June 2010

Rethinking Scale

Volume 15 , Number 2

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June 2010

Rethinking Scale

Volume 15 , Number 2

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The guest editor for this Alliance special feature is Alejandro Litovsky, Director of Pathways to Scale at Volans. Traditionally, growing bigger has been seen as a mark of success, but should size really be the main aim for all charitable projects? We should think creatively, says Litovsky, and focus on improving the infrastructure for collaboration to achieve maximum impact.

The feature includes interviews with Virgin’s Richard Branson and Skype founder Niklas Zennström, both of whom are now applying their experience of growing businesses to develop new philanthropic ventures; Gates Foundation CEO Jeff Raikes, who argues that partnerships are key to building large-scale change; and theoretical physicist Geoffrey West, who examines how universal scaling laws found in nature can be applied to philanthropy. Case studies from around the world tell the stories of initiatives that have achieved a remarkable impact, including a global sustainable transport initiative, a waste pickers’ movement in Brazil and a citizen media initiative in Tanzania.

The June issue of Alliance also includes news of a proposed social stock exchange for the UK, an interview with Bill White of the Mott Foundation, and further articles, reviews, conference reports and global updates.

Guest Editors' Article

Governing the Biosphere Economy

1 June 2010
Alejandro Litovsky

In 1492 Christopher Columbus landed on what he thought were the shores of India – except he had discovered a new continent. The ‘business case’ he presented to lure his funders was based on a gross miscalculation of the diameter of the Earth, but this mistake led him and his reluctant investors – among them the court of Isabella I of Castile – to a serendipitous success. In 2010, the planet has shrunk dramatically. In …

 
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Editorial

Seeking scale

I have long admired the work of the Mumbai NGO SPARC, led by the wonderful Sheela Patel. Working with India’s National Federation of Slum Dwellers, and in negotiation with state governments and the World Bank, they seem to offer almost a ‘third way’ between state and private provision of services. Last year, at a Skoll World Forum session organized by Volans, I heard Nancy Kete of EMBARQ talking and was blown away by her story of how they have revolutionized public transport in some of the world’s biggest cities. It is always inspiring to come across an organization that seems …

Letters

Is more debt the answer?

Malcolm Hayday

Clara Miller’s perspective (in her article in the June issue of Alliance) is an important wake-up call for the developing …

Social transformation, one child at a time

Zanele Sibanda

As Chet Tchozewski points out in his article ‘Getting to Maybe’ in the March issue of Alliance, the real impact …

Why continue the hero worship?

Pamela Hartigan

Tommy Hutchinson’s article in the March issue of Alliance asks why we focus on the heroic entrepreneur. What about the …

Supporting the social economy worldwide?

Ben Metz

European foundations have a long history of supporting knowledge exchange to further the social economy, in Europe and increasingly in …