Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Knowledge and the $64,000 question

The traditional philanthropic model revolves around money...Money is important, but it's not everything... When I talk to friends and colleagues in the nonprofit sector, what I hear again and again is a desire for knowledge.

There are a lot of reasons why nonprofit executives are hungry for knowledge. They work on particularly stubborn problems...This knowledge transfer is already happening, but not effectively. Face-to-face conferences are expensive and often logistically impossible...like all personal networks, they don't scale efficiently...

That is from a nice post by Michael Idinopulos over at SocialText. I really like how he highlights the importance of knowledge as an equal partner of money in the equation. He goes on to say:
The absence of a strong market mechanism and regulating institutions allow bad management practices to endure.
The interesting thing about markets is that they involve transactions - someone provides something to someone else for something in return. It doesn't have to be money - it can be status, a favor, or just a good feeling. But without this "something in return," markets don't function well.

Michael goes on to say:

It's not hard to imagine a better way. I'm envisioning an online knowledge networking tool for nonprofits...

How can we make such an online knowledge tool into a well-functioning market so that it gets widely used? That is the $64,000 question.