September 30, 2012
Our weekly roundup of noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....
In the Your Money section of the New York Times, Paul Sullivan takes a closer look at the burgeoning field of impact investing and, despite his skepticism, finds some things to applaud.
Beth Kanter highlights what she calls "a terrific round up of posts about 'big data for small nonprofits'" from Web-based software vendor Wild Apricot. At the same time, Kanter warns that jumping into the process of gathering, analyzing, and acting on data can be a waste of time for small nonprofits if they don't first take the time to define success.
On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Kaitlin Ostlie of the Minnesota Council on Foundations shares a list compiled by Lauren Gilbert of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) that details the "five hurdles beyond cost that nonprofits must address when going through a rigorous, independent research assessment."
How to Become a Nonprofit Rockstar co-author Rosetta Thurman announces the release of her newest manifesto, which, according to Thurman, provides "a simple, accessible framework for thinking more deeply about 'new leadership for a new nonprofit sector.'"
In the Huffington Post, Global Philanthropy Forum president and CEO Jane Wales considers the rise of strategic philanthropy in Asia.
Writing on the Philanthropic Initiative blog, Peter Karoff argues that "the first rule of all philanthropy is to do no harm." Writes Karoff:
One of TPI's most thoughtful donors likes to say: "The best way to ruin a good idea is to try to improve it!" Donors risk doing damage when they try to insert their opinion and will into a situation instead of deeply listening to those they want to help. Alan Broadbent, chair of Maytree in Toronto puts it this way: "If the gift isn't what the community wants, it isn't worth doing." Melinda Marble, deputy director at Barr Foundation, has long echoed this sentiment and advocated that "those at the center of the problem need be at the center of the solution...."
So what are the takeaways for donors?
- Listen carefully and sublimate your own opinion and ego;
- Ensure that the voice and needs of the community are being heard and served;
- Make sure there is a good plan in place for the use of the funds; and
- Consider the unexpected consequences of your actions.
In a guest post on the Patterson Foundation blog, consultant Veronica Taylor shares "promising practices for investing in disaster response and recovery," including "forgotten" emergencies that receive little attention.
What keeps nonprofit leaders awake at night? The Chronicle of Philanthropy shares findings from a recent Twitter survey which asked that question. Top concerns include financial matters, mission-related anxiety, staff and employee compensation issues, weak or ineffective boards, and evaluation and reporting.
Writing in Fast Company, Ben Hecht, president and CEO of Living Cities, argues that while the future is already here for the mainstream global economy, the "social sector...continu[es] to operate in an increasingly outdated paradigm that places a premium on control; a reliance on experts and one-way communication flows; and exists purely in the physical world." He then looks at five trends that the sector needs to embrace if it truly hopes to be "transformational": mobile, social newtorks/media, Big Data, "frugal" innovation, and collaboration.
In a guest post on the Communications Network blog, Jenn Whinnem, a communications officer at the Connecticut Health Foundation, writes about her and the Knight Foundation's Elizabeth Miller's efforts to launch a monthly " virtual tweet-up" -- a conference call of their social media peers in philanthropy. "We are more effective in our work when we have the opportunity to share our knowledge and experiences and think through challenges," Whinnem writes. To that end, the two also came up with a few ground rules for the monthly call:
- It's a safe space.
- The only requirement for participation is a spirit of generosity and regular engagement with social media as part of your work.
- The engagement with others continues after the call.
- The structure of each call is flexible enough to fit the needs of participants.
The Social Media Managers in Philanthropy Virtual Tweet-up is now looking to expand. To learn more about the group and how it can help you in your work, be sure to show up for the in-person tweet-up at the Communication Network's annual conference, October 10-12, in Seattle. And if you won't be in Seattle for the conference, feel free to reach out to Jenn (@jennwhinnem) or Elizabeth (@ElzbthMllr) on Twitter.
Last but not least, on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, RWJF senior communications officer Susan Promislo explains how social media has changed her day-to-day work at the foundation, and how the foundation engages its online community to advance Forward Promise, a $9.5 million initiative that seeks to "improve the health, education, and employment outcomes for boys and young men of color."
That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line firstname.lastname@example.org. And have a great week!
-- The Editors