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Weekend Link Roundup (April 14-15, 2012)

April 15, 2012

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

Accountability

Thanks in part to the proliferation of social media and a loss of faith in institutions of every kind, foundations and nonprofit organizations must rethink how they communicate and hold themselves accountable, argues Lucy Bernholz on her Philanthropy 2173 blog. "The kind of organizing that led Komen to change its decision and that is now calling for change from Gates is easier than ever," writes Bernolz.

It can be turned on in an instant and reach unprecedented scale at unprecedented pace. Boards of directors of nonprofits and foundations need to know this, they need to expect it, and they need to engage with both critics and supporters. They need, in other words, to govern in a new landscape in which each and every decision they make may be the one that transforms supporters into critics (Komen) or turns educational policy grants into part of national outrage about gun laws and racial justice [i.e., Gates Foundation support for a conservative advocacy organization known as ALEC].

Is this about a social media policy? I don't think so. Is it about governance, engagement, conversation, accountability, structural consistency, clarity of mission, and a willingness to remain civil while participating in difficult areas of work riven with disagreement? Yes. Nonprofits are part of civil society which thrives only when it is filled with multiple points of view and diverse approaches to problem solving. The "public" will not agree with every decision a foundation or nonprofit makes and they have a right to express that disagreement. Foundations and nonprofits have a right (and a responsibility) to make their decisions and expect a public response to them....

Communications/Marketing

On her Getting Attention blog, Nancy Schwartz "nonprofitizes" a list of content marketing tips from top chefs originally compiled by MarketingProfs.com. Her list includes:

  • Use fresh ingredients. Fresh content retains its natural flavor. Avoid stale or processed content -- your supporters will know it and hate it.
  • Keep the menu simple. Don’t overcomplicate content or muddy the dish with too many flavors.
  • Experiment in the kitchen. Try new forms of content and solicit feedback so you know what's not working -- and what is.

Visit GettingAttention.org for the complete list.

Journalism/Media

On the HuffPost Media site, Kevin Murphy, president of the Berks (PA) County Community Foundation, suggests that the death of traditional journalism is going to force philanthropy to step up and fund alternatives. "[A]s foundations realize the profound impact of losing the communications vehicles that tie our society together," writes Murphy,

they're going to recognize the imperative of supporting journalism in their field or community. At a global level, funders rely on journalism to help the public understand challenges like world wide poverty, climate change and human rights violations.

Without the ability to hear from, and communicate with the populations they serve, foundations will find their mission nearly impossible to accomplish. So, they'll solve that problem....

Leadership

On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen shares management lessons from Steve Jobs included in a recent Harvard Business Review article by Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson. Her favorite -- "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." -- was something Jobs told Isaacson he had first come across in that icon of '70s counterculture, the Whole Earth Catalogue.

On her blog, Rosetta Thurman offers a few suggestions for organizations interested in supporting the next generation of nonprofit leaders. Among other things, Thurman advises nonprofit executives to increase the number of professional development opportunities availble to young staffers and to require each employee to draft a career development plan.

Philanthropy

In advance of the annual conference of the Global Philanthropy Forum later this week in Washington, D.C., Jane Wales, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council and vice president of philanthropy and society at the Aspen Institute, considers the philanthropic legacy of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller and connects it to some of the tools and approaches championed by a new generation of philanthropists.

On the BlackGivesBack blog, Tracey Webb announces the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Cultures of Giving Donor Challenge, a ten-day online competition designed to boost funding for nonprofits working to address the critical needs of communities of color.

Social Entrepreneurship

Writing on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Jason Saul, the founder/CEO of Mission Measurement, shares five takeaways from the 2012 Skoll World Forum: it's okay to make an economic return from trying to solve a social problem; measurement is no longer optional; it's cool to be corporate; people want to move the needle; and we're entering a new age of social entrepreneurship.

Social Media

In a guest post at Beth's Blog, Frank Barry, Internet strategy manager at software company Blackbaud, shares findings from the 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report. Writes Barry: "We learned a lot of things, but one prevailing theme stood out -- despite limited budgets and staffing, nonprofits continue to find great value in their fast-growing social networks."

In the latest installment of her Chronicle of Philanthropy Social Good podcast series, Allison Fine chats with Alliance for Youth Movements co-founder Stephanie Rudat about how and why a few recent social action movements, including Kony 2012 and Change.org's Trayvon Martin petition, went viral.

Social Media for Social Good author Heather Mansfield discusses hashtag spamming, which "can do more harm to your nonprofit's brand on Twitter than good." Writes Mansfield: "Too many hashtags in one tweet can look messy or nonsensical, decrease click-through rates, and subtly communicate to your followers than you are a hashtag spammer -- i.e., you're not really monitoring or participating in the conversation around a certain hashtag, just spamming it in hopes of getting more followers, which doesn't work by the way." What do you think? Is less more when it comes to hashtags in tweets? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts.

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

-- The Editors

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