This issue marks the 15th anniversary of Stanford Social Innovation Review. Our goal remains essentially the same as it was in the spring of 2003, when we published the first issue of SSIR and wrote, “SSIR is dedicated to presenting usable knowledge that will help those who do the important work of improving society do it even better.”
The fundamental way that we seek to accomplish that goal also remains essentially the same: to provide a forum where social-change leaders from all sectors of society can come together to put forth new ideas and practices, critique existing ones, and learn from one another.
There are, however, a few things at SSIR that have changed since we started. One of these is that we reach many more people in many more ways. Fifteen years ago we only produced a quarterly print magazine. At a time when many print magazines have folded, I am proud to say that we still publish an award-winning print magazine, but we also do much more. Nearly a quarter million people come to our website each month to read SSIR articles, and we reach another quarter million people every week through our e-newsletter and social media.
But SSIR does more than publish articles. Every year we produce more than a dozen webinars and several conferences, bringing together thousands of people online and in person. We also produce podcasts and videos that reach others who prefer to learn by listening and watching.
The second big change that has occurred over the last 15 years is that SSIR is now financially self-sufficient. Like most other nonprofits, we relied in our early years almost entirely on donations and grants, and in our case financial support from Stanford University, to fund our operations. During the last few years, however, we have generated enough revenue from earned income (through subscriptions, webinars, conferences, supplements, license fees, advertising, and other sources) to cover just about all of our expenses.
The third significant change is that SSIR has become much more global. Today, more than 40 percent of the people who come to our website to read articles live outside of the United States. The five countries with the largest audiences are Canada, India, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Philippines. But there is also a long tail. Last month, people from 192 countries visited our website, including ones such as Yemen, Cuba, Oman, Micronesia, and Kyrgyzstan.
But there are many people around the world engaged in social innovation who do not read English. To begin to reach those people, SSIR has partnered with organizations in China and Turkey that are translating and distributing our articles in those countries. Our Chinese partner, Leping Social Entrepreneur Foundation, is publishing a Chinese print version of each issue of SSIR, including our cover illustration. We also have discussions under way with an organization interested in translating and distributing SSIR articles in South Korea.
Each of these changes—reaching more people in more ways, achieving financial sustainability, and becoming more global—has helped SSIR become what it is today: the leading publication in the field of social innovation.