Friday, January 4, 2008

If you had Google's ear.... would you whisper or scream?

Over at Tactical Philanthropy, Sean Stannard-Stockton has taken a very difficult task onto his shoulders by asking the question:

What to Measure and Why in Philanthropy?

(Continued thanks to Phil Cubeta for pointing us to interesting things like this... does the man ever blink, let alone sleep?)

Sean's question comes as he works to prepare for a "meeting with someone from Google.org next week to talk about what kind of information I think they should make available about nonprofits in Google Finance and other ways that Google.com’s mission statement to “organizing the world’s information” can be directed at the Third Sector."

Here are my thoughts...

As we approach the elections, I am reminded of a similar question: What makes a good country?

Is it simply GDP growth? % of electorate who participate in elections? Average income? Average lifespan?

I think it can be very difficult to gauge a good non-profit organization. In fact, I think that we have a problem with the way that we gauge all organizations.

The over-reliance on financial measures for evaluating a for-profit company is a problem, as well. I am in the minority with this idea, but I do not believe that the purpose of a company is to make money. I believe that it is to provide a needed service or product to the community.

This is the case for non-profit and for-profit companies. Their distinction should be limited to tax designation.

Is it a profitable company a good company if it causes social ills? Is a company that provides social benefits a bad company if it operates at a deficit?

These are the larger questions that we must ask ourselves.

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