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[Infographic] Understanding Social Enterprise

June 23, 2012

For a nice overview of the social enterprise universe, check out this infographic from the folks at GOOD and FedEx (h/t Jed Emerson/@BlendedValue).



Yearly U.S. Charity Checkup

June 16, 2012

In conjunction with the recent release of the 2012 Metro Market Survey, our friends at Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator, have created their first infographic.


Charity Navigator Metro Market Infographic


Pretty cool...

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (November 2011)

December 01, 2011

After a very busy October, November -- Thanksgiving and all -- turned out to be another busy month at PhilanTopic. In descending order, here are the five most popular posts for the month.

What were you reading/watching/listening to last month?

OWS By the Numbers

November 10, 2011

Another great infographic. Patience -- it's a big file....

(Click on graphic for complete uncropped image)

(H/t Visual Economics via the Big Picture blog.)

Most Popular Posts (October 2011)

November 01, 2011

After a good September, October was the third busiest month at PhilanTopic since we started the blog in the fall of 2007. What were folks reading? Here's a short list of the most popular posts for the month.

What's the best thing you read/watched/heard in October?

[Infographic] How the Top 50 Nonprofits Do Social Media

October 17, 2011

We love a good infographic -- especially when it relates to things that interest us, like nonprofits and social media. This one, from craigslist founder Craig Newmark and the folks at craigconnects, kept us busy for a while.

Based on an informal audit conducted in August and September, the infographic is intended to answer questions like: Do the highest-earning nonprofits use social media more effectively than nonprofits that earn less? Are those same nonprofits the most "engaging"? How are people using social media to respond to and interact with large nonprofits?

Here are a few key findings:

  • 92 percent of the top 50 nonprofits promote at least one social media presence on their homepage;
  • PBS has the most followers (840,653) on Twitter;
  • The American Cancer Society follows the most people/orgs (200,522) on Twitter;
  • Food for the Poor is the most "talkative" nonprofit on Facebook, with 220 posts over the two-month survey period;
  • The nonprofit with the highest net income, the YMCA, only posted 19 times to Facebook over the two-month survey period but has more than 24,000 fans.

(Click for larger image)


Notice anything that surprises you? Confirms your hopes (or fears)? In general, what do you think of infographics as a way to present this kind of data? We'd love to hear your thoughts....

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (September)

October 01, 2011

Long tail, short tail --- these were the most popular posts on PhilanTopic in September. Enjoy.

What's the best thing you've read/watched/heard this month?


Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (August)

September 01, 2011

As is our custom at the end of the month, we've pulled together a short list of the most popular PhilanTopic posts in August. Enjoy.

What's the best thing you've read/watched/heard this month?

America in 1961

August 04, 2011

Barack Obama turns fifty today. To mark the occasion, Tech Ticker's Aaron Task chatted with Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, about a new AEI report (10 pages, PDF) that looks (among other things) at Gallup Poll results from fifty years ago to see what Americans cared about when the president was born in 1961.

The report found that the majority of Americans:

  • thought President Kennedy should navigate a political course "halfway" between the right and the left
  • approved of an increase in the Social Security payroll tax to pay for "old-age medical insurance"
  • opposed buying or selling products to Cuba "so long as Castro was in power"
  • were opposed to women wearing shorts in public but were okay with them wearing slacks
  • were against of increasing the price of a stamp to 5 cents

As Bowman tells Task, "[Americans] were worried about prices but they felt pretty good about government as a whole. Interestingly, at that point, we were much more worried about big labor. Big labor was seen as the biggest threat to the country followed by big business and hardly anyone thought big government would be a threat."

She also notes that as the baby boomers age, they are becoming more conservative -- and that's likely to be an important factor in the next two or three election cycles.

Fascinating stuff.

Message to New Nonprofit Fellows: Tips and Reflections

July 29, 2011

(Today is the last day of Reilly Kiernan's year-long Project 55 Fellowship at the Foundation Center. In her last post, she looked at how Millennials are changing the face of philanthropy.)

Good_luck It's hard to believe a year has passed and my fellowship at the Foundation Center is at an end. Over the past twelve months I've learned a tremendous amount about philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. But before I embark on the next stage of my career in public service, I'd like to share a few tips with new nonprofit fellows looking to get as much as possible out of their fellowship experience:

1. Recognize that you have a lot to learn. As a fellow, you're probably just starting out in a field where your experience is relatively limited. Don't be afraid to ask questions and acknowledge the limitations of your experience. When I started my fellowship at the Foundation Center, I knew very little about the world of organized philanthropy. I was eager, however, to soak up as much knowledge as I could, and I knew that being honest about my own ignorance would pay off in the end. I was also lucky to be assigned to the Educational Services unit here. By being involved in the events and classes the center offers, I was exposed to and absorbed much of the content we teach to grantseekers. What's more, the lessons I learned weren't restricted to course content. I also gained experience working in a large, established nonprofit and grew to appreciate some of the dynamics of that kind of environment.

2. Recognize what you have to offer. Even though you may be new to an organization and unfamiliar with its work and culture, you still have plenty to offer. Indeed, your insights can be invaluable -- especially if you approach the work with fresh eyes. Don't be afraid to speak up, share your opinions, and engage with co-workers. I know my colleagues here at the center will attest to the fact I had few reservations about speaking up during meetings. Thankfully, I quickly learned that the organization welcomed my opinions and ideas. For instance, I was more social media-savvy than many of my colleagues, and so it made sense for me to assume responsibility for coordinating the social media efforts of the center's New York library.

3. Do whatever you're asked to do...with gusto. In the early days and weeks of your fellowship, you probably won't be given the most interesting tasks. It's hard, at any organization, to find work for a new employee that doesn't require certain specialized skills and experience. That doesn't mean your initial contributions won't be valuable or appreciated. If you're asked to populate a spreadsheet, proofread a letter, or even stuff envelopes, do so enthusiastically. Recognize that until you get your feet under you and are fully up to speed with the organization's work and culture, it takes work for your supervisor to provide you with work. And even if you're eager and prepared to help in more substantial ways, he/she simply may not have the time to train you on specific tasks right away. Jumping up and volunteering to take on any task is a great way to demonstrate that you care about the organization and are serious about its mission and your ability to contribute to that mission.

4. Don't be afraid to show initiative. Although it's important to do whatever you're asked to do -- however mundane it may be -- it's also important to to show initiative and find projects for yourself that are both worthwhile and fulfilling. I know, this can be a challenge. But having an honest discussion with your supervisor is a great first step in making sure you get assigned to tasks that are challenging, take advantage of your particular skill set, and allow you to contribute in truly meaningful ways to the broader work of the organization. My job over the past twelve months has involved a nice mix of recurring tasks (like helping out with classes and events), short-term tasks (proofreading materials, writing blog posts, editing video), and longer-term projects (planning my own event to introduce the "next generation" to the Foundation Center, coming up with a social media strategy for the NYC office, working with a colleague to develop a series of videos featuring user testimonials and class content). By making sure to balance my various responsibilities, I was able to stay busy and, more importantly, take ownership of my daily and weekly schedules.

5. Don't forget about the future. Time flies so quickly that if you don't take the time to think about the work you're doing, the things you're learning, and how your future plans are materializing, it's quite possible that twelve months will pass before you've had a chance to take stock of your fellowship experience. I've been fortunate to have been embedded within the center's professional development infrastructure, which facilitates this kind of reflection on an ongoing basis. For one thing, I've been able to contribute to this blog! I've also had regular structured meetings and performance evaluations with my supervisor, was assigned an unofficial "mentor" who shared great advice and served as a supportive sounding board for ideas, and was able to participate in the center's professional development group, which brings together entry- and mid-level employees from across the organization to talk about their work and hear senior managers speak about their own career paths. I'm incredibly grateful the center provided these avenues for me, and appreciate more than ever how valuable this kind of reflection can be.

It's been a pleasure to contribute to PhilanTopic, and I'll continue to follow it as I forge a career in public service. Until we meet again, thanks for reading.

-- Reilly Kiernan

Briefly Noted: 'The Idea of America'

July 23, 2011

From the July 25 issue of The New Yorker:

"The Americans revolted [against the British] not out of actual suffering but out of reasoned principle," [Gordon S.] Wood argues in a set of probing essays which explore how the principles of these revolutionaries became distorted by events outside of their control. Many of the Founders imagined republicanism as an antidote to the private pursuit of wealth, and hoped that America's politicians would be disinterested guardians of the public good, drawn from a self-sacrificing elite. When the emergence of rampant commercialism and partisan politics undermined such hopes, Federalists used the Constitution to introduce into our democracy a monarchical element, which has become increasingly pronounced. Such contradictions, Wood says, help explain our perpetual grapple with the Founders' ideas, "our despairing effort to make them one with us, to close that terrifying gap that always seems to exist between them and us."

Happy Fourth of July!

July 04, 2011

"This is essentially a People's contest. On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form, and substance of government, whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men -- to lift artificial weights from all shoulders -- to clear the paths of laudable pursuits for all -- to afford all an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life. Yielding to partial, and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the government for whose existence we contend...."

-- Abraham Lincoln, "Message to Congress in Special Session," July 4, 1861

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (March)

March 31, 2011

As is our custom on the last day of the month, here's a short list of the most visited PhilanTopic posts over the previous thirty days. Enjoy.

What's the best thing you've read/watched/heard this month?

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (February)

February 28, 2011

What a month. After decades of repression and stagnation under the rule of monarchs and military strongmen, the Arab world seemed to come unstuck in February -- and the world will never be the same.

As is our custom on the last day of each month, here's a short list of the most visited PhilanTopic posts over the previous thirty (minus two) days. Enjoy.

What's the best thing you've read/watched/heard this month?

Weekend Link Roundup (February 19 - 20, 2011)

February 20, 2011

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


After doing some more thinking about so-called cause competitions like America's Giving Challenge and the Pepsi Refresh Project, Networked Nonprofit co-author Allison Fine wonders how other groups might structure an effort that combines "the fun of competing without the detriment of causes competing against one another."

"I've always thought the catchphrase 'accounting is destiny!' that Clara Miller and George [Overholser] would throw around when they ran the Nonprofit Finance Fund was a little...nerdy," writes Sean Stannard-Stockton on his Tactical Philanthropy blog. "But it sure seems to me that our simplistic nonprofit accounting standards, paired with our moralistic views around spending money on fundraising, is a major culprit of our undercapitalized nonprofit sector...."

On the Harvard Business Review blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta suggests that we're all to blame for convincing donors that organizations with low overhead costs are more efficient than those with higher costs. Writes Pallotta:

We've been telling the donating public that good charities have low overhead, and bad charities have high overhead. Well, I don't know about you, but when I hear "good," I think, "makes a difference." So, if you tell me [that] good charities have low overhead, then I don't need to know whether the money I give makes a difference. If they have low overhead, I can assume that they do! The Nonprofit Overhead Cost Project at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy came to the opposite conclusion. Their report, "Getting What We Pay For: Low Overhead Limits Nonprofit Effectiveness," indicates that the charities that spend less on capacity tend to have inferior programs. The donating public might want to know that, don't you think?

We have, as a result of our timidity, managed to confuse a well-intentioned public into basing their giving decisions on the wrong data. That's not what they want. And if they knew that's what we've been up to they'd be pissed....


Still confused about why it's okay for for-profit microfinance lenders to charge exorbitant interest rates? Watch as Philanthrocapitalism author Matthew Bishop explains it to a skeptical Felix Salmon in this seven-minute video.


On the Case Foundation blog, Change Your Career author Laura Gassner Otting looks at the pros and cons of working in the nonprofit sector.


Philanthropy 2173 blogger Lucy Bernholz recaps a recent Guidestar webinar based on her ten predictions about how philanthropy is likely to change over the next decade.

Social Entrepreneurship

Sasha Dichter shares a few reflections on Generosity Day, a twenty-four-hour version of his Generosity Experiment. Organized by Dichter, Network for Good's Katya Andresen, and Malaria No More's Scott Case, the effort sought to "make [Valentine's Day] about love, action, and human connection -- because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses, and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly."

Social Media

On the Chronicle's Social Philanthropy blog, Cody Switzer explains how the American Red Cross went "from #gettngslizzerd to getting donations" last week. After a young employee accidently posted a tweet about drinking using the organization's Twitter account on Hootsuite, a social media application that allows users to send updates from multiple accounts, the Red Cross quickly deleted the tweet and owned up to it on various social media channels. Writes Switzer:

The results were overwhelmingly positive. At one point on Wednesday, the phrase #gettngslizzerd was a trending topic on Twitter. Dogfish Head Brewery asked people to donate to the Red Cross, and several donors responded by posting that they had donated either money or blood. HootSuite pledged to donate $100. [Red Cross social media director Wendy] Harman said it's impossible to calculate the total direct impact of the tweet, but donations were up slightly above average....

And on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Greater New Orleans Foundation president and CEO Albert Ruesga explains how his foundation uses social media to communicate with local residents, especially during a disaster like last year’s BP oil spill.

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

-- Regina Mahone


Quote of the Week

  • "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning...."

    — Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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