The Mighty Five: September.


A cross-sector curation of the month’s best social impact listens & reads

With little hope of proper employment in Burma, countless migrant workers have no choice but to cross illegally into Thailand in search of work as hotel staff or fishermen. PHOTO CREDIT: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

With little hope of proper employment in Burma, countless migrant workers have no choice but to cross illegally into Thailand in search of work as hotel staff or fishermen. PHOTO CREDIT: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images


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.


Positive progress towards progressive philanthropy.

Chronicle of Philanthropy | 7min

Earlier this month, five of the largest and most respected foundations announced their commitment to increase funding of grantee overhead. This news is as welcome as the points raised in the report. They cite overhead as an “essential cost of doing business,” and recognize that building an NPO's financial stability through cash reserves should be prioritized. Especially since 42% of grantees supported by the US’ top foundations had less than three months of cash reserve on hand. And in another case of finding creative means of philanthropic overhead funding – charity:water’s approach to supporting competitive salaries via startup equity donations is the type of sector innovation we’re happy to see.


Numbers don’t lie, until they do.

Forbes | 3min

You might have seen the Twitterstorm: Forbes chose twice as many men named Stanley for their 100 Most Innovative Leaders list than total women. (And infinitely more Stanleys than the zero black leaders recognized). Don’t blame us – says editor Randall Lane – it’s just what the data told us. Initial reactions are obvious and frustrating: women and people of color are severely underrepresented in business leadership. And Forbes’ self-congratulatory remediation tactic to create separate women-only lists and summits is eye-rolling. But take the analysis one step further and it’s even more troublesome. We’re being sold a narrative of a white, male-dominated business culture, based on subjectively selected data sets. And that type of bias rooted in data is complex and widespread, from hate speech AI algorithms to heart attack treatment protocols.


What NGOs can learn from Beyoncé.

Whole Whale | 6min

If you’ve been anywhere close to Instagram in the past few years, chances are you’ve noticed celebs hawking everything from toilet paper to eyeglasses to life insurance. Companies are investing in influencer marketing to the tune of $8 billion (and growing!) in 2019. With the holiday giving season fast approaching, nonprofits should think about ways to leverage influencer engagement tactics used by for-profit brands. This primer is a good place to start. Create clear fundraising objectives. Expand your reach by using your existing supporters. And then arm them with engaging assets and a clear call to action. Of course, you won’t be able to land super-influencers like Beyoncé or Cristiano Ronaldo. But chances are you already have a set of micro-influencers standing at the ready to Instagram for good.


Innovative solutions to the global fishing crisis.

Microsoft On The Issues | 4min

Many Western consumers are hyperaware of the commercial meat industry’s global impact. Local, grass-fed, free-range, organic – this type of meat is easy to buy and even shows up on the menus of fast-casual restaurants. But the fish industry is far behind. We’re deep into a fishing crisis, with 90% of the world’s fisheries either already depleted or on the brink. And it’s not just our healthy weeknight meals at risk: there are hosts of problems ranging from ecological implications to the use of slave labor. It’s why we’re eager to learn more from organizations like Mighty Ally client OceanMind as they combat widespread illegal fishing through AI technology. And while lagging behind the electrifying growth of meat substitutes – we’re seeing encouraging investment and advances in ‘cellular aquaculture’ and plant-based alternatives.


The privatization of Fair Trade.

The Guardian | 22min

There’s increasing tension between Fair Trade and fair trade. Mainstream food giants like Sainsbury’s and Mondelēz are pulling some of their SKUs away from Fair Trade certification – substituting suppliers ratified by their own in-house fair trade schemes. This trend is worth a deep dive, as it also reflects a larger conversation related to the role of the free-market corporation. Which is, according to a recent statement issued by the Business Roundtable, no longer just dedicated to the pursuit of shareholder value. When retailers and commodity purchasers declare their independent pursuit of fair trade, they prioritize their own incentives. And in doing so, they undercut the broader mission of an independent body created to shift power back into collective smallholders and cooperatives. All this to say, we’re here for B Corp’s clarion call for businesses to put “words into actions.”

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