Stanford Social Innovation Review
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Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) is published by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. It seeks to advance, educate, and inspire the field of social innovation by seeking out, cultivating, and disseminating the best in research- and practice-based knowledge. SSIR informs and inspires millions of social change leaders from around the world and from all sectors of society—nonprofits, business, and government.

Articles by Stanford Social Innovation Review

Illustration showing three people with their hearts tied with a thread_Helena Pallarés_social change

January 23, 2021
Addressing trauma as a pathway to social change
How understanding intergenerational trauma can help people working toward social change solve problems more effectively.

December 19, 2020
The vision of a well-being economy
We must shift how we understand and build societal health and prosperity, looking beyond economic growth to collective well-being and environmental sustainability.
Illustration by Helena Pallarés

November 21, 2020
Connecting inner and outer well-being
Why social innovation education programs need to develop students’ inner well-being alongside their knowledge of the field, and five principles to help lead the way.
The roots of organisational well-being_Mary Frances Winters

October 17, 2020
The roots of organisational well-being
To build healthy, resilient organisations, nonprofits need to do more than adopt standard diversity, equity, and inclusion practices. They need to acknowledge systemic racism then commit to and implement processes to upend it.
Random Letters graphic - Rawpixel

October 14, 2020
Junk the jargon
Replace jargon with clear, simple words to bring more meaning to your communication.
collage of two illustrations saying good days not far away and spread compassion-wellbeing

September 5, 2020
Art for solidarity
Art reminds us to create solidarity with people working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and of the importance of tending to well-being during difficult times.
Bringing Organizational Well-Being to Life_feature image

August 15, 2020
Bringing organisational well-being to life
By committing to a broad, participatory learning process, social change leaders can greatly enhance staff positivity and resilience, as well as increase organisational sustainability and impact.
abstract illustration showing a number of hands coming together to form a tree-wellbeing

July 18, 2020
Integrating individual and organizational well-being
By supporting individual and team resilience, and by making small shifts to organizational life that enhance well-being, organizations can improve their effectiveness and contribute to a healthier overall culture for social change.
Illustration-Addressing the critiques of well-being

June 20, 2020
Addressing the critiques of well-being
Social change leaders can better advocate and find funding for well-being initiatives by creating a more authentic and deeper understanding of what it looks like and the difference it can make.
abstract illustration of person walking up stairs-wellbeing

May 23, 2020
How funders can support individual well-being
A look at myriad ways funders can support the well-being and mental health of often understaffed and under-resourced grantees, and help foster healthier individuals and organizations.
ssir welbeing illustration_Helena Pallares

April 11, 2020
Self-inquiry for social change leaders
How the internal work of self-inquiry can meaningfully shift our perceptions and behaviors in ways that positively impact the outer world, and how leaders of social change are incorporating the practice into their work and lives.
Centered_Self_SSIR_Helena Pallares

March 18, 2020
Connecting individual and societal change
Supporting the inner well-being of change makers can boost capacity for innovation and collaboration, and ultimately lead to more effective solutions to social and environmental challenges.
two skydivers jumping off a cliff-risk management_Wikimedia commons_philanthropy

January 3, 2020
Smart philanthropy involves taking more risks
Risk aversion may work well for personal investments, but should not be applied to philanthropic grants and investments.
Volunteers during nepal earthquake

May 24, 2019
Keeping people engaged in your cause
Nonprofits struggling to keep supporters excited about their causes should follow these five recommendations to make the most of Stanford behavioral scientist B.J. Fogg's model for getting people to act.
Girl child in school

April 5, 2019
Finding the sweet spot for innovation within government systems
Three guiding principles for nonprofits looking to find where they best fit within government-run systems.
a design with faces

November 7, 2018
The science of what makes people care
Effective communication is not just about getting your message out. It requires you to strategically tap into what shapes people’s feelings and values. Here are five principles that will help you connect your work to what people care most about.
building blocks

August 7, 2017
A simple approach to scale
To reach scale, you need to focus on how you will do it, and who will pay for it. Kevin Starr and Laura Hattendorf of Mulago break down your options for both.
young girl and older woman smiling and chatting

July 10, 2017
The recipe for youth success
Too often both funders and practitioners fail to focus on an indispensable ingredient in youth development: relationships. The Search Institute has developed a framework based on decades of experience that places strong relationships at the core.
sea waves

June 26, 2017
Are you delivering services or are you providing value?
More social organisations need to ask themselves whether their services benefit the people they aim to help. Nasreen Dhanji and Roshan Paul talk about how you can refine existing models to make them more efficient and impactful.
Passing the baton in a relay race

June 5, 2017
Leadership development: Five things all nonprofits should know
Leadership development takes courage, but it is the best investment a nonprofit can make. James Shepard gives you five reasons why you should begin investing in it today.
Innovation Lightbulb in a village

May 29, 2017
Innovation is not the Holy Grail
The social sector’s collective quest for innovation might actually be misinformed and counter-productive. Christian Seelos and Johanna Mair argue why it is time to move from innovation as an ideology to innovation as a process.
House under construction

May 15, 2017
The joy of hanging in there
Funders shouldn’t stop funding just because they can. In this article, Kevin Starr makes a strong case for the importance of unrestricted funding to nonprofits and having greater patience with outcomes.
Dart board with the dart on bullseye

May 1, 2017
Using knowledge to improve funder practice
Do funders use knowledge to inform and improve their work? If so, how do they use it? What role does it play? Find out what Lindsay Louie & Fay Twersky’s research discovered about how funders make decisions.
Sign language

April 24, 2017
Great mission, bad statement
Poor language can trip up the best nonprofit mission statement. And when people are confused they don’t fully engage, says Erica Mills in this article for SSIR. The good news, though, is that the problem can be fixed.