Giving Compass’ Take:
• Stanford Social Innovation Review argues that replication is more impactful than innovation, and will help to make the most change.
• What are the challenges for replicators? For innovators?
• To get more acquainted with these ideas, read about how venture philanthropy uses innovative funding to achieve social good.
No idea will drive big impact at scale unless organizations—a lot of them—replicate it. And there are plenty of high-impact ideas awaiting high-quality replication. More than a few of them are backed by randomized controlled trial (RCT) results and all that stuff. It turns out that replication matters even more than innovation when it comes to impact at scale.
There’s a whole bunch of little labs out there to feed ideas to you. The most prolific are social ventures—organizations built to develop, prove, and scale the kind of poverty solutions you need. They tend to be better at it because they are completely obsessed with one big idea. They are agile enough to change course and iterate fast, and since they go out of business if the idea doesn’t work, they generally go all-in.
And get this: You can have their ideas for free! All that research and development, the hard work that went into the proof-of-concept and eventual impact evaluation—it’s all yours for the taking. All you have to do is replicate, and if they’re smart, they’ll help you with that, too. They all dream of impact at scale, and you can help make it happen—talk about win-win! It would be nice if you gave them credit, and you really should pay whatever it costs for them to teach you how to do it right, but it’s going to be way easier and way cheaper than it would be to develop this stuff on your own.
If innovators really want to go to scale, they have to become active facilitators of their own replication. They have to shift from working exclusively as direct doer to taking on at least a partial role as teacher and supporter.
Read the full article about replication over innovation by Kevin Starr and Greg Coussa at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
If you are looking for more articles and resources for Nonprofit Sector, take a look at these Giving Compass selections related to impact giving and Nonprofit Sector.
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