The Mighty Five: October.
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.
Contesting conscious capitalism.
Time | 6min
Anand Giridharadas posits a problem with conscious capitalism. In Winners Take All, he argues the business-for-good culture is but a system for the global elite to exercise do-good efforts while preserving the status quo that drives inequality in the first place. And he certainly pulls no punches in his critique of Jeff Bezos' $2B commitment to improve public schools and eradicate homelessness. This philanthropy might be less necessary, he contends, if Amazon decided against seeking tax incentives for HQ2 or paid a living wage to all its workers. Even one of the world’s most lauded conscientious companies isn’t exempt from Giridharadas’ challenge. Watch him put Unilever’s CEO on the spot during a panel discussion.
Sharpen the saw to cut the wood.
Center for Effective Philanthropy | 2min
“You’ve got to spend money to make money” is an age-old maxim of the business world. A rephrasing of this for the social sector might read something like “you’ve got to invest in organizational infrastructure to deliver meaningful impact.” While the conversation around capacity building continues to mature, recent research from The Center for Effective Philanthropy highlights a disconnect that exists between funders and nonprofits. The study reinforced our own anecdotal evidence: the need for communications and organizational performance support is acute, yet foundation leaders often don’t feel the same urgency to financially back these areas for grantees.
SDG progress pop quiz.
Gates Foundation | 5min
From our digital media and design perspective, one of the most compelling aspects of this year’s Goalkeepers Report is its approach to interactive data presentation. It provides both an engaging way to digest progress towards the SDGs, and a means of challenging preconceived notions around progress and trends (thanks, Hans Rosling!) Interested in more interactive online data presentations? We can’t get enough of Gapminder’s Dollar Street tool, and their other data explorations get an A+ as well. (Extra credit for testing your knowledge of global humanitarian aid via this NPR quiz).
Investing in human capital.
Devex | 4min
Once we pried ourselves away from those interactive graphs, we turned our attention to the strongest theme to emerge from the Goalkeepers Report: the explosion of youth populations in Africa and Asia could reverse progress towards the SDGs, by the sheer increase in the relative volume of those living in extreme poverty. The call to action is strong: investment must be made in human capital so these youth have the tools needed to attack problems from the inside and drive economic growth. To quote Resonate’s Ayla Schlosser at this year’s Segal Family Foundation’s Annual Meeting, “We have learned time and time again that the problems in our world are best solved by those who are directly impacted by them.”
Spotlight on African higher ed.
Quartz Africa | 4min
Unemployment is a critical issue across Sub-Saharan Africa, with some reports saying it can take an average of five years for college graduates to find a job. Yet business leaders and NGOs report difficulties in finding the skilled workforce needed to fill open positions. This article asserts the disconnect is due to the failings of African higher education – a system that relies on traditional rote learning over the creative problem solving and leadership skills that are now a prerequisite for thriving in the knowledge economy. It’s giving us food for thought: primary and secondary education is a global development priority, and rightly so. But in order to successfully stem the rising tide of unemployment and solve the issues undoubtedly in our future, can we look to higher-education or post-graduation programming to create the fertile ground for innovation and economic expansion in developing countries?
Sign up to receive The Mighty Five in your inbox each month.