Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Knowledge and the $64,000 question

The traditional philanthropic model revolves around money...Money is important, but it's not everything... When I talk to friends and colleagues in the nonprofit sector, what I hear again and again is a desire for knowledge.

There are a lot of reasons why nonprofit executives are hungry for knowledge. They work on particularly stubborn problems...This knowledge transfer is already happening, but not effectively. Face-to-face conferences are expensive and often logistically impossible...like all personal networks, they don't scale efficiently...

That is from a nice post by Michael Idinopulos over at SocialText. I really like how he highlights the importance of knowledge as an equal partner of money in the equation. He goes on to say:
The absence of a strong market mechanism and regulating institutions allow bad management practices to endure.
The interesting thing about markets is that they involve transactions - someone provides something to someone else for something in return. It doesn't have to be money - it can be status, a favor, or just a good feeling. But without this "something in return," markets don't function well.

Michael goes on to say:

It's not hard to imagine a better way. I'm envisioning an online knowledge networking tool for nonprofits...

How can we make such an online knowledge tool into a well-functioning market so that it gets widely used? That is the $64,000 question.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Slow Coffee

The Slow Food Movement is gaining momentum, and I have greatly enjoyed the revival of farmers markets around the Washington, DC area.

I ran into a guy a while back who represents the best of what you might call the "Slow Drink" movement. He has started a small business roasting his own coffee in Charles Town, WV. Largely self-taught, he is producing what I have found to be some of the best coffee in the world.

Check him out at The Black Dog Coffee Company.

Pandora on IPhone

I am testing the Kool-Aid by trying a new iPhone. The jury is out on some of the features and functionality, but there is one application that is fabulous: Pandora.

If you have not tried Pandora, which allows you to create your own custom radio stations on the web, you should. You can download the iPhone app here.

Pandora is a great company, run by great folks. And best of all, Pandora and GlobalGiving have teamed up to connect Pandora's huge audience of music lovers with GlobalGiving projects that use music to improve the lives of people around the world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Innovators Dilemma

In 1995 Clayton Christensen coined the terms “disruptive technology” and “disruptive innovations” to describe technological innovations, products or services that use a “disruptive” strategy rather than “revolutionary” or “sustaining” strategies to overturn dominant or status quo products in a market.

“Disruptive innovations” can occasionally come to dominate an existing market, either by filling a role that the older technologies couldn’t — as cheaper, smaller sized flash memory is doing in the personal data storage area. Or by successfully moving up-market through performance improvements until finally displacing the market leaders and incumbents — as digital photography replaced film photography as the front-runner.

At the heart of the Innovator’s Dilemma for the larger, older, most historically successful nonprofits is the bind of general or unrestricted funds philosophy and the need to find ways to ‘earmark’ and connect donors and recipients in a better way. It’s less about one OR the other, and more about borrowing ideas from each, and mutually benefiting from the unique selling points of the third party fundraisers and embedding them in the all-too-staid conventional groups.
That is from a very good post by Roger Craver, over at The Agitator.