Monday, April 16, 2007

passionate philanthropy or rational investing

Kevin Jones, proprietor at, recently posted an entry about the origins and implications of the fronto–mesolimbic networks that guide decisions about charitable donations:
"giving activates the same brain centers as sex, drugs, food and greed. Even more interesting, they actually got a picture of the brain at work in giving, through the magic of FMRI. glow.jpgYou know what they found? When you feel a warm glow from giving, that’s because your brain is warm and glowing."

Social fund managers may want to connect to the philanthropists' passions for giving rather than focusing on the rational computations of an SROI (social return on investment).


KareAnderson said...

Thoughtful post. Re "focusing on the rational computations of an SROI (social return on investment)" it may not feel as emotional.

Yet, ultimately, a choice to measure the level of positive good one has accomplished by the actions of a non-profit or social enterprise is decision to become accountable for one's efforts - and to be ready to make iterative improvements, based on what one's learned.

As Benetech founder, Jim Fructerman has advocated for about eight years, social enterprises like his will play an ever larger role for the greater good. Skoll and others are leading the way.

Sometimes a non-profit business model can be the inspiration for a social enterprise. For example, just as Kiva and Prosper have launched P2P micro-financing, (person-to-person) non-profits, LaborFair has started a P2P household job referral social enterprise to enable more workers to maintain their own online worker profile, be in direct contact with ready-to-hire people, and thus secure more and better work over time through the positive reviews they earn and display at their personal worker page.

Thus they can work their way up the economic ladder to a better life. Social enterprises' partnering with the people they seek to serve is akin to that Sufi saying, "God makes only co-equal partners.

Tom White said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear you think Benetech and other social enterprises are leading the way for the greater good.

I think part of that "warm, glowing feeling" comes not just from the giving, but also from knowing that you're having impact and are learning what works from the people we're partnering to serve. Great quote!

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