Today, May 15, is GiveBig, Seattle’s third annual “day of giving” event. Created by the Seattle Foundation in 2011, the idea is to focus attention on charitable giving, raise the public profile of the Seattle Foundation and of course raise some dough. There are similar events in many other cities now, and even a national “GivingTuesday” event right after Thanksgiving.
But how do we know whether GiveBig and similar day of giving type events are really working?
I’d love to see a course for leaders (or prospective leaders) of social change organizations built around the following core readings:
- “Nonprofit Strategy Revolution” by David La Piana
- “Immunity to Change” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey
- “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath
- “The MoveOn Effect” by David Karpf
What else would you add to this list?
David Roberts at Grist thinks not. Great article, with deep links to hardcore World Bank wonkery. Food for thoughts for Evans students (and profs):
As time horizons and uncertainty increase, cost-benefit analysis becomes less and less useful, more and more “a knob-twiddling exercise in optimizing outcomes,” as economist Martin Weitzman put it. Differences in social/political/ethical assumptions, like discount rates, start determining model outcomes. “Results from the cost-benefit analysis,” says the World Bank, are “extremely dependent on parameters on which there is no scientific agreement (e.g., the impact of climate change on hurricanes) or no consensus (e.g., the discount rate).” It’s still possible to construct models and get answers, but the danger becomes higher and higher of getting the wrong answer, i.e., optimizing for the wrong thing.