Jeff Skoll, after creating eBay, started his next entrepreneurial venture – the Skoll Foundation (Skoll).  Skoll was started in 1999 and became the largest and most influential foundation supporting social entrepreneurship through grants ($358 million in 13 years) and thought leadership, including the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. Each year, the Skoll World Forum gathers distinguished delegates, including former President Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Yunus, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and leading social entrepreneurs to discuss the latest trends. The Skoll World Forum has become a bellwether for social entrepreneurs and more recently the entire social sector. The most recent conference wrapped up a few weeks ago – here we cover the three most innovative, game-changing ideas:

  1. Importance of Delivery: In honor of the Skoll World Forum, McKinsey & Company published an anthology of essays from noted authors, The Art and Science of Delivery, which discusses the importance of scaling in a sustainable manner to the populations that most need interventions. Why is this important?  While most of the essays focus on international development, this concept is equally important to domestic audiences. It underpins why we named ourselves Social Impact Architects.  Social design is both an art and a science.  The art comes from the innovation and creativity to find new and better solutions to serve. The science comes from the execution and the ability to find business models to scale. Each essay showcases the blending of these elements and inspires all of us to achieve more for those we serve.
  2. Girl Power: Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway, said “experience shows that development funding that tackles the root causes of violence against women, including challenging entrenched beliefs and practices, can actually be more successful than funding institutional reform.” This reminds us, as we domestically debate “leaning in,” that many women across the world do not even have a voice.  Many panelists confirmed that “girl power is one of global development’s most potent weapons against poverty.” This sentiment rings true domestically and we are excited about the future of two-generation programs.
  3. Data + Story: In the great debate between data and storytelling, Tim Hanstad of Landesa effectively encapsulized the verdict: “for years I have carried a prejudice against the value and power of storytelling.  Stories are just data with a soul…. but now I agree: stories are where numbers find meaning.”  The Skoll World Forum followed suit with a great lineup of speakers showcasing both data and storytelling as important tools. We enjoyed the session by Sundance filmmakers and their strategies on how to find effective storylines. We have provided a step-by-step guide on how to create your own story in the social sector and will continue to share our experiences.

We also loved the title of this year’s conference, which marked its 10th anniversary – Disruption: Dare to Imagine/Design to Win. It is a call-to-action for the sector to not only “think big,” but also to design solutions that will create sustainable, long-term impact.

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