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Weekend Link Roundup (May 18-19, 2013)

May 19, 2013

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

Data

We're big fans of data visualization whiz Hans Rosling, and so is Humanosphere blogger Tom Paulson. But, writes Paulson, Rosling "is strikingly upfront about the limitations of data. Sometimes, the problem is that different countries measure things -- like unemployment -- in different ways....In other cases, there are real uncertainties in the data that must be assessed: child mortality statistics are quite precise, whereas maternal mortality figures are not; global poverty measurements are infrequent and uncertain." And so on. Still, when it comes to telling stories with numbers, few can rival Rosling, as the video Paulson embeds in his short post well illustrates.

Education

In a post on the Huffington Post Impact blog, Chris Gabrieli, co-chair of the Time to Succeed Coalition and founder and chair of the National Center on Time & Learning, and Ford Foundation president Luis Ubiñas discuss the progress the coalition, which works to ensure that children in high-poverty neighborhoods have access to more and better learning time in school, has made since its was established a year ago.

Fundraising

On her About.com blog, Joanne Fritz gives a thumbs up to Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks' The Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistble Communications. Among the things she liked, writes Fritz, is Brooks' admonition that "our biggest mistake in fundraising is thinking that what we like is what works. We're self-centered, rather than donor-focused. And, frankly, we are soooo off the mark."

International Affairs/Development

On the Mashable site, Casey Brown announces the creation of G-everyone, a "24-hour digital convening" that, on the eve of next month's G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, will unite local groups around the world to discuss the pressing issues addressed at the summit. According to Brown, "G-everyone will provide an open dialogue around the G8's core themes of 'Open Economies, Open Governments and Open Societies.' [And] Mashable will crowdsource the best ideas and thoughts from our community...and report back to the leaders at the [summit]."

Nonprofit Management

David La Piana draws some important lessons from a merger involving two Texas providers of adoption services that ultimately failed to save the weaker of the two organizations. The case, writes La Piana, "offers a reminder that merger is not designed to change the underlying market dynamics an organization faces. A good merger can strengthen management, improve strategic positioning, and bring needed scale, but it cannot move a marginal or declining operation into the black if demand is just insufficient or the economics of the activity don’t pencil out."

Philanthropy

On the GrantCraft blog, Rosien Herweijer takes a closer look at the newest GrantCraft guide, Foundations Moving On: Ending Programmes and Funding Relationships. As Herweijer notes:

All funders somehow have to deal with exits. Venture philanthropist and limited-life or spend-out foundations tend to be very deliberate about exits, but other grantmaking or operating foundations also change strategic priorities, leave fields, or leave countries. And on a smaller scale, project funding ends automatically or -- in rare cases -- has to be withdrawn. You cannot wait for all the complicated questions to pop-up once an exit decision looms. And once you make and communicate a decision to exit, you need a lot of answers....

Social Media

In the latest installment of her Social Good podcast, Allison Fine chats with Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, a network of a thousand women bloggers using their influence to drive attention to a range of social causes.

Transparency

On the Keeping A Close Eye Blog, NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman compares a three-decades-old report from his organization that ranked and scored more than two hundred foundations on their ability to meet a standard of transparency with a new report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy that surveyed 138 nonprofit leaders on what they'd like to see from foundations in the way of transparency. According to Dorfman, the old NCRP report found that "60 percent of foundations in the sample did not meet an acceptable standard of transparency," while findings in the new CEP report reveal that the more things change, the more they stay the same. "I see many parallel findings between that report and CEP's...report," writes Dorfman.

A full 33 years later, nonprofits are still clamoring for more information about how foundations make funding decisions and they want clear and open communication about priorities. They want to know whether it's worth their time to cultivate a relationship and pursue funding. And despite an explosion of glossy annual reports and fancy Web sites, leaders of grantseeking organizations are still highly frustrated by the lack of clear communication about a central element of foundation activity, namely how foundations decide which organizations to fund....

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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