The Mighty Five: December.
A cross-sector curation of the month’s best social impact listens & reads
We read and listen to a lot around here. Articles, journals, case studies, podcasts – anything that provides nuggets of insight to fuel our mission and work. And we distill them down to our very top five in a regular monthly roundup. We hope you gain as much from reading it as we do from curating it.
Hacking our human biases.
Vox | 6min
It’s a fact: our brains have a difficult time grasping the full scale and magnitude of human rights crises. In fact, psychic numbing occurs at an incredibly small scale – even when the victims in an experiment are increased from one to two. Of course, this presents a big challenge for changemakers. But it’s also a wake-up call for those of us who make charitable contributions. How can we intentionally bypass our own biases to make better and smarter decisions about what types of nonprofits to support? Luckily, there are resources to help. We recommend The Life You Can Save and UPenn’s 2018 High Impact Giving Guide (which includes our client Lwala Community Alliance!).
The hero and the outlaw.
Inc. | 4min
We stand by rational decision making when it comes to supporting social change. But as marketers, our job is to engage and motivate homo sapiens who, by and large, make decisions based on emotion. And when we can tap into this emotion, behavior change can follow. Don Draper’s sentimental appeals meant selling more Kodak Carousels. For changemakers, it means impacting more lives. One such technique is the use of brand archetypes: a framework that lets us – as brand strategists – leverage elemental, shared characters that are familiar to all. It’s a subtle, delicate art the world’s biggest brands navigate incredibly skillfully. But it holds equal potential for social enterprises and NGOs who need to drive impact that can truly be the difference between life and death.
Values in action.
Evidence Action | 25min
For most companies, core values are merely words on breakroom posters or buried in a forgotten employee handbook. As we tell our clients, these behaviors and beliefs aren’t actually core values unless you’re willing to lose money to uphold them. And at that point, they can be powerful drivers of strategy and organizational alignment. Which is why we were incredibly impressed by recent news from Evidence Action. They announced the disappointing results of an RCT, said they weren’t seeking additional funding, and requested to be removed from Give Well’s 2018 Top Charities list – all because they hold true to their “evidence first” and “economize without compromise” values. And for a powerful example of an organization seemingly not grounded by strong values, check out the latest reporting on Liberian NGO More Than Me whose initial seed funding was rooted in shady fundraising and deceit.
Talent: the biggest limiter of social enterprises.
Rippleworks | 30min
We’ll likely remember 2018 as the year the human capital development conversation reached fever pitch. But it’s certainly not a new topic within the international development community. In fact, we took a look back at 2016 research conducted by Rippleworks and found the insights prescient and still incredibly relevant. Namely, that finding the right talent is the single challenge which gets more difficult over time for social entrepreneurs. Not funding, but talent – especially in business development, sales, and customer acquisition. No wonder social entrepreneurs are burned out.
Keep it simple, social sector.
SSIR | 6min
It’s interesting the lengths development funders will go to ensure ROI. The new-to-the-scene development impact bond (DIB) model is a good example. It’s designed to grant a large chunk of money to a changemaker. Then, if the organization meets predetermined results, an outcome payer provides the investors a return on their capital. It’s complicated and expensive, requiring multiple players and extensive evaluation. We thoroughly enjoyed Kevin Starr’s perspective, and agree that a primary benefit of these DIBs lies in the fact that they’re structured to reward clear and measurable results. And, that a complicated payment vehicle isn't needed to provide unrestricted funding to incentivize results.
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