The OAF Blog

Philanthropy in a Networked World

December 17, 2013

The Monitor Group, a consulting forum ( part of Deloitte’s ) spotlights promising new ideas and practices, including pioneering new models of philanthropy. They are associated with a Canadian task force focusing on philanthropy – Northern Lights. As more information and results from this task force become public, we’ll share in future the findings and highlights.

What's Next For Philanthropy?

A 2010 report articulates "next practices", how foundations and philanthropists can develop approaches better suited to achieve positive social impact in today’s interconnected and interdependent world.

In the past 10 years, much focus in philanthropy (including arts organizations) was on how to improve organizational effectiveness and efficiency -- to better deliver programming in an environment of constrained resources. Over the next 10 years, the Monitor Group believes a further focus will be on coordination and adaptation. This means that funders will need to look to others and partners and co-ordinate efforts to address the challenges we collectively face. Because of the rapid pace of change, organizations need to be adaptable – incorporating data in a continuous loop to see what is working well and regularly adjusting strategy to add value. The collective theme is – Act Bigger and Adapt Better.

Innovation and Cross-Sector Collaboration
Going forward, the most successful funders will want to embrace a network mindset and see their work as part of a large, diverse community of partners - a more powerful effort. Funders don’t need to work with others, but if they want to achieve significant impact in their communities, they will have to. We will need to enhance our capability to lever, shift and adapt strategy in real time.

In Canada, public innovation to meet social challenges requires not for profit leaders as well as business heads and philanthropists to work outside their comfort zones. Examples of innovative organizations working collaboratively to bring forward new initiatives include:

    • Social Capital Partners: led by philanthropist Bill Young, this organization is applying market solutions to help the disadvantage find employment;

    • JUMP: initiated by John Mighton, this initiative helps children build confidence and self-esteem, through a focus on developing mathematical skills -- resulting in higher academic success;

    • Evergreen Brickworks: Green cities for a healthier planet, develops a model that balances social goals with financial necessity – blending commercial activity with grants and private donations; and

    • MaRs Centre for Impact Investing: builds online investment platforms that mobilize private capital for public good.

Place des Arts, Sudbury
In an arts context, 8 francophone arts groups in Sudbury came together to foster collaboration between arts groups with the objective of creating a shared culture facility. The facility ‘Place des Arts’ is to be built centrally, as part of a broader initiative to re-vitalize downtown Sudbury. The project is independent, but is closely related to two other major infrastructure investments in the city – a new School of Architecture and new home/expanded space for the Art Gallery of Sudbury. Collective community input and shared knowledge of each projects’ goals is helping to achieve a larger success.

For more information on "next practices":
What's Next for Philanthropy, by the Monitor Institute 

Commentary with a Canadian context can be found in this article by Deloitte:  
Canada Needs a Social Revolution


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