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Note from the Curator: Reflecting on 2012

It’s been three short months since we launched the Markets for Good campaign. As many of you know, the campaign’s goal is to host a conversation about how the social sector uses and shares information, spark new ideas about how to make data sharing and use easier, and highlight and connect efforts already underway.

We closed 2012 being noted among 5 Nonprofit High Points, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. In this note, we’d like to mention other highlights and to let you know what’s to come in 2013.

The campaign was fast out of the gates (pun intended), with Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launching the campaign at SOCAP . Comparing his Raikes Family Foundation to the Gates Foundation, Jeff pointed out that, despite the vast differences in size and scope, both are learning organizations with a hunger for knowledge, often finding it in conversation over the dinner table, where he and his wife, Tricia, who oversees operations at the Raikes Family Foundation, share what they’ve learned.

Imagine Markets For Good as a sector-sized dinner table, where we can come together to exchange ideas, notes, and knowledge. As Jeff noted in the launch: “There are too many questions we can’t easily answer, but not because the answers don’t exist. It’s because there’s too much friction in getting to the information. If we want to achieve bigger impact faster, we need to develop ways to share and organize information and knowledge that will provide the answers to these questions.” Welcome to the dinner table.

We complemented this in-person launch with a virtual call to action by Lucy Bernholz. Her point of view, Let Our Data Define Us, was popular: we recorded just over 2000 unique visitors to the Markets For Good website over the two-day launch period.

Building Content into Conversation

Since the campaign’s start, we’ve heard from a variety of viewpoints that have galvanized interest in the campaign and early conversation. Katya Fels Smyth offered a compelling analogy between the solar system and the social sector in her post, “The Bear And the Ladle.” Sunand Menon brought a thoughtful challenge to how we collect data from his experience in the financial services industry, in his blog “From Raw Data To Informed Decisions.” And Erine Gray showed us better taxonomies can be developed, by describing how his organization,, has made it easier for people to find food, health, housing, and employment programs that would serve them by developing a taxonomy that is simpler for them to navigate.

Posts that Drove Discussion

Continuing the early momentum, there were a few other guest blog posts that sparked discussion by posing tough questions and possible ways forward. These were:

What We’re Excited about In 2013

As we shift to 2013, we’re looking forward to driving more engagement and discussion around topics that will help funders, innovators, technologists, and others to understand how to strengthen the information infrastructure to better meet your needs.
We’ll explore a series of themes in the first part of next year that will shed light on this question. The full list of themes is here. We’re especially excited about beneficiary insights, which we’ll explore more in January. On this topic, we are exploring how beneficiary data is being aggregated and used in decision-making. We’re also excited about “What do we need to build the infrastructure? Technologists’ and intermediaries’ point of view,” a topic we’ll explore in late January and early February. We will hear from leading thinkers and doers in technology, academia, the social sector, and the private sector. E-mail us if you would like to contribute.

These conversations are nothing without you, so please join us in comment and discussion. We’d also love to invite your suggestions about activities that you, your organization, or your partners would like to see or participate in on the site. Whether you’re a grad school professor, analytics enthusiast, data scientist, evaluator, donor, social investor or entrepreneur, or just an interested reader, feel free to contact us. If we take you up on your proposal, we’ll give you a huge shout-out on this site.

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned in 2013.