Fall 2009

Volume 7, Number 4

Sometimes the traditional philanthropic models just aren’t enough. Enter “catalytic philanthropy” and the innovative donors who make it their mission to create real change. In the fall 2009 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review, meet the ambitious and mission-driven philanthropists who do much more than write checks. By becoming directly involved and taking personal responsibility these donors form alliances, influence behavior, and make a real difference.

View the digital edition and download the PDF.


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Recreating Fine Arts Institutions

By Diane E. Ragsdale

The fine arts in America are on a perilous path. Attendance at opera, theater, jazz, symphony, and ballet performances has dropped precipitously in recent decades. Just as worrisome, the median age of people attending these events has increased dramatically. If the fine arts are to survive as a living, creative, and significant force in American life, arts institutions need to radically recreate themselves.

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Social Innovations

Public-Private Alliances Transform Aid

By Andrew S. Natsios

The dual goals of scalability and sustainability have eluded many development projects. In recent years, however, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has reached out to corporations, nonprofits, and even private citizens to build alliances that are making large-scale, long-term change. In this article, the former head of USAID describes the public-private partnership model that his agency forged, the successes that the model has won, and the struggles that it continues to face.

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Social Innovations

Catalytic Philanthropy

By Mark R. Kramer 13

Despite spending vast amounts of money and helping to create the world’s largest nonprofit sector, philanthropists have fallen far short of solving America’s most pressing problems. What the nation needs is “catalytic philanthropy”—a new approach that is already being practiced by some of the most innovative donors.

What’s Next

Human Rights

In Their Own Words

By Suzie Boss

A social media campaign aims to increase awareness of areas that reduce health risks for domestic workers and employers alike.

Field Report

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Behind the Curve

By J. Peter Pham 5

Corrupt governments cash in on the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s outdated metrics.

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The Answer Is on the Ground

By Adrienne Day

The solutions to seemingly impossible problems already exist in the communities facing those problems.

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Social Innovations

Funding the Future in China

By Suzie Boss 1

Qifang, an online peer-to-peer lending platform, expands access to education for the world’s largest student population.

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The Entrepreneurial Union

By Amy Wilkinson 7

Freelance workers, whose numbers are growing, are left without health insurance, a retirement plan, or a work community. The Freelancers Union meets these needs.

Case Study

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A Fine Green Niche

By Maria Shao

Maria Yee established her eco-friendly, high-end furniture company long before going green was the done thing. Two decades later, her company’s environmentally sound practices not only reflect a planet-friendly ethos, but also drive a market-friendly creative edge.


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Social Innovations

The Madoff Philanthropic Implosion

By Max L. Kleinman

With many in the community losing their savings in the Madoff scandal, Jewish philanthropies took a hard hit.

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A Nature State of Mind

By Spencer B. Beebe & Ian Gill 3

True restoration—environmental and economic—will not come from congressional legislation, top-down stimulus money, or EPA rulings.

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A Light in City Hall

By Torie Osborn

How one newcomer to the Los Angeles mayor’s office mixed government with philanthropy to make change.


Global Issues

Medicare Saves Lives

By Alana Conner

Patients insured by Medicare are less likely to die within a week of hospital admission than their slightly younger counterparts.

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Global Issues

Why They Stayed

By Alana Conner

New research reveals the economic hardships that Katrina’s “stayers” were battling and the abundance of negative opinions about them.


How to Survive the Recession

By Alana Conner

The current recession has left few nonprofits unscathed and has hit theaters particularly hard. Creative entrepreneurial changes have proven more effective than the traditional belt-tightening.


The Science of a
Meaningful Life
Dacher Keltner

Rethinking Human Nature

Review By Maria Surricchio 2

Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life by Dacher Keltner

The Individual and
the Innovative
John W. Gardner
Social Innovations

Staying Vibrant and Curious

Review By Jacqueline Novogratz 6

Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society by John Gardner

Hundred-Year Conflict
Between Global
Conservation and
Native Peoples
Mark Dowie

Good Guy vs. Good Guy

Review By Bill Adams

Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year-Conflict Between Global Conservation and Native Peoples by Mark Dowie

Remarkable Success
Story of BRAC, the
Global Grassroots
Organization That’s
Winning the Fight
Against Poverty
Ian Smillie
Social Innovations

The House That BRAC Built

Review By Sally Osberg 1

Freedom from Want: The Remarkable Success Story of BRAC, the Global Grassroots Organization That’s Winning the Fight Against Poverty by Ian Smillie


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Social Innovations

Q&A: Fred Krupp

By Eric Nee 2

Under Fred Krupp’s leadership, the Environmental Defense Fund has become one of the most important power brokers in the environmental arena. Krupp has helped accomplish what some thought was impossible—getting businesses to go green voluntarily.

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