Summer intervened on the TechTuesday Brown Bag lunches, but that didn’t stop the world from inventing new technology tools that deserve a look from grantmakers. We just popped the leftovers into the microwave and set it to Delightful. Grab your tuna sandwich and check it out:
Should Nonprofits Dive In to Google+?
A great podcast conversation between Allison Fine and Beth Kanter over at Chronicle of Philanthropy takes a look at the features, and limitations, of Google+, the new social network as a nonprofit space. Over the past 18 months we’ve seen best practices emerge for nonprofit use of social media (including ways of measuring effectiveness and frameworks for grantmaker investment). The introduction of YASnet (Yet Another Social Network) might drive even the most wired nonprofit, and the grantmaker supporting them, into a heap of fatigue. Spend 13:48 minutes with Beth and Allison to restore your energy levels.
The Stanford Social Innovation Review reports that San Mateo-based mPowering has created a mobile application that awards goods and services to individuals facing extreme poverty when they make beneficial choices, such as attending school or seeking prenatal care.
How does it work? In Orissa, the poorest state in India, smartphones loaded with mobile apps are distributed into the community through local project liaisons (in itself a job creation program for young adults). Liaisons help the community monitor desired behaviors, using an individual’s unique bar code, to record attendance and documenting positive moments. Through a partnership with the Citta Foundation, community participants can cash in their earned credits for food, medicine, books, or even extras they’d never be able to afford, like bicycles.
The apps themselves are interesting: they are picture-based to get around literacy and translation issues, and the technology community is watching this closely to see not just what the bandwidth issues are, but the human issues are, such as cultural perceptions and privacy.
The grantmaking angle: linking back to donors
Data is data, which means that once collected its possible to use the information in many ways. mPowering sees a way to channel the information collected in Orissa back to donors in real time. They are thinking of Facebook and Twitter donors, and the implications for the grantmaking community are provocative: could the app allow foundations to collect data that really speaks to strategic objectives for educational attainment, food security, and community health? Would it be possible to harness the self-report of a foursquare check-in for social good and nonprofit effectiveness?