It isn't really a money-losing organization, just a very inefficient set of programs and leadership. They were really good--as another reviewer points out--the standard for an industry. Then they changed.
Their CEO is a poor leader--a massive micromanager but without the skills to do so. This was probably acceptable when they were a smaller, $10 million dollar organization. Senior Leader interference with every part of the operation simply stops any real progress or impact.
I worked there for more than 7 years and the bureaucracy the leadership claims to despise, but continues to create is choking all progress. Their current work, moving beyond just funding Fellows, is the wasteful spend--no clear objectives or worse, an objective of simply raising funds to hire staff who take credit for the hard work of Fellows.
I proudly support the efforts of Ashoka--They do great work celbrating and promoting the work of truly visionary social entrepreneurs. Without them, social entreprenership--and all those who consider that their calling--would not exist.
I interned with the Framework Change team in the Global Office in the Spring of 2012. As a graduate student studying public policy, I had studied the challenges that nonprofits face and witnessed an organization structured and staffed to meet those challenges. In particular, I worked on the Invest in Innovation project aimed at modernizing Ashoka's outreach to potential new supporters all over the world. The commitment and entrepreneurial spirit of the team members who worked on this project was a striking example of a nonprofit organization built for success.
Ashoka is a group that really "gets it." Ashoka understands the entrepreneurial spirit and the ability of sharp, well-equipped leaders to shape our society for the better. I've been impressed by each interaction I've had with Ashoka. They target social entrepreneurs who have great ideas and a proven track record of success, and then work to equip those leaders with resources, experiences, and connections to help them take their organizations--and their leadership--to the next level. Nearly every nonprofit has a great mission, but nonprofits that really perform are those led by high-impact leaders. Ashoka builds those kinds of leaders. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
I have a long history of working in a wide variety of community and advocacy organizations in the US, both local and national. In, 2006, frustrated by the pace of change and the cynicism that often results from an "us vs. them" mentality, I looked for another way to spend my energies. And found Ashoka. Someone once said "They don't solve problems, they just leave them behind," and after six years of working in the global office, I find that it's true. They think big and they do big things, from the over 3000 global Fellows who have found solutions to some of the most challenging social problems of our time, to the staff around the world who support them, building scale through collaborations that cross national, regional and continental borders. Their focus on enabling everyone to become Changemakers means that they're open to new ideas, alliances and partnerships of the kinds that can leverage the change needed to tip the world. Ashoka is dynamic yet focused, ambitious in vision yet highly impactful. Changemaking at its best!
Ashoka is unquestionably one of the most important organizations in the world to have started in the last half-century. As a prime engine of social innovation, Ashoka has made its mark in dozens of countries. Its 3000 Fellows, primarily in developing countries, form a network of changemakers that is collectively one of the chief sources of new energy in the global movement to build civil society.