How to be a Greater Fool

In the ever-evolving landscape of charities and non-profits, securing a spot at the top can feel like a game of musical chairs. Everyone wants to be there, but only a few can. It’s a bit zero-sum in its design and doesn’t really help the sector. Systems like Dovetail are where this plays out, we need to communicate the ‘best’ option, the top listing - but how do you do that? During the start of the pandemic, I had the privilege of witnessing something truly remarkable. Agencies came together with CAST (Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology) and funders like Nominet to look at how best to support the sector. In an unprecedented move, these agencies put the needs of the sector above their own gain, collaborating to ensure that charities could continue their vital work amidst the crisis. It was a powerful reminder of what can be achieved when we prioritize collective well-being over individual gain.

This spirit of cooperation is something I’ve been seeking to capture as a method—a way to replicate this selfless drive even in the absence of a crisis. Imagine a world where agencies consistently operate with this mindset, fostering a thriving, resilient third sector. What if this could be a simple formula?

The Greater Fool Formula

Imagine a directory where charities find the best agencies to help them with digital projects. To ensure that the best agencies rise to the top, we’ve devised a ranking formula that balances contributions and benefits, promoting market growth and stability. Here’s the formula:

\[\text{Rank} = \frac{(\text{Value You Give} - \text{Value You Get}) \times \text{Interaction Quality} \times \text{Engagement Level}}{\text{Time in Directory} \times \text{Diversity Factor}}\]

Let’s break this down:

  1. Value You Give: This is all the good stuff you do for charities—discounts, free services, volunteer hours. The more you give, the better.
  2. Value You Get: This is what you gain from being listed—contracts, leads, new business. Ideally, you want the value you give to be more than what you get.
  3. Interaction Quality: Positive feedback from charities and repeat engagements boost this score. It’s about how well you work with the people you help.
  4. Engagement Level: How often and effectively you interact with the directory—updating your profile, participating in events, etc. Active participation is key.
  5. Time in Directory: The longer you’ve been around, the more trustworthy you seem. This factor rewards loyalty and stability.
  6. Diversity Factor: This ensures a mix of different types of agencies, promoting a rich, varied ecosystem. It prevents the directory from becoming too one-dimensional.

The Balancing Act: Market Growth and Stability

For the third sector to thrive, we need both market growth and balance. Agencies need to:

  • Contribute More: When agencies focus on giving more value than they receive, they help charities thrive, leading to a more robust sector.
  • Engage Positively: Quality interactions foster trust and repeat business, which are critical for long-term success.
  • Stay Active: Regular participation keeps the directory vibrant and up-to-date.
  • Promote Diversity: A diverse range of agencies ensures that charities can find the right fit for their unique needs.

This balance ensures that the directory not only grows but also remains stable and diverse, creating a strong supplier base for charities. While it’s not the goals of agencies explicitly we NEED more support for the third-sector to drive innovation and the outcomes the sector needs.

Why This Matters for The Developer Society

At The Developer Society, we believe that our success is intertwined with the success of the charities we serve. By focusing on contributing more than we receive, engaging positively, staying active, and promoting diversity, we ensure that we are not just participants in the third sector but leaders in fostering its growth and stability.

This thinking is at the heart of everything we do. We strive to be the “greater fool”—the one who gives more, engages more, and thinks more about the bigger picture. In doing so, we help create a thriving ecosystem where charities and agencies can flourish together. If we can bake this into sector infrastructure we might be able to grow the whole sector in a smart way.

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