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256 posts categorized "Nonprofit Management"

Weekend Link Roundup (July 20-21, 2013)

July 21, 2013

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

Data

This is the era of big data, and that's a good thing, argues Matthew Scharpnick, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Elefint Designs, in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. But, he adds, "for every new piece of valuable data, a much larger pile of useless data surrounds and obscures it. It's tough work to sift through it all to find the pieces that lead us to greater insights." Which is why,

Organizations need to understand what stories they want to tell with their data -- ideally before those data sets are even gathered. While it's important to let the data collections speak for themselves --being careful not to manipulate them to present stories that are not there -- it's equally important to gather the right kinds of data and to do so with a strategic understanding of how they can become insightful information tied to the larger narrative of the organization. When the right data are gathered in the right way and presented intelligently, that is where the magic of data begins to fulfill its promise...."

Diversity

Writing on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Kelly Brown, director of the D5 Coalition, a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy, reflects on the initiative's progress at midpoint and suggests that it's a bit of mixed bag. "Those who question whether the effective inclusion of diverse perspectives has a positive influence on smart decision-making should look closer at the evidence," she writes. But at the same time, recent events

make it clear that building philanthropy's capacity to fully include diverse perspectives must be as salient and pressing for foundations as dealing with the much-buzzed issues of "big data," managing "networked organizations," "scaling what works," or fostering "collective impact." None of these approaches will reach their fullest potential if they cannot effectively manifest in a diverse and complex world that is yearning for equity....

Higher Education

Responding to a special report in the Chronicle of Higher Education that examined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's postsecondary education strategy and outisize influence on the postsecondary debate, Daniel Greenstein, director of the Postsecondary Success program at the foundation, writes that while he and his colleagues welcome a rigorous public conversation about the challenges facing our education system, the report "missed the big picture." Namely, "that nearly three out of four students aren't enrolled in full-time, four-year degree programs and that the current system doesn't work for adults who are juggling jobs, family and other priorities while they also work toward a degree."

Nonprofits

Looking to start a nonprofit or social enterprise to address a critical community need, one that will be more than just a flash in the pan? Ayesha Khanna, president of Civic Incubator, shares some practical tips to help you do just that:

  • Define your objectives and what you want to accomplish.
  • Develop a business model and test your assumptions.
  • Find seed funding to allow you to make little bets.
  • Develop diverse funding streams.
  • Enroll others in your mission and work.
  • Create a public relations strategy.

Has all the recent talk about overhead myths and ratios left you a bit confused? If it has, hop on over to the Charities review Council's Smart Giving Matters blog, where you'll find five surefire ways to get the full picture of a nonprofit's effectiveness.

Philanthropy

In a new paper ("Beauty and the Beast: Can Money Ever Foster Social Transformation?") written for Hivos, a foundation in the Netherlands, Michael Edwards, one of our favorite contrarians, argues that instead of its current fixation on market-based revenue generation for social change, philanthropy should be directing more support to what he calls "democratic" and "transformational" funding models. (Back in 2012, we published a terrific series of posts by Edwards on more or less the same topic.)

In a similar vein, Josh Mailman, founder of the progressive Threshold Foundation, argues in a video on Bridgepsan's GiveSmart site that philanthropy is missing a great opportunity to "advance business accountability and business responsibility." Mailman, who was among the first investors in yogurt maker Stonyfield Farms, the Utne Reader, and household products maker Seventh Generation, believes that movements drive social change, and that "getting wealthy people involved in building movements is a really good idea, because movements are mostly people that don't have money."

"Orthodoxies are those [assumptions] we are so accustomed to that we barely think about them, let alone question them," writes Lucy Bernholz on her Philanthropy 2173 blog. In the social sector, they include things like the inviolability of property tax exemptions and the charitable deduction, intellectual property rights, and the right to privacy in the digital sphere. The problem with that approach, Bernholz adds, "is in thinking that the rules that have worked for the last century will stay the same, will work the same, will still be useful or needed for the next century. Some might. Some won't. Some shouldn't...."

In a post on the GrantCraft blog, Lisa Suchet, CEO at the UK-based Nationwide Foundation, shares some interesting learnings from the foundation's Money Matters, Homes Matter and Families Matter initiative, which awarded three-year grants to nine charities working with disadvantaged groups to address housing and homeless issues n the foundation's service area.

Writing on their Philanthropy Potluck blog, the folks at the Minnesota Council on Foundations share some findings from a new Council on Foundations report that looks at staff demographics and compensation levels at foundations around the country. Among the findings:

  • The graying of foundation staff has accelerated significantly.
  • There is still a large gender gap at the top of large foundations.
  • Twenty-nine percent of private foundations reported that they employ people of color, while only 19 percent of community foundations said the same. 

Social Good

Trevor Neilson, president of the Global Philanthropy Group, advises readers of the Huffington Post Impact blog to ignore those who disparage Millennials as "lazy, entitled and narcissistic." Not true, says Neilson, who suggests, to the contrary, "that Millennials have more power than any generation in modern history to drastically improve our world for the better...."

Transparency

Last but note least, kudos to the Blue Shield of California Foundation, which earlier in the week posted a downloadable version of its 2012 Grantee Perception Report -- along with a frank assessment of the dimensions in which it has improved since 2010, as well as areas where improvement is still needed.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org. And stay cool!

--The Editors

Silence Isn’t Golden

July 09, 2013

(Mark Rosenman is an emeritus professor at the Union Institute & University and directs Caring to Change, an initiative that seeks to improve how foundations serve the public. In his last post, he urged PhilanTopic readers to assess how they value the things they value.)

Rosenman_headshotConfronted by headlines about truly questionable practices at a few dozen charities, the response of too many nonprofit leaders has been to bury their heads in the sand and try to pull the hole in after them. What these leaders fail to appreciate is that silence in response to scandalous behavior is neither golden nor in their best interests.

By now, most of you have seen the carefully researched list compiled by the Center for Investigative Reporting, in partnership with the Tampa Bay Times and CNN, of "America's 50 worst charities" -- tax-exempt organizations that "channel most of the money they raise to professional solicitors, mimic other charities' names, deceive donors on telemarketing calls, divert money and contracts to people with ties to their organizations, and use accounting tricks to inflate the amount they report spending on their missions."

Yet, despite overwhelming evidence of self-dealing by these groups and their closely associated entities, key leadership organizations in the sector, including Independent Sector, have responded to requests for comment from the press by declaring that they didn't have enough information to make a judgment, while others have defended outrageous fundraising percentages diverted to what the California Association of Nonprofits' Jan Masaoka labels the "philanthropic-consultant industrial complex."

When it comes to nonprofits, these kinds of abuses are nothing new, and neither is the timidity of nonprofit leaders in condemning them. Their silence in the past has greeted media coverage of huge salaries paid to charity officials, outlandish benefits, self-dealing within boards, tax gimmicks for donors, and malfeasance in program operations. Unfortunately, the cost of that silence is something we all bear.

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Leveraging a Budget to Build a Foundation-Grantee Partnership

May 31, 2013

(Steven Green is the director of grants management and administration for the Jim Joseph Foundation, which seeks to foster compelling, effective Jewish learning experiences for young Jews in the United States.)

Headshot_steven_greenIn many ways, a grantmaking relationship begins with a shared understanding of a budget. This is not to say that grant financials supersede programmatic goals; rather, they are essentially complementary: comprehensive financial reporting, accompanied by a detailed budget narrative, sets a roadmap for an organization's programmatic priorities.

When a funder and a grantee come together for budget reviews, it is an opportunity for them to explore how grantee management of the funding can support efficient implementation of the grant. They can think more strategically about how to achieve their shared goals. For the Jim Joseph Foundation, conversations about timing of grant payments and reporting on grant implementation are part of a relational funder-grantee dynamic. Four key factors, all related to financial practices, can provide the framework for a substantive foundation-grantee partnership:

Pay prospectively. By the time we award a grant to an organization, we have undertaken an extensive review of its mission alignment, fiscal health, leadership, strategy, and prior accomplishments. In addition, the grantee has already invested significant resources in advancing beyond the application process.

As grantees will attest, we request thorough documentation on the projects to be funded. From this information, we gain an understanding of the stages of a grantee's initiative and can anticipate when payments will be needed. We often agree to a payment schedule that provides part of the funding in advance of when expenditures are expected to occur. This practice supports an initiative's growth and progression, and it provides a sense of security for the grantee. Moreover, making selected grant payments in advance allows both parties to focus more on the actual initiative and less on the dollars. (Incidentally, we have a similar relationship with researchers, consultants, and independent evaluators. While we reserve a small payment to be made at the end of each contract, a majority of the contract awarded is paid prospectively. Reconciliation based on wages and expenses occurs at the end of the contract, when a final payment is calculated.)

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Weekend Link Roundup (May 18-19, 2013)

May 19, 2013

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

Data

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

Education

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

Fundraising

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

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Weekend Link Roundup (May 11-12, 2013)

May 12, 2013

Poster_mothers-rightOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Megan Sullivan shares a list of tools for resource-constrained nonprofit communications officers.

Fundraising

Frustrated by your organization's inability to turn its good work into consistent, sustainable donor support? Hop over to the Fired-Up Fundraising blog, where fundraising consultant Gail Perry shares a very good list of the ten things you need to understand about how fundraising really works. Recommended.

Impact/Effectiveness

On the Markets for Good blog, Laura Quinn, executive director of Idealware, argues that as much as funders and others value the idea of more and better performance data from nonprofits, most nonprofits do not have the resources to provide high-quality data about their own effectiveness. How do we get them to a point where that’s possible? asks Quinn.

It would take more than just a little training or a second look at their priorities. They'd need sizable investments in a number of areas. They'd need help with technology, and to understand how to best make use of data and metrics on a limited budget. They'd need a rationalized set of metrics and indicators that they're expected to report on, standardized as much as possible per sector with a standard way to provide them to those who need them.

Funders need to understand what is and isn't feasible, and to redirect the focus of their desire for community impact evaluations from small nonprofits to the university and research world so the nonprofits they support can be unencumbered to work toward a better world....

Building out the "information infrastructure" of the social sector, as Markets for Good and its supporters (the Gates and Hewlett foundations prominent among them) propose to do, is an admirable idea, writes Bridgespan's Daniel Stid on the Markets for Good blog. But "if we build it," he asks, "will the putative buyers and sellers in the envisioned marketplace -- the philanthropists and nonprofits spending and soliciting money within it -- use it as planned?... [W]ill better information change their behavior?" What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Weekend Link Roundup (April 6-7, 2013)

April 07, 2013

April-showers-umbrellaOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Advocacy

On NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Rosenberg Foundation president Tim Silard discusses the foundation's recent decision to increase its payout this year to 6.1 percent to help advance immigration reform. "Our hope," writes Silard, "is that this major step by a mid-sized foundation can go a long way toward encouraging more of us in philanthropy to stretch our funding even further...to respond to this unique window of opportunity."

Communications

In a post on the Council on Foundation's Re: Philanthropy blog, Rita Soronen, president and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, reminds us why storytelling matters. Indeed, it is "at the heart of all emotions," writes Soronen. "And nonprofits simply must use communications -- storytelling -- as a very important tactic to steward current donors and secure new funders."

Fundraising

Jeff Brooks, author of the Fundraiser's Guide to Irresistible Communications, explains that fundraising is "a two-way conversation" and if you don't know that, you're missing an opportunity to engage your donors in a real way.

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Blinded By the 'Sophisticated Donor'?

April 03, 2013

(Derrick Feldmann is CEO of Achieve, an Indianapolis-based creative fundraising agency. In his last post, he wrote about the importance of "usability" to the online fundraising experience.)

Feldmann-headshotWhen I started in fundraising, I had almost no experience asking for money. To compensate, I read lots of articles and books about the different approaches and techniques used by successful fundraisers. As I immersed myself in their ways, I started to pay particular attention to an approach that emphasized the importance of communicating to donors the impact their gifts were helping to create.

Many years later, as the head of national fundraising for a K-12 education program, I spent a good deal of my time seeking support from some of the biggest foundations and corporations in the country. My "ask" in these situations invariably included what I thought was a powerful and persuasive presentation that demonstrated to grantmakers how a grant would transform the lives of a certain number of students and ultimately improve a community. Every time I gave my presentation, I would see heads nodding and would sigh with relief, knowing that those present "got it." Of course, not every presentation resulted in financial support, but even when they didn't, I usually made new friends who understood and liked what we were doing and were willing to help us build our network of supporters.

I used this method, with its focus on impact, in every fundraising solicitation I made. And I taught my staff to do the same.

One day, a member of the board who planned to ask a friend to donate to our organization before the end of the year called me to review our solicitation script. But as I walked him through it, I could tell something was wrong. He didn't say anything after I finished, but he clearly was uncomfortable. A week or so later, he called me to report on the meeting and let slip that he hadn't said any of the things to his friend I'd told him to say. When I asked why, he said, "I've known my friend a long time. And I know the only thing that really matters to him is my trust in this organization and the people who run it. I could've talked about all that impact stuff, but it wouldn't have made a difference. So I just told him why I support you and asked him to consider making a gift."

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[Infographic] 2013 eNonprofits Benchmark Study

March 30, 2013

Here in the Northeast, spring has sort of arrived, and that means it's time to share a new infographic from M+R Strategic Services and NTEN highlighting key findings from their annual eNonprofits Benchmark Study.

Now in its seventh year, the study examines trends in nonprofit online fundraising and advocacy, in sectors ranging from human rights to environmental issues. Based on data gathered from 55 nonprofits, this year's report analyzed 1.6 billion e-mail messages sent to 45 million list subscribers, 7.3 million advocacy actions, and more than $438 million in online donations from over 6.5 million online gifts.

As impressive as that is, the picture painted by the report is...well...mixed.

For instance, the study reported a 21 percent year-over-year increase in online revenue, with only International groups seeing a decline in online giving. But it also found a sharp decline in certain key e-mail metrics, including a 14 percent decline in click-through rates for advocacy messages and a 27 percent decline in click-thru rates for fundraising messages overall.

Infographic-NTEN-2013eBench

The report also found that:

●     Online monthly giving grew by 43 percent -- more than twice as fast as one-time giving.

●     E-mail list sizes continued to grow for all sectors and sizes, up some 15 percent overall in 2012.

●     Growth of social media audiences outpaced e-mail list growth, up an average of 46 percent on Facebook and 264 percent on Twitter.

There's a lot more in the report, which is available as a free download (registration required) here.

-- Mitch Nauffts

PNP Salary Survey Report: 'The Year of the Program'

March 29, 2013

(Robert F. Duvall, Ph.D., is director of special projects at Professionals for NonProfits (PNP), a full-service staffing firm exclusively serving the nonprofit sector.)

Program-deliveryProfessionals for NonProfits has just released its annual Salary Survey Report. With a focus on salary ranges, practices, and trends in the nonprofit sector in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, the survey has gained widespread credibility over the last three years and always generates considerable interest.

A look at the Survey Report for 2012 reveals some intriguing developments. While there is great variety among organizations -- in terms of budget size, area of service, location, and scope of activity -- one theme appears to stand out: More than 80 percent of the 6,500 nonprofits surveyed reported a new or renewed focus on the effective development of programs and services.

"In many ways, 2012 could be called 'The Year of Program'. Nonprofits of all sizes and types are taking a serious and fresh look at what they offer and how they serve the public through their programs," said Gayle A. Brandel, president and CEO of Professionals for NonProfits. Moreover, the renewed focus on programs and services is expressed in four inter-related areas: development, delivery, evaluation, and efficiency.

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Weekend Link Roundup (March 23-24, 2013)

March 24, 2013

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

Black Male Achievement

On the GuideStar blog, Zeina Fayyaz, manager of the Social Innovation Forum and Social Innovation Accelerator at Root Cause, announces a call for applications to the 2013-14 Black Male Achievement Social Innovation Accelerator. Modeled after the Social Innovation Forum, the accelerator program will provide, over twelve months, capacity-building and coaching support totaling more than $150,000 to five BMA Innovators, along with opportunities to network with funders and the chance to become a national leader in the field of black male achievement.

Higher Education

Is student debt the new subprime? Writing on the Demos blog, Thomas Hedges thinks it may be. "Education itself, which many considered a right thirty years ago, has become a market product," writes Hedges. "University presidents are, in the end, fundraisers, soliciting large donations and encouraging students to take out loans that will take decades to pay back. The costs of tuition, which are cleverly obscured for low-income students, slam students years after they graduate, once they realize what paying off, say, $30,000 in student debt means." As one 30-year-old woman with $120,000 in student loans tells Hedges: "The grim truth is that universities and student loans are no longer creating the American dream, they are destroying it, one wide-eyed dreamer at a time.”

Impact/Effectiveness

On the Arabella Advisors blog, Cynthia Muller, director of the firm's impact investing practice, is encouraged by signs that the strategy is gaining traction.

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Steve Goldberg: 'SIBs Are Here to Stay'

February 14, 2013

McKinsey_SIB_ReportI don't always agree with Steve Goldberg, but I admire his ability to say what he means and to say it well. Earlier this week, Goldberg, the author of Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets: Why Philanthropy Doesn't Advance Social Progress and a vocal proponent of social impact bonds (also known as pay-for-success bonds), posted a long rebuttal to a post by Jon Pratt, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, in which Pratt suggested that the two main claims for SIBs, more resources and better results, are "admirable but dreamy."

I'm not going to get into the details of Pratt's argument or Goldberg's counter-argument (you should definitely take the time to read both). I was struck, however, by Goldberg's assertion that the "real reason" SIBs are here to stay is because "Government is out of money and out of breath" (a phrase he credits to Sir Ronald Cohen, a "founding father of social investing"). Goldberg continues:

We are enmeshed in a long-term fiscal and economic crisis that will increase the need, but decrease the funding, for effective social services long after unemployment returns to normal levels. This is a "new normal" of government retrenchment, rising inequality and decreasing social mobility to which we have not yet adjusted. The safety net ain't what it used to be, plus we can’t afford it.

While there are many encouraging trends in social sector innovation, as well as room for improvement, beleaguered nonprofits are in no position to take up the slack left by an eroding public sector. They don't just, as Mr. Pratt puts it, "frequently feel under-compensated, need more resources, and blame their limited success on lack of funding," they are under-compensated, in need of more resources and held back by a chronic and worsening lack of funding. Nonprofits are fighting a holding action that they can't win over the long term. They, too, haven't figured out how to cope with the new normal....

Now, Steve Goldberg isn't the first person to make this argument, and he won't be the last. But if denial is a river in Egypt, then many nonprofits are ill prepared for what's coming.

What do you think? Was the Great Recession merely a prelude to a "new normal" characterized by government retrenchment, reduced funding, and lowered expectations? Are most nonprofits prepared for such a reality? Will SIBs gain traction as more traditional funding sources dry up? And what do you think the sector will look like a decade from now? Use the comments section to share your thoughts....

Interested in learning more about the pay-for-success model? As part of its social innovation work, McKinsey has put together a nice package of resources, including the 2012 report From Potential to Action: Bringing Social Impact Bonds to the U.S., an animated video that introduces the topic of SIBs, and an introductory article that describes the SIBs landscape. Well worth checking out...

-- Mitch Nauffts

Survey: The State of Social Sector Leadership

February 12, 2013

Change_buttonAnyone in a position of leadership these days understands that organizations have a choice: disrupt or be disrupted. That's as true for nonprofits, foundations, public private partnerships, and social enterprises as it is for profit-seeking businesses.

To better understand how social sector leadership is changing, McKinsey & Company is inviting social sector leaders to participate in an online survey.

Among other things, the management consulting firm is interested in learning more about the attributes of high-performing social sector leaders -- what do they, and the peers they admire, excel in -- and how do they think their job descriptions will change over the next five to ten years. The firm also is interested in learning whether the sector is walking the talk when it comes to collaboration -- are social sector leaders committing their organizations to multi-stakeholder partnerships where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and attribution and credit are shared -- or is their primary focus still on fundraising and media coverage for their organizations.

As Laura Callanan, who leads McKinsey’s Learning for Social Impact (LSI) initiative, notes: "There are a number of key trends affecting the social sector environment today which require successful leaders to have different strengths from what was important in the past. The social sector is a dynamic environment and a lot happens over a ten-year period." We couldn't agree more.

McKinsey will be sharing the results of the survey -- in the context of a broader "landscaping" it has developed on the state of funding, resources, and research on social sector leadership -- with all who participate later in the year.

To take the survey, click here.


Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (January 2013)

February 01, 2013

It's the first day of a new month, which means it's time to look back at the most popular posts on PhilanTopic in the month just passed:

Have you read/watched/listened to anything lately that our readers should know about? Use the comments sections to share your finds....

[Infographic] Gender and Salary Inequity in the Nonprofit Sector

January 19, 2013

This week's infographic, courtesy of the TCC Group, looks at the troubling disparity in pay for men and women in the nonprofit sector.

Based on an analysis of data from a thousand nonprofits in a combined Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) and 990 dataset, the infographic shows that women in the sector make .75 for every $1 made by men; that women leaders tend to be more effective than their male counterparts; and that, in order to be paid equally, women have to perform better than men in a range of areas, including problem solving, creating organizational culture, and supporting the professional development of staff.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (January 13-14, 2013)

January 13, 2013

Haiti-earthquake-anniversaryOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Disaster Relief/Recovery

It's been three years since Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, was devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. In the weeks and months following the disaster, individuals and the international donor community stepped up with more than $5 billion in cash and commitments for relief and recovery efforts. So where do things stand today? Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of UN Dispatch, provides some basic facts and figures.

Nonprofits

Marie Deatherage, director of communications and learning at the Meyer Memorial Trust, curates a nice list of 2013 predictions for nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and the social economy. Her list includes Lucy Bernholz's Philanthropy and the New Social Economy: Blueprint 2013, which is available as a free download from the Foundation Center's GrantCraft site; Pantheon president Mark Tobias ((@PanthTech) on "Ten Technology Trends to Watch in 2013"; and Nonprofit Revolution Now's "missing" predictions.

Philanthropy

Writing in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Nick Penniman and Ian Simmons take philanthropy to task for its "chronic" underinvestment in political reform at a time when the "special interests that finance and influence the political process have amassed unprecedented power." What would be an appropriate amount? ask Penniman and Simmons. Their answer? One percent, or as they write:

Some $300 billion is donated annually to charitable causes. So, $3 billion for reform. Yes, $3 billion sounds like a lot of money. But 1 percent of philanthropy is not excessive -- especially not for a purpose as important as maintaining a government of, by, and for the people. We spend magnitudes more than that funding the arts and humanities, fighting infectious diseases, providing the poor and needy with the services they need, and trying to improve our educational institutions. Committing a sliver of philanthropy to making sure Washington and the state capitals are free of corruption -- both legal and illegal -- seems like a smart investment. Doing so should not be seen as merely advancing an abstract concept of “good government,” but as a concrete and necessary step in advancing solutions to the great challenges of our time -- solutions that the philanthropic sector often invests in but never sees actualized....

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO and president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest healthcare philanthropy, is named one of New Jersey's most fascinating people and is profiled in depth by the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

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