It’s crazy that we spend billions on global development programs that may or may not lead to outcomes — instead, agencies fund programs and activities.
Davos: It’s Not Enough to do Less Bad (5 Tech and Impact Trends)
Leila Janah
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6. Tech-style “stories of failure” finally trickle in from the social sector.


Well said, as always Leila. Billions spent without even a whiff of outcome-based orientation or accountability makes little sense.

You go on to say that

We need a new way to fund the most important social sector work that gives organizations the freedom to innovate and spend as they see fit, so long as they deliver. [my emphasis]

The social sector has quite a long way to go when it comes to innovation, especially in understanding ways to fail forward. This includes taking more human-centered approaches to problem identification, the development of potential solutions, and prototyping/testing in-market. It also means laying out the organization’s failings for all to see. And one more: funders need to undergo an epic shift in how they dole out the dollars.

But what happens if what they’re delivering is positive learning for the sector, rather than (or in addition to) hard results for their little project alone? We might also want to incentivize this type of behavior in order to get more, and better, outcomes overall. It’s starting to happen.

The Knight Foundation’s Prototype Fund, Village Capital’s peer review process, Darren Walker’s call to make organizations successful (not just grants), and everything @IDEO.org does are all steps in the right direction.

So maybe 2016 will be the year that social sector funders and funded embrace what those in tech have been doing (and talking about waaaaay to much, mostly on Medium) for quite some time: celebrating and learning from failure.

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