Nonprofit Innovation for Sustainability

Ocean CleanUp Launching in San Francisco on Saturday September 8, 2018. Photo Credit: Dr. Marco Tavanti, Ph.D.

Did you know that nonprofit are at the forefront of social and sustainable innovation? In spite the persisting misconceptions of what nonprofits really are and the studied nonprofit cycle of starvation, nonprofit organizations are cradles for remarkable innovative solutions to solve our community, social and global problems.

The Rockefeller Foundation has been contributing to assess and scale nonprofit sustainable and social innovation. We appreciate the many heroes (mostly SHEroes) that become founders of initiatives and organizations to respond to specific social/environmental needs. But we need to go beyond Heroprenuership and tackle the systemic issues that prevent innovation to really be socially relevant, community beneficial and reflective of sustainable values. Dan Pallotta’s challenges to stagnant ‘charity’ solutions to systemic problems remain relevant today in the nonprofit world. Innovation for the social and common good goes beyond narrow approaches of voluntarism and philanthropy but also of businesses and governance.

Big problems needs innovative and cross-sector solutions! They also require innovation in the way we structure and legislate organizations that should fulfill triple bottom lines for social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (prosperity), but also for policies (policies) and sustainable impact (partnerships).  There are many example that already do this. One example of nonprofit social/environmental and technological  innovation is The Ocean CleanUp, an initiative started with a high school student, Boyan Slat. The objective of the organization(s) is to offer concrete, innovative and feasible solution to trash that accumulates “in 5 ocean garbage patches, the largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California. If left to circulate, the plastic will impact our ecosystems, health and economies. Solving it requires a combination of closing the source, and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean.” These solutions aim at attract nonprofit donations but also social/sustainable business investments and government commitments for the oceans, along technological advancements, volunteer engagement and social consciousness.

Donations for The Ocean CleanUp can be in US dollars through the The Ocean Cleanup North Pacific Foundationa 501(c)(3) not-for-profit foundation registered in the USA or in Euros through the Stichting The Ocean Cleanupan ANBI foundation registered in the Netherlands. Both foundations pursuing the same goal of the organization. An ambitious project of this kind requires to go beyond innovation into scaling and impact and sustainable impact. Learn more about this project and how the technological innovation and scientific discoveries work in parallel with government policies, human behaviors and business opportunities to make the world and our oceans prosperous for life to thrive for all.

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