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December 16, 2007


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manifest money

What can I say about your writing but “wow” – you really know your subject and put your points across well. I can’t wait for your next post. I’ve found a guy who is good to read too will pass the details on when I find them.

Michael Benidt

What do we lose when we attempt to convert every currency to a single coin?

We get speakers at the front of the room who are only pitch-men for their "products."

We get athletes who don't remember that they are little kid's heroes - Bob Schieffer told it on Face the Nation yesterday, "The Buried Story of the Steroid Scandal" - http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/opinion/schieffer/main500158.shtml

We get businessmen who are the "smartest guys in the room."

Your sentence really got me - "It used to be that notions like “character” and “good citizenship” figured prominently in arguments for maintaining the quality of a good public education. Also, "Wow."

Sean Stannard-Stockton

For what it's worth, I think that ROI is a good framework for thinking about philanthropy, but do not believe that an ROI on charitable gifts can be calculated for the reasons you cite. On the for-profit side, businesses make decisions all the time to make investments that have unclear ROI. Advertising and branding are examples of investments where the benefits are often intangible. But when companies spend on advertising and branding they do it with the understanding that they are trying to achieve high ROIs, even if they cannot measure the ROI of the project directly.

Tidy Sum

Tony always seems to have our number.

ROI is such a seductive and useful little framework unless we take it too seriously.

Three little letters packed with such awesome power to soothe our itch to measure and calm our Cartesian anxiety.

A the bodegas in my neighborhood, they sell Money House Blessing - a popular brand air freshener spray familiar to many WTC readers.

I wonder if we could get them to make a ROI Grant Blessing spray to make funders feel good as they invoke the Gods of haphazardly applied business terminology.

Pam Ashlund

As one who is fascinated with ROI and all issues of Performance Measurement in general I must say "Good Show Old Boy!" As both a "pointy-headed wielders of business metrics" and an "addled hippie" I hope to find a middle ground here somewhere. How frustrating to try to pour money at an issue and find we really don't know what works. So I light a candle to healing the ancient mind/body split, science and feeling are two parts of a whole not opposing sides. Cartesianly Yours (with a touch of John Dewey), Pam


John Dewey. Wow, Pam, this might be the first time any Pragmatist has ever been mentioned in this blog. I loved reading James and Dewey in college and always felt that one day I would return to them after I had let my beer-soaked brain dry out a bit, and after I had followed the postmodernists a few times around perdition's flames. I know Dewey will be there to comfort me in my old age -- a dog-eared copy of Experience and Nature laid next to my thin volume of Beatnik poetry :o) Thanks for dropping by.

Pam Ashlund

Proud to be of assistance. Oh, forgot to mention earlier: I truly enjoyed your post!


Congratulations to Albert on the selection of his blog, "The Four Fundamental Questions of Philanthropy" (Do blog titles get surrounded with quotation marks? Should they be italicized? Underlined? Placed in CAPS?), as one of the top 5 blogs of the year by the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Email: [email protected]



Thanks for the notice, Jon. That was nice of SSIR.

Yancey Arts Consulting

There are several use for ROI measurements and even in the nonprofit scheme of things, application of this type of tool is necessary particularly on areas like finance and marketing. The holistic measure, however, of a nonprofit's impact can never be quantified using mathematical metrics alone, the changed lives, the transformed community and the enhanced being of a person are changes that can only be felt and seen. For these, you don't use ROI measures, you convey words, visuals and the power of storytelling to prove your point.

Like in all things, a balance is what's crucial in presenting the efficiency of your organization against it's efficacy.


Thanks, YAC, for the wise words.

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