Top 3 Disruptive Social Innovations for 2011

The year 2010 saw the coming of age for investment and technology within the social sector.

Socially oriented Venture Capital funds are making investment in companies that adopt a market based approach to solving problems of hunger and poverty.

In this article, we examine ‘disruptive’ innovations likely to power social causes in 2011 and beyond.

1. Micro Investments gain traction over Charitable Giving and Micro-finance
Our previous articles on Philanthropy 2.0 and problems with Micro-finance highlighted issues with micro-credit and trust factors with traditional giving.
In this article Dr. Yunus, Managing Director of Grameen, insists on the creation of a micro-credit regulatory authority to prevent loan-sharks from profiting off the suffering of the poor.

These developments mean that micro-investments (interest free loans against equity within micro-enterprises) have potential to take off in 2011. We are likely to see corporations make a shift from philanthropic giving to impact investing.

2. More technology startups focus on social issues
Worldwide, more people now care about global welfare and social and environmental issues than perhaps ever before. Technology and Social media are changing the way the world interacts, and the way in which causes garner attention.
But billions still have no access to the Internet and online media. However, this very divide is causing many tech entrepreneurs to think about how technology can help change the world. And as a result, there are now more technology startups looking to change the world.

In 2010, we saw Jumo, DealGooder (a GroupOn for Causes) Google’s Chrome for a Cause and provide technologies to assist in social change. In 2011, this trend will continue to pick up steam. We may see technology startups providing applications that help donors and supporters make informed decisions about where to invest their time, talent and money to maximize social return on investment.

3. The ‘Gamification’ of Causes
In a previous post, we described how Zynga, a social gaming company has been fund-raising for causes by integrating causes into its games. We’ve also seen the rise of social media services such as Foursquare, SCVNGR and Gowalla offering rewards for playing games and brand loyalty.

Gaming and loyalty rewards are starting to creep into our online and offline behavior. Within the context of the social sector, it offers a huge opportunity for game players to do good in the real world, while playing games in the online world. And for non-profits to use the popularity of social games, to raise money and awareness for causes.

Not convinced? Watch the first 10 minutes of this video.

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world