This article was originally published by Alliance magazine on their website. The original article can be found here. For more information about subscribing to Alliance, please visit www.alliancemagazine.org/subscribe.
The recently launched Markets for Good initiative, promoted by the Bill & Melinda Gates and William & Flora Hewlett Foundations and Liquidnet seeks to dramatically improve the information infrastructure for the ‘social sector’ to a point ‘where capital flows efficiently to the organizations that are having the greatest impact, programs and interventions are more effective and responsive, beneficiaries have a voice and there is a dynamic culture of continuous learning, development, and innovation.’
Buzz Schmidt’s paper Promoting passion, purpose and progress online, originally written for a symposium on online philanthropy and non-profit information services held at the Stanford’s Centre for Philanthropy and Civil Society in April 2011, looks at the utility of non-profit sector information over time and the potential to establish integrated information, objective setting, performance monitoring and feedback systems throughout – from communities to donors to agents to beneficiaries and back. In so doing, it advances a credible vision for the infrastructure contemplated by Markets for Good.
Towards a successful internet-enabled philanthropy ecosystem
"...Over the past 15 years, scores of American social entrepreneurs have tried but been largely frustrated in their efforts to promote more intelligent, proactive and generous philanthropy via the internet. For the most part, they have been unable to bring their databases, site traffic and transaction activities to scale...Our efforts to promote online philanthropy are stuck in a tangled web of ineffective and inconsistent practice that extends throughout the universe of philanthropy..."
"...if we can step back, and examine the methods, signals and accountability of the entire philanthropy ecosystem, we will not only improve the prospects for the existing online intermediaries, we will identify multiple additional opportunities for fruitful intervention. We will recognize that far from a zero-sum shoot out among the current group of online entrepreneurs, if we are to elevate philanthropy and non-profit practice appreciably, many more savvy intermediary actors will likely be needed to innovate in what may yet become a vibrant, continuously improving philanthropy ecosystem. But first, we should attempt to reach agreement on a vision for an ecosystem that we intend to help build together..."
Buzz Schmidt is founder of Guidestar.