On the way to and from conferences, I usually catch up on reading. For the Equal Justice Conference, I packed two issues of the Stanford Social Innovation Review. I had picked them at the Pro Bono Net office after being intrigued by a couple of headlines. I hadn't ever had the chance to read a full issue before, and I was quite impressed.
While not necessarily about technology, a few articles are worth highlighting:
Drowning in Data - This article describes the difference between summative and formative evaluations and suggests that funders should be very careful about what type of evaluations they require nonprofits to engage in. Summative evaluations, which are conducted at the end of a project and determine whether the project met its goals, aren't necessarily the right evaluations for nonprofits. They assess outcomes and are expensive, time consuming, and hard to do right. Nonprofits should focus on formative evaluations, which take place during a program and identify places for improvements.
From Marble to Formica (Subscription Required) - Low-income communities don't tend to attract traditional banks. While there are many reasons, traditional banks often find that they can't build local bases of customer support. So Union Bank of California developed partnerships and opened Cash & Save, a bank that provides savings and checking accounts, loans, financial advice, and check-cashing services. They learned some important lessons as a part of the project.
- Ask customers what they want. Services and hours mattered more to low-income communities, and they cared very little if the bank had beautiful furnishings.
- Partner with local businesses. They have an existing customer base and know the community.
- If you build it, customers won't necessarily come. You've got to do it well, and you've got to give the customers a service that they actual want and can use.
How to Hire a Consultant (Subscription Required) - This article gives several hints to building a successful relationship with consultants.
- Hire people who come with recommendations from people without conflicts of interests.
- Consulting does not mean pro bono.
- Consultants should act professionally.
- Consultants are project partners.
- A consultant's work is useful only if you use it.
Diversity Training Doesn't Work (Subscription Required) - A study compared diversity training and performance feedback with both affirmative actions plans, diversity committees, and diversity staff, and mentoring and networking programs. It found that diversity training and performance feedback doesn't work. Organizations that appointed someone to be charge - a diversity committee or staff - were best able to up the number of managers who were women or black.
Designing Trust (Subscription Required) - Don't have a line for a graphic designer in your next website project? That could be a big mistake. Turns out that pretty and functional websites are easier to believe and easier to learn from.
Networks for Good Works (Subscription Required) - This article is a really interesting look at how networks work and influence individuals within a network. One example looks at the Mississippi Freedom Project of 1964. Over a thousand people applied, over 950 applications were accepted, but only 720 people showed up. Looking at the nearly 240 people who didn't show up, it turned out that they were generally part of a network that wasn't strongly involved in the movement. Those that showed up were. "In other words, the more deeply people are embedded in networks whose values are aligned with a social movement, the more willing they are to participate in that movement." (Personally, I think that this could have huge implications for developing a new generation of pro bono volunteers.)
Government by Numbers (Subscription Required) - This is a great look at how Baltimore city government used mapping to improve the community. Originally, it started with mapping crime statistics and identifying patterns, but eventually spread through the other city departments. The CitiStat program, as the mapping project is called, has improved city numbers and accountability.
Faith in Fair Trade (Subscription Required) - Lutherans love coffee. Lutheran World Relief worked with this fact and their brand recognition to encourage Lutheran congregations to drink fair trade coffee. Through education, they got congregations to promote and use fair trade before fair trade was cool. - K