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January 13, 2005


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Daniel F. Bassill

I'm not sure that I'd use "governance" as what we need to move from random acts of kindness, or impulse charity, to strategic acts of kindness that actually make a difference in the lives of those we seek to help.

I think that some charity has to be "impulse" such as the response to the unexpected tragedy in Asia. However, with this there needs to be a set of strategic tools that help people channel their charity to all places where it is needed, and to continue to draw charity to these places for many years after public attention has moved to another tragedy.

I'm trying to build a model for this at www.tutormentorexchange.net. On the web site you'll see that we use GIS maps to show where poverty and poorly performing schools are most concentrated in Chicago. In other places we use power point essays to show that helping a child move from poverty to a career takes 20 to 25 years and that without effective programs in the neighborhood where the child lives, on a continuous basis, it's not likely that most children will ever receive the consistent help the need.

In other places we have a LINKS library so people can see how others are helping kids move to careers.

In other power point essays we define help as volunteers, knowledge, ideas, training, leaders, etc. and those who can help as people in business, religion, education, hospitals, etc.

In other parts of the site we talk about the role of leaders in a strategy that build constant visibility for this message and sustains in with growing participation for many years to come.

If I can attract enough individuals and leaders to embrace this strategy, and evangelize it using existing communications tools, we'll be able to draw a more consistent flow of resources directly to tutor/mentor programs, help people start new programs, and help people borrow ideas from each other so that programs constantly improve.

In some ways this is an operating system. Any one can contribute new ideas or new technology to make it better. This is not governance. It's a strategy for the distribution of needed resources into places where help is needed.

Anyone with the ability to create a web site can also create a strategy that shows others how to solve big and small problems in the world. If it is good enough, others will join with that strategy. If it's smart enough, it will constantly evolve by learning from others.

If any of you know of web sites where similar strategies are in place, using visual tools like GIS databases, please post those web sites so we can learn from each other.


Strategic information for donors, rather than governance? Tracy Gary, based on a recent conversation with her, does have an interest in this, particularly in getting from very big donors a sense of where their legacy giving will go. That becomes important to other donors who might want to "fill in the low spots." Clearly, the issue of coordination among givers for straegic ends is a huge missing piece. Foundations are notoriously "siloed," operating without much regard for each others grants, or for a long term strategic, multi-platform effort to achieve signficiant change. On line you might get a conversation going on these subjects at Omidyar.net/home. They have attracted some very bright thinkers about giving, and social venture philanthropy. There are a few foundations represented there too, and maybe a few funders, including the Omidyar's who were founders of eBay.

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