Friday, September 25, 2009

Fast Forward favorite CGI thoughts

Here are some of my favorite CGI snippets of the past few days (I shared these on twitter, and reviewed to retrieve some of my passing thoughts during the swirl of Clinton Global Initiative):

  • Fola Adeola, The Fate Foundation: "What we hold in our hands is a compass, so we can write our maps as we go along"
  • Marilyn Carlsen: "holding up a mirror to ourselves may be best thing we can do"
  • Nick Kristoff: "need metrics of quality, not just quantity"
  • (not sure who said this, but it's good!) @CGI: "what is done to children they will do to the world"
  • (me!) : Why are 4 billion poor people "bottom of the pyramid," not "global majority"?
Fast Forward Fund was honored to get a glimpse into CGI this year, and happy to post guest blogs at!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Attend CGI virtually!

participate in CGI right now from wherever you are! follow cgi with real-time, live webcasts and send in your questions/comments. go to and connect with nearly 1000 world leaders attending global gathering in nyc!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Building a Pipeline of Next Gen Social Investors

Building a Pipeline of Next Gen Social Investors is the heart of Fast Forward Fund. So what infrastructure do we need to build this? What tools do we have? what's missing? One cool new tool getting attention in the social change ecosystem is the recently launched Social Entrepreneur API. Check it out and join the discussion on Social Edge!

Developed by Social Actions (full disclosure: led by one of my favorite colleagues, Peter Deitz), the Social Entrepreneur API is "the first open database of information about social entrepreneurs who have won fellowships and awards from social enterprise funders. The tool allows philanthropists, investors, press, and fellow entrepreneurs to find social entrepreneurs based on keyword, location, cause area, population served, and a variety of other factors." "Civic Ventures (sponsor of The Purpose Prize), The Draper Richards Foundation, ideablob, PopTech, The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, and The Skoll Foundation have pooled their data to create an open database of information about vetted social entrepreneurs. "

Sounds good in theory; how does it hold up in practice? To answer that question, let me call on next gen social investors to play around w/Social Entrepreneur API ! From your perspective, how is it helpful? how could it be more helpful? how could it inform and advance the efforts of social investors? Tell us how to shape this pipeline!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Social Innovation while wrestling w/new Blackberry

Last week, Fast Forward Fund had its final interview with Social Venture Network judges and professional staff for SVN's Social Innovation Award. Except for my mortification at not being able to figure out how to mute my new fancy schmancy Blackberry during the interview, I enjoyed and valued the experience immensely. Totally impressed with SVN's process, caliber of judges questions & engagement, stellar roster of fellow finalists. Thrilled, honored, humbled to be selected as finalist, and in such good company, for this award. One of the best parts of the interview was a fun & provocative question posed at the beginning: what's the most surprising thing that's come up for FFF in past 2-3 weeks? My answer: seeing how many cool SoCap09 people already knew about Fast Forward, that we've come so much further than I'd realized while simultaneously have so much further to go, and that there is even greater demand and opportunity than I'd imagined to build the pipeline for Next Gen social investors!

Leading a SoCap09 "unconference" session on Building the Pipeline for Next Gen Social Investors, together with founding FFF Board Member Michele Kahane (The New School), and FFF Advisory Council Members Justin Rockefeller (Uhuru Management) & Nathaniel Whittemore (Asset Map), we explored what's working, what's needed, and what we've learned so far. Interesting issue arose around use of term "social investor" v. philanthropist. The FFF "social investor" model aggregates philanthropic capital through what we call a "diversified social investment portfolio" to leverage impact of social investments to youth-led social enterprises (for profit, not for profit, and hybrid social ventures). FFF does not offer financial ROI, rather we offer a social return on investment (SROI) and a charitable tax exemption to investors. So why not just call FFF supporters "philanthropists," "donors," "givers"? Isn't it confusing to say "investor"? Well, that confusion is a risk we're bumping up against, and frankly, we may need to reconsider our language, maybe sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the reason we say social investor is that we mean it! We very intentionally want to instill the value that philanthropy through FFF is not just a charitable donation rather it's a real investment with real returns in social terms. Directing capital to and through FFF is part of shifting philanthropic "business as usual" to a new era of strategic giving as a social investment, one that will build the society, the social context, of the world we want to create & embrace. That said, language matters. Semantics can be important. So what's in a name? What do you think? Is a philanthropist a social investor?

And Back in NYC...BGIA & CGI
After two summer FFF trips to California, I've settled back into New York where I happily began fall semester teaching "Global Social Entrepreneurship & Strategic Philanthropy" at Bard Globalization & Int'l Affairs ( BGIA ) last week. Splitting my time between NYC & mid-Hudson Valley, I feel autumn in the air from upstate apple orchards, back-to-school buses & kids w/bulging backpacks, to city slickers wearing long sleeves for first time in months. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), where I'll be blogging both for FFF and on What are the top questions or issues you'd like to see raised at CGI re:next-gen social investors, innovators, and change-makers? who are the top people you'd want to meet?