As the holidays approach, many of you may have lengthy road trips and plane rides ahead of you. After wrapping up all your work on a busy year, maybe you’ll want to sack out and catch up on those six months of lost sleep. Or maybe you’re searching for a great listen to dig into as you head to your destination — or recline by the fireplace. Either way, we’d love to suggest some philanthropy-related listening entertainment to help you pass the time. We’ve listened to a number of podcasts focused on philanthropy and foundation work, and many others with stories that, while not about philanthropy directly, carry interesting messages relevant to funders and the general public alike.
Here’s what we’ve heard and loved:
Many of you may already be familiar with Tiny Spark — a podcast through which Founder and Managing Editor Amy Costello investigates the business of doing good. In case you haven’t heard the podcast before, here are a few great episodes to get you started:
- “Charities: Flattering Reports, Poor Data” — Costello interviews nonprofit advisor Carolyn Fiennes, who argues that nonprofits are releasing only positive impact evaluations as a result of poorly-designed incentives, largely imposed by funders.
- “Why Philanthropy Should Push Back against the Business Mindset” — CEP’s very own Phil Buchanan speaks out against the oft-repeated suggestion that philanthropy would benefit from adopting business-like practices.
Philanthropy Hour is a podcast produced by Greg Cherry, associate partner for Social Venture Partners Los Angeles. Cherry created the podcast to serve as an outlet for social good storytelling, providing tips to practitioners and raising awareness for the good work being done by philanthropy. Here are a couple episodes in particular we’d recommend:
- Nike Irvin, California Community Foundation, on Models for Improving Communities — Nike Irvin, vice president of programs at the California Community Foundation, discusses the unique role community foundations play in supporting thriving communities — and touches on what the future of community philanthropy looks like.
- Nell Edgington, Social Velocity, on Creating Lasting Impact — Nell Edgington is the founder and president of the nonprofit consulting firm Social Velocity. In this episode she discusses leadership challenges in the nonprofit sector and why the “overhead myth” is flawed.
Planet Money is a popular podcast from NPR that looks at current events to tell interesting stories about economic concepts, many with lessons that can help inform foundations’ work. These four episodes should be of particular interest to those working in the social sector:
- “The Pickle Problem” — This one’s a fun one. Though not directly related to philanthropy, it carries an important message about what happens when you don’t ask those you’re helping about what they need.
- “The Invisible Wall” — A man goes looking for an answer to the question of why so many people in Peru are stuck in poverty and finds an extremely unusual explanation.
- “Why Raising Money for Ebola is Hard” — A look at the nuances and challenges of motivating people to donate money during times of crisis.
- “How Do You Decide Who Gets Lungs?” — The philanthropic sector is familiar with working on societal challenges that business and government have failed to fix. This episode discusses a difficult issue — the fair allocation of scarce donated lungs for transplant — that lacks an easy market solution.
The Social Strategist Project
An initiative of the Georgetown University Center for Social Impact Communications, The Social Strategist Project is a collection of podcasts and interviews that aim to answer questions like how can you use effective communication strategies to improve the world, or, what individual traits and professional skills make people successful social changemakers? Don’t miss these two episodes of the podcast:
- MacArthur Foundation’s Andy Solomon and the Evolution of Philanthropy — An interview with Andy Solomon, vice president of public affairs at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, in which he discusses how the MacArthur Foundation employs communication strategies to further its mission
- The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Holly Barkhymer and Communicating the Human Side of Research — In this interview, Holly Barkhymer, vice president of communications and marketing at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research reveals how the Foundation balances the value of Michael J. Fox’s fame with sustainability as a philanthropic organization — and how the foundation uses elegant storytelling to communicate tough and unpleasant messages.
Out of The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania and hosted by Jacob Lief, founder and CEO of Ubuntu Education Fund, Philanthropy Unfiltered welcomes guests in each episode to discuss myriad issues in the philanthropic field, from innovative practices to controversial theories and strategies. We recommend you start with:
- Episode 3: Jacob Harold — GuideStar President & CEO Jacob Harold talks about how in a world in which big data is the talk of the town in almost every sector, it is important to remember that there exist “no numbers without stories, and no stories without numbers.”
Are we missing any? Let us know in the comments!
Emily Giudice is associate manager, programming and external relations, at CEP and an avid podcast listener.