RESOURCES

These pages includes lists of investment, nonprofit, and other resources we find useful and inspiring. Please let us know if you have a favorite to add to the list!

2012 Year End Book List
Quirky Egg-Headed Organizations
Innovative Investment Organizations and Other Investment-Related Links
Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Investment, Business, Behavioral Finance Books
Other Non-Fiction
Novels, Stories and Poetry
What, You've Read All of Those?
Arts of All Sorts
Odds and Ends
Innovative Ventures

Innovative Ventures:

How to Give to a Cool Project: Crowdfunding Vehicles
Kickstarter, Donorschoose, & Indie Go Go
These three sites offer lots of projects that are looking for funding – from arts to technology to classroom needs to small businesses (Kickstarter has more of an arts focus, and DonorsChoose has classroom requests). All three sites require specific budgets and timelines for the funding, and all require some level of follow-up and follow-through on the part of the fund-ees. Some projects are larger (like classrooms that need MacBooks, or funding professional-level theatrical productions) and others are smaller (like classrooms that just want scissors, or student groups that want to record their first songs). In many cases there is are also perks involved with funding, like access to the finished product or offers to meet the makers, etc. I’ve heard about (and had) mainly great experiences with these platforms, though with the huge breadth of projects there are bound to be some that are not your cup of tea, or that are not managed to your liking. But it is way more fun sorting through these sites than sorting through bins of ugly sweaters at the mall! The sheer magnitude of creativity that is on display is stunning.

Kickstarter:  www.kickstarter.com
Indie Go Go:  www.indiegogo.com/about/howitworks
Donorschoose:  www.donorschoose.org - see their options for gift cards also, at www.donorschoose.org/donors/giftoptions.html

Made by survivors
This is a more focused organization (not a shopping clearinghouse) whose mission is to end slavery through economic empowerment. The group is supported (and led!) by a number of FOH’s (Friends of Honeybee), and that is how it came to our attention. Products offered are from participants in MBS’s training program, which provides opportunity for personal recovery as well as ongoing economic self-sufficiency. Of course, you could also consider donating directly to the group’s nonprofit entity, TEN Charities, as noted on their website.
www.madebysurvivors.com

World of Good
This organization within eBay offers thousands of products from all over the world – each has a section describing the product, plus one describing the producer (sometimes and individual and sometimes a group). They’ve also developed a “goodprint” scorecard that assesses products and organizations’ effectiveness on a variety of standards, and the report also shows who’s verified the information – a helpful step towards greater transparency and accountability throughout the chain. 
www.worldofgood.com

Pegasus Press
Ardian Hong, Pegasus Project – www.pegasuspress.com.This is a clearing- house for documentation of HR abuses, allowing for safe (untraceable) uploads of raw material.  All of the good parts of Wikileaks’ transparency premise, without the creepy uber-editor at the helm.

Google Art Project
This is a great example of the power of information access – you can tour museums online, view and research the artworks, and create your own virtual museum.  The detailed examination that is possible is stunning - far more detail than even an in-person visit can provide. www.googleartproject.com

Green Box Top & Living Social
Do you like Groupon but hate their obnoxious Super Bowl ads, and their equally obnoxious comments about the supremacy of their business?  Here are two alternatives – Green Box Top is limited in geographic scope but has an interesting eco-focus, while Living Social is more of a full-on competitor, complete with management team that knows how to handle public relations.  Or maybe just relations.
www.livingsocial.com
www.greeboxtop.com

Flipboard
If you use even a couple of different social media platforms and do not use the Flipboard app, you are missing out.  This product takes all tweets, posts, and updates and aggregates them in a pretty, easy-to-use magazine format, one that makes it easy to sift through photos, video links, and more.  I hear there is a newer version coming soon that is even better – and it’s free.
www.flipboard.com

Ushahidi
What do I admire about Ushahidi?  1)  they are built on notions of open-ness.  2)  they use effective data visualization to save lives.  The group came out of efforts to help people during the Kenyan election violence in 2008, and now offers an open source platform that anyone can adapt to suit their needs – applications are varied, but the basic idea is that this allows anyone to submit data from any device to a central website, where it can be mapped and used by those who need it (like the Red Cross after the disaster in Haiti).  This is a great example of humans + technology = positive impact.  What was the most common word in messages from Haiti?  “Help”.  The second?  “Please”.
www.ushahidi.com

Etsy
Need a very thoughtful, very personal, reasonably-priced gift?  Want to help out individual crafty entrepreneurs instead of buying another pretty but mass-produced present?  Look no further, your dreams have come true.
www.etsy.com

Kickstarter
This is a fundraising platform for quirky creative types – you can help to sponsor films, new products, books, art of all sorts. If the project is fully funded it goes ahead, and you often get some sort of participation (like a copy of the book). But if it’s not fully funded you keep your money, and it’s back to the drawing board for the creator. If you are sitting in your cubicle dreaming of your artsy hip Brooklyn-dwelling alter ego’s life, this site makes a great coffee break.
www.kickstarter.com

HeroRATs
Yup, we said rats. Turns out the critters can be trained to detect landmines, and also TB!  (They can smell the explosives, and the bacteria). Kind of creepy, kind of amazing – see the details here.  
www.herorat.org  
 
Ruma
This was a winner of the Harvard Social Enterprise idea pitch 2010 – they are partnering with Grameen and Qualcomm. Here is the pitch: Ruma sells a business-in-a-box that contains a phone, promotion materials, and operating manuals to enable entrepreneurs to sell cellular minutes. Established in 08/09, Ruma now sells ~$90,000 of minutes/month and has deployed ~1,500 “franchisees” in Indonesia: 70% were below the poverty line, 90% are women, and 100% are profitable.
www.ruma.co.id

Diagnostics for All
HAYAT SINDI – Diagnostics for All – TEENY TINY diagnostic tests on paper, just 1c/unit – small, cheap, disposable – originated at Harvard in George Whiteside’s lab.
www.dfa.org

Tweenbots
KACIE KINZER – Tweenbots - check out the video of Kacie’s little robots set loose in NYC parks – the human interaction they inspire raises some interesting questions about whether kindness is more easily inspired by toys, pets, or humans.
www.tweenbots.com

Playpower
DEREK LOMAS – Playpower.org – this model is a great example of creative re-use – Playpower is using existing, cheap video game computers (less than $10!) as a platform for creating educational materials for the developing world. Existing technology, existing supply chain, existing software…. new product, bigger and better impact. This made me re-think the dozens of IPO’s I bought over the years where the wheel was being re-created for no good reason.
Playpower.org

Tapergy
WILLIE SMITS – Tapergy – Smits makes a strong case for using sugar palms over oil palms - you can use the sap straight from the tree, and they require a robust forest ecosystem around them to survive, not a plantation-style monoculture.
www.tapergy.com

Ecovative Designs
EBEN BAYER – Ecovative Designs - fungi-based, compostable Styrofoam replacement. Styrofoam is one of the least-renewable materials there is, but Ecovative’s product is fully compostable. And, its spores were recently featured as a clue on CSI, or Criminal Minds, or something like that.
www.ecovativedesign.com

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