Skoll Foundation


Author Archive

Sally Osberg and Jessica Jackley on Social Entrepreneurship, Kiva and More

August 25, 2015 by

Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg recently sat down with Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva. Their thoughtful and impactful discussion at the Commonwealth Club of California focused on Jessica’s new book, Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs who do the Most with the Least. 

Topics included Jessica’s time in the field while at Kiva and what she learned from the entrepreneurs she met, the trend of savings, the story behind the title of her book (hint: it’s about an entrepreneur), the importance of providing for families, microfinance, crowdfunding, how Jessica decided to include her personal life in the book, managing risk based on a bad experience, and making decisions with the “head and heart.” Jessica says she is now consulting with companies on how to support working mothers, is on the board of nonprofits and has another project in the works she can’t share yet.  “I want to get back to alleviating poverty,” she says.

A short excerpt:

Sally: Kiva is approaching $1 billion and in sharing many metrics about borrowers, lenders and reporting repayment rates consistently on its web site, that doesn’t tell the story of Kiva’s impact. How are you going about the challenge of seeing whether Kiva’s loans actually alleviate poverty?

Jessica: Kiva does a great job of providing a window of how the field partners actually work. There are a handful of markers of social impact and the organizations explain what that looks like to them, such as training, prioritization of women…Change happens in ways we can measure quantitatively. Not just repayment rates. I get excited about the touchy-feely story stuff; I love seeing the stories speak for themselves.  I have met people whose businesses failed after getting the loans but their lives are still changed for the better and they are grateful for that opportunity…Maybe they are now much better equipped to take a bigger swing at things and get it right…I’ve seen changes in their confidence because of going through the training and the program that goes along with a loan…It’s in the mission that poverty alleviation …but I also think about the impact in the lives of lenders. To participate and believe great things are possible is a good thing for the world…


5 Ways Social Entrepreneurs Can Make Their Content Go Viral—from an editor at Upworthy

August 17, 2015 by

Adam Mordecai is editor-at-large at Upworthy. When he’s not trying to get millions of page views (300 million to date) on issues like racial justice, climate change and economic inequality, he focuses on training new curators and advises nonprofits on how to tell great stories.

He recently shared some of his best tips for going viral to an audience full of social entrepreneurs at the Skoll World Forum, and today we’re sharing them with you. But first things first: “Going viral is partly science, partly luck and partly hard work,” Mordecai says. “There is no recipe guaranteed for success every time.”

Take heart. “There is data and science behind virality.”

Five of our key takeaways from Adam:

  • Facebook is the driver of the Internet, and that’s where we put all our focus. Facebook wants strong stories, clear headlines, timely stories, authentic voice, and added context. (See above video around 26:12 for details and examples)
  • Tell really good stories. Give people a reason to go to that page. Stories that build empathy are the ones that are needed to make a better world. If you give people all the information they want but they don’t feel connected to it, it’s going to be much harder for them to retain the information.
  • Ask these three questions when you are making a piece of content: 1. Is the content substantive, engaging and maybe even entertaining? 2. If a million people saw it, would the world be a better place? 3. Does the content deliver on the headline?
  • Headlines matter. Framing your content matters. Upworthy did an experiment (which you can see completely at 20:00) and in it, there were two headlines. One was “Two monkeys got peed on and see what happens next” and the other was “Remember Planet of the Apes? It’s closer to reality than you might think.” They were published separately on the same video. The first headline got 700 times the views.
  • You’re not always going to win. Some of your failures will be your best learning experiences, ever.

Boston Globe Gives Big Kudos to Ceres

August 6, 2015 by

Today’s Boston Globe op-ed, “Obama leaves coal with nowhere to go,” credits Skoll Awardee Ceres:

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is remarkable, and not just because it gives the United States some global credibility on climate change. The real brilliance is that the proposal — which would cut carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels over the next 10 years — backs the opposition into a corner with no credibility….

….huge swaths of other industries that once might have been right there with the US Chamber of Commerce and coal companies in fighting new regulations are now competing to have the greenest image. That’s partly because of behind-the-scenes work by Boston-based Ceres. The nonprofit has worked for a quarter-century to convince big businesses to adopt sustainability as a guiding principle. Ceres greeted Obama’s plan with a letter of support signed by 365 companies, including Unilever, Nestle, General Mills, and Staples. Companies such as UPS, Cisco Systems, PepsiCo, United Continental, and General Motors now boast tens of millions of dollars of savings just by meeting their own energy targets.”

Read the rest:




5 Skoll Community Interviews on The Daily Show

August 6, 2015 by

Today is Jon Stewart‘s last day on his popular The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, so we thought it fitting to share clips from his past interviews with luminaries in the Skoll Foundation community.

Malala Yousafzai, recipient of the 2014 Skoll Global Treasure Award:


President Jimmy Carter, who spoke at the 2008 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship and is one of The Elders (Skoll Foundation Founder Jeff Skoll and CEO Sally Osberg are members of The Elders Advisory Council):


Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim shares the history of her film “The Square.”  In the extended web-only segment, she talks about censorship, and discusses why “it’s a really dark time now” in Egypt.


Arianna Huffington, who wrote the foreword to our CEO Sally Osberg and board member Roger Martin’s upcoming book and spoke at the 2012 Skoll World Forum closing plenary:


President Mohamed Nasheed, who spoke at the 2012 Skoll World Forum closing plenary:


Sally Osberg to Accept NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 Award

July 31, 2015 by

We’re pleased to announce that our President and CEO Sally Osberg was honored with the NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 award.  She will receive the award Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C.

As the NonProfit Times says, “Sally is a systems visionary…she understands the past, can envision a future and put it together.”

Sally, who co-authored the upcoming book, Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works, has been an agent for social change throughout her career. As our President and CEO, she partners with Founder and Chairman Jeff Skoll and heads the Skoll Foundation’s team in identifying and supporting innovators pioneering scalable solutions to global challenges. She is a well-known proponent of thought leadership, research, and alliances that advance the work of social entrepreneurs solving the world’s most pressing problems. She founded the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, the largest gathering of innovators around the world.

Other winners of the NonProfit Times award include Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen, Darren Walker, President and CEO of the Ford Foundation, Diana Aviv, President and CEO of Independent Sector, Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, Alberto Ibarguen, President and CEO of the Knight Foundation, and many more luminaries.

See the full list of winners here.


Prioritize, Capitalize, Right Size and More: 5 Insights from the Skoll Foundation on Monitoring and Evaluation

July 28, 2015 by

Ehren Reed, the Skoll Foundation’s Director of Evaluation, was recently asked what matters when he is looking at the measurements social entrepreneurial organizations use.

“Organizations have the power to achieve the change donors are looking to make,” he says. Here are some of his “izes,” as he calls them:

  1. Contextualize. It’s helpful when I can see clearly how the work is contextualized within an organization’s efforts. Whether it’s Kevin Starr’s 8- Word Mission Statement or a theory of change, there needs to be clear description of their goals, and the actions they are doing to lead to that. I want to know how those metrics you’re sharing connect with that core strategy.
  2. Prioritize. There are a ton of things that you could be measuring. The fact that you have gone through an exercise to winnow it down to meaningful measures is a good sign. Those measures should be influenced by what you are able to do with that information. If you are collecting something you are not making use of, you are wasting time and money.
  3. Capitalize. Don’t answer a question that you need not answer. There are certain outcomes and indicators that are critical to your work, and more attributable to your efforts. Concentrate on those. There are others that you can say, ‘We made a contribution to those.’ Leave those alone. For example: Citizen Schools increases graduation rates of students who attend their program by 20 percent over a control; that’s the compelling story. I don’t need to know whether that leads to greater income generation after high school graduation; there are studies that already show me that. Be efficient with the way you are spending your dollars.
  4. Right Size. Not everyone in the organization needs to look at all the same data. At One Acre Fund, workers in the field pay attention to which farmers are attending trainings, what types of uptake are they having with particular techniques they are being taught, and types of repayment rates. That’s the type of information they need to know to see if they are doing their job effectively. Middle managers look at aggregated data. Leadership looks at only a key set of performance indicators. So right size your approach accordingly.
  5. Systematize. The idea that we see M and E as a separate report gives me pause; it’s a dangerous misnomer. It needs to be part and parcel of your programmatic activity. If it’s all focused on a report which comes out once a year, and there is not a lot behind the scenes leading up to that report, that gives me pause. An example: Your car dashboard metrics allow you to know if your car is functioning effectively. You look at the dashboard every day. It’s only when you get to the selling of the car that you say, ‘It gets a lot of miles per gallon,’ or ‘It’s been in two minor accidents.’

Hear more from Ehren:


A Successful Social Entrepreneur Shares 3 Top Ways to Run an Organization

July 23, 2015 by

Sebastien Marot of Friends-International was recently asked, “What are the three most important things for you to successfully run your organization?” Here are his answers.

  • A strong vision/mission: Keeping the best interest of the child at the center of our work, high demands on quality, promoting a developmental approach (not charity), with creativity (knowing new development models are needed and the needs for system change) and pure stubbornness.
  • Building a strong and well organized organization: Building teams, with strong delegation and trust, leading to keeping our work local, yet within a global view.
  • Together: Together with the children/youth, parents, teams, partner NGOs, donors, and Government.

Read the rest of the interview:


What 5 Experts Think of the Millennium Development Goals

July 14, 2015 by

The United Nations just released its 2015 Millennium Development Goals report, so we thought it was a good time to share the thoughts of five experts who joined the United Nations’ Tomas Anker Christensen in discussing the MDGs—and measuring development efforts in general—at the recent Skoll World Forum. Launched by world leaders and the UN in 2000, the MDGs gave eight measurable goals to alleviate poverty and improve lives by the end of 2015.

Listen to the conversation, above, moderated by Pamela Hartigan of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepeneurship. Panelists included Michael Green of the Social Progress Imperative, Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Bunker Roy of Barefoot College, Dorothy Stoneman of YouthBuild USA, and Patrick Awuah of Ashesi University.

We know not everyone has time to watch a one-hour session, so here are some highlights from each:

  • “Metrics makers are not connected to the very poor people who live on less than a dollar a day,” Roy said. “These are the people Mahatma Gandhi called the very last man and woman. With due respect, these goals are a joke, because they don’t relate to the lifestyle and reality of rural communities living around the world who are living a hand-to-mouth survival existence.”
  • “Focus more money on the best targets and just spend the money there…that’s like quadrupling global aid,” Lomborg said, referring to the number of targets or goals. “If we ask governments to do fewer things that are harder to screw up, they will more likely have done a lot of good in 2030.”
  • “Ultimately, this is about…holding leaders to account by citizens and making these things part of the political debate….what the MDGs did have was an underlying concept: extreme poverty,” Green said, after his earlier remarks on his Social Progress Index and examples of how it’s worked. “So whatever you spoke about related to the MDGs, everyone kind of knew what it was…It needs to be an underlying concept for these ‘people’s goals’  communicated in a simple form so that it becomes part of the political debate so a politician can say, ‘Vote for me because GDP went up and we made progress on this’ …and it’s not about 17 goals.”
  • “When we began to measure, we decided to ask the nonprofits we work with, what should we measure?” Stoneman said. “So they set the objectives and we have measured them for 25 years: How many people apply? How many people come every day? We measure academic gains, academic achievement, industry-recognized credentials, completion of the total program, placement in jobs or post-secondary education or retention of jobs and post-secondary education, and recidivism for those who have had previous problems with the law…we encourage the government to hold people accountable for outcomes but when they do it too rigidly, it creates a negative effect….”
  • “There is a lot of positive that came out of the MDGs around poverty, infant mortality and maternal care; that gives me hope that if goals are stated properly, we can in fact achieve them,” Awuah said.

Read more:



Doing the Unexpected: How One Social Entrepreneur Changed Paths

June 30, 2015 by

Jenny Bowen thought her work was almost done. After 17 years of running Half the Sky, she had helped transform China’s child welfare institutions, and she could “see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We have lots of work left to do, but I can see where it’s going. So done, right? Mission accomplished.”

Or so she thought.

But then, she stepped back to reflect on her life while writing her memoir “Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains,” and “now I am writing  a whole different story…you just end up going from one to another.”

Thus is the life of a social entrepreneur, who “disrupt a status quo they see as sub-optimal,” according to Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg.

Jenny’s new endeavor is called OneSky. Jenny shared a little about it at the Skoll World Forum this year: read more


Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship Publishes GSBI Methodology White Paper

June 25, 2015 by

The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) Shares Insights Based on 12 Years of Accelerating Over 360 Successful Enterprises

Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship has released a white paper aimed at helping social-entrepreneurship accelerators and incubators succeed. The paper, “The GSBI(R) Methodology for Social Entrepreneurship,” is available at

The white paper encapsulates lessons from 12 years of working with over 365 businesses that are tackling social problems around the world through the Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute, or GSBI. The GSBI is internationally recognized for helping social entrepreneurs become investment-ready and prepared to “scale” — or reach exponentially more beneficiaries. GSBI’s well-honed methodology serves as a best-practices framework for incubating and accelerating these global social enterprises.

The Miller Center is offering this free white paper in response to the rapid rise of accelerators and incubators focused on helping social entrepreneurs scale their solutions to the world’s critical problems affecting the poor and the planet. It identifies key strategies so others can benefit from its successes and failures.

The paper describes three key success factors for a successful accelerator: social enterprise selection, stage-specific programs for social enterprises, and deep executive-level mentoring. It also shares mistakes to avoid, such as being unprepared for the due diligence process that potential funders require.

“Founded in 2003, the GSBI has led and changed the way accelerators help social entrepreneurs,” said Sally Osberg, CEO and President of the Skoll Foundation. “The social entrepreneurship movement is booming and there’s no need for newcomers to reinvent the wheel. This paper helps everyone in our ecosystem accomplish our shared goal of using innovation and sound business practices to solve problems that are keeping three billion people from living their full potential.”

The GSBI invites applications from businesses or organizations that are “impact first,” when true to the name, the intention is to create good environmental or social outcomes as a forethought, not an afterthought. Based on where the enterprises are in their lifecycles, they are matched to the appropriate programs within the GSBI — a “Boost” program consisting of three days of intensive, on-location training; a six-month online-only program for early-stage, developing ventures; or the 10-month GSBI Accelerator, which combines online and in-person mentoring for ventures on the cusp of robust growth.

“We have applied this stage-appropriate methodology in over 60 countries,” said Pamela Roussos, senior director of GSBI. “What sets us apart is our 80+ Silicon Valley executive mentors who accompany the social entrepreneurs on their journey through weekly meetings for entire duration of their program. More than 85% of our last cohort received funding. Our methodology contributes to this success record and we would like others to benefit from it.”


Photo credit goes to Victoria Yundt, a Santa Clara University student who visited the social enterprise Solar Sister in 2013.


The Stigma of Mental Illness in Pakistan: BasicNeeds on PBS NewsHour

June 22, 2015 by

Up to 40 percent of the population in Pakistan could have mental health issues, yet getting help isn’t easy. The stigma against mental illness is prevalent, and even for those who do want to get help, psychiatrists are in short supply. As part of the PBS NewsHour “Agents For Change” series, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro looks at the efforts being made by BasicNeeds to change this situation.


New Educate Girls Case Study Documents Use of Measurement, Scale

June 8, 2015 by

Dasra, a strategic philanthropy foundation in India, wrote a case study on Educate Girls affirming of the importance of investing in measurement. Here’s more from Dasra’s Divya Pamnani and Arjav Chakravarti:

“Dasra worked closely with EG’s leadership to assist in the development and execution of its expansion strategy. The case study demonstrates how the organization harnessed the potential of impact assessment as a learning tool to improve program design and delivery, strengthen its model, and grow effectively.

Within a decade, EG has grown from working in 50 schools to over 8,500 schools. By replicating its program in other gender-gap districts of Rajasthan, EG  impacted the lives of nearly one million children. The effective use of measurement enabled EG to adapt quickly, better respond to beneficiaries, demonstrate continued impact, build partnerships with the government, and attract significant resources to scale.

An account of EG’s measurement journey, it offers valuable lessons for social organizations working across diverse sectors, at different stages of growth.”

Read it here:


Nina Smith Wins Dwell on Design Award

June 3, 2015 by

GoodWeave honored with Nice Modernist Award for its campaign to end child labor 

Since its founding in 1995, GoodWeave has worked to eliminate child labor from the rug industry with current operations in India, Nepal and Afghanistan. These efforts were recognized Saturday with the receipt of the inaugural Dwell on Design “Nice Modernist Award” by GoodWeave’s founding Executive Director, Nina Smith. Dwell Media President Michela O’Connor Abrams presented the award on Saturday at the LA Convention Center in conjunction with the Dwell on Design Awards ceremony. The event included a special screening of the GoodWeave film short Stand with Sanju.

“We’re always inspired by the caliber of talent on view at Dwell on Design,” says Dwell Media President Michela O’Connor Abrams, which includes 2015 exhibitors and GoodWeave licensed brands Ariana and notNeutral. “We established the Dwell on Design Awards to celebrate not only the quality and innovation of this work, but also the humanitarian side. By awarding Dwell’s first Nice Modernist Award to Nina, we are honoring the impact GoodWeave has had in reducing child labor in the carpet industry by 75% from 1 million to 250,000, and it is my hope the awareness raised by this award helps GoodWeave achieve its goal of zero child laborers by 2020.”

Learn more:


Jefferson Awards Foundation Names Jeff Skoll a National Award Recipient

June 2, 2015 by

The National Service Awards Ceremony will be Held June 18 in Washington, D.C.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation, America’s most prestigious and longest standing organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service, will honor America’s most outstanding philanthropic achievers in 2015 at its annual gala in Washington, D.C. Taking place in the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on June 18, 2015, the organization will honor this year’s recipients for their exemplary achievements in service.

During the gala, which is sponsored by Target and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Jefferson Awards Foundation will present awards to the top schools in its Students In Action program as well as award more than 50 local Jefferson Awards winners who have made a difference in their individual communities nationwide.

“Our mission at the Jefferson Awards Foundation is to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement in public service. A testament to this mission, we are honored to recognize these amazing individuals and organizations for their incredible work in service,” said Hillary Schafer, Executive Director of The Jefferson Awards Foundation. “We continue to believe in, and activate their causes and look forward to sharing impact on a national level through our ceremony.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will receive the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official at the ceremony for her continued dedication and concern for fair process in the criminal justice system, calls for reform of the criminal justice system and dissents on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity. Previous recipients of the award include: former Arizona politician Gabrielle Giffords, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The Kid President team, consisting of Brad Montague and Robby Novak, will be awarded the award for Outstanding Service by an Individual 25 or Under. Through their work, Robby and Brad hope to foster creativity and compassion in young people while making the internet a more joyful place. Previous recipients of the 25 or Under award include 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Patrick Ip and Vision For and From Kids founder Lillian Pravda.

Philanthropist and social entrepreneur Jeff Skoll will be presented with the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen. Skoll created the Skoll Foundation in order to bring to life his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. He will join the ranks of previous recipients of this award including comedian Bob Hope, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and founder of Charles Best.

Lauren Bush Lauren will be presented with the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 or Under for co-founding FEED, a social business which donates a portion of each sale to feed children around the world, through giving partners such as the United Nations World Food Programme, UNICEF and Feeding America. This award has been given to politician Bobby Jindal and football player Peyton Manning in past years.

Laysha Ward, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer of Target, will be present to accept the award for Outstanding Service by a Major Corporation for Target. The Jefferson Awards Foundation continues to recognize Target for its commitment to integrate corporate citizenship into its daily operations, with direct responsibility for sustainability, diversity and inclusion, service and philanthropy and other key reputational strategies.

About the Jefferson Awards
The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service. Through its programs, JAF trains and empowers individuals to serve and lead in their communities, amplifying their impact through the organizations vast network of media partners, mentors and volunteers. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit: JeffersonAwards.orgor engage on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

read more


Marc Freedman in the WSJ: Six Ideas for Enriching Longer Lives

June 1, 2015 by

Marc Freedman of just penned “How to Make the Most of Longer Lives” in the Wall Street Journal. “As thousands of baby boomers each day surge into their 60s and 70s, it’s time to focus on enriching lives, not just lengthening them; on providing purpose and productivity, not just perpetuity,” he writes. He then goes into detail about six ways society can do this. My favorite? “Design schools for second half of life.”

“Nearly 50 years ago, we pioneered lifelong learning for seniors—a notable advance, but let’s face it: All too often these programs are great for mental stimulation but ill-suited to launching individuals into new life chapters,” Marc writes. “Catching up on the Renaissance masters or mapping your family’s genealogy can take you only so far.”

Read the rest:


5 Lessons of Hope from a Social Entrepreneur Who was Jailed

May 21, 2015 by

Cecilia Flores-Oebanda and some of her children were jailed for four years for fighting against the Marcos regime of the Philippines. (Former President Ferdinand Marcos was removed from power in 1986). Her organization, which helps stop human trafficking in the Philippines, was “strained and challenged” two years ago.

But she made it through. And she learned a lot. And today, she’s sharing those lessons with other social entrepreneurs.

“I thought life was in prison was the worst life,” she shared during the “Down is not Defeated” panel at the 2015 Skoll World Forum. “But after I began working with women and children, I realized my life in prison was nothing compared to what they endure.”

Here are 5 learnings from Cecelia:

  1. Don’t lose your endurance. “Fighting slave traders is a game of endurance. I am a very stubborn person and don’t run in a fight.”
  2. Stay inspired. “The children that I serve are the air that I breathe. I am energized by them, and become more proactive and strategic because I need to ‘gather the troops’ to support our fight. Otherwise, I am alone, and traffickers can easily kill you.”
  3. Know your weaknesses. “I am very honest with myself. I know what I am capable of—and not capable of—and that makes me more humble and grounded.
  4. Don’t lose sight of the larger goal. “I am always focused on the big goal: freedom. That the day will come that Filipino women, men and children will be free to explore opportunity without the fear and risk of being sold and enslaved. That gives me hope.”
  5. Your employees are not a family that you manage. “Sometimes my professional relationships suffer with my staff because I have personal relationships with them. I want everybody to be happy, but that also has a negative impact. Invest in a system within the organization.  You need transparency and structure.”

Listen to more of her wisdom in the video, above, and read her firsthand account:


Ma Jun to The Guardian: China is at a Tipping Point

May 19, 2015 by

In a new feature about 2015 Skoll Awardee and “China’s most well-known environmentalist” Ma Jun, he tells The Guardian: 

After decades of growth at all costs, Ma says China is now at a tipping point. “The development and growth model of the last 35 years has been increasingly dependent on energy and pollution-intensive industries, but how can we go on growing all these sectors every year with double digits?

“I think its time to change and balance the environment and growth. If we don’t do that we’re going to suffer a hard landing one day very soon,” says Ma.

China’s leadership has promised a “war on pollution” to regain public trust, but it is the decisions of local government officials, says Ma, that dictate what action, if any, is taken against major polluters.

The article goes in depth about how Ma Jun is helping empower citizens to tackle unsustainable growth, and is a beautiful illustration of what it means to disrupt the status quo. Read the rest:


HCWH Divests from Fossil Fuels, Releases Impressive Stats on Hospital Program

May 15, 2015 by

Today we’re sharing two pieces of news about Health Care Without Harm:

  • Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth have together divested their fossil fuel investments. Employee retirement plans at both organizations are now free of fossil fuel holdings and previous holdings have been replaced with climate friendly investments. Read more here.
  • The Healthier Hospitals Initiative (HHI) released its 2014 Milestone Report, announcing the collective impact of nearly 1,000 hospitals across the country that reduced their environmental footprint, lowered costs and improved the health of patients and staff. Read the details here.

On a non-related note, read how you can help HCWH’s partner organization in Nepal post-earthquake:


One Social Entrepreneur Shares How He Gets Media Coverage

May 11, 2015 by

Jim Fruchterman founded Benetech in 2000. Since then, his organization has been featured in numerous publications, such as Barron’s, The New York Times, and public radio station KQED.

At the recent Skoll World Forum, Jim sat down with Morgan Clendaniel, founding editor of Co.Exist (Fast Company’s innovation site), to share how to get media coverage. We covered excellent media-pitching tips from Morgan on the Skoll World Forum Online, which you can read here.

Today, we’re sharing nuggets from Jim’s experiences. We hope they inspire you!

“I’m a geek from Silicon Valley who writes software for disabled people and human rights groups,” Jim said at the start of the discussion, while introducing himself as moderator.  “We’ve done press relations badly, and sometimes, well.”

Some insights from Jim:

  1. Use different social media channels for different needs. “We run a web site that serves 350,000 students in the U.S. and we reach them through Facebook. When we are talking to journalists, we are doing it in Twitter. Our press releases are blog posts that we Tweet out and we reach narrow audiences. I will send a blog post to a congressional staffer or a donor.”
  2. Share a story, not your model. “A lot of social entrepreneurs are proud of what we do, but the average person is very non-interested in our novel hybrid financing structure. They want to know, some young girl whose life was completely transformed by your intervention. That is the hook. Journalists want to know there is something real behind that, that this isn’t the one cherry-picked story that is the exception to all the rules.”
  3. Ask your partners how they want to be portrayed. An audience member who works with an organization serving the homeless asked about sharing “non stereotypical” photos of homeless people. “The disability field is very sensitive to this,” Jim replied. “It’s called the ‘Jerry’s Kids Phenomenon, let’s show people photos of really obviously visually disabled kids and make people feel terrible about them.’ Most of us in the social enterprise field have the same attitude you do. We don’t do charity to the communities we work with. We work in partnership for social change. So what we do with our partners, is, how do you want to be portrayed in the media? We do walk away from stories that say things like, ‘This person’s life, benighted by blindness.’ Time out! We are talking about empowerment here. I want to hear a story about how this blind person volunteered to help other blind people and it’s great.'”
  4. Think about small, specialty publications. “For example, we want to reach special education teachers. If we send a press release to Special Education Member Network, they will publish it. That’s not ‘real journalism’ that you just published a press release, but it is reaching the audience and taking advantage of the network.”

Jim also shared how media can help in more ways than one. In response to an audience question about motive, Jim gave four answers: “More social impact, policy change, reach more donors, and reach the people I want to help.”

We don’t have an advertising budget, usually. So, often, the media is a cost-effective way to reach the community we want to help. We serve disabled kids; I can’t take an ad out in the New York Times. But if I get someone to write a story about a disabled kid who they never thought would graduate from high school but now got into college, then another parent will say, ‘why isn’t my kid getting that service? It’s free.’  But because it’s free, I can’t advertise.

…More of our mission is first. Yes, we want more donors, but …there are better ways to reach donors than to get most stories. But, a Fast Company, a New York Times, donors do read those outlets and they will share stories. A story in your local newspaper might help get a local philanthropist.

A lot of us are engaged in policy. Politicians care deeply about how interested the electorate is in an issue. When the Internet was shut down over bad laws in the U.S., we were 88 out of 90 organizations fighting it, but we had a story on how this kind of law was going to hurt disabled kids and human rights groups, as opposed to Google and the like, so our little voice was an important voice.”

Watch the entire session above.


Nepal Earthquake, GoodWeave, and “Getting Beyond Better”

May 8, 2015 by

In Nepal, where handwoven carpets are the No. 1 export, Skoll Awardee GoodWeave has been tremendously affected. In a new Nonprofit Chronicles story, reporter Marc Gunther writes,”…All of this is a work in progress, and the Nepal earthquake is a reminder that the best-laid plans can be rocked, literally, by forces beyond anyone’s control. A GoodWeave day care center and an office have crumbled. A staff member lost his immediate family. If, in the years ahead, Nepal’s carpet industry collapses, much of the progress made by GoodWeave will be undone. ‘This industry is going to have to be rebuilt, sustainability,’ GoodWeave founding executive director Nina Smith says. ‘Otherwise the buyers are going to go elsewhere.’ That would be terrible not just for the children of Nepal, but for the entire nation.”

Gunther quotes Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg and her “Getting Beyond Better” book coauthor:

“As Sally Osberg and Roger Martin, a foundation director, write in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review: ‘When enough consumers vote with their wallets, retailers and suppliers get the message—and entire systems are forever altered.’ It’s far from an easy solution, though, because it relies on consumers, retailers, suppliers and NGOs to do what governments ought to do–protect children. Try marketing that.”

The article also mentions GoodWeave’s short video, Stand with Sanju, which was Winner of a Stories of Change award from Skoll Foundation and Sundance. The three-minute video depicts the real and triumphant journey of an 11-year-old girl named Sanju.

Read the rest: and how you can help GoodWeave and other Skoll Awardees affected by the earthquake:





© 2015 Skoll Foundation.