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Weekend Link Roundup (February 14-15, 2015)

February 15, 2015

No-snow-signOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sectorFor more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Advocacy

Foundations and philanthropists need to find new ways to advocate in the post-Citizens United world, write Shelley Whelpton and Andrew Schultz on the Arabella Advisors blog, "or risk ceding influence over national policy to those who are willing and eager to play by the new rules."

Arts and Culture

Nice post on the Dodge Foundation blog by ArtPride's Ann Marie Miller, who curates recent research and opinions on what she terms the "shifting paradigms" in the arts field. 

Education

The American Enterprise Institute's Jenn Hatfield shares three takeaways from a series of papers released last week at an AEI-hosted conference on education philanthropy:

  1. Education philanthropies have shifted their focus from trying to influence school systems to trying to influence policy.
  2. Education philanthropy is getting more attention, and a lot more criticism.
  3. Education philanthropies are evolving, and maybe even learning.

Impact/Effectiveness

In a heartfelt post that serves as a compelling counterpoint to a recent op-ed by Jennifer and Peter Buffett in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Jed Emerson argues that, yes, "metrics matter." And while "too many of those in the impact investing community view an effective metrics reporting system as 'nice to have' as opposed to 'critical to our practice in advancing impact'...

the myth persists that we can attain our goal of effective and relevant metrics assessment and reporting. One must ask, after all the frustration and challenges, why do we bother? I submit we persist in our pursuit because we know at a deeply visceral level our goal of integrating meaningful metrics into the core of our efforts to create a changed world has value and is central to who we are....

International Development

Are insecticide-treated bed nets the most effective intervention against malaria in the global development toolkit? Maybe not, writes Robert Fortner in a special report on the Humanosphere site.

Nonprofits

In an interview with NPQ's Rick Cohen, Melanie Sloan, founder of the watchdog organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, reminds Cohen's readers that "[w]hen nonprofits turn a blind eye to the kind of misuse of charities and foundations represented by the pay-to-play charities established by politicians, their families, or their key staff, the behavior 'tarnishes' the entire sector."

Philanthropy

Think first. Empower others. In a post on the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Patrice Relerford, a policy associate at the Minneapolis Foundation and Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow at the Minnesota Council on Foundations, suggests we all could learn something from the "quiet leadership" style of Greater New Orleans Foundation president and CEO Albert Ruesga.

How can philanthropy support leaders of color in the environmental movement? Caitlin Duffy, a project associate for NCRP's Philamplify initiative, shares some thoughts based on a survey of the literature and some recent announcements.

Donor-advised funds are one of the topics touched on in a New Yorker piece by Vauhini Vara that looks at the all the young Silicon Valley dudes who made it onto the Chronicle of Philanthropy's most recent Top 50 Donors list. DAFs, as they are known, are a good way, according to the Chronicle's Maria Di Mento, for people who have "made a ton of money...know [they] want to give it to philanthropy over time, but... don't know where and when." Not everyone is so sanguine. "Where's it gone? What good is it doing now?" asks Salesforce.com founder Marc Benioff, referring to a big contribution by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to a DAF he set up at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. "I'm sure his intentions are positive, but we need to see that money get distributed."

Apparently, more than a few members of Congress agree. Noting that the House Ways and Means Committee has floated the idea that donor-advised funds should distribute contributions within five years of their receipt, Frank A. Monti suggests in a post on the Inside Philanthropy blog that a 5 percent payout rate would be a better way to prevent DAFs from holding onto funds indefinitely — and gets pushback from Boston College law professor Ray Madoff, Jesse Salazar at the Council on Foundations, and Page Snow at Foundation Source, among others.

Last but not least, in an op-ed in the Chronicle, NoVo Foundation co-presidents Peter and Jennifer Buffett argue that while the focus on impact in philanthropy ("love of humanity") is food for the head, it leaves no room for love, humility, risk, or human dignity.

That's it for now. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line atmfn@foundationcenter.org or via the comments box below...

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