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NCG Annual Meeting: Lucy Bernholz and Rob Reich Talk #ReCodeGood

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lucy and Rob are on to something big and very exciting.  But, #ReCodeGood can sound a bit abstract and somewhat confusing.  So we asked them to break it down a bit for us. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: Why should a funder come to hear about #ReCodeGood?

A: Most funders are familiar with impact investing and have heard about Citizens United. But they haven’t had an opportunity to think big about how these practices and legal changes – seemingly on the edge of philanthropy – matter to their work.

We’re convinced that these practices are not only on the fringe; they are shifting dynamics within the sector dramatically. We’re bringing them to the center of the work – into a frame we call the new social economy, where political giving, charitable giving, and impact investing are all recognized as part of the toolbox for change. And then, with #ReCodeGood, we’re looking at the rules that guide the use of those tools. This is an opportunity to consider a framework for all of the ways that Americans use private resources for public good.

Q: How does #ReCodeGood apply to a funder’s day-to-day work?

A: Every grantmaker knows they are making choices on a daily basis between some nonprofits and others. The reality is, they are also, explicitly or implicitly, making choices between nonprofits, social businesses, and political giving. Even if they don’t expand their portfolio to include these strategies – and most won’t and probably shouldn’t – the issues they care about are being actively shaped by the presence of these other providers and donors.

Good grantmaking depends on understanding the landscape of the issue in which you work – and that landscape, on almost every issue, now includes the full range of “doers” and “donors.”

Q:  Why are the two of you excited about this work?

A: It’s an opportunity to shape the use of private resources for public good for the next century. One hundred years ago, Americans faced political strife, disappointment in government, concern about big business, and increasing income inequality. From that era came the birth of private and community foundations, public systems such as health and welfare services, and the outlines of the rules on nonprofits, charitable giving, and philanthropic practice that still guide our work.

We face a very similar moment today. It’s our chance to think hard about how we want to encourage, use, and monitor the role that private resources play in shaping our public institutions, services, and sphere.  We may, once again, be on the brink of redefining social construct.

And that’s exciting!