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Weekend Link Roundup (November 17-18, 2012)

November 18, 2012

Pumpkin-thanksgiving-wreathOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

With the critical holiday fundraising season right around the corner, new reports from Charity Dynamics/NTEN and Blackbaud remind us that "Establishing emotional connections with donors remains paramount," writes Katya Andresen on her Non-Profit Marketing blog.

In a guest post on Beth Kanter's blog, Big Duck's Meghan Teich has some advice for nonprofit communications pros in the aftermath of a crisis or major natural disaster:

  • Make sure your staff is kept up to date on your communications plan and that they have a clear understanding of your messaging.
  • Strike while the iron's hot, but not so soon that it looks like you're capitalizing on the crisis.
  • Don't use the crisis as an opportunity to do general fundraising for your organization (unless you have a particularly relevant mission). Instead, create a specific fund or give donors a tangible item or event to which they can donate.
  • Reach out to other nonprofits, even those you view as "competitors," to explore how you might work together.
  • Keep your supporters and donors updated on the progress you're making in real time via e-mail and social media.

"I urge you to take the steps necessary to make sure you are engaging the right people in the right ways to reach your marketing goals," writes Nancy Schwartz on her Getting Attention blog. "And to start today." Sounds like good advice to us.

Nonprofit Management

On the Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington argues that for nonprofits looking or needing to change, merely wanting to change is not enough; certain key building blocks need to be in place. They include someone in a leadership position willing to be a champion for change; a clear statement of why change is necessary; a funder or funders willing to support the change process; and a "navigator" who can guide the organization through that process.

Philanthropy

In the first of a series of posts, the Association of Small Foundations' Andy Carroll argues that foundations, small foundations in particular, do not acknowledge the complexity of the problems they are trying to address "openly enough." Indeed, writes Carroll, "Many funders who keep asking how they can have more impact eventually come up against challenges that are too big for them to solve alone."

On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Anne Bauers shares findings from a recent NCRP report which found that "foundation giving to support the general operations of nonprofits increased through the recent recession, but the share of foundation dollars classified as providing this vital type of funding remains the same, at about 16 percent." As the report explains, general operating support benefits nonprofits in a number of ways. For that reason, writes Bauers, funders should award more general support grants in addition to or in place of other types of support.

On the new Markets for Good blog, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations' Darin McKeever and Victoria Vrana, Brian Walsh, the executive director of Liquidnet For Good, and the Hewlett Foundation's Kelly Born share the first draft of a vision paper "that signals how and why we think that the sector needs to upgrade its information infrastructure. By that," they add,

we mean the architecture that helps to connect, organize and structure information so that it can be supplied and used more easily. We acknowledge that upgrading the information infrastructure will not change the sector's use of information overnight, and that other elements are needed to support the free flow of quality data in the social sector. But we believe that in order to move towards a more effective sector, powered by information, we need to begin by strengthening the core building blocks of data exchange....

It's buzzword time, which means Lucy Bernholz is collecting the words and terms that were on every philanthropoid's lips in 2012. But she needs three more to complete the list, so hop on over to Lucy's Philanthropy 2173 blog there and leave a suggestion or two.

Transparency

On the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Andrew Wolk of Root Cause and Wendy Yallowitz of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation discuss the benefits of collaborative learning, which, as Wolk explains, is "an intentional effort between two organizations to exchange, analyze, and apply knowledge that will lead to better outcomes."

And on NCRP's Keeping A Close Eye blog, Kevin Laskowski commends the Foundation Center for its recently announced Reporting Commitment initiative, which, in an effort to help foundations more effectively address the many complex problems confronting our communities and the world, aims to develop more timely, accurate, and precise reporting on the flow of philanthropic dollars.

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

-- The Editors

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