To learn more about the Fund, I attended a panel called Social Innovation: Harnessing What Works to Address Critical National Challenges at the 2009 National Conference on Volunteering and Service.
The discussion focused less on what the Fund will do, and more on best practices it should adopt, and challenges it will face once it is up and running.
Michele Jolin, Senior Advisor for Social Innovation for the Domestic Policy Council at The White House was the panel moderator. If you would like to watch the video from the session, click on this link for the Social Innovation Forum. You will have to fill out a form, as if you were registering for a live webcast, to access the video.
Cheryl Dorsey, the President of Echoing Green, a nonprofit that provides seed funding and support to social entrepreneurs, talked about how providing capital for social innovation can:
- Provide incentive for individual and collective engagement around social problems.
- Engage people who are closest to the problem.
- Create a competitive marketplace that showcases a variety of ideas.
- Give voice to new and alternative actors.
- Engaging the crowd and using the wisdom of the crowds to facilitate innovations coming through the pipeline.
- Trusting in the importance of new ideas.
- Accepting and championing failure and the learning that comes from failure.
- Using open source innovation platforms (she mentioned something about Kellogg, that I didn't quite catch--maybe the Kellogg Innovation Network?).
- Developing social innovation leaders.
She encouraged focusing on what facilitates the building of strong organizations that can house successful programs, and "raising up patterns" of what is working operationally for organizations, and disseminating that information.
Steve Goldsmith, Vice Chair for the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Daniel Paul Professor of Government at Harvard's University's Kennedy School of Government, and the Director of the Innovations in American Government Program, addressed some of the challenges that the Social Innovation Fund will face:
- Political economy: In politics, people get funding through manipulating relationships and protecting their turf.
- Barriers to entry: The government prescribes a lot of requirements (i.e. teaching credentials, MSW's)
- Curse of professionalism: A bunch of smart people get in a room and decide that they have a solution to a problem when the answer actually lies somewhere between that room and the people affected by the problem.
Check out what the bloggers listed below have to say about the Social Innovation Fund, and tell the White House what you think about the idea on the Corporation for National and Community Service website.
- Fed's Office of Social Innovation is Sooo 1998 by Allison Fine on A.Fine Blog
- Why the Social Innovation Fund is On Track by Andrew Wolk on Andrew Wolk
- Government-Driven Social Innovation: Caution Advised by John Cleveland and Peter Plastrik on nuPOLIS' Social Innovation blog
- Digging Deeper on the Social Innovation Fund: An Interview with America Forward Coalition by Nathaniel Whittemore on Change.org's Social Entrepreneurship blog
- A Look at the Social Innovation Office by Amanda Adams on the OMB Watch blog's The Fine Print.
- The Social Innovation Fund & Philanthropy Performance by Sean Stannard-Stockton on Tactical Philanthropy
Cross-posted from BlogHer.com.
Top photo: Michele Jolin and Steve Goldsmith. Second photo: Cheryl Dorsey, Sarah Di Triola, and Ian Hardman (President of Management Leadership for Tomorrow).
social innovation fund