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Zeba Khan
Toledo, Ohio

Zeba Khan

Voted out Nov. 23. I am a social media consultant for nonprofits. I have researched women and minority issues in the Muslim World, Islam in America and counterterrorism finance with the U.S. Treasury Department. ALL POSTS

Follow-up on 'Social Innovators'

Editor's note: our pundit contestants are blogging this week. Thursday's assignment: respond to a reader comment on one of your previous posts.

While the goal of my Social Innovators feature is to highlight inspirational social entrepreneurs, a fair number of readers wanted more opinion from me on the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) itself. J2hess wanted to know specifically what I thought the prospects are for SIF to have a beneficial impact. So here goes...

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the body in charge of running the $50-million Social Innovation Fund, will "work with the grantmaking community to fund promising nonprofits that have demonstrated outcomes and will provide nonprofits with growth funding and other support to scale and spread their impact." Having spent my professional career in the nonprofit sector, I strongly welcome the influx of funding with the particular focus on growth funding. Over the past couple of years, I have seen and worked with several nonprofits that have experienced a downsizing of their programs and offerings, not unlike companies facing the financial squeeze in the private sector.

Given the stated objectives of SIF, if managed properly, I believe the fund has the potential to make significant improvements in the nonprofit sector. Specifically, I find the fund's potential ability to break down the silos in which most nonprofits operate very exciting. Always in search of their next source of funding, nonprofits have no incentive to share their data or best practices with other nonprofits. In many ways, they operate in a zero-sum game that goes against the larger goal of creating long-term substantive impact. What SIF does is require any nonprofit that receives funding to share its knowledge with other nonprofits in its fields for an overall improved approach to finding solutions. The bill that authorized SIF mandates that CNCS will maintain a clearinghouse of best practices resulting from initiatives supported by grantmakers and their grantees.

True, these requirements will add additional work to already stretched staffs, but in the long-term, such information will prove invaluable to creating a new forward-thinking dynamic in the nonprofit sector.

By Zeba Khan  |  November 12, 2009; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Round Two , response to readers
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I agree with you, Zeba. We are in need of a fund like the SIF. And yes, with proper management this kind of new policy can really help struggling non-profits secure a future. Cooperating with each other will allow these organizations to cover more ground, address more need, etc. Good response, articulated well.

Posted by: JennB1 | November 15, 2009 12:33 PM
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Posted by: manray132 | November 15, 2009 11:36 AM
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Well-composed response to the the commenters question. You addressed one of Obama's new initiatives and did so more than adequately. You chose a very telling topic - says a great deal about the kind of person you are. Keep it up and I hope to read more from you.

Posted by: manray132 | November 15, 2009 11:34 AM
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How is this paid for? Specifically, where does the money for it come from? We currently have a $1.4 Trillion deficit this year - made up of lots of "good ideas" that cost money.

Posted by: cptjohnson10 | November 15, 2009 8:06 AM
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Well done. Started slow, but once you started writing it flowed. Clear, concise, a big issue to get non-profits sharing and using best practices so their impact is deeper and long term. Brings a successful business model to non-profits. An idea to make scarce resources go further, especially at this time.

You write well and demonstrated an understanding of the details beneath the big picture. Came to a strong, definite conclusion, and idea of moving forward. Good pundit work Ms. Khan!

Posted by: chucky-el | November 12, 2009 11:34 AM
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