries). Here’s a couple of entries […]

Making Philanthropy “Made to Stick”

The book Made to Stick should be required reading for all nonprofits and foundations. The book examines how ideas spread and why some ideas are “sticky” (ie. spread easily) and some are not. Today I have a little project for my readers (with a prize!). In Made to Stick, the authors talk about why some […]