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Weekend Link Roundup (March 12 - 13, 2011)

March 13, 2011

Japan_quake__tusnami Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Disaster Relief

The 8.9-magnitude quake that rocked Japan on Friday was the strongest to hit the northern Pacific region in 1,200 years, the Associated Press reports. Although it will take weeks for the total cost of the disaster to be calculated, the U.S. Geological Survey's David Applegate told the AP it's likely to amount to tens of billions of dollars -- and that's assuming Japanese nuclear engineers can get the situation at five damaged nuclear power plants under control.

A number of charities on the ground in Japan have launched relief efforts, with more to follow. For a complete roundup of resources and breaking news related to the tragic and increasingly grave situation, see our Japanese Earthquake & Tsunami Relief page.


In the Nonprofit Quarterly, Joe Kriesberg, president of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, argues that social impact bonds, a new innovation that has been touted by the Obama administration and others as a way to "encourage private, profit-motivated investors to fund social programs that work," may "take us in the wrong direction."


It was not a good week for National Public Radio. On Tuesday, right-wing activist James O'Keefe released a video of NPR fundraising executive Ron Schiller and a colleague, Betsy Liley, meeting over lunch with two of O'Keefe's associates posing as members of a fictitious American Muslim group interested in domating $5 million to NPR. On the heavily edited tape, Schiller is heard caviling about Republicans and Tea Partiers, while suggesting that NPR, whose federal budget appropriation was zeroed out by the Republican-controlled House, "would be better off in the long run without federal funding." A day later, NPR chief executive Vivian Schiller (no relation) was forced to resign by the NPR board, which decided that "the [high-profile] controversies under [her] watch had become such a distraction that she could no longer effectively lead the organization."

NPR itself posted some of the best analysis of the debacle, while NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen, on his PressThink blog, suggests that while Schiller and Liley were sandbagged, they -- and anyone else who works in the public media space -- should have seen it coming. Elsewhere, What Would Google Do? author Jeff Jarvis explains on his Buzz Machine blog why the resignation of Schiller "is an indication of more trouble ahead for NPR...."


On Monday, Tactical Philanthropy blogger Sean Stannard-Stockton launched an examination of what he calls the "four core approaches to philanthropy": the charitable giver, the philanthropic investor, the strategic philanthropist, and the social entrepreneur.

Responding to Stannard-Stockton's post, Greater New Orleans Foundation president Albert Ruesga wonders whether it doesn't make more sense to divide "institutional philanthropy into two categories: in the first we put philanthropy that addresses not just a given social ill but also its causes, seeking not only to provide aid for the poor, for example, but to examine why there are so many poor people in the first place. In the second category we put everything else." Adds Ruesga:

The first category, while vanishingly small, contains, in my view, the heart and soul of philanthropy. To do it well requires all the tools of strategic philanthropy; the investor’s focus on strengthening institutions and social movements; and the empathy of the charitable giver....

Last but not least, NCRP's Niki Jagpal suggests, in light of the recent Foundations on the Hill conference, that funders should take the time to "educate lawmakers about the great work that they're doing to ensure that the voices of underserved and marginalized communities are at the table when policy decisions that affect them are being made."

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone


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Quote of the Week

  • "Public education does not serve a public. It creates a public. And in creating the right kind of public, the schools contribute toward strengthening the spiritual basis of the American Creed. That is how Jefferson understood it, how Horace Mann understood it, how John Dewey understood it, and in fact, there is no other way to understand it...."

    — Neil Postman (1931-2003), American author, educator, media theorist, and cultural critic

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