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October 06, 2009


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How sad and lonely the grantmaker who, understanding the power of reciprocity but feeling alienated in the web of generosity, cannot experience the joy of community that their active participation might bring. The model of philanthropy we are used to divides us into three competing categories: underappreciated donors, exhausted servers and disempowered recipients. Where there is no overlap between these groups and no sense of community between their constituents, money may flow but overall wealth is depleted. The dysfunction you speak of occurs where there is a value-system mismatch between these three groups; the results are lost in translation between value systems. We build the wealth of communities by finding our shared values and participating together to build upon these, as we all share in this increasing wealth. Money may play a part in motivating our participation, but being zero-sum, it cannot measure the resulting shared wealth of the community's web of generosity in which everyone receives by giving.

Phil Cubeta

Geoff, your response is quite profound. Maybe it is not always just a value-misalignment. Sometimes it is a methodological mis-alignment. The funder works for a supervisor with several funders who value to the foundation he or she assesses annually. The supervisor works for a Director who reports to a Board of business people. The top down look sees a "business like enterprise run by metrics." The outside in view sees haughty grant-makers operating in a vacuum, being fed bs in pseudo-objective formats by those who want their money. As one social justice grant-seeker said to me. "Our program officer at XYX foundation is 27 and clueless about social justice but wants to hold me accountable, after my 35 years of field building at the national level. She asks me, for example, how many of our constituents fall into various racial categories. We don't know and have no way to easily find out. So we make stuff up and our grant-maker duly notes it on her spreadsheet."


Some in the non-profit space may be leading the business sector in this http://blogs.wsj.com/worldbusinessforum/2009/10/07/cultivate-the-creative-class-within-your-companies-or-else/ I did offer this gift to my former employer and it did get a good reception with some of my managers.

These open currency based information systems that we are proposing and building could easily be mined for answers to those sorts of questions as well as the more important ones that more seasoned program managers will want to look at. The possibility of creating metrics for what your network sees as its wealth and works to build in all of its relations and actions, of making even just a few of the key flows visible through data tools and visualizations should be attractive to everyone.

Phil Cubeta

Thanks, blogged it.

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