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Weekend Link Roundup (July 21-22, 2012)

July 22, 2012

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

Collaboration

Minnesota Council on Foundations Web communications associate Chris Oien shares a list of free tools that make it easy to collaborate with others, including Dropbox for file sharing and Google+ Hangouts for online meetings.

Communications/Marketing

On the heels of the virtual Millennial Impact conference, Network for Good's Katya Andresen shares a few more key findings from the 2012 report on giving by younger donors on her Non-Profit Marketing blog. Among other things, Andresen reminds us that:

  • Millennials prefer to hear from/about causes via social media, e-newsletters and alerts, and Web sites;
  • They give online -- and in person; and
  • They like to hear about volunteer opportunities from their peers.

You can read or download the report here.

Evaluation

On the GuideStar blog, Mark Miller-McLemore, dean of the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt, argues that "assessment can be meaningful, even if it might not be easily quantifiable." To that end, he shares three guidelines for nonprofit leaders to follow:

  • the best action is guided by principles;
  • the best action does the greatest good for the greatest number; and
  • good organizations are good people doing good things well.

Governance

In light of the report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the Penn State University child sex-abuse scandal -- a report which found that the university's board "failed in its duty to make reasonable inquiry into these serious matters and to demand action by the President" -- James Irvine Foundation president and CEO James E. Canales offers some advice to nonprofit board members in an op-ed piece on the Chronicle of Philanthropy site.

Responding to Canales's op-ed, Allison Fine says that the saddest part of the Penn State situation is that we've been here before, 

and, sadly, we'll be here again, and I wonder what part of the governance process or relationship or even existence is so difficult that so few organizations do it well. Senior executives feeling that they have to "manage" their boards, stop them from interfering and micro-managing, share as little as possible with them are the norms not the exception. And board members more interested in the appearance of service than actually being trained as nonprofit board members (not the same as sitting in a meeting at work!) and learning about the work of the organization and insisting on accountability are the exception not the rule. Are the models for good governance, as Jim writes in myriad pamphlets, books, training courses, etc. so difficult and unrealistic that most organization will simply never be there...?

And on his Nonprofit Communications blog, James D'Ambrosio says that Penn State should follow the advice of a New York Times contributor who recently suggested that the university donate "the next four years of football-related profits...to a fund benefiting the victims of child sexual abuse."

Human/Civil Rights

On Nelson Mandela Day, Idealist.org's Allison Jones shares a video created by Prezence Digital Production that pays tribute to the former president of South Africa. "While the video is meant to be a fun way to explore the life and impact of Nelson Mandela," writes Jones, "it also made me wonder: what role does social media play in moving social movements forward?" We're wondering the same thing. Share your thoughts in the comments section below, or at the Idealist blog here.

Philanthropy

How can foundations really understand what's going on around them? How can they map the ever-evolving topography of funding in their areas of interest? asks Mendi Blue on the Center for Effective Phlanthropy blog. One possible solution, scanning the philanthropic landscape, was highlighted in a recent Grantcraft report. As the report points out, and Blue notes, however, multi-dimensional scanning "is easier said than done."

Back from a well-deserved vacation, NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman applauds the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which recently announced plans to "cease running its own service programs and instead give out $20 million more per year in grants to high-performing nonprofits." Indeed, the "winner in this scenario," says Dorfman, "will be the families and communities that the foundation and its grantees seek to serve."

Philanthropy 2173's Lucy Bernholz adds "sensemaking" to her list of 2012 philanthropy buzzwords. Originally suggested by our colleague Lisa Philp, who oversees the Foundation Center's GrantCraft initiative, sensemaking "is what buzzword number three (data scientists) do with buzzword number one (data)," says Bernholz.

And in another post on her blog, Lucy does a deep dive on the idea of data as an essential element (think, Periodic Table of Elements) in philanthropic work. "Why does this metaphor work when thinking about data in philanthropy?" asks Bernolz. "Because these raw elements are only the beginning of the story. For data to be useful in philanthropy they have to be known, accessible, and compoundable....If everyone tracks their data separately, calls things by different names, and holds onto them behind closed doors, well, that's like having hydrogen in one room, oxygen in another and being desperate for a drink...."

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at [email protected].

-- The Editors

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