Tag Archive: social sector

June 7, 2010

The Networked Nonprofit

Networked Nonprofit

I was glad to follow a few of my Tweeter peers as they commented on the recent “Personal Democracy Forum” (#PDF10).  Allison Fine and Beth Kanter offered a conversational keynote based on their new book “The Networked Nonprofit.”  So much of what they say is directly connected to the work that we do here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change, that I think it’s best to let Beth speak for herself. Read More

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July 7, 2009

Cancer Grants and Social Change

The thing with paradigms is that they inform EVERYTHING we look at, a paradigm is a lens with which we make sense of the world. This is why a paradigm has an uncanny ability to replicate itself in system after system. I recently read a fascinating article in the New York Times, Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe, and while it focused on the world of science, it described conditions that are easily identified throughout the social sector. I identified more than 15 such similarities, here are just four of them:

  • The grant system has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with a focus on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer.
  • It has become lore among cancer researchers that some game-changing discoveries involved projects deemed too unlikely to succeed and were therefore denied grants, forcing researchers to struggle mightily to continue.
  • “There is no conversation that I have ever had about the grant system that doesn’t have an incredible sense of consensus that it is not working. That is a terrible wasted opportunity for the scientists, patients, the nation and the world.”
  • Some experienced scientists have found a way to offset the problem somewhat. They do chancy experiments by siphoning money from their grants. “In a way, the system is encrypted,” Dr. Yamamoto said, allowing those in the know to wink and do their own thing on the side.

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