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127 posts categorized "Environment"

Protecting Nature Is the Smartest Investment We Can Make

April 10, 2013

(Mark Tercek is president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy and co-author of the book Nature's Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature).

Headshot_mark_tercekIn my work for the Nature Conservancy, I think a lot about how we can do more. How can we unlock new sources of capital, enlist more people to support our cause, and develop new alliances that will enable us to conserve nature at a scale never before achieved?

In my view, the answer is in putting ourselves in others' shoes -- whether those of a sugarcane grower in Colombia, a trawl fisher in California, or the executive of a global manufacturing company -- and focusing on why nature is important and valuable to them.

A simple but elegant solution to an environmental challenge in Colombia demonstrates this approach -- an approach that is leading to exciting new ways of structuring, funding, and discussing environmental nonprofit interventions.

The Project

In October 2011 I met with a group of sugarcane growers in Bogota, Colombia. They were warm and gracious hosts, affable dinner companions, and extremely proud of their beautiful lands and their booming business. They didn't see the world exactly the same way I do and they certainly didn't think of themselves as environmentalists. But they did agree with me on a simple point -- it makes great sense to invest in nature to protect water supplies.

Over the past decade, Colombia's sugarcane growers have become increasingly concerned about water supply in the Cauca Valley, situated near the country's Pacific coast and one of the richest cane-growing regions in the world. The farmers there need abundant water to irrigate their enormous fields.

The solution we arrived at together: protect the water supply by protecting the forested watersheds that feed the Cauca River.

Continue reading »

Philanthropy? I’m Going Fishing!

March 31, 2013

(Bradford K. Smith is the president of the Foundation Center. In his last post, he wrote about the linguistic creativity of funders who award general operating support.)

April 1 is the most important day of the year on my calendar, and not because it's April Fools' Day. No, April 1 is the opening day of trout fishing season here in New York State -- and if it's like past opening days, it will be icily cold, wet, and unproductive, with my chances of actually catching one of those wily trout almost zero. Still, I'll be out there -- early -- because trout fishing is my form of meditation, the one thing I do that takes my thoughts as far away from work as possible, to nowhere.

Brook_trout
Given that my work is the business of philanthropy, I thought I'd share a list of the things I will NOT be thinking about while I am, as author John Gierach puts it, "standing in a river waving a stick." Here goes:

Is philanthropy effective?
Is philanthropy efficient?
Is philanthropy strategic?
Is philanthropy catalytic?
Is philanthropy innovative?
Is philanthropy transparent enough?
Is philanthropy too transparent?
Does the Foundation Center's data capture the uniqueness of each foundation?
Will the foundation world ever agree on data standards?
What is the difference between an outcome and an output?
Is there too little collaboration among philanthropy "infrastructure" groups?
Is there too little collaboration among foundations?
Is limiting the lifespan of a foundation better than establishing a foundation in perpetuity?
Is perpetuity better than limiting the lifespan of a foundation?
Who will be the next president of the Kellogg Foundation?
Who will be the next president of the Ford Foundation?
Who will be the next president of the (fill in the blank) Foundation?
Is there a viable business model for open source, open data, open anything?
Can philanthropy keep up with technological change?

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (March 30-31, 2013)

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

Black Male Achievement

Here on PhilanTopic, the Open Society Foundation's Shawn Dove, whom we spoke with back in December, announces the launch of BMAfunders.org, a Web portal designed to "facilitate engagement, collaboration, and strategic decision making among funders, nonprofits, and policy makers working to promote positive outcomes for black men and boys in America."

Communications

In a guest post on Kivi Leroux Miller's Nonprofit Communications Blog, Jen Charney, communication manager at the Save the Redwoods League, explains how the organization redesigned its Web site to attract more "uniques" and increase online donations and e-mail subscribers.

Environment

Environmental "cause days" such as Earth Day are great, but what about the other 360+ days of the year, asks Geoff Livingston, author of Welcome to the Fifth Estate, in a recent post on his blog.  "If our culture intends to adapt to climate change," writes Livingston, "our efforts need to increase. First of all, let's not poo-poo the small acts taken. Instead, let's build upon them...."

Continue reading »

Investing for Impact: Conservation and Environmental Restoration Through Mitigation Banking

February 07, 2013

(Ashley M. Allen is a founder and managing partner of i2 Capital Group, a merchant banking firm focused on impact investments in the energy and natural resource, education, and health sectors.)

Img-habitat-banking-gaining-groundIn industrial and post-industrial economies around the world, economic development has often come at the expense of the natural environment. Over the coming decades, the United States will experience significant negative impacts to ecosystems and watersheds from energy development, infrastructure build out, and urbanization. Growing demand for low-carbon electricity and biofuel production is likely to involve large amounts of publicly and privately owned land, while energy developers anticipate drilling tens of thousands of oil and gas wells across more than two million acres of leased land. Against this backdrop, the implementation and expansion of effective habitat conservation and mitigation practices and policies has the potential to dramatically reduce and offset many of the less desirable impacts associated with this kind of development, thereby helping to create a sustainable economy in which economic development and conservation are valued and promoted.

Habitat Mitigation

Habitat mitigation is the practice of avoiding, minimizing, or offsetting negative impacts on natural habitats and wildlife from energy and other development activities. In the U.S., the Clean Water Act (1972), the Endangered Species Act (1973), and the National Environmental Policy Act (1969) together form the policy underpinnings for environmental mitigation activities. As defined by the Council on Environmental Quality, mitigation includes: (a) avoiding negative impacts altogether by not taking a certain action or parts of an action; (b) minimizing impacts by limiting the degree or magnitude of the action and its implementation; (c) rectifying negative impacts by repairing, rehabilitating, or restoring the affected environment; (d) reducing or eliminating impacts over time by maintaining mitigation activities over the life of the action; and (e) compensating for negative impacts by replacing or providing substitute resources/habitats (compensatory mitigation).

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2012 Year in Review: Impact Investing, Other New Forms of Giving Gain Traction

December 31, 2012

Pnd_yearinreview_2012Impact investing -- the practice of making loans and equity investments in nonprofits and socially minded businesses working to generate measurable social or environmental impact with the expectation that the money will be repaid over time -- and other new forms of giving continued to gain traction in 2012, thanks in part to the efforts of organizations like the Nonprofit Finance Fund, Omidyar Network, and the Skoll and Rockefeller foundations.

The year got off to a flying start when, in February, NFF announced a $40 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation in support of community development projects across the United States; an initiative of the U.S. Treasury Department, the NMTC program enables nonprofits to affordably complete facility improvements and finance projects in low-income areas around the country. In March, Omidyar Network and ACCION International made a $3.2 million investment in Zambia-based Mobile Transactions to boost financial transactions across the Zambian economy. In April, the Skoll Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development launched a $44.5 million global initiative to identify and fund high-impact social entrepreneurs who have created workable innovations and sustainable, scalable business models. And, in May, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced its participation through its Knight Foundation Enterprise Fund in a $3.7 million Series A venture financing round for Umbel, a privately held digital audience measurement company.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (December 29-30, 2012)

December 30, 2012

Happy_new_yearTo help mark the end of another eventful year, we've rounded up a dozen or so of our favorite "best of" and nonprofit trendspotting pieces. Have a list you'd like to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

Communications/Marketing

On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen shares Trendwatching's list of consumer trends to keep an eye on and weighs in on what each could mean for nonprofits in 2013.

And in a two-part series on her Getting Attention blog (here and here), Nancy Schwartz lists the nonprofit marketing trends that are "must-dos" for your organization in 2013.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Kula CEO Gerrit McGowan looks back at some of the CSR high- and lowlights of 2012 -- and tells us what companies looking to take their CSR programs to the next level will be doing in 2013.

Innovation/Leadership

As it has it has for many years, Foreign Policy magazine closes out 2012 with an eclectic list of the top global thinkers -- a list that includes Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, novelists Haruki Murakami and Chinua Achebe, and Russian environmentalist Yevgenia Chirikova.

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[Inforgraphic] 2012 Conservation Victories

December 29, 2012

After Sandy, after Newtown, after a presidential election that was too long and cost way too much, we wanted to do our small part to end the year on a positive note. So here, courtesy of the Pew Environment Group, is an encouraging look at some of the important wins for the environment, the planet, and all of us in 2012.

Let's hope there are more to come in 2013. 

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (November 3-4, 2012)

November 04, 2012

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

Civil Society

On the NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Niki Jagpal discusses a recent article from the Poverty & Race Research Action Council about the "unsettling statistics on the status of voting rights in our country." According to PRRAC, voter identification laws, early voting restrictions, purging of "legitimate registered voters because of baseless suspicion of their citizenship status," and felon disenfranchisement continue to marginalize low-income individuals, communities of color, younger voters, and the elderly.

Disaster Relief

In the days following the devastating landfall of Superstorm Sandy near Cape May, New Jersey, nonprofit bloggers were busy sharing resources for those interested in contributing to relief and recovery efforts. On her Have Fun, Do Good blog, Britt Bravo has compiled a list of articles and Web sites that suggest ways to donate and volunteer; Idealist's Allison Jones has a few additional suggestions for New Yorkers looking to get involved in relief and recovery efforts; and longtime New Jersey resident Nancy Schwartz suggests three organizations on the ground in that state -- the NYC Rescue Mission, the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey -- that are "providing services right now and need your help to keep it up."

Looking at the response to the storm through a tech/data lens, Philanthropy 2173 blogger Lucy Bernholz tracks, in a series of posts, the many ways in which organizations and individuals used information communication technologies during and after the storm, while the Weakonomist looks at how Sandy might affect the economy.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (October 27-28, 2012)

October 28, 2012

Hurricane-sandy_satOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Climate Change

Bridgespan Group manager Chris Addy says that if the federal government won't address climate change at the policy level, at-risk communities may need to rely on the generosity of private philanthropies like the San Diego Foundation for support. He goes on to list "five powerful pathways for philanthropic funders to invest in climate adaptation":

  1. support local science and local scientists;
  2. invest in neutral conveners;
  3. build the field of climate adaptation;
  4. re-frame adaptation around equity; and
  5. support advocacy.

Leadership

On the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation blog, David Grant, who was president and CEO of the foundation from 1998 to 2010, writes about a board leadership training in which he put off using the "a-word" -- assessment -- and asked the participants to envision what success for their organizations would look like in progressively specific terms. The participants discussed their answers with one another, then repeated the exercise but this time described what success would look like at an even higher level. Grant writes:

I was talking about building an assessment culture. And without using the word "rubric," the teams from each organization had begun to build one, as they discussed...what criteria they would [use to] measure success and began to meld together their visions of what success would look like at various levels. They were beginning to create a clear, specific, shared vision they could plan backwards from -- and one they could use to give and receive feedback in time for the feedback to be useful.

My contention has always been that the word "assessment" needs to be rehabilitated. We have all experienced assessment so many times in our lives...as something that comes at the end and judges our past performance that we have trouble assuming it could be something that happens all along and improves our performance. But it can be. Coaches know that. Teachers of performing arts know that. And leaders of nonprofit organizations can know it, too, once they establish some basic principles and some new habits with their colleagues....

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (August 25-26, 2012)

August 26, 2012

Ts-issac-satelliteOur (slightly delayed) weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Environment

On NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Niki Jagpal commends the Kresge Foundation for a recent grant of $500,000 to Princeton-based Climate Central in support of efforts to provide decision makers and the public with information about future coastal flood exposure and sea level rise. "Kresge," writes Jagpal, "is leading the way by example: focusing specifically on socially vulnerable populations is precisely what environment and climate philanthropy expert Sarah Hansen recommends for environment and climate funders in Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders."

Leadership

Philanthropy 411's Kris Putnam-Walkerly shares a post from Trista Harris, executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, in which Harris explains what an informational interview is for those "too embarrassed to ask."

Social Entrepreneurship

In a post on his Harvard Business Review blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta discusses how he went from building Pallotta TeamWorks, one of the most successful charity event businesses in the country, to losing everything -- including four hundred full-time employees and sixteen U.S. offices -- after his biggest client jumped ship.

Continue reading »

Innovation Forum 2012

June 26, 2012

We thought it would be fun (and interesting) to share the livestream of the Rockefeller Foundation's 2012 Innovation Forum, which is supposed to start around 12:45 EDT and is one component of the storied foundation's centennial celebration.

The forum is designed to explore solutions to pressing global challenges and this year will focus on ways of ensuring that the benefits of new technologies do not bypass the world's poor. To that end, the event will showcase cutting-edge inventions, convene thought leaders from different sectors, and feature discussions that explore opportunities to help those who are becoming more vulnerable due to pernicious economic, social, and environmental forces.


Live streaming by Ustream

Later this evening, the foundation will honor Ratan Tata, chairman of Tata Sons Ltd.; Sir Ronald Cohen, chairman of the UK-based Portland Trust and Big Society Capital; and J. Carl Ganter, director and co-founder of Circle of Blue, an international network of journalists, scientists, and communications experts working to address and raise awareness of the global freshwater crisis, for their innovative work and philanthropy. And you can watch the whole thing from the comfort of your air-conditioned office.

Weekend Link Roundup (April 21-22, 2012)

April 22, 2012

Green-earth-dayOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Civil Society

In the Encyclopaedia of Informal Education, writer, activist, and sometime PhilanTopic contributor Michael Edwards bemoans the lack of clarity around the term civil society and attempts to restore some precision to the debate over its meaning. In the process, he reminds us that "Recognizing that civil society does indeed mean different things to different people is one of the keys to moving forward, because it moves us beyond false universals and entrenched thinking."

Communications/Marketing

On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen shares four trends, including the growing popularity of peer networks, likely to shake up nonprofit marketing. "People listen to each other more than us, so we need to stop viewing social media as another form of getting our message out," writes Andresen. "Its primary value is that it allows other people to get the message out, for us."

Entrepreneurship

On the Kauffman Foundation's Growthology log, Dane Stangler looks at the evolution of entrepreneurship and how the very definition of the word entrepreneur has broadened over the years. Writes Stangler: "In its original use by Jean-Baptiste Say, it was someone who undertook economic activities and capitalized on arbitrage opportunities. Joseph Schumpeter ushered in the modern way in which people typically use the term by equating it with newness -- new products, services, combinations, business models, etc. Israel Kirzner saw entrepreneurs as those who targeted and eliminated disequilibria in the economy (for Schumpeter, entrepreneurs created those disequilibria)." Today, however, "the word has come to be so overused as to potentially lose a great deal of meaning...."

Environment

In a guest post on the Knight Blog, Shannon Dosemagen, director of community engagement at the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, a 2011 Knight News Challenge winner, explains how the decision by Google to license community-created aerial maps from the lab's archive could lead to better policy and replace commercial and government data as a recognized representation of sites of civic and environmental concern.

Higher Education

The New York Times' Room for Debate series takes up the question of whether wealthy colleges deserve their tax breaks, with contributions from economist Sandy Baum; Michael McPherson, president of the Spencer Foundation; the American Entreprise Institute's Frederick Hess; Barbara Gitenstein, president of the College of New Jersey; Andrew Coulson, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute; Osamudia James, an associate professor of law at the University of Miami; and Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

International Affairs/Development

About.com's Joanne Fritz reminds readers who are thinking about doing a little "voluntourism" this summer to use common sense and follow these tips from the Center for Responsible Travel.

Philanthropy

On his Inside Philanthropy blog, Todd Cohen offers his take on some of the investment strategies that have emerged in recent years to scale up or expand proven nonprofit programs.

Regulation/Oversight

Idealist researcher/blogger Putnam Barber reminds nonprofit organizations, many of which do not have to file their Form 990s until May 15, to make sure they have answers to three important questions:

  • When is our filing deadline?
  • What do we need to know to be sure we stay current with all the rules and regulations?
  • Who is going to file our Form 990-N?

Social Entrepreneurship

Over at Dowser, J. Gregory Dees, a professor in the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and creator of the first course in social entrepreneurship in the U.S., challenges New York Times' columnist David Brooks' characterization of social entrepreneurship as something young people do to "avoid political participation and...[tackle the] 'corruption, venality, and disorder head-on'." Writes Dees:

Social entrepreneurs do not discourage political participation -- they invent new mechanisms for achieving the public good. Quite often solutions to problems require not just mobilizing political support but actually demonstrating how to solve problems that have confounded others.... Social entrepreneurs serve as society"s "learning laboratory," developing, testing, and refining new approaches to problems in ways that government agencies, with all their budgetary, bureaucratic, legislative, jurisdictional, and political constraints cannot do. These innovators represent the kind of decentralized problem solving that Nobel laureate Douglass North identifies as essential for any society to achieve what he calls "adaptive efficiency," the ability to adjust and thrive in the face of new challenges and shifting problems....

Social Media

On her blog, Allison Fine weighs in on the value of a Facebook "like." Writes Fine:

The notion of creating a direct equation of how much it cost to get one person to like a Facebook page and how much that person bought or gave as a result might satisfy the bean counters, but misses the larger point of why social media are so much more powerful than broadcast media. If you’re just looking for one, or ten, or one hundred thousand stand alone customers or donors, then there is no extra value in using social media. You could have just sent out a direct mail piece for that. The value in using social media is that every person, every like, comes with their own network that can be activated in an instant, and at no additional cost, for the organization. And that value, the value of having an army of your most ardent fans, affects far more than the development department....

Transparency

On the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Mark Hager, associate professor of nonprofit studies at Arizona State University's School of Community Resources and Development, explains how students in his Theory and Practice of Philanthropy course are using Glasspockets indicators to evaluate private foundations and "reflect critically on the value of transparency and how well the Glass Pockets assessment captures the concept." In the coming weeks, Hager will share thoughts from the student who "presented the most interesting observations about foundations, transparency, and the 'Who Has Glass Pockets' indicators." Stay tuned.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at [email protected]. And have a great week!

-- The Editors

Investing in the Environment: A PubHub Reading List

April 21, 2012

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she highlighted reports that address some of the issues and legal questions raised by the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate.)

Earth-day2012Protecting the environment has long been a priority for many philanthropic organizations; the Goldman Environmental Prize, for example, is now in its twenty-third year. But what about public and private investments in the environment? With global climate change threatening to halt and even reverse the social and economic gains we've seen in the developing world since the fall of the Berlin Wall, one would think that policy makers, multilateral agencies, institutional investors, and private philanthropy would be eager to collaborate to help mitigate the worst of its effects. In honor of Earth Day, today we're highlighting two reports that look at aspects of the clean energy landscape.

According to Impact at Scale: Policy Innovation for Institutional Investment With Social and Environmental Benefit (64 pages, PDF), a report from InSight at Pacific Community Ventures and the Initiative for Responsible Investment at Harvard University, the emerging field of impact investing -- investing with the intention of generating measurable social or environmental benefit in addition to financial returns -- will only gain traction when it succeeds in attracting large institutional investors. Indeed, with total assets of more than $20 trillion worldwide, institutional investors (e.g., pension funds, insurance companies, and private endowments) are key players in global capital markets and could do much to legitimize impact investing as a viable alternative to more traditional investment approaches. To unlock the potential of the field, however, public policy must be adjusted to incentivize institutional impact investment by offering, among other things, co-investment opportunities, tax credits, and subsidies for industries and sectors that meet specific impact goals.

For example, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 created incentives for solar energy development that, according to the report's authors, helped boost U.S. solar manufacturing capacity:

The legislation created a federal investment tax credit (ITC) incentive for solar energy equal to 30% of expenditures on commercial and residential solar energy systems. Initially applicable for only two years, the tax credit was extended for an additional year with the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006, and again for eight years in 2008 with the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. This last version also allowed utilities to qualify for the tax credit. Between the creation of the ITC in 2006 and year-end 2010, U.S. solar manufacturing capacity quadrupled, with the vast majority of growth in 2009 and 2010. While not solely responsible for the market expansion, the ITC was a substantive driver and policy certainty provided by the eight-year extension has helped to catalyze private investment in the field....

Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the report notes that institutional investors' fiduciary duty to fund beneficiaries can be a constraint:

Institutional asset owners have the potential, through their investments, for delivering social and environmental impacts at scale. But for public policy to help achieve this goal, it must take into account the nature of asset owners as investors and, in the near term, overcome perceptions of impact investing as a new, idiosyncratic, or niche market....

According to the report, targeted engagement of institutional asset owners should include: 1) an "enabling" strategy directed at investors to provide flexibility and "investability" in target markets; 2) an "integrative" strategy directed at intermediaries; and 3) a "developmental" infrastructure-building strategy to support nascent markets.

Where do we stand, then, in terms of investments in clean energy? Global investment in solar, wind, biofuels, and other renewable energy sources, as well as energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies, reached a record $263 billion in 2011, according to Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2011 Edition (56 pages, PDF), a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts and Pew Environment Group, with the G-20 countries contributing 95 percent of the total and more than half of that, some $128 million, going into solar. The report also found that the U.S. reclaimed its global leadership position in 2011 -- after falling to second place in 2009 and third place in 2010 -- with $48.1 billion in clean energy investments, an increase of 42 percent, followed by China ($45.5 billion) and Germany ($30.6 billion). "At the end of 2011, more than 565 GW of clean energy generating capacity was in place globally, 50 percent more than installed nuclear generating capacity," the report notes.

And what role did public investment play in supporting the sector? "In response to the global economic crisis...,

government stimulus plans allocated more than $194 billion for clean energy efforts. By the end of 2011, almost three-fourths of those funds ($142 billion) had reached the sector. More than $46 billion in stimulus funding for clean energy was spent in 2011, more than half of that by the United States and China together. Of the $53 million that remains, 67 percent ($35.7 billion) is expected to be spent in 2012....

But even though the U.S. led in total clean energy investment, as well as investments in solar, energy efficiency technologies, and biofuels, its leadership "is likely to be short-lived"  because of policy uncertainty. Indeed, nothing "appears likely to stem the long-term shift in the clean energy sector's center of gravity as investment swings from the West (Europe and the United States) to the East (Asia) and from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern."

Both reports suggest there is an urgent need for long-term public policies which incentivize institutional and other private investment in businesses that deliver environmental and social benefit. Without a policy framework to guide those investments and a market infrastructure to support them, however, the U.S. could end up losing the clean energy race and suffer the environmental, social, and economic consequences.

Eager to learn more about investments in clean energy, clean energy technology, and the economic impact of global climate change? Check out these reports, all of which can be found in PubHub:

Have a report or comment you'd like to share? Use the comment section below...

-- Kyoko Uchida

Weekend Link Roundup (February 25-26, 2012)

February 26, 2012

Oscar_statuette2012Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector...

Communications/Marketing

Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks explains why it might be time to think about retiring your nonprofit CEO as organizational spokesperson. According to the 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, for-profit chief executives were trusted by only 50 percent of survey respondents in 2011, and that figure declined by 12 points to 38 percent in 2012. "I don't think nonprofit CEOs have done as much to squander their collective reputation as corporate CEOs have," writes Brooks. "But maybe some of the dirt has rubbed off on our leaders...."

Environment

On the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy blog, NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman announces the release of a new report, Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders (52 pages, PDF), which suggests that foundations "can be more effective and secure more environmental wins by investing heavily in grassroots communities that are disproportionately impacted by environment and climate harms...."

Health

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has a nice Q&A with veteran Major League Baseball pitcher Jamie Moyer and his wife, Karin, whose Moyer Foundation works to help children and teens struggling with the death of someone close or who live with an addicted or co-dependent family member.

Nonprofit Management

In a piece for the Washington Post, Nonprofit Finance Fund CEO Antony Bugg-Levine argues that many nonprofits, particularly frontline agencies such as homeless service providers, health clinics, and domestic violence shelters that provide essential services to the most vulnerable communities, are facing an "existential crisis." And it's not a short-term crisis resulting from cyclical cuts. "Even if the economy recovers," writes Bugg-Levine,

structural demands on public coffers driven by inexorable demographic trends and the inevitable diversion of public resources to pay off deficits will reduce governments’ capacity to fund essential social services for the next few decades at least....

Once we accept this fact, the typical responses -- blaming the government for its stinginess or blaming service providers for their inefficiency -- will be revealed as increasingly inadequate explanations.

Instead of these default responses, we need to consider a fundamental question: "How will we secure a just and vibrant society now that our old models of sustaining essential organizations are disintegrating?"...

In the wake of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure/Planned Parenthood debacle, Albert Ruesga offers some advice to charities on his White Courtesy Telephone blog. The "time for charities to do their soul-searching is now," writes Ruesga. "Once a campaign against your organization goes viral, it's time for you to step up to the microphones and tell the world who you are and where you stand. Faced with the question, What are you about?, in the wake of an unpopular decision, do you have a clear idea what you would say?"

To help nonprofits still waiting for economic recovery to knock on their door, Social Velocity president Nell Edgington offers a list of things nonprofit leaders can do to create a sustainable financial model.

Philanthropy Journal's Todd Cohen looks at how community foundations are adapting their business model to keep pace with the evolving needs of donors. For example, the recent merger of the Boston Foundation and the Philanthropic Initiative, writes Cohen, has created a hybrid model for community foundations that focuses on generating new funds and providing training and resources for donors. TPI president and CEO Ellen Remmer told Cohen that this type of structure "can help ease a natural tension [TPI] identified in the old model in a study ten years ago...."

Philanthropy

After sharing findings from a recent Blackbaud report on online giving which found that "when large International Affairs organizations are removed from the analysis," online giving increased 13 percent in 2011, Allison Fine says the data confirms what many have known for years: "[O]nline giving is here to stay, most online giving happens when speed is important (year end and natural disasters), building relationships online (e.g. alumni) is a [key] to increasing giving."

Transparency

On the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Jacob Harold, philanthropy program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, says that transparency, measurement of multiple bottom lines, proactive engagement with stakeholders, and collaboration "offer a framework for foundations to be more effective while avoiding unproductive government intervention. They are not simple boxes to be checked," adds Harold, "each is an attitude that must be embedded across foundation activities and constantly refreshed...."

That's it for this week. What did we miss? Drop us a line at [email protected]!

-- The Editors

Weekend Link Roundup (December 3 - 4, 2011)

December 04, 2011

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

Environment

On the Mother Nature Network, author Chris Turner (The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy) suggests that the problem with the modern environmental movement is "a maddening combination of Much Too Big and Way Too Little": Rio, Kyoto, Copenhagen, and Durban -- "the entire international emissions treaty process...[is] predicated...on convincing essentially the whole world to take [the first step] all at once, in unison," while our individual decisions to use eco-friendly products at home just aren't going to change the world. In his post, Turner offers advice about how to nurture your own activism and points to the solar energy boom in Gainesville, Florida, as an example of right-sizing a community sustainability effort.

As part of Occupy the Future, a forum on lessons to be drawn from the Occupy movement hosted by the Boston Review, Paul and Anne Ehrlich (co-authors, most recently, of The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment) offer a much darker view of the "conflict" between capitalism and the environment. "It is clear that we must redesign governments to regulate the marketplace so that most externalities are internalized for the good of society," write the Ehrlichs. "Everyone should recognize that old-time capitalism, like socialism and communism,

simply has not and cannot generate the sustainable redistribution and material and population shrinkage that are essential to creating an environmentally sound and equitable global society. The challenge is immense and unprecedented, with the dilemma exacerbated by plutocrats buying politicians and funding a powerful and effective disinformation machine programmed to lie about environmental threats. Overcoming that machine will require much cooperation, which won’t likely be achieved without new institutions and a broad increase in social justice. And these will require what the Occupy movement apparently demands: that we step back and consider whether the society we’ve built is indeed the one we want. But we have no choice but to meet the challenge. Either we will change our ways, or they will be changed for us.

Fundraising

Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks explains why the advent of Web 2.0 fundraising tools has not killed direct mail. "Direct mail is the greatest fundraising medium ever created -- after the church collection plate," writes Brooks. "It's changing, getting more complex and more expensive. But it's not dying."

Health

On the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists blog, Dr. Bart Haynes, head of the NIH NIAID Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), marks the thirtieth anniversary of the global AIDS epidemic by reflecting on the progress that has been made in developing a safe and effective AIDS vaccine.

In an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal ("No Retreat in the Fight Against AIDS"), George W. Bush recounts the successes over the last decade of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). More than 4.7 million people have received AIDS treatment through the Global Fund and PEPFAR, Bush notes, while some 450,000 children have been born HIV-negative due to the latter's programs to disrupt mother-to-child transmission. And while acknowledging that "in lean budget times the U.S. and developing world must prioritize," the former president closes by urging Congress to think twice before it cuts funding for the programs.

On the same topic, Open Society Foundations program officer Shannon Kowalski gives two reasons why it's unlikely AIDS will be eradicated: "political will and the money to do it." Writes Kowalski:

These two barriers came into painfully clear view last week when the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced that it was cancelling its latest call for applications for funding and adopted a set of drastic measures so that it could maintain funding for the essential services that it is currently supporting. At precisely the moment we've realized how to curb HIV, donors have left the Global Fund treading water, struggling to keep funding flowing to preserve the lives of those who are already on treatment....

And in "World AIDS Day: The Role of Religion," the Council on Foreign Relations' Isobel Coleman writes that "[t]he obstacles to achieving an AIDS-free generation -- and the benefits of this achievement for humanity -- make the constructive involvement of religious institutions crucial." While religious leaders have "contributed to the epidemic by denying the importance of condoms in HIV prevention and contributing to the stigma that AIDS patients already confront," Coleman writes, USAID is partnering with religious leaders in places like Indonesia to "facilitate the implementation of HIV policy statements" and "share a compilation of fatwa (religious guidance) on HIV prevention."

Journalism/Media

Author, NYU professor, and new media deep thinker Clay Shirky (Here Comes Everybody: The Power Of Organizing Without Organizations) brilliantly rebuts a lengthy piece in the Columbia Journalism Review written by Dean Starkman in which Starkman argues "for the continued relevance of existing news organizations, especially newspapers, in something very close to their current form." It's long, well worth reading, and includes this observation: "No medium has ever survived the indifference of 25 year olds...." Indeed.

Philanthropy

The folks at the BlackGivesBack blog need your help selecting the top ten celebrity philanthropists of 2011. Anyone can vote, as long as they do it before Sunday, December 11.

Social Justice

At the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Sara K. Gould, former president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, shares key findings from Diminishing Dollars: The Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis on the Field of Social Justice Philanthropy (35 pages, PDF), a new study which she authored with help from colleagues at the Cricket Island Foundation, the Foundation Center, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and the Social Justice Philanthropy Collaborative.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at [email protected]. And have a great week!

-- The Editors

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