When I first started working in the social sector I was obsessed with program scale. I'm not anymore.
This summer I am working for the Aspen Institute in two capacities. First, I am codirector of a policy program called the Impact Careers Initiative. Second, I am assisting with the ongoing progress of the Franklin Project.
Social entrepreneurs and impact investors have had a repeated debate over the tradeoff between social impact and financial return. This summer, I confirmed my belief that a direct tradeoff exists. In fact, I learned that the only way to be effective operationally is to identify where this tradeoff exists and to define an organization’s intended impact and the resulting financial return.
Every morning I walk down LaSalle Street and look at the architecture of Chicago's financial institutions on my way to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The Chicago Fed has watched over these institutions, at least figuratively, since its Corinthian colonnade was constructed in 1922.
Frustrating. Galling. This is how some of the best social sector leaders I know describe the fact that funding to intermediaries and consultants often dwarfs the support they receive for their work on real issues at the front lines. I’m not talking a small differential – the disparity is large.
This summer, I resumed my pre-GSB life as a classroom teacher for a couple hours each day.
How are corporations engaging with the impact sector? How do we engage them even more? How do we increase collaboration between global corporations, impact investors, social enterprises and foundations? Are partnerships between global corporations and social enterprises successful? How are apparel companies shifting into a disruptive innovation in their supply chains?
In I-DEV International, we wanted to answer all these questions.
In this column I explore the idea that many of the ways we spend money are prosocial acts — and prosocial expenditures may, in fact, make us happier than personal expenditures. Authors Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton discuss evidence for this in their new book Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending. These behavioral scientists show that you can get more out of your money by following several principles — like spending money on others rather than yourself. Moreover, they demonstrate that these principles can be used not only by individuals, but also by companies seeking to create happier employees and more satisfying products.
I have spent this past summer developing a year-long Principal residency program for an education organization in Dallas, TX. While I have gained amazing and invaluable experience through this internship, still the most rewarding part of my summer has been my experience as an Education Pioneers Graduate School Fellow.
As my summer winds down at Mass Insight Education, I am beginning to reflect on the work we've done this summer around secondary school redesign. The challenges we face in this process in many ways mirror the larger structural issues in education.