The CSR Scoop - 8/05/2015
Common Impact’s IT Associate Consultant, Patricia Vaccaro-Coburn, is guest writing this week’s SCOOP, with a special focus on how digital technologies create a foundation for cross-sector collaboration and social innovation.
At Common Impact, we believe in creating initiatives that bring together great minds from disparate backgrounds to deliver tangible solutions to social challenges. The current technology frontier with its open-source, hacker-happy culture has exploded the universe of possibilities for collective impact. We are inspired and energized by the catalytic results we see when we bring social innovators (like our high-impact nonprofit clients) and private sector technologists (like our corporate volunteers) to the same table, with the same goal in mind: strengthening the communities in which we live and work.
In this week’s scoop, we focus on a few examples of technology-driven collective impact initiatives bridging private, nonprofit and public sectors for social good.
PSFK inteviews Not Impossible Labs founder Mick Ebeling on DIY initiatives to improve the lives of people around the world
Not Impossible Labs makes DIY, accessible, tech-based solutions for people around the world, and then powerfully tells those stories to inspire others to do the same. The company has crowd-sourced innovative solutions to seemingly intractable social challenges, primarily in the arenas of health, mobility and communication. Their technology solutions enabled an artist with ALS to draw for the first time in 7 years using only his eyes, gave voice to a man who hadn't spoken in 15 years, and allowed a blind mother see her newborn for the first time.
To Not Impossible Labs founder Mick Ebeling, nothing is impossible:
"We believe that every solution to every problem that exists today is already out there, it’s just a question of our minds putting the pieces together in the right way, and then those problems will be solved."
In this interview with PSFK, Ebeling shares what makes these technology innovations so exciting - they are both result and driver of collective innovation. While designed for one unique individual, each unique solution sparks many more, inspiring other technology developers to take a look at how they can design to make a difference. Common Impact shares Ebeling’s excitement. We see a ripple effect take place when we create the space for cross-sector partnership. The paradigm for what one can accomplish with one’s skills shifts dramatically when those skills are placed in the context of a cross-sector group of passionate leaders and innovators. This is exactly the type of space we seek to create through our programs.
Microsoft discusses how technology underlying BitCoin could support social good
Blockchain is the technology innovation that made BitCoin, a digital currency with no central authority for regulation or control, possible. Last week, Microsoft's Civic Innovation team met alongside leaders in technology innovation and social impact to discuss how blockchain technology could support creative solutions to social challenges. Leaders such as IDEO's Anne Kim and MIT's Chelsea Barabas joined Microsoft's director of technology and civic innovation John Paul Farmer and others to share their ideas on how blockchain could be used for social innovation. They envision blockchain enabling governments to distribute and track services more efficiently, and bring voting into the digital age for example.
The meeting was just a starting point, designed to spark continued conversation. Farmer closed out the event with a hopeful request:
“Please leave this room tonight thinking how you might come up with new, creative and innovative ways to use these technologies or other technologies to help people, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Common Impact has also seen increased interest in cross-sector collaboration in the public sector, particularly for technology-driven solutions (think community resource mapping). This trend has given us the ability to bring our15 years’ experience building purposeful relationships between sectors to bear for projects that leverage the strengths from communities’ nonprofit, government and corporate leaders- and we couldn’t be happier.
Nominet Trust's "Tech for Good" Power List recognizes most inspiring use of digital technology for social change
Common Impact’s skilled volunteer teams develop technology solutions for local nonprofit partners all year long. We know that we are one player in a skills-based movement, and love to hear about how technologists around the world are directing their expertise to a social purpose.
Nominet Trust, the UK's leading social tech funder has produced a social tech guide recognizing the top 100 digital social innovations globally developed each year. The Nominet Trust 100 is designed to celebrate these innovations, raise awareness for how technology is creating social good, and inspire innovation. This initiative has identified thousands of incredible social innovations driven by technology, just in the last two years. Check out this infographic for highlights from the 2014 cohort. Nominations for 2015 winners just opened on July 30th, and will remain open until September 30th.
We're excited to learn about 2015's winners! The incredibly innovative solutions Nominet highlights make us proud to be a part of this movement, and motivate us to continually innovate in our own work.
How cities foster technology communities for civic innovation
Local governments are increasingly seeking ways to build and support a thriving community of technology innovators and entrepreneurs, particularly in ways that enhance civic engagement and benefit communities. Some cities are ahead of the curve (shout out to Common Impact's own New York City). This Citie Framework report seeks to illuminate the factors that make them successful. The report, a collaborative effort between Accenture, Nesta and Catapult, identifies nine roles cities can play to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. In playing these roles, cities create an environment of openness to innovation, build supporting infrastructure for enterprise, and act as models for strategic leadership.
Citie also provides a diagnostic tool civic leaders can use benchmark their cities’ progress against national and global peers. Common Impact has taken a similar approach to help nonprofits assess how well poised they are to collaborate with skilled-volunteers through the Readiness Roadmap.
Information mapping reveals community trends and impact
Community information mapping helps us move beyond confusing lists and tables by applying intuitive visual frameworks to data, ultimately helping us identify trends, and understand our communities and the impact of social change initiatives. Erin Gamble, Online Communications Officer at World Bank Group shared inspiration for socially meaningful data visualization in an NTEN blog last week. She highlights the Social Network Analysis framework as one approach she finds particularly useful for understanding your audience, the flow of resources across groups, and more.
Common Impact has facilitated opportunities to create online, accessible data visualization tools for communities through our cross-sector partnerships. We find that this type of engagement provides an excellent opportunity for companies to contribute their employees’ expertise towards a final product that make a lasting impact on the communities in which they live and work.
Tech Networks of Boston will facilitate a roundtable featuring Rick Jakious, former CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. Working in small groups, participants will be led through exercises to help them make the connections from their organization’s current partnerships to potential future partnerships, and learn how to unlock the potential of collaborative leadership, which has the power to assist nonprofit organizations achieve far better results than what they can accomplish on their own.
This two-day conference takes place in New York City September 27-28 in alignment with UN Week. This year, the Summit will focus on the question, "what type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?" The Summit brings together influential leaders, advocates and change makers across the globe to discuss how technology can and does impact initiatives for social good.
Over 1200 volunteers from Boston's technology community will donate their time through Tech Gives Back. This day of service will engage volunteers in a wide variety projects to benefit local community organizations. Tech Gives back will take place on September 17th, and is presented through a partnership between Building Impact and Technology Underwriting Greater Good.
Common Impact is hiring! Check out these opportunities to join a dynamic team of cross-sector consultants. Do you have a candidate in mind? Please share the job descriptions below!
Director, Client Growth (Boston)
The Director of Client Growth will be responsible for supporting the growth and evolution of new and existing corporate partnerships in order to further strengthen Common Impact's ability to meet the needs of the communities we serve.
Project Consultant (Contract)
The Project Consultant position offers a unique opportunity for an experienced project manager to build and hone their skills in cross-sector project consulting, while contributing to the successful operations of an innovative and entrepreneurial nonprofit.