August 15, 2013

How Philanthropic Contests Can Spur Innovation

Donna E. Natale-Planas

Willie Stewart, who created a music program for at-risk youths and communities, says that winning the 2010 Knight Arts Challenge gave him credibility that he could not get any other way.

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The recently released “Why Contests Improve Philanthropy” compiles lessons from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s six years of offering open philanthropic contests.

In this episode of Social Change, listen to the report’s author and Knight foundation vice president for strategy and assessment Mayur Patel and 2010 Knight Arts Challenge winner Willie Stewart discuss why contests are an opportunity for foundations to step out of their comfort zones and reach “unusual suspects,” such as individuals and organizations without 501(c)(3) status.

Allison Fine, a nonprofit leader and expert on technology and communications, discusses how charities and foundations can more effectively use social-media tools to spread their messages and raise money. Ms. Fine incorporates suggestions and questions from readers into her podcasts and invites you to e-mail her at Look for new installments on the first Thursday of every month.