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Weekend Link Roundup (April 6-7, 2013)

April 07, 2013

April-showers-umbrellaOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


On NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Rosenberg Foundation president Tim Silard discusses the foundation's recent decision to increase its payout this year to 6.1 percent to help advance immigration reform. "Our hope," writes Silard, "is that this major step by a mid-sized foundation can go a long way toward encouraging more of us in philanthropy to stretch our funding even further...to respond to this unique window of opportunity."


In a post on the Council on Foundation's Re: Philanthropy blog, Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, reminds us why storytelling matters. Indeed, it is "at the heart of all emotions," writes Soronen. "And nonprofits simply must use communications -- storytelling -- as a very important tactic to steward current donors and secure new funders."


Jeff Brooks, author of the Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications, explains that fundraising is "a two-way conversation" and if you don't know that, you're missing an opportunity to engage your donors in a real way.


Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan considers the role of foundations in the emerging impact investing space. Writes Buchanan:

In many of the accounts heralding impact investing as the potential solution to the world's ills, foundations, with their more than $300 billion in assets, are featured prominently. They are portrayed as leaders, or likely leaders, in this new realm....

Clearly, there are some major foundations that have taken significant and important steps into impact investing, such as the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (see CEO Sterling Speirn's excellent post on Kellogg’s experience for the CEP Blog) and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation. But, beyond a handful of much discussed examples, it is unclear how much of the talk about impact investing is just that -- talk -- and how much is reflected in actual practice....

Buchanan goes on to explain that he has heard "many foundation CEOs and board members eschew the idea that they'd ever seek anything other than maximum returns for their foundations' endowments." To that end, Buchanan writes, more research needs to be done "to bring the prevalence of this practice into focus."

Can't get enough of the impact/metrics debate? The Nonprofit Quarterly kicks it up a notch with a great point/counterpoint debate featuring an entertaining post ("Charity Navigator 3.0: The Empirical Empire’s Death Star?") by William Schambra, director of the Hudson Institute's Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal, and an equally sharp rebuttal ("Debating the Realities of Ranking Charities") from CN's own Ken Berger.

International Development

Ariel Schwartz, a senior editor at Fast Company's Co.Exist operation, looks at four ideas that Melinda Gates believes will drive the next wave of advances for people in the developing world: M-Pesa, a mobile money system; Digital Green, an organization that helps farmers in India and South Asia create educational videos for other farmers; contraception education and access; and local development.

Nonprofit Management

On the Valcourt Group blog, Jim Jewell looks at seven reasons why nonprofits often fail or flounder.


The Charitable Giving Coalition (CGC), a group of sixty nonprofits that includes the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Independent Sector, has launched a new Web site, ProtectGiving.org, to help preserve and protect the charitable tax deduction in its current form. Visitors to the site will find a variety of resources (reports, fact sheet, FAQ) designed to raise awareness about the importance of charitable giving in America, examples of the impact nonprofits make in our communities, and a "Take Action" section that includes talking points, a message and media guide, and op-ed and elected official letter templates.

Social Entrepreneurship

Writing on the Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists blog, GOOD magazine's Mary Slosson announces the launch of the Global Citizenship Project, which will offer five global innovators each a "pop-up fellowship to elevate and expand their work in order to create more equitable and successful neighborhoods."

Social Media

Beth Kanter urges nonprofit leaders to embrace social media -- and "the benefits of effective social media integration that personalizes your organization’s brand with the voice of its leader" -- by making time for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other tools on a regular basis. As a start, Kanter suggests that execs and senior managers start by asking their communications teams:

  • What do you spend time doing now that you could do better via social?
  • What other executive directors that you respect, follow, or feel inspired by are using social creatively?
  • What are your strengths and preferences and what is the best match in terms of social channels?
  • How will social improve things you already KNOW and value

Citing the experience of Udi Ofer, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Kanter points out that Twitter not only enables Ofer to comment "on his organization's most important cases and issues," but also to display his human side and inject "warmth into the organization."

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

-- The Editors


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    — Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

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