Friday, July 10, 2009

Social Innovation Now?

"The real opportunity before the president is to supercharge innovators from all walks of life and make commercial and social innovation our national imperative."

Mario Marino, Venture Capital Partners, quoted in Justin Massey, "Equity 2.0: The Missing Pieces, Shelterforce, Spring, 2009.

Is this really the right time for such a message when foundation endowments are down and many nonprofits are barely keeping their heads above water? Should we unleash social innovation at a time when state budgets have tanked and unemployment keeps rising? Will replicating the most effective social innovations get traction when delivering basic services is the priority?

I'm of several minds about this.Sometimes tough times brings openness to innovation and partnerships that isn't there when times are good. And some of the real opportunities for innovation today relate to public policy, government delivery, and public/private/nonprofit partnerships -- fueled in part by economic stimulus dollars in the short run.

One critique of philanthrocapitalism (or social entrepreneurialism) is that it ignores the policy front. Massey's article on innovation rightly includes a bunch of equity-oriented policy changes that advocates are taking up related to transportation, housing, and planning. This kind of innovation will change some of the rules of the game for today's expenditures and for when the economy and budgets recover.

1 comment:

CITGO Fueling Good said...

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