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16 posts from February 2017

Weekend Link Roundup (February 25-26, 2017)

February 26, 2017

Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Oscar_statuette

African Americans

As Black History Month winds down, here are six facts about black Americans, courtesy of Pew Research, that everyone should be aware of.

Arts and Culture

The Trump administration has targeted the National Endowment for the Arts for elimination. In a piece for the Huffington Post, Mark McLaren, editor in chief of ZEALnyc, explains why that would be a disaster for communities across the country.

Civil Society

As an antidote to the "filter bubble" problem, the Aspen Institute's Citizenship & American Identity Program has launched an initiative, What Every American Should Know, that asks Americans to answer the question: "What do you think Americans should know to be civically and culturally literate?" Kimber Craine explains.

In a short but sobering post on her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz speculates that nonprofit groups and civic associations may have "already lost any digital space in which we can have private conversations."

Climate Change

"As the Trump administration prepares to launch what is shaping up as unprecedented assault on environmental regulations,...environmental groups are getting little help from their so-called partners in corporate America," writes Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther. "At a perilous moment for the environment, big business is mostly silent." Why won't American business push for action on climate? And why is it a big deal? Gunther explains.

Health

In a piece for the Kaiser Health News network, Julie Rovner reports that support among Americans for the Affordable Care Act is growing as the Republican-controlled Congress moves to repeal it.

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Building and Managing Effective Collaborations for the World’s Most Vulnerable

February 24, 2017

The problems confronting the global community grow ever more complex. Fortunately, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide unprecedented focus on and a stage for results-oriented development programming. And with numerous stakeholders seeking to align their impact with the SDGs, organizations are under pressure from donors as never before to leverage projects and programs more efficiently to produce measurable outcomes.

Collaborations are an increasingly important tool to that end. But engaging in collaborations can be a daunting prospect, and such efforts can run aground if not carefully and methodically constructed around a shared vision for the future.

At times, moving to a more collaborative way of working can feel impossible. Nonprofit organizations are committed to their missions and mission-critical programs, and their success depends on being able to aggressively identify and secure resources to cover their direct and indirect costs — even if it comes at the expense of other organizations doing the same kind of work.

Benefits of Collaboration

Greater opportunities for growth

-- Can you do more together than alone?

Greater efficiencies

-- How will it affect our budget?

Access to new resources

-- Will it create greater impact?
-- Will it lead to new funding?

Shared knowledge

-- Will it make us smarter?

Shared risk/costs

-- Will we participate as a co-equal?

Enhanced economies of scale

-- Will it lead to new delivery models?

But the zero-sum mindset so prevalent in the sector is beginning to change, and more and more organizations understand that by prioritizing collaboration, they can scale their efforts and achieve a level of impact that would have been impossible if they had stubbornly continued to go it alone.

Thankfully, there are various collaborative models — including partnerships, coalitions, collective impact, shared advocacy, and strategic alliances — for creating, guiding, and implementing programs in the global development space. And what they all have in common
is a basic set of underlying principles, an insistence on a certain level of pragmatism, and an emphasis on operational flexibility.

Developing collaborative initiatives with multiple partners and seeing them through to the end also depends on the willingness and ability of the various leadership teams to apply creative thinking and problem-solving skills to the challenge at hand. Below are a number of lessons learned from our work with multiple partners on different projects that can be helpful if you are thinking about
engaging in a collaboration.

It’s the Basics That Make the Difference

Seen through the lens of the SDGs, much of the work of entities seeking to do social good, whether nonprofit, for-profit, or a public-sector or multilateral agency, frequently overlaps with the work of others seeking to address an issue affecting a particular population. But current frameworks and systems are not built for this reality and the increased collaboration needed to address it effectively — not least because it can be difficult to enlist key stakeholders, secure funding needed to support the effort, and identify the right leadership needed to bring about change.

When you decide to embark on a collaboration, preparing a scoping document will help clarify the focus of the project and make it easier to let go of things that do not fit the overall objective, in turn making it easier to sell the collaboration to your stakeholders. The scoping document should include:

  • A basic concept sketch that includes a landscape analysis, a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, partner opportunities and benefits, and a financial analysis;
  • Core expected outcomes;
  • The reasons a collaboration is the right approach to the problem and what the population in question stands to lose if the work isn’t done collaboratively;
  • Initial success metrics (more will be developed with your stakeholders); and
  • Stakeholder criteria.

Dos and Don'ts

Do

-- Have a dedicated point of contact
-- Decide who will fill the thought-leadership role
-- Think creatively and focus on the opportunity
-- Mitigate risks in budget & program planning
-- Celebrate successes internally & externally
-- Educate donors, participants & beneficiaries

Don't

-- Rely on deputies alone
-- Turn your project into an academic exercise
-- Be close-minded
-- Cut out your partners
-- Forget to align your efforts with those of your partners

When identifying potential stakeholders, be sure to use the criteria you’ve developed, and seek the advice of peers and similar organizations for candidates that can bring unique strengths to the collaboration.

Once you’ve assessed the field of prospective stakeholders, make initial fact-finding calls to determine individual organization’s interest level, willingness to forge an ongoing relationship, and capacity to fulfill their expected role.

Proper due diligence also requires that you look at the stakeholder’s background, management team, and risk factors (e.g., past regulatory issues, funding model, SEC and
990 filings, and responsible parties).

That’s Why They Call It a Backbone

Hiring an organization to provide what is commonly called “backbone services,” or that can act as a “secretariat,” if needed, provides a flexible, multi-functional management model for the collaboration, frees up various stakeholders to focus on the desired outcomes, and acts as a sort of glue for the effort.

As a first step, ask your backbone provider to support the development of term sheets that detail activities needed to accomplish the stated goals. It should also be able to:

  • Ensure that all governance documents are in order;
  • Define stakeholder roles and responsibilities;
  • Help develop mission and vision statements;
  • Create a work plan;
  • Identify milestones against which progress can be tracked;
  • Make sure the work gets out the door; and
  • Identify and eliminate roadblocks to progress.

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Do Bots Have a Role in Social Change?

February 23, 2017

ChatBotsIt's not every day you find yourself talking about sex with a chatbot named CiCi. But that's exactly the situation I found myself in a couple of weeks ago.

Chris Eigner, CEO of the digital product agency Epsilon Eight and the engineer behind CiCi, had asked me to test out the sex education bot before he released it publicly. While I'm usually an eager user of technologies in beta, I found myself feeling sheepish about talking to a bot about sex. So I decided to outsource the task to a friend, who had me ask CiCi a question about condoms. The bot's response was both mature and relevant: "There is nothing wrong with having sex so long as you are mature enough to handle the responsibilities and consequences."

Feeling like we were off to a good start, I decided to tell CiCi that I was "asking for a friend," just as one might in a conversation with a real person. CiCi's response was sweet: "You can't put a price on true friendship."

What may sound like a simple exchange was actually a remarkable experience. CiCi was capable of being simultaneously educational and personable. Interactions like this — casual, informative, bot-driven — increasingly will be part of our lives, and we should be careful not to underestimate how significant this development is likely to be for the future of social change efforts.

Despite calls for the sector to be more innovative, our field is a late adopter of new technologies. The ascendancy of bots represents a real opportunity for us to do better. Rather than delaying adoption, we can and should begin developing and using these tools at the same time as — not after — the usual early adopters.

But what does it mean to adopt chatbots as a tool for creating social change? And how can social change organizations use them to advance their cause in a time of political turmoil and resource constraints? Let's look at four valuable applications:

Fundraising growth. Interaction and automation are essential to scaling your fundraising efforts, and chatbots can take those efforts to a new level. charity: water has already launched a chatbot that allows supporters to engage with and donate to the organization via Facebook Messenger. Don't be surprised to see, in the not-too-distant future, other organizations scale their fundraising rapidly with one-click giving that enables anyone to donate to an organization like GLAAD simply by sending a rainbow emoji.

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Marc Morial, President/CEO, National Urban League: Inner Cities and Advocacy in Trump-Era America

February 22, 2017

Marc Morial was raised in a family that understands the importance of education and public service. His father, Ernest “Dutch” Morial, was the first African-American mayor of New Orleans and served two four-year terms; his mother was a teacher. After an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1990, Morial was elected to the Louisiana state senate in 1992 and, two years later, was elected mayor of the Crescent City. In 2003, he was named president and CEO of the National Urban League, one of the oldest civil rights organizations in the country. Under his leadership, the organization has worked to to provide economic empowerment, educational opportunities, and the guarantee of civil rights for the underserved in America. In 2010, to mark its centennial anniversary, the organization launched a call to action focused on achieving aspirational goals in education ("Every American child is ready for college, work and life”), employment ( "Every American has access to jobs with a living wage and good benefits”), housing ("Every American lives in safe, decent, affordable and energy efficient housing on fair terms”), and healthcare ("Every American has access to quality and affordable health care solutions”).

A week or so after the inauguration of Donald Trump as forty-fifth president of the United States, PND spoke with Morial about Trump’s frequent characterization of the nation’s inner cities as urban wastelands and how the new administration might partner with African Americans, the majority of whom did not vote for the president. Morial also addressed the importance of improving educational opportunities for people of color and what it will take to help minority-owned businesses thrive in the Trump era. .

Philanthropy News Digest: Both during his campaign and now as president, Donald Trump has characterized inner cities as urban wastelands plagued by drugs, crime, and social dysfunction. What do you think the president is trying to accomplish when he uses rhetoric like that?

Mark_morial_for_PhilanTopicMarc Morial: Well, when he said those things in the campaign, he was appealing to his base. But his characterization of inner cities was narrow, stereotypic, and disparaging. Urban communities are not wastelands, and they're not plagued by drugs, crime, and social dysfunction. They are places with the challenges of drugs, and crime, and other issues, but those challenges are also prevalent in suburban and rural communities. Cities are also places of tremendous human energy, creativity, and assets. They are the economic nerve centers of America. So I found his language to be pejorative, jarring, and I suspect, indicative of his not having spent a lot of time in urban communities. His perspective is probably pretty much informed by stereotypes he sees in the media.

PND: The president has proven adept at using Twitter as a bully pulpit. Is the Urban League doing anything to counter the messages the president puts out via Twitter?

MM: We're very active on social media, and when we encounter messages of public policy we disagree with, we use our social media platform to promote our own message. Of course, the Office of the President is a bully pulpit as well, and this president has chosen to use Twitter versus making frequent public statements or having frequent press conferences, which I think is a new normal. And, of course, his Twitter messages are amplified because they're covered so avidly by the mainstream media. So anything the president puts out there via Twitter is going to be on NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox News, and in newspapers around the country. By the same token, if the president decided to release a handwritten letter on a daily basis, that would be covered by every media outlet. Given that reality, what I would like to see is the mainstream media provide a platform for those whose messages might be in opposition to the president's stated public policy positions.

PND: What do you think a Justice Department led by Jeff Sessions will mean for the work of your organization and other advocacy organizations?

MM: I think all of us are concerned about what a Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department will mean. It's important to recognize that Loretta Lynch — and Eric Holder before her — were very assertive in enforcing civil rights law. That is exactly what we expect any and every attorney general to do. And we're going to hold Jeff Sessions accountable to the kind of enforcement of civil rights laws that Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder championed.

It's important to recognize that the Justice Department not only pursues terrorists and has a role in pursuing "violent crime," it is also is the chief civil rights enforcer in the country and has been that since the 1950s. Jeff Sessions' record in that area concerns us, some of his statements concern us, and so we're going to hold him and his team accountable when it comes to enforcing civil rights law. It is our responsibility to do that.

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Why We Make Free, Public Information More Accessible — and How You Can Help

February 17, 2017

An appeal from our IssueLab colleagues Gabi Fitz and Lisa Brooks.

File_folder_lockOne of the key roles the nonprofit sector plays in civil society is providing evidence about social problems and their solutions. Given recent changes to policies regarding the sharing of knowledge and evidence by federal agencies, that function is more critical than ever.

Nonprofits deliver more than direct services such as running food banks or providing shelter to people who are homeless. They also collect and share data, evidence, and lessons learned so as to help all of us understand complex and difficult problems.

Those efforts not only serve to illuminate and benchmark our most pressing social problems, they also inform the actions we take, whether at the individual, organizational, community, or policy level. Often, they provide the evidence in "evidence-based" decision making, not to mention the knowledge that social sector organizations and policy makers rely on when shaping their programs and services and individual citizens turn to inform their own engagement.

In January 2017, several U.S. government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, were ordered by officials of the incoming Trump administration not to share anything that could be construed as controversial through official communication channels such as websites and social media channels. (See "Federal Agencies Told to Halt External Communications.") Against that backdrop, the nonprofit sector's interest in generating and sharing evidence has become more urgent than ever.

IssueLab's mission is to provide free and immediate access to the knowledge nonprofits and foundations produce about the world as it is — as well as the things individuals and organizations are doing to make it better. We know there's no such thing as a post-truth society, and we are committed to supporting nonprofits and foundations in their efforts to gather and disseminate facts and evidence.

Seeking Volunteer "Factivists"

Providing access to evidence and lessons learned is always important, but in light of recent events, we believe it's more necessary than ever. That's why we are asking for your help in providing — and preserving — access to this critical knowledge base.

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Six Ways to Connect People to Your Cause Through Social Media

February 16, 2017

Social-media-300x200A lot has changed since the National Park Foundation shared its first Facebook post in 2008.

Before then, landing an interview on a national news program or with a daily newspaper was enough to reach the masses.

Now, traditional media shares the spotlight with social media and other innovative forms of communication. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and the like have opened up a new world of possibilities for the sharing of content. And while NPF continues to use traditional advertising, public relations, content marketing, and events to engage current supporters and reach new audiences, social media plays an increasingly important role in our marketing and communications mix.

Here are some of the social media tactics we use to reach people of different ages and backgrounds and inspire them to care about our cause:

1. Create a movement with a call to action that inspires social sharing. In anticipation of the National Park Service Centennial celebration in 2016, we launched Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque in 2015, a bilingual public engagement campaign designed to reach millennial audiences through traditional and new media platforms. The groundswell created by the campaign inspired a movement, with more than one in three millennials becoming familiar with #FindYourPark and #EncuentraTuParque through our strategic communications efforts, including print and Web media, public service announcements, live events, and donated advertising. But the campaign really took off on social media, as supporters of the national park system responded in huge numbers to our call to share their memories and tips for exploring these incredible places with those who had never experienced them. Indeed, over the course of the campaign, we registered more than 5.9 million engagements through our social media channels.

2. Partner with influencers, including celebrities. There's no doubt that the right celebrity ambassador can bring star power to your cause and get new eyeballs on your work. Our Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque ambassadors have been fantastic partners in doing just that. From Mary Lambert performing a Facebook Live pop-up concert in front of Stonewall National Monument to Bill Nye hosting a modern-day telethon via Mashable's Facebook page in support of #GivingTuesday, our message is reaching more people in new and innovative ways. But don't discount the impact and importance of everyday influencers. Participants in our Find Your Park Expedition, for example, are social media personalities and bloggers who "bring" people along with them when they explore a national park by sharing their experiences online. We know that people are compelled to act by genuine, authentic narratives. While the channels through which we deliver those narratives may vary, curiosity about what our national parks represent and the urge to help preserve them for future generations transcends demographics and cultural differences.

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What We Learned From Our End-of-Year Fundraising Appeals

February 14, 2017

Year-end-fundraisingWe all know how important the final few months of the year are for nonprofits, many of which see up to 40 percent of their total yearly contributions come in between Thanksgiving and December 31. No surprise, then, that year after year I see nonprofits rushing to get their year-end campaigns out the door and into the hands (and in boxes) of donors. And every year, that mad, crazed rush makes me think of something Benjamin Franklin said: "You may delay, but time will not."

Most of us start each new year with the best of intentions and, if we happen to be in the fundraising game, the goal of starting our various campaigns early. But like a lot of things, especially during the busy holiday season, we often leave the necessary preparation to the last minute and, with time running out, end up falling back on what we've done in the past.

But now that the holidays are behind us and the data have been tallied, it's time to take a look at what worked, what didn't, and how we can improve. As an organization leader, you should start by asking some questions. Are our mailing lists out of date? Have we updated our messaging and graphics in the last few years? Have we tested out any new messaging? Are we getting donors to see the important role they play in the work we do? All are important questions — not just with respect to your year-end campaigns, but for your fundraising throughout the year.

Last year, my colleagues and I sent out more than 250,000 direct mail and email solicitations on behalf of clients. And even though the organizations we worked with had strong year-end results, we noticed a few trends that underscore how important year-end appeals are for nonprofits. With that in mind, here are five things, based on what we learned, that your organization can do to ensure year-end success in 2017:

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 11-12, 2017)

February 12, 2017

Abraham_Lincoln_O-77_matte_collodion_printOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Fundraising

If you believe measurement is key to the success of your fundraising program, writes HuffPo contributor Brady Josephson, then you really need to pay attention to these four metrics.

Giving

Did you know actor Kevin Bacon is the brains behind a website that links other celebrities to people and grassroots organizations doing good work. Inc.'s John Botinott has the story.

"Even after we've chosen our cause, a mere 3 percent of us base our gifts on the relative efficacy of nonprofit groups [working to address] that...cause." In a Q&A with Grid's Heather Shayne Blakeslee, ethicist Peter Singer (The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically) explains how we can do better.

Immigration

"Many in our region agree that parts of the immigration system must be improved to make the country more secure. But closing our borders to the terrorized in the name of preventing terror seems a step backward," writes Pittsburgh Foundation president Maxwell King. "And any policy that attempts to punish immigrants that are already part of the fabric of our society seems needlessly harsh. The vast majority of Americans want an immigration policy that effectively controls illegal immigration, but also allows for the appropriate levels of annual legal immigration that serve the needs of communities across the nation." We couldn't agree more.

In an essay in The Atlantic, David Blight, a professor of history at Yale University, suggests that "[o]ne place to begin to understand our long history with the controversies over immigration" is with Frederick Douglass, the most important African-American leader of the nineteenth century and "for nine years a fugitive slave everywhere he trod."

In a strong statement posted on the foundation's blog, San Francisco Foundation CEO Fred Blackwell pledges the foundation's support to immigrants and their families in the Bay Area, to constituencies targeted by Islamophobes, to grantees and nonprofit organizations on the front lines of the immigration battles to come, to faith leaders working to build bridges to and between immigrant communities, and to donors committed to just and fair inclusion for all residents of the Bay Area.

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The World Is Upside Down: What Are Human Rights Funders Doing About It?

February 10, 2017

On January 21, a day after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, an estimated four million people participated in the Women's March on Washington and in sister marches worldwide. The feelings among the participants — strength, sorority, solidarity, anger, rebellion, humor, hope — were mixed. The marchers had many demands, including sexual and reproductive rights and action on climate change. Even more than a protest of the new president's policies, the march spoke to the power of intersectional social justice movements. Days later, President Trump revived a ban prohibiting federal resources from supporting international groups that perform or provide information on abortion as a family-planning option. A day after that, the president signed executive orders reactivating the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, despite resistance and protest from local, indigenous, and global communities.

Trump's first week in office was devastating for the human rights community. But it is a problem that is not unique to the U.S. In Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and many other countries in Latin America and around the world, we see similar threats. The human rights community is facing a global crisis that requires a global response.

IHRFG_Highlights_2017_coverIt was against this backdrop that I started reading the new edition of the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) and Foundation Center's Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking report. As I was reading, I came across many interesting takeaways — areas for which funding had increased or decreased, for example, as well as some new findings, including the growing visibility and critical role of Global South and East funders in advancing human rights — and the importance of collaboration.

According to the report, Global South and East funders provided $63.5 million through 2,259 grants to 1,837 recipients working to protect and promote human rights in 2014. Many of these donors are women’s funds that have taken the lead in mobilizing local and international resources that wouldn't otherwise get to grassroots groups in their countries and regions. It is not surprising. therefore, that Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM) and the African Women's Development Fund made the list of Global South and East funders who delivered the most grants, with 155 and 153, respectively. What can these funders teach the field of philanthropy? Here are a few thoughts:

Funders cannot address today's global challenges in isolation; we need to understand and build on the linkages among those challenges.

According to the report, 37 percent of the financial support provided by human rights funders was allocated to advocacy, systems reform, and implementation, while only 7 percent and 3 percent supported public engagement and grassroots organizing. What does this tell me? We have to do more to ensure that the voices of the most marginalized populations and communities are heard in the rooms where decisions are made. And we need to come up with more resources to make this a reality, to strengthen dialogue across movements, and to establish open spaces and platforms where funders can engage with each other.

Across movements for social justice, there is more that binds us than divides us. Whether we call ourselves human rights funders or not, to make the greatest impact, we have to pay attention to the commonalities and links that exist between our fields. We see, for example, an increase in the criminalization of social mobilization across movements; of indigenous peoples facing threats for defending their land and traditional practices; of restrictions on abortion, creating higher risks for pregnant women affected by health epidemics such as Zika. Tackling these problems in isolation only reduces our impact and increases the chances of duplicated effort. Therefore...

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Professional Preparation: A "Value Add" for Educators and Their Employers

February 09, 2017

In October 2016, the Jim Joseph Foundation released a final evaluation conducted by American Institutes for Research of its Education Initiative — in three top-rated Jewish education institutions — Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU) — to increase the number of educators and educational leaders who are prepared to design and implement high-quality Jewish education programs. The foundation and AIR have shared some of the key findings and lessons learned from the initiative. AIR also is releasing a series of blogs that delve more deeply into important findings from the evaluation — the second of which, below, discusses the value of professional preparation programs and the key characteristics that distinguish those programs as excellent.

Jim_joseph_foundationWhether in a classroom, at a camp, at locations in a city, or in nearly any other environment, effective Jewish learning experiences can enrich lives and help cultivate deep, long-lasting relationships among participants. Over the last two decades especially, Jewish education and engagement experiences developed for teens and young adults have focused on opportunities to create peer communities and friendships, develop leadership skills, and strengthen cultural and religious beliefs while enabling youth to voice their opinions and serve their communities. An important aspect of many of these initiatives is a high level of accessibility and inclusiveness, so that people of various backgrounds and differing levels of prior engagement in Jewish life feel valued, respected, and welcomed.

A Need to Raise the Bar

With the growing popularity of these offerings, both by well-established organizations and in the form of innovative projects, there is an urgent need for the professionalization of individuals responsible for designing, conducting outreach for, and facilitating them. Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), congregations, youth groups, camps, Hillel, and social justice organizations in particular offer many of these experiences — and as a result are driving increased demand for talented, well-trained professionals eager to work in this space.

At the moment, however, no degree requirement exists for individuals tasked with delivering such influential Jewish experiences. The Jim Joseph Foundation's Education Initiative, a recently completed $45 million, six-year investment in three top-rated Jewish education institutions — Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University — in part aimed to fill this void by increasing opportunities for and improving access to professional preparation programs for educators, aspiring leaders, middle managers, and directors and executive directors in the field of Jewish education. The initiative was based on the premise that higher education institutions are uniquely equipped to promote the research-based knowledge and decision-making tools needed by professionals to design and deliver a range of excellent educational practices for a particular age group in different settings.

We previously shared other key outcomes and findings of the initiative, including the number of new educators trained and new training programs developed. Now, we want to home in on the value of professional preparation for the individuals and organizations that offer Jewish learning experiences.

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Reluctant Rolodex Syndrome

February 08, 2017

Rolodex-67236How long has it been since you — or anybody you know, for that matter — used a Rolodex for anything other than to keep loose papers from sliding off the desk? And yet "Rolodex" continues to be one of the most widely used terms among development officers and fundraising consultants — not to mention one of the most anxiety-inducing words in the English language for nonprofit board members and major donors. How could it be that mere mention of a once-critical but today ignored office product — as in, “Can I count on you to open your Rolodex?”— can create both optimism and terror in the hearts of development professionals?

I kid, but most everybody reading this knows exactly what I mean. To the development professional, an organization’s most powerful fundraising asset is its pool of "true believers" — committed friends, board members, donors, and funding partners who are already convinced that the nonprofit’s mission, programs, and effectiveness are worthy of generous support. In a game where getting through the door is 90 percent of the challenge, common sense tells us that an introductory call from a friend will almost always be more effective than a cold call. Think of it this way: how many basketball players will launch a half-court shot when the defense has left the lane wide open for a layup? (Not you, Warriors fans.)

At the same time, many of us understand that our true believers aren't always eager to share the good word about an organization with others or are willing to go out of their way to extend an invitation to their friends and business associates to support — with their time, money, or both — a cause close to someone else’s heart.

Why is it that true believers are so often reluctant to share philanthropic good news with their friends and associates? And what can we, as development professionals, do to reduce their level of anxiety and nudge our board members and donors into opening their Rolodexes a little more readily?

With your indulgence, let me introduce you to a theory I call the Three Big Fears of Major Donors and Board Members — a theory that, in my opinion, goes a long way toward explaining what I call Reluctant Rolodex Syndrome.

Fear #1: The Fear of Being Asked to Solicit Money

It never ceases to amaze me how many people who routinely pitch multi-million-dollar investments to acquaintances or friends break out in a cold sweat when they’re asked to solicit those same acquaintances and friends for a $25,000 gift in support of remodeling a local homeless shelter, providing job training to displaced workers, or some other equally worthwhile cause. Shouldn"t it be the other way around? Shouldn't it be easier — much easier — to ask someone for an investment that benefits others in need than to ask them for an investment from which you and your partners personally hope to profit? Go figure.

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With Smart Philanthropy, Anything Is Possible

February 06, 2017

Collaboration-puzzle-piecesThere are no limits to what philanthropy can accomplish if we dream big, take risks, and set aside our egos and look for ways to work collaboratively.

"That's ridiculous," some of you may be thinking."Philanthropic dollars are a drop in the bucket. The best we can hope to do is to fund effective programs and improve as many lives as we can."

The truth is, that kind of small-ball thinking is horsepucky, and we need to put it aside if we want to transform and improve our society and the world. Indeed, there's an urgent need, right now, for foundations and high-net-worth donors to invest serious money in organizations on the frontlines of transformative social change.

Think back twenty years ago, to 1997:

  • Gas was $1.22 per gallon.
  • Bill Clinton had just been inaugurated to a second term as president of the United States.
  • The Lion King had debuted on Broadway.
  • The Spice Girls had a song at the top of the pop charts.

Did anyone in 1997 believe that less than twenty years later full marriage equality for same-sex couples would be the law of the land? It didn't seem remotely possible.

But then, in 2000, leaders of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, a California-based philanthropy, began to think about how the foundation could best support work to advance the rights of and dignity for gay people.

In 2002, the fund made a $2.5 million investment in the Freedom to Marry campaign — at the time, the largest investment ever made by a foundation in support of gay rights.

The investment by the fund got the ball rolling. In 2004, the fund, recognizing that it couldn't possibly push the campaign to success by itself, helped create the Civil Marriage Collaborative with a handful of committed, like-minded funders from across the country.

It took visionary leadership and trust to make the collaborative a reality. And working together over the next dozen years and in close partnership with the other organizations, the funders of that effort helped accomplish what had once been unthinkable.

It wasn't easy. Changing society is tough work. Even as the campaign secured many wins, it also had to deal with setbacks. But the funding partners stuck by each other and their grantees, keeping their eyes on the prize and building momentum by winning an increasing number of victories at the state level. And then, on June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land.

It was a great day for the country and the culmination of a long campaign in which funders and nonprofits worked together to make society a little more fair and just.

I'm sure many of you have a story about how the court's ruling has impacted your life. For me, it was being able to attend the wedding of my sister a little over a year ago.

And here's some more good news. These same kinds of strategies work just as well at the local and state levels.

In 2012, for example, a group of California funders launched the California Civic Participation Funders to support nonprofits in the state working to strengthen civic participation in communities of color and among other underrepresented populations. The funders involved in the effort were focused on different issues — some on health, some on immigrant rights, others on criminal justice or women's rights — but they knew that having robust civic participation from groups that traditionally have been marginalized was essential if they hoped to see success on their issue. So they decided to work together, in close partnership with their grantees, to boost civic participation in four California counties.

That work is paying off.

Last summer, for example, citizens of San Diego voted in favor of an Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance that immediately raised the minimum wage to $10.50 and then raised it again on January 1,to $11.50 per hour. San Diego is not known as a progressive bastion, and very few people would have guessed that San Diegans would vote in favor of such an ordinance. But with years of sustained investment by California Civic Participation Funders, what was once unthinkable became reality. And thousands of low-income families are going to benefit.

Because I've been studying this stuff for years, I thought I'd share six things that funders should keep in mind if they are looking to maximize their impact:

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Weekend Link Roundup (February 4-5, 2017)

February 05, 2017

Patriots_logoOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

African Americans

It's Black History Month. Here, courtesy of the Washington Post, are a few things you should know.

Arts and Culture

The Trump administration is rumored to be toying with the idea of eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts. Who stands to lose the most if rumor becomes reality and the Republican-controlled Congress pulls the plug on NEA funding? In an op-ed on the Artsy blog, Isaac Kaplan says it would be the American people.

Climate Change

With the Trump administration determined to pursue "a ‘control-alt-delete’ strategy — control the scientists in the federal agencies, alter science-based policies to fit their narrow ideological agenda, and delete scientific information from government websites," is philanthrocapitalism our best hope for finding solutions to a warming planet? Corinna Vali reports for the McGill International Review.

Can shareholder advocates really move the needle on the issue of climate change? Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther weighs in with a tough but balanced assessment.

Diversity

In a post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Alyse d'Amico and Leaha Wynn reflect on what the organization has done, and is doing, right in the area of diversity and inclusion.

Education

"Nearly sixty-three years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case kick-started racial integration in schools — and six decades after a group of African-American students had to be escorted by federal troops as they desegregated Little Rock’s Central High School — students nationwide are taught by an overwhelmingly white workforce," write Greg Toppo and Mark Nichols in USA Today. "And the racial mismatch, in many places, is getting worse."

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What Governments Can Do to Address Cancer

February 04, 2017

Dr. Kelly Henning is the public health program lead at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

World-Cancer-Day-LogoWhile much work remains to find a cure for cancer — the good news is we know that many forms of cancer are preventable. On World Cancer Day, a moment when the global community comes together to reflect on those lost to cancer, as well as the advances we need to make to find a cure,  it's important to remember that there are actions that governments and individuals can take to prevent cancer. In fact, governments hold many levers that can actually address this leading killer.

For example, governments — both at the national and municipal levels — can and should take on tobacco. A staggering twenty-two percent of all cancer deaths are tobacco-related. One of the most effective strategies to cut into tobacco use is to raise tobacco taxes, which not only reduces use but also increases government revenue. When Bloomberg Philanthropies founder Mike Bloomberg served as mayor of New York City, mortality rates from cancer declined 6.4 percent compared to 2001. 

While we can't definitively say this was the direct result of one action, we do know that efforts to curb tobacco — like implementing bans on smoking in work places and public spaces, raising the price through increased taxes, and airing hard-hitting media campaigns, had important  impact....

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GCIR - Joint Foundation Statement on Immigration

February 03, 2017

Since 1990, Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) has sought "to influence philanthropy to advance the contributions and address the needs of the country's growing and increasingly diverse immigrant and refugee populations." In so doing, it seeks "to promote effective grantmaking that not only improves the lives of newcomers but also strengthens communities."

On Friday, the group issued a joint statement on immigration signed by more than thirty foundations and funder groups. The statement, in its entirety, is included below, along with the names of the signatories:

______

Statement

The United States stands at a historical crossroads. Founded as a refuge from religious persecution and built by generations of immigrants, our country has been the standard bearer internationally for the assertion and protection of inalienable rights and freedoms, a beacon of hope for refugees facing oppression and persecution, and a land of opportunity for immigrants seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

As philanthropic institutions, we have built our missions on this proud and rich tradition. We have invested in creating healthy communities, promoting diversity and inclusion, building a vibrant democracy, and advancing equity and equality for all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, immigration status, and national origin.

The recently issued immigration executive orders compromise our nation's founding principles and the Constitution, our standing in the world, and our core values of liberty, justice, and due process. They weaken our moral leadership, fuel the efforts of those who wish us ill, harm our global competitiveness, and fray our social fabric.

Our foundations support diverse issues, strategies, and communities across the country, but we are united in the belief that immigrants and refugees are integral to every aspect of our society. Newcomers enrich our culture and tradition as artists, playwrights, and dancers. Naturalized citizens strengthen our civic life as voters, jurors, school-board members, and elected officials. Immigrant entrepreneurs and refugee-owned businesses revitalize neighborhoods, towns, and cities across America. Foreign-born scientists and engineers fuel innovations and help our country prosper. Farmworkers put food on our tables, and caregivers nurture our children, care for our elders, and nurse our ill. Young newcomers — including DACA beneficiaries — demonstrate their patriotism and enthusiasm for American ideals in schools, communities, workplaces, and the armed forces. Without the contributions of immigrants and refugees now and throughout our history, our collective well-being and economic vitality would be greatly diminished.

We, the undersigned philanthropies, join public officials, the faith community, business leaders, and the American public in supporting policies that protect our national security, strengthen our economy, and uphold core American values. We stand with our grantees — advocates, organizers, researchers, and service providers — in calling for policies that reflect our nation's founding principles, promote cohesion and inclusion, instill hope, and show compassion. Policies that recognize our global interdependence, that honor our tradition of welcoming those seeking refuge and a better life, and that keep families together will make our communities stronger, safer, and more prosperous.

We expect additional challenges in the weeks and months ahead on the immigration front, including expanded detention and deportations, and on policies affecting the rights of women, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, and other vulnerable groups. The issues, communities, and core values that our foundations have sought to advance are under serious and imminent danger. With history and morality as our guide, we reject discriminatory policies that target individuals based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender expression, and other grounds. We stand committed to the inherent value and dignity of every person at home and abroad. We stand together for the American Dream.

For more information or to sign the statement, contact Caleb Beaudoin (link sends e-mail). If joining, please provide the name of your foundation and the name and title of your signer (i.e., the CEO, the board chair, or both).

A special thanks to GCIR members and funders for their support in making this statement possible.

Signatories
Cora Mirikitani, President & CEO
Asian Americans / Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP)
Maria Mottola, Executive Director
New York Foundation
Audrey Yamamoto, President & Executive Director
Asian Pacific Fund
Kevin F. Walker, President & CEO
Northwest Area Foundation
Jerry Greenfield, President
Ben & Jerry’s Foundation
Ken Zimmerman, Director of U.S. Programs
Open Society Foundations
Antonia Hernández, President & CEO
California Community Foundation
Pedro Ramos, President & CEO
Philadelphia Foundation
Robert K. Ross, M.D., President & CEO
California Endowment
Gillian Darlow, CEO
Polk Bros. Foundation
Karen A. Simmons, President & CEO
Chester County Community Foundation
Mary E. McClymont, President and CEO
Public Welfare Foundation
Truman Collins, President
Cynthia G. Addams, CEO
Collins Foundation
Timothy P. Silard, President
Rosenberg Foundation
Laura Livoti, CEO
Common Counsel Foundation
Aixa N. Cintrón-Vélez, Ph.D., Program Director
Russell Sage Foundation
Alicia Phillip, President
Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Fred Blackwell, CEO
San Francisco Foundation
Joe Goldman, President
Democracy Fund
Fo-Ching Lu, President
Sheng-Yen Lu Foundation
Jennie Lehua Watson, Interim President
Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
Amanda Cloud, President & CEO
Simmons Foundation
Marcos Vargas, Executive Director
Fund for Santa Barbara
Tom Keith, President
Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina
Ben Francisco Maulbeck, President
Funders for LGBTQ Issues
Molly Gochman, Founder
Stardust Fund
Dimple Abichandani, Executive Director
General Service Foundation
Kriss Deiglmeier, CEO
Tides
Eva Grove, Founder & Board Member
Leslie Dorosin, Executive Director
Grove Foundation
Taryn Higashi, Executive Director
Unbound Philanthropy
Darren Sandow, Executive Director
Hagedorn Foundation
Kate Kroeger, Executive Director
Urgent Action Fund
Nat Williams, Ph.D, Executive Director
Hill-Snowdon Foundation
Nancy Wiltsek, Executive Director
van Löben Sels/RembeRock Foundation
Diana Campoamor, President
Hispanics in Philanthropy
Rick Kinsel, President
Vilcek Foundation
Don Howard, President & CEO
James Irvine Foundation
William S. Goldman, President, Board of Trustees
Pamela H. David, Executive Director
Walter & Elise Haas Fund
Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO
Latino Community Foundation
Fred Ali, President & CEO
Weingart Foundation
Debora Ortega, Ph.d., Board Chair
Carlos Martinez, Executive Director
Latino Community Foundation of Colorado
Edward Kissam, Trustee
Werner-Kohnstamm Family Fund
James S. Farley, Esquire, President & CEO
Leichtag Foundation
Larry Kramer, President
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Helen Brunner, Foundation Director
Media Democracy Fund
Donna P. Hall, President & CEO
Women Donors Network
Charles Wilhoite, Board Chair
Doug Stamm, CEO
Meyer Memorial Trust
Grace Hou, President
Woods Fund Chicago
Frank I. Sanchez, Executive Director
Needmor Fund
Bob Uyeki, CEO
Y & H Soda Foundation
Michele Lord, President
NEO Philanthropy
Allison Magee, Executive Director
Zellerbach Family Foundation
Lorie A. Slutsky, President
New York Community Trust
 

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