Category Archives: Politics

Some reflections on Martin Luther King and non-profit leadership

Yesterday I had the opportunity to volunteer with a group at the Greater Boston Food Bank. After spending some time on the production line, and given the past weekend celebrating Martin Luther King, the group was asked to reflect on what Martin Luther King might have done in light of what we had seen and experienced, at the Greater Boston Food Bank as well as the larger set of social issues that we are exposed to in our daily lives. Continue reading

Responding to Clayton Christensen’s article on Government’s potential role in Social Innovation

My recent post on Clayton Christensen’s article on Social Innovation resulted in several comments and responses questioning the appropriate role of the government in fostering social innovation. I do believe there is a role for government to play in encouraging growth in this sector. I believe the Office of Social Innovation is a well intentioned attempt by Obama of putting Social Innovation on the nation’s agenda. I also believe that the government should try to be a transparent facilitator where needed and then get out of the way and let the market work its way.

The single most critical issue for a young, startup social entrepreneur is the lack of a well structured ecosystem to encourage social innovation. This is where the government can play a significant role. Some of the things it can do are to: Continue reading

Some thoughts on Clayton Christensens article on Social Innovation

Clayton Christensen, who has written extensively on a number of strategic ideas, recently opined in The Huffington Post about the potential role the White House Office of Social Innovation could play. (The article was co-authored by Vanessa Kirsch who founded New Profit – an interesting organization itself espousing a venture philanthropy model) Continue reading

An Exercise In Democracy

A minor digression from this blog’s main theme. I recently visited India and was smack in the middle of the Indian elections. Wrote a short piece with my observations. Here is the entire piece from the original site

An Exercise In Democracy Continue reading

Obama’s effort to address Social Innovation

I had previously written about the impending Service Act and President Obama’s editorial support for this legislation.

Well the day finally arrived when this legislation was signed into law by the President. On April 21, 2009, at a signing ceremony attended by Senator Edward Kennedy, after whom the act is named, President Obama said:

“We’re doing this because I’ve always believed that the answers to our challenges cannot come from government alone.”

“Our government can help to rebuild our economy and lift up our schools and reform health-care systems and make sure our soldiers and veterans have everything they need. But we need Americans willing to mentor our eager young children, or care for the sick, or ease the strains of deployment on our military families.”

As part of the legislation, a new White House Office of Social Innovation has been created. Sonal Shah, most recently heading’s global development programs has been tapped to head the office. While we await the official announcement, philanthropy sites have been eagerly abuzz with the news.

Yesterday, Sonal addressed the Global Philanthropy Forum in Washington DC, where she was listed as “Deputy Assistant to the President and Director Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation”. In her remarks to the audience, she outlined the three key areas the new office would focus on.

  • To find out “what are the innovations that are taking place”
  • To provide money to innovative nonprofit projects
  • To promote national service and volunteerism

You can find more information about her talk and additional conjecture about the plans for this office at the Chronicle of Philanthropy site.

Sonal’s experience in the private sector and her work with non-profits together with the charter of the new office, provides innovative social entrepreneurs with a new opportunity for funding and support.