Why Open Contests Work

By: Mayur Patel | Originally published on ssireview.org

 

Are contests and prizes a distraction, worth little to the social sector? Are they just a “sideshow,” as Kevin Starr, managing director of the Mulago Foundation, describes in a recent article?

 

 

Starr raises important points about the potential pitfalls of contests:

- They reward the same, well-established people and organizations

- They waste the time of people who apply but don’t win

- They are often badly judged by unqualified people or an uninformed crowd; and

- They focus on innovation at the expense of implementing projects with real impact.

 

Indeed, if you actually ran a contest without a view to these challenges, it’s hard to imagine that anything positive would follow. Starr’s conclusion, however, is that we should avoid these dangers by simply “dumping” the model. That’s where he’s wrong.

 

Contests are like anything else. There are good examples and bad ones. But that doesn’t mean that we should abandon the whole enterprise. A recent Knight Foundation report, “Why Contests Improve Philanthropy,” shares practical ways to avoid the traps that Starr lays out. It also highlights the real benefits of effective contests.

 

Read full article here - You can also check out the most recent  competition managed by Ennovent on behalf of NSDC and [email protected] – the Power to Empower 2013 Challenge. More details available here

 

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