Alliance magazine: Why Markets for Good may go wrong


Alliance magazine


David Bonbright

Following Alliance’s article from Buzz Schmidt in February titled Divining a vision for Markets for Good, David Bonbright has written a very thought-provoking response. Bonbright, currently chief executive of Keystone Accountability, was part of the initial debate exploring how to create greater social impact through the philanthropic ecosystem. Three years later, he considers how this transformative vision has drifted away from a focus on those who  should be benefitting from social change.

In this article, available to read for free on the Alliance website, Bonbright explores an inconvenient truth about Markets For Good, while making the case that it would be a far more exciting and impactful enterprise were it to open its doors to beneficiaries. He reflects on the points made in the previous article and offers his own amendments to Schmidt’s vision.

“…Instead of holding to the original vision of the beneficiaries as the core agents of change, it seems that Markets For Good is settling on a neutered understanding of beneficiaries as consumers of information about service availability and eligibility requirements. For the beneficiaries, the information flow is one-way, top-down. This prompts the troubling question, why is an exemplary process tending towards the wrong result? If Markets For Good is in every visible way a well-intentioned enquiry seeking a clear result – better lives for those who most need it and solutions to our big societal problems – why is it tending towards technocratic investments in information collaboration, like taxonomies and coding and data interoperability, rather than honouring the more politically seasoned theory of change that occasioned its birth?…”

“…I have been pondering what it would take to bring the beneficiaries back to the foreground at Markets For Good…It would be complicated and inconvenient – but not impossible – to figure out ways to represent beneficiaries directly in the Markets For Good enterprise. Maybe now is the time to give this some thought, before it is too late…”  Read more >

Read the full article on the Alliance website >

This article was published as part of the free content available on the main Alliance website. To discover more about subscribing to access the full content of the magazine, visit

Tagged in: beneficiaries Markets for good

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