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16 posts categorized "Evaluation"

Weekend Link Roundup (April 25-26, 2015)

April 26, 2015

Ss-150425-nepal-earthquake-09Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content from and about the social sector, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Disaster Relief

In the aftermath of a major natural disaster like the powerful earthquake that struck Nepal yesterday, early assistance -- in the form of money -- is the best and most effective kind of assistance. On her Nonprofit Charitable Orgs blog, Joanne Fritz shares other ways to help victims of a natural disaster.

Nearly $10 billion in relief and reconstruction aid was committed to Haiti after the devastating January 2010 earthquake in that impoverished country. Where did it all go? VICE on HBO Correspondent Vikram Gandhi reports.

Education

Has the education reform movement peaked? According to em>New York Times columnist Nick Kristof, "The zillionaires [who have funded the movement] are bruised. The idealists are dispirited. The number of young people applying for Teach for America, after 15 years of growth, has dropped for the last two years. The Common Core curriculum is now an orphan, with politicians vigorously denying paternity." Which is why, says Kristof, it might be time to "refocus some reformist passions on early childhood."

Evaluation

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Johanna Morariu, director of the Innovation Network, shares five grantmaker and nonprofit practices "that undermine or limit the ability of nonprofit organizations to fully engage in evaluation."

Fundraising

What is social fundraising? Liz Ragland, senior content and marketing associate at Network for Good, explains.

Nonprofit With Balls blogger and Game of Thrones fan Vu Le has some issues with the donor-centric model of fundraising. "When [it's] done right," he writes, "it’s cool; when it’s done wrong, we sound like the used car salesmen of justice...."

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Weekend Link Roundup (April 18-19, 2015)

April 19, 2015

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

Data

How can nonprofits use data to create a culture of continuous improvement. Beth Kanter explains.

Evaluation/Effectiveness

In a post on her Giving Evidence site, Caroline Fiennes suggests that charities are being asked to do too much evaluation -- and presents some evidence to support her argument.

Writing on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Nancy Baughman Csuti, director of research, evaluation and strategic learning at the Colorado Trust, says that funders can and should

engage in deeper conversations with grantees to understand their needs regarding evaluation, continue to provide general operating support, and, with that, encourage time to review results, reflect, and adapt. We can encourage grantees to share what they have learned and provide resources and assistance for them to do so, and do the same ourselves. As funders, we should jump on the opportunities to encourage our grantees to embrace a culture of evaluation and learning that results in seeing problems and solutions differently. And always, we must do ourselves what we ask of grantees....

Human/Civil Rights

Civil society and human rights groups find themselves in a new world characterized by "multiplicity," public disillusionment, and growing non-institutional activism, writes Lucia Nader on the Transformation  blog. And if they want to remain relevant, she adds, they'll need to find a balance "between preserving what has already been achieved, and deconstructing, innovating, reinventing and transforming [themselves]."

Journalism/Media

Is the nonprofit news model sustainable? Based on his reading of Gaining Ground, How Nonprofit News Ventures Seek Sustainability, a new report from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Inside Philanthropy's Paul M.J. Sucheki has his doubts.

Nonprofits

$23.07/hr. That's Independent Sector's latest estimate of the value of volunteer time. More here

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[Infographic] 10 Traits That Make Nonprofits Great

March 21, 2015

This week's infographic, courtesy of the Horatio Alger Association, a nonprofit educational organization "established in 1947 to dispel the mounting belief among the nation's youth that the American dream was no longer attainable," doesn't break any ground when it comes to the traits that make nonprofits great. These are things all nonprofits need to (rather than should) do if they hope to succeed over the long term. But while some (#4, #6 and #9) are more important than others, all contain at least a kernel of good advice....

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Making Philanthropic Investments Last: The Role of Financial Sustainability

October 30, 2014

Headshot_schneider_kidron_300x600Launched in 2010, the Jim Joseph Foundation's Education Initiative has supported the development and expansion of eighteen degree and certificate programs as well as leadership institutes at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), and Yeshiva University (YU).

The foundation provided the resources needed for program development, staffing, student tuition assistance, and marketing/recruitment activities. The investment was substantial – each institution received $15 million over a period of up to six years. As part of its independent evaluation of the initiative, American Institutes for Research (AIR) assessed not only how well the three grantees delivered these programs, but how they planned to financially sustain their programs into the future after the foundation's investment wound down.

Financial sustainability requires careful planning, typically using a dynamic document that is reviewed and revisited periodically. Such a document – the financial sustainability plan – describes strategies to contain costs and to cover them through fundraising and program revenues.

Informing Financial Sustainability Plans Through Break-Even Analysis

A common tool in financial planning is break-even analysis, which identifies the circumstances in which costs and revenues are balanced. To help Jim Joseph Foundation Education Initiative grantees, we developed a program-level Break-Even Analysis Calculator, allowing program administrators to project revenues and expenditures by changing variables such as tuition, numbers of students, and staffing levels. This interactive tool can be used to:

  1. Identify the resources required to implement a program, including personnel, facilities, equipment, and materials, whether paid for directly or contributed in-kind, and subsequently to calculate program costs.
  2. Explore ways to reduce costs.
  3. Identify the effects of different levels of tuition and scholarships.
  4. Calculate fundraising needs and demonstrate to potential funders why their help is needed.

Review of Financial Sustainability Plans

We created benchmarks for reviewing the financial sustainability plans submitted by each institution. The four criteria described below are based on the assumption that financial sustainability is a process, not an end. In other words, although the process aimed at achieving financial sustainability may not yet be completed, the financial sustainability plan contributes to a road map that programs can follow into the future.

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Weekend Link Roundup (June 7-8, 2014)

June 08, 2014

World Cup_logoOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....

Climate Change

On the Bloomberg View site, Cass Sunstein, the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard University, provides three rebuttals to the so-called Sophisticated Objection of the fossil fuel lobby and its supporters, an argument which acknowledges that while climate change is a serious problem, unilateral action by any country will impose significant costs without producing significant benefits.

Data

On the Markets for Good blog, Lucy Bernholz suggests it's time we started thinking more seriously about how to "collect, organize, govern, store, share, and destroy digital data for public benefit" – and offers a couple of "deliberately half-baked" ideas to get us started.

"Good data practice is not just about the technical skills," writes Beth Kanter on her blog. "There is a human side [as well].  It is found between the dashboard and the chair. It includes organizational culture and its influence on decision-making – from consensus building on indicators, agility in responding to data with action, and sense-making. It is the human side that helps nonprofits use  their data for learning and continuous improvement." 

Education

On the Inside Philanthropy site, L.S. Hall weighs in with a surprisingly generous consideration of the education philanthropy of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Evaluation

Nancy Roob, president and CEO of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, argues in a post on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog that while fears of rigorous evaluation are "justifiable," a broader perspective on the purposes of evaluation can help allay them.

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Moving the Needle: Learning, Doing and Looking Ahead

December 13, 2013

(Sherece West-Scantlebury is the president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. This post originally appeared on the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy blog.)

Headshot_sherece_westWinthrop Rockefeller's arrival in Arkansas in 1953 was a major event. That a member of one of the wealthiest families in the world had moved to one of the poorest states in the country was a big deal. The press was understandably curious and asked about his plans. "I've got a lot to learn and a whole lot more to do," the state's future governor responded.

Decades later, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation continues the governor's "learning" and "doing," often at the same time. On the learning side of the equation, we've done two things this year that we feel are worth sharing.

The first was a retrospective on the first five years of our Moving the Needle Strategic Plan. Developed in 2007, Moving the Needle was based on close to one hundred conversations with policy makers, grassroots community leaders, business leaders, youth, and national experts on community change. Those conversations, combined with our research on best practices in economic development, social justice and closing the achievement gap, formed the framework that has guided WRF's investments for the last five years. Moving the Needle 2008 – 2013: Looking Back Going Forward is our best effort to tell the story of the short-term impact of our investments.

The second notable thing we've done this year is partnering with NCRP to look at how our strategies and practices align with our goals, the impact created by the Moving the Needle agenda, and the quality of WRF's partnerships with grantees. To that end, NCRP developed and deployed a comprehensive appraisal tool based on its Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best and recommendations from Real Results: Why Strategic Philanthropy Is Social Justice Philanthropy. Former and current grantees, applicants that did not receive funding, and stakeholders such as government representatives and peer institutions participated in the assessment.

Through this process, we gathered data on how our partners view both the impact of the Moving the Needle strategy and the way we go about meeting our mission. The full report, NCRP Assessment of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, provides all the details. But in short, NCRP found that:

  • Our partners understand and support the Moving the Needle Strategic plan and grantmaking approach.
  • Many grantees and stakeholders see specific signs of progress in Moving the Needle, especially in the areas of education and immigration.
  • Our partners view WRF as a highly effective funder, partly because of open, accessible foundation staff and a strong sense of shared purpose.
  • We demonstrate a consistent commitment to rural communities and resident engagement.
  • We are viewed as an effective partner, and we use our convening power to foster non-competitive relationships among our partners around the state.

Lest we get too full of ourselves, it was also clear that:

  • If we are going to see the needle move more significantly in Arkansas, there needs to be additional investment in community change and economic development in the Delta.
  • Open and accessible staff does not always mean a more efficient process. We should strive to create more timely feedback loops on the "paper-work" parts of our relationships.
  • We should expand our willingness to provide core support and capacity development for resident engagement and community organizing.
  • Leadership development is a critical component of our strategy and worthy of additional investments.

After nearly twenty years in philanthropy, I've learned there is a thin line between navel gazing and strategic assessment. Navel gazing (we've all done it) takes data, gives it a thoughtful review, and files it away. That is not our plan. WRF has already begun to build better internal systems and recalibrate its grantmaking strategy in response to feedback from our partners.

Internally, we've committed to tighter response timelines and using technology to better facilitate the transactional aspects of our relationships with grantees. On the strategy side, we incorporated the findings of the assessment into the development of Moving the Needle 2.0, the strategic plan that will guide our work for the next five years.

WRF is a small foundation with a huge mission. Our ability to positively impact the opportunities of low-income Arkansans is directly related to our ability to cultivate and sustain partnerships. It's not enough for us just to "do well"; we also have to be "do well by others" if we are going to have strong partnerships that enable us to achieve our action agenda.

A regular, methodical, third-party inquiry -- how are we doing? does it make sense? what do you think? -- is a critical part of the learning we must continually engage in to make sure that all our "doing" is actually making a difference.

How do you think we're doing? Feel free to share your comments and feedback below.

-- Sherece West-Scantlebury

Weekend Link Roundup (November 16-17, 2013)

November 17, 2013

Headshot_JFK_portrait_looking_upWe're getting ready to launch a new PND site, so this week's roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the sector is a little shorter than usual....

Climate Change

What's the link between global warming and killer tropical storms like Typhoon Haiyan -- quite possibly the strongest storm ever recorded upon landfall? It's not clear, writes Bryan Walsh in TIME magazine, but we shouldn't discount the possibility that such a link exists -- or that stronger, if not necessarily more frequent, tropical cyclones will be a feature of the twenty-first century because of "the warming we've already baked into the system...."

Disaster Response

On the GiveWell blog, Holden Karnofsky shares GiveWell's advice vis-a-vis disaster relief giving:

  1. Give cash, not clothes (or other goods).
  2. Support an organization that will help or get out of the way.
  3. Give proactively, not reactively.
  4. Allow your funds to be used where most needed – even if that means they’re not used during this disaster.
  5. Give to organizations that are transparent and accountable.
  6. Think about less-publicized suffering.

Evaluation

Good post by Tom Kelly, vice president of knowledge, evaluation and learning at the Hawaii Community Foundation, about foundations moving "to embrace and promote 'learning' as an alternative to evaluation." The problem with that, writes Kelly, is that "evaluation must be about learning and accountability. We must be accountable not only to the results we intend and promise to communities but...also learn in an accountable way." 

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Weekend Link Roundup (Sept. 7-8, 2013)

September 08, 2013

Back-to-school-signOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

On the Communications Network blog, Kate Emanuel, senior vice president of nonprofit and government relations at the Ad Council, offers some straightforward advice for organizations looking to create and/or leverage an online community:

  1. Think hard about whether you need an online community.
  2. Choose the right platform.
  3. Once you build it, be sure to promote it.
  4. Make your community work for you.

Disaster Relief

On LinkedIn, Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, shares a list of things every community needs after a disaster.

Education

Writing in the New York Times, Rob Reich, a professor of political science at Stanford University, argues that the "policies that govern private giving to public schools [are] perverse" and deepen the "inequalities they are...responsible for diminishing." How can we improve the situation? First, writes Reich, wealthy school foundations should honor the equality-promoting standards released by the National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education. Second, donors and school foundations should support progressive tax reform. And third, Congress should differentiate or eliminate charitable status for local education foundations. What do you think?

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (August 2013)

September 02, 2013

It's the start of a new month, which means it's time to look back at the most popular posts on PhilanTopic over the last thirty days:

What did you read/watch/listen to in August that PhilanTopic readers should know about? Share your favorites in the comments section....

Weekend Link Roundup (August 17-18, 2013)

August 18, 2013

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

Civil Rights

On the Library of Congress blog, Erin Allen chats with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), one of the leaders of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, about the fiftieth anniversary of the march.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Peter Buffett's op-ed about the "charitable-industrial complex" in the New York Times a few weeks back continues to generate comment -- supportive (here, here, here, and here) and critical (here, here, here, and here). Writing on the Huff Post business blog, Margaret Coady, executive director of CECP (formerly the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy), characterizes Buffett's musings as "a mix of insightful and simplistic observations," while applauding his warning not to confuse prosperity with "the blind accumulation of material goods." The good news, adds Coady,

is that CEOs of large multinational companies are working on a version of Buffett's challenge. In other words: the very individuals heading up "the industrial complex" assumed by many to be 'the bad guys' are, in their way, laser focused on creating greater prosperity for all.

Don't mistake me. These CEOs are obsessive about bottom-line growth -- which depends on consumerism. But they are awakening to benefits of replacing "quarterly capitalism" (which has led many companies to disregard their negative social and environmental externalities) with "long-term capitalism" (which takes greater responsibility for the effect the company has on the world). Increasingly, these CEOs are committing to sustainable, investor-friendly alternatives to a zero-sum version of capitalism. That doesn't fully meet Peter Buffet's goal, but I'd argue that it is meaningful progress....

Data

It's a widely accepted truism that the era of open data is upon us. But not all data is created equal, and its use, like so many things, is subject to abuse. Writing on the Markets for Good blog, Andy Isaacson, an engineer at Palantir Technologies, argues that with "[open] data comes great responsibility, both to make the information usable, and also to protect the privacy and civil liberties of the people involved." The goal, he adds, "is, or should be, about the democratization of data, allowing anybody on the web to extract, synthesize, and build from raw materials -- and effect change."

Beth Kanter has a useful post on the top ten chart secrets of data nerds.

And while we're on the subject, do you know the seven deadly sins of data analysis? The Whole Whale does, and they include: Pride ("thinking you know better than the data"), Sloth ("being lazy and only analyzing one metric"), and Gluttony ('converting too many data into too many dashboards").

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How RWJF Tackles the 'Social Media, So What?' Question

April 26, 2013

(Debra Joy Perez [@djoyperez] currently is serving as interim vice president of research and evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest healthcare philanthropy in the country. The following Q&A was conducted by our colleagues in the Foundation Center's San Francisco office and originally appeared on Transparency Talk, the Glasspockets blog.)

Headshot_debra-PerezLast year, after Steve Downs, chief technology and information office at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shared a post on Transparency Talk detailing the foundation's social media strategy, we conducted a series of interviews (here, here, and here) with RWJF staff members that explored how social media and, more broadly, the transparency and participation they offer was adding a new, critical dimension to their work.

The latest Q&A in the series, featuring Debra Joy Perez, the foundation's interim vice president of research and evaluation, explores how RWJF's use of social media, which has become essential to its communication efforts, can be measured to reflect the impact of that work in the context of achieving the foundation's larger social change goals.

TT: Give us a quick overview of your work at the foundation in light of these new technologies. Why are social media metrics important to RWJF?

DJP: RWJF has a forty-year history of developing evidence-based programming. We're known for our research and evaluation work nationally and internationally. But as efforts to advance our goals in health and health care have become more reliant on technology, we've struggled with measuring success and accountability.

Since 2009, RWJF has been incorporating Web 2.0 technology into our everyday work, and with the September launch of our redesigned Web site, we now have more social sharing facilitation tools on the site. We're also doing more on on Twitter and Facebook to invite conversation about how to advance health and health care and are producing content to serve the needs of various online communities.

All that activity allows us to clearly see the present and future value of social media, which we believe can help us create social change and build movements around the causes we care deeply about. And, guided by the principles of openness, participation, and decentralization, we have learned a number of important lessons from that work. They include:

  • Personal outreach matters;
  • Responsiveness to requests for engagement is important;
  • Criticism can lead to healthy dialogue;
  • Engagement needs to be easy and simple; and
  • Real engagement requires work and dedicated resources.

These takeaways underscore the importance of ongoing conversation about the policies and processes needed to achieve our goals. For instance, with each social media campaign, we have to be explicit about our expectations. Metrics are an essential part of that effort. Measurement allows us to see how we're doing against those expectations and to improve our use of social media to achieve our broader goals.

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How Collaborative Learning Can Make Organizations Smarter, Stronger, and Better Positioned to Scale: A Q&A with Andrew Wolk and Wendy Yallowitz

December 04, 2012

Collab_learning_thumbnail_319_319Andrew Wolk is founder of Root Cause,
a nonprofit research and consulting firm that partners with nonprofits, philanthropy, government, and business to advance solutions to today's toughest social issues, and Wendy Yallowitz is a program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Vulnerable Populations Portfolio, which supports social innovations with the potential to grow to scale. For almost two years, Root Cause helped guide RWJF grantee More Than Wheels, a Boston-based nonprofit that helps people get the best deal on a reliable and fuel-efficient car, through a facilitated merger exploration with Ways to Work, a Milwaukee-based community development financial institution that provides short-term low-interest loans to working poor families with challenging credit histories -- a merger that ultimately failed to materialize. From the process, however, Root Cause and RWJF developed a "collaborative learning" framework that allowed both organizations to learn from each other and emerge with stronger, smarter strategies than they would have on their own. The lessons learned are available in "Collaborative Learning: A Case Study on More Than Wheels and Ways to Work," which is available as a as a downloadable PDF from the RWJF site bookstore.

In the following Q&A, Andrew and Wendy shed light on how collaborative learning turned a failed merger exploration into a success. A version of this post originally appeared on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog.

Transparency Talk: What is collaborative learning, and what are its origins?

Andrew Wolk: It's an intentional effort between two organizations to exchange, analyze, and apply knowledge that will lead to better outcomes. More specifically, collaborative learning is a structured, facilitated learning process that allows for in-depth knowledge exchange without the organizational and cultural challenges of mergers. Based on a four-step framework, the process can serve as an alternative to merger discussions -- or a "plan B" in the middle of merger talks that aren't working out.

Wendy Yallowitz: It's a good time for this type of framework. When you consider how nonprofits continue to grow in number and are continually asked to do more with less, it's more common for foundations to encourage similar organizations to figure out whether there's a way to optimize resources. Hence, we're seeing more merger explorations like the one we pursued with More Than Wheels and Ways to Work.

AW: As for origins, this potential merger brought about the framework. We know from past experience merger talks can present huge barriers, and we were running into some of those things. At a certain point, we decided to take an approach whereby we lifted the pressure of mergers or formal collaborations and partnerships as expectations so that the two organizations could work together to solve problems and grapple with strategic questions.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (October 2012)

November 01, 2012

Here in Manhattan, things post-Sandy are slooowly getting back to normal. For tens of thousands of people in Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey, "normal" will never be the same. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who lost loved ones. For everyone else, these were the most popular posts on PhilanTopic in October:

What have you read/watched/listened to lately that you liked?

Weekend Link Roundup (August 18-19, 2012)

August 19, 2012

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

Corn_on_cobCommunications/Marketing

On the Communications Network blog, Courtney Williamson talks to Allyson Burns, vice president for communications at the Case Foundation, about the foundation's Be Fearless Campaign. The initiative, which aims to "[encourage] all organizations trying to improve people’s lives 'to take risks' in how they approach their work," was inspired by a request from Case Foundation CEO and co-founder Jean Case for "a new messaging strategy that reflected how the foundation’s work has evolved since its inception." With the help of branding firm BBMG, Burns says, the foundation identified two themes, experimentation and partnership, that became the linchpin of the new strategy. "It doesn't mean we're always fearless," says Burns, "but I'm trying to do better every day."

On her Non-Profit Marketing Blog, Katya Andresen introduces a mini-guide created by her organization, Network for Good, that walks readers through the basics of e-mail engagement.

Evaluation

On the GiveWell Blog, Holden Karnofsky explains how GiveWell differentiates between strong and weak evidence when it evaluates charities. "By 'evidence,'" writes Karnofsky, "we generally mean observations that are more easily reconciled with the charity's claims about the world and its impact than with our skeptical default/'prior' assumption." General properties that make for strong evidence, Karnofsky adds, include relevant reported effects, attribution, representativeness, and consonance with other observations.

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Weekend Link Roundup (July 21-22, 2012)

July 22, 2012

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

Collaboration

Minnesota Council on Foundations Web communications associate Chris Oien shares a list of free tools that make it easy to collaborate with others, including Dropbox for file sharing and Google+ Hangouts for online meetings.

Communications/Marketing

On the heels of the virtual Millennial Impact conference, Network for Good's Katya Andresen shares a few more key findings from the 2012 report on giving by younger donors on her Non-Profit Marketing blog. Among other things, Andresen reminds us that:

  • Millennials prefer to hear from/about causes via social media, e-newsletters and alerts, and Web sites;
  • They give online -- and in person; and
  • They like to hear about volunteer opportunities from their peers.

You can read or download the report here.

Evaluation

On the GuideStar blog, Mark Miller-McLemore, dean of the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt, argues that "assessment can be meaningful, even if it might not be easily quantifiable." To that end, he shares three guidelines for nonprofit leaders to follow:

  • the best action is guided by principles;
  • the best action does the greatest good for the greatest number; and
  • good organizations are good people doing good things well.

Governance

In light of the report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh on the Penn State University child sex-abuse scandal -- a report which found that the university's board "failed in its duty to make reasonable inquiry into these serious matters and to demand action by the President" -- James Irvine Foundation president and CEO James E. Canales offers some advice to nonprofit board members in an op-ed piece on the Chronicle of Philanthropy site.

Responding to Canales's op-ed, Allison Fine says that the saddest part of the Penn State situation is that we've been here before, 

and, sadly, we'll be here again, and I wonder what part of the governance process or relationship or even existence is so difficult that so few organizations do it well. Senior executives feeling that they have to "manage" their boards, stop them from interfering and micro-managing, share as little as possible with them are the norms not the exception. And board members more interested in the appearance of service than actually being trained as nonprofit board members (not the same as sitting in a meeting at work!) and learning about the work of the organization and insisting on accountability are the exception not the rule. Are the models for good governance, as Jim writes in myriad pamphlets, books, training courses, etc. so difficult and unrealistic that most organization will simply never be there...?

And on his Nonprofit Communications blog, James D'Ambrosio says that Penn State should follow the advice of a New York Times contributor who recently suggested that the university donate "the next four years of football-related profits...to a fund benefiting the victims of child sexual abuse."

Human/Civil Rights

On Nelson Mandela Day, Idealist.org's Allison Jones shares a video created by Prezence Digital Production that pays tribute to the former president of South Africa. "While the video is meant to be a fun way to explore the life and impact of Nelson Mandela," writes Jones, "it also made me wonder: what role does social media play in moving social movements forward?" We're wondering the same thing. Share your thoughts in the comments section below, or at the Idealist blog here.

Philanthropy

How can foundations really understand what's going on around them? How can they map the ever-evolving topography of funding in their areas of interest? asks Mendi Blue on the Center for Effective Phlanthropy blog. One possible solution, scanning the philanthropic landscape, was highlighted in a recent Grantcraft report. As the report points out, and Blue notes, however, multi-dimensional scanning "is easier said than done."

Back from a well-deserved vacation, NCRP executive director Aaron Dorfman applauds the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which recently announced plans to "cease running its own service programs and instead give out $20 million more per year in grants to high-performing nonprofits." Indeed, the "winner in this scenario," says Dorfman, "will be the families and communities that the foundation and its grantees seek to serve."

Philanthropy 2173's Lucy Bernholz adds "sensemaking" to her list of 2012 philanthropy buzzwords. Originally suggested by our colleague Lisa Philp, who oversees the Foundation Center's GrantCraft initiative, sensemaking "is what buzzword number three (data scientists) do with buzzword number one (data)," says Bernholz.

And in another post on her blog, Lucy does a deep dive on the idea of data as an essential element (think, Periodic Table of Elements) in philanthropic work. "Why does this metaphor work when thinking about data in philanthropy?" asks Bernolz. "Because these raw elements are only the beginning of the story. For data to be useful in philanthropy they have to be known, accessible, and compoundable....If everyone tracks their data separately, calls things by different names, and holds onto them behind closed doors, well, that's like having hydrogen in one room, oxygen in another and being desperate for a drink...."

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

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