Dodge Technical Assistance: Measuring Social Profit

Dodge Technical Assistance: Measuring Social Profit

Last week, we kicked off the 6th annual Dodge Board Leadership series with a session that focused in part on assessment.  For the first time in over twelve years of doing Dodge Foundation workshops, I decided not to mention the word “assessment” until we were well into the topic. Instead, I asked three questions, with a few minutes in between them so people could write down their answers. (Try this right now and experience what the attendees experienced. Just answer each question before moving along to the next. Don’t peek at the next question for the full impact.)

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You've Always Had the Power...

Teaching something does not necessarily mean it will be learned.  It matters a lot what is already in potential learners’ heads (prior knowledge, understandings, misunderstandings, experiences, assumptions, beliefs).  And just as importantly it matters why they think they are there in the first place.

With this is mind, I decided to see what was on the minds of the board chairs, board members, and executive directors crowded into the Dodge conference room last week to kick off another year of the Dodge Board Leadership series.

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Postponing the “A” Word

Last week, we kicked off the 6th annual Dodge Board Leadership series with a session that focused in part on assessment.  For the first time in over twelve years of doing Dodge Foundation workshops, I decided not to mention the word “assessment” until we were well into the topic. Instead, I asked three questions, with a few minutes in between them so people could write down their answers. (Try this right now and experience what the attendees experienced. Just answer each question before moving along to the next. Don’t peek at the next question for the full impact.)

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    NPR – and Peace in the World

    Every few years I go down to the headquarters of National Public Radio in Washington, DC to check in on one of Dodge’s longest-standing relationships.  The benefits of our grants to NPR certainly go both ways – frequently when I am far from New Jersey, I’ll say I work at “The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation,” and people will pause as if to search their memory banks, then say knowingly, “NPR!"

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    Thinking about Philanthropy - and the News

    Thinking about Philanthropy - and the News

    I had lunch the other day with someone who used the phrase “civic information system.” I told her I had never heard that phrase before, and she said she had made it up.

    I’m not sure the phrase will ever trip off people’s tongues, but I like what it is trying to convey — that there is news and information we need in common, not to mention stories and metaphors and big ideas, if we are going to function in a reasonable way as members of communities large and small

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    Thinking about Philanthropy: Part 3

    Let me make an abstract idea from the last entry more concrete through some examples.

    In the previous parts of this series, I used Jim O’Toole’s “Executive’s Compass” (below) to postulate that “The Good Society” lies in an area on that map, not at a point. I pictured a circle where the four values on his axes are pursued, sometimes aggressively, but not so exclusively and persistently that other values are ignored and diminished. That last sort of activity would be outside of the circle and work against the good society. My earlier example was the pursuit of “efficient,” industrial agriculture (the right side of the map) in the name of cheap food and the devastating impact that has had on many rural communities (the left side of the map).

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    Thinking about Philanthropy: Part 1

    I would like to pose a question and then, slowly, with your help, answer it.

    The question is: What is the role of Philanthropy in creating The Good Society?

    For our purposes, let’s focus on organized philanthropy and then narrow even further to look at private and family foundations: How should foundations like the Dodge Foundation think about what they do in relation to the concept of The Good Society?

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