July 18, 2016

Leverage Technology

Technology can provide a lower-cost pathway to growing a program’s reach and impact. Many organizations are experimenting with web-based and mobile technologies to distribute and spread models and interventions more cheaply. Technological advancements also can unlock new interventions and drive down expenses.

"Exponential Organizations": Provocative New Models for Scaling Impact?
Abe Grindle, The Bridgespan Group
Businesses like Amazon and Tesla aren’t just building better mousetraps. They’re taking fundamentally different approaches to achieving results, often by leveraging 21st-century technologies and paying close attention to how people use them. In Exponential Organizations, authors Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone, and Yuri Van Geest of Singularity University highlight how these and lesser-known innovators are rapidly scaling and generating value. Several key characteristics of these entities hold lessons for leaders pursuing social impact at a transformative scale.

Technology’s Best Bet for Scaling Social Good? Ask The People Who Need The Social Good
Meera Chary, The Bridgespan Group and Christoper Keefe, Omidyar Network
Entrepreneurs and innovators are using online platforms and digital devices in ways we could never have imagined a decade ago to create greater access to jobs (think LinkedIn), to enable learning (think Khan Academy) and to motivate healthy living (think FitBit). As we look to the next tech frontier and its implications for social impact, here are three ways that "techsocial" entrepreneurs are drawing the thinking and behavior of beneficiaries into their designs.

3 Ways Technology Is Helping Youth to Help Themselves
Marlon Parker, Reconstructed Living Lab (Rlabs)
Tackling social problems requires services and resources that many low-income communities don’t, or can’t, access. And while technology is no silver bullet, Marlon Parker, founder of Rlabs, has seen tech tools begin to build bridges from despair to hope for at-risk teens. Here he shares three ways technology is removing social stigmas caused by poverty and helping youth become part of a solution to challenges in their communities.

4 Ways Technology Can Help Empower Teachers And Students
Sal Khan, Khan Academy
The Prussians introduced the idea of public education 200 years ago, and while there have been improvements, mainstream schools still rely on this centuries-old architecture. Can technology help usher in a new education model—one that is scalable and accessible while still inspiring student creativity, innovation, and content mastery? The answer is yes, and here are some ways technology can help meet these critical goals.

Could Your Facebook Profile Get You a Mortgage?
Jeff Stewart, Lenddo
Lenddo's online platform uses a person's social network connection data to determine creditworthiness. In the developing world, it is opening up billions of new people to the benefits of credit—and a chance at the middle class.

The Innovator's New Crystal Ball: Crowdfunding
Danae Ringelmann, Indiegogo
Crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo not only democratize access to capital, they also reduce three major risks social entrepreneurs face when introducing a product to the market. The story of GravityLight provides a perfect example.

Creating Demand and Access for Social Good
Richard Leftley, Microensure
When you offer a product that helps people better their lives, it’s easy to think that those same people will beat a path to your door. But when social enterprise Microensure began offering inexpensive insurance to low-income families, the path stayed stubbornly empty. Yes, it’s product could help families overcome catastrophe and was affordable—but people still didn’t always want to buy it. So the organization found novel ways to increase access and create demand.

The Challenge of Good Intentions at Scale
Pat Christen, HopeLab
Technology offers incredibly enticing opportunities to scale for positive social impact. But while tech tools can intentionally create dramatic change, they also can result in other shifts we might not expect nor even want. (Uber makes it far easier to catch a ride, but it also disrupts the livelihoods of taxi drivers.) So before we focus on scale, we must consider both the intended and unintended consequences of our efforts.

6 Ways Technology Is Breaking Barriers to Social Change
Abe Grindle, The Bridgespan Group
Technology seems like a no-brainer for scaling social impact, but it’s not that easy. In what ways is technology promising to create impact at scale? What challenges remain? And what will it take to get beyond them?

Radical Focus and Driving Demand for Scale
Nancy Lublin and Aria Finger, DoSomething.org
By leveraging its internet platform, DoSomething.org expects to run nearly 20 times more social cause campaigns with the potential to reach hundreds of thousands more people.

Shifts in Thinking to Achieve Transformative Scale
Mark Bonchek, SHIFT Academy and thinkOrbit
Platform technology has the power to disrupt well-established industries—and solve chronic social issues.

Transformative Scale: The Future of Scaling What Works
Jeff Bradach and Abe Grindle, The Bridgespan Group
To expand its reach beyond the 180 schools and 50,000 students it currently serves, College Summit has developed 20 Facebook apps to help guide low-income students through the college admission process and to support their success on campus.

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