The Mighty Five: January.
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.
Storytelling as marketing as behavior change.
SSIR | 2min
The Stanford Social Innovation Review shared a list of their most popular articles of the year, and two of the top ten are about effective storytelling. Meaning: effective communication is a topic of great interest in the development community. Like any other expertise that shores up an organization or initiative (accounting, talent, M+E), marketing communications require an investment. And it’s not always easy to do right or do well. It’s evident – like when reading the thoughtful captions in the Mercy Corp roundup of their 10 best photos of 2018 – how much skill goes into a single photograph.
Lego + BRAC tackle childhood trauma.
Quartz | 7min
Traumatic experiences are life-altering. Beyond their effects on mental health, research shows that adverse childhood experiences permanently alter one’s DNA with dramatic consequences to a person’s physical health through adulthood. So we were fascinated to learn more about two separate social change programs that seek to mitigate the effects of trauma. The first: a BRAC and Lego-sponsored program in Rohingya refugee camps to help kids heal through play. And the second: a school in New Orleans devoted to working with traumatized youth. We’re hopeful this work increases individual empowerment and holistic health, generating change that lasts a generation and beyond.
Stand back, Milton Friedman.
The Economist | 4min
A Harvard researcher recently uncovered Coca Cola’s substantial influence over obesity science and policy solutions in China. Spoiler alert: the policies align heavily with the soda giant’s business priorities. We’d be naive to say the ability of business to sway government actors is new and shocking. But this news is particularly interesting as a contrast to the clamor of companies claiming and promoting their commitment to delivering social benefit alongside shareholder value. Like the declaration made by the CEO of French food giant Danone denouncing the sacred cow of the Friedman Doctrine. No longer is his company’s purpose to maximize shareholder value, he says. It’s getting healthy food into as many mouths as possible and benefitting the entire value chain.
Learn everything. Admit when you haven’t.
Farnam Street | 3min
One of the best aspects of our work as marketers and consultants is that it constantly pushes us to learn. And while we’ll never know our client’s business as well as they do, it’s our job to try and get close. So we enjoyed learning about the Feynman technique: a four-step method to learn anything. The bottom line? If you can’t explain something to a toddler in plain language, you probably know less than you think. But knowing little is also OK. There’s great value in intellectual humility, and studies show admitting wrongness has few negative repercussions. Music to our ears, because we’ve been wrong and learned a whole lot in 2018.
Philanthropy winners, rage giving, and other 2018 trends.
Insider Philanthropy | 11min
We’ll end this email with one last year-end roundup: the 2018 IPPYs. This list of award winners paints a comprehensive picture of the world of giving, with our highlights being McKesson’s underwhelming response to the U.S. opioid crisis; the unassuming billionaire philanthropist you’ve never heard of; and an immersive approach to grantmaking that can be an example for all. 2018 also ushered in the rise of “rage giving,” the perils of light oversight for charities, and the start of a Go Fund Me that crowdsourced more than $20 million for the border wall. Here’s to 2019!
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