The Mighty Five: June.
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.
Resilience, in full color.
National Geographic | 9min
It’s one thing to read that the number of displaced people has hit an all-time record: 68.5 million, or one new person every two seconds. But it’s quite another to see it. We were floored by National Geographic’s beautifully shot and composed interactive piece on Bidibidi in northern Uganda, the world’s second-largest refugee camp. This settlement is quickly becoming a formalized city with a growing infrastructure. A testament to the economic benefits of inclusive refugee policies, which the IMF estimates to be a two-to-one return on investment. And beyond that: a resounding reminder of the resilience shown by the quarter million people who call it home, for now.
Seeing vs. observing.
FS Blog | 3min
Immersion and observation are so important that we won’t start any project until we’ve spent time on the ground with our clients – talking, touring, and absorbing. But mere visibility isn’t enough. As this article on the art of observation points out, there’s a big difference between seeing and actually observing. The latter is brilliantly defined as “watching with an active mind,” layered with the skill of being able to determine what’s relevant. We’ve found the fields of UX and interaction design are especially adept at formalizing observation activities, especially those that can be done without extensive training or budgets. And in our work, we’d be hard pressed to name an arena that wouldn’t benefit from more intentional observation.
Promoting equity on a macro and micro scale.
Equitable Evaluation Initiative | 8min
In last month’s M5, we discussed our desire to find practical and personal tools to address bias within philanthropy and development. Not a moment too soon, SSIR launched their “Breaking Through Barriers to Racial Equity” series that’s already sparking new realizations, better conversations, and a slew of resources to dig into. We loved discovering the Equitable Evaluation Initiative. And unpacking their framing paper that boldly calls for a new paradigm of evaluation to uproot outdated orthodoxies. We also appreciated Tema Okun’s work that outlines ways “professionalism” standards cloak racial biases that prioritize white and western characteristics.
A BOD should drive ESG, and ASAP.
HBR Ideacast | 26min
About 18 months ago, everyone was talking about the impact-focused corporation. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink shouted about purpose being a competitive advantage. And breathless pundits (ourselves included) opined on this being the start of a new era of business. Then… crickets. With little to no trickle-down effect from idealism to action. But as this podcast posits, we’re getting closer to a tipping point as CEO activism affects other key players. A corporation’s board of directors is key to advancing an agenda around environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, along with mid-level investment portfolio managers. And the last group of important stakeholders? All of us, who have choices in how to spend and invest.
Meet better, work better.
Make Good | 6min
Not everyone has facilitated or attended a workshop. But chances are, you’ve had to prepare for, assemble, or manage at least part of a meeting designed to gather input. And if you’re hungry – like we are – to continually improve the way we collaborate, you’ll like these pragmatic tips for better workshops. Specifically: provide context for progress against an agenda, so participants understand where they are in the process or conversation. Aim for alignment, not necessarily agreement. And if you’re doing big, blue sky thinking, start with something as a prompt. Even if it’s wrong. Need more tools and templates? This library by Seeds for Change is another great resource.
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