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Weekend Link Roundup (January 17 - 18, 2009)

January 19, 2009

Here's our special MLK Day roundup of noteworthy posts/articles (mostly) from and about the nonprofit sector....

Arts and Culture

On the PhilanthroMedia blog, Dana Variano worries that the arts "are high up on the chopping block in this economic downturn" and asks, "If all of the arts programs are slashed in America, what will happen to our history of free speech, free expression, free dialogue?"

Isn't the hand-wringing over the National Academy Museum's recent decision to sell some paintings in its collection a little overdone, asks the Nonprofiteer. Sure, there are good reasons for the general prohibition against museums selling art except to pay for other art. But, she adds, the idea that a museum about to go under is to be deprived of the help it needs because its leadership has accepted an unpleasant necessity "is so foolish and unhelpful as to be destructive."

Wonderful Michael Kimmleman-penned obituary in the New York Times detailing the life and times of Andrew Wyeth, who passed away on Friday at the age of 91.

Economy

Former Vanity Fair and New Yorker editor Tina Brown says we are all freelancers now: Welcome to the brave new world of gigonomics.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman tells President-elect Obama what he must do to right the economy and restore the prospects of the American middle class. (HT: Lucy Bernholz)

On the Growthology blog, Tim Kane doubts whether a stimulus package focused on infrastructure will be enough to stimulate the economy. Writes Kane:

To understand why this won't grow the economy in any real way, just think about how many construction workers there are to do all the "shovel-ready" projects. The real economy shouldn't be converted into a Bob the Builder economy, because it won't last. Turning a recession into a temporary restructuring of fundamental patterns is probably going to do more long-term damage than good, plus blow a hole in the deficit....

Legislation

As many as half a million nonprofits could lose their tax-exempt status in May 2010 for failing to file a Form 990-N, writes Guidestar director of communications Suzanne Coffman. Before that happens, says Coffman, "There's something we all can do to improve the situation: spread the word. If you volunteer with, work for, or give to a smaller nonprofit, make sure the organization's leadership knows about the 990-N....

All last week, nonprofit groups and coalitions met to discuss how the sector can work with the incoming Obama administration to mitigate the effects of the deepening recession and establish a progressive agenda for the future. Inside Philanthropy publisher Todd Cohen outlined many of those needs in a recent post. Writes Cohen:

[Although] President-elect Barack Obama's pledged emphasis on volunteerism and public service will be essential to help address those problems and challenges, it runs the risk of perpetuating a giving-sector mindset that for far too long has treated nonprofits as an underclass that should swallow low wages and hand-me-down resources.

Solving America’s big social problems will depend on a thriving giving sector.

That will require regulations that promote a charitable marketplace that is fair, that requires nonprofits and foundations to be more open, and that increases, from 5 percent, the share of assets foundations must pay out each year for grants and overhead....

Nonprofits and Social Media

Embracing the expanding possibilities of the "social Web," the folks at the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Give and Take blog have created a group on photo-sharing site Flickr to document what nonprofit and foundation staff attending the inauguration in Washington, D.C., are seeing and doing. Cool.

Kjerstin Erickson, the nonprofit executive director whose willingness to blog about her organization's financial woes last October led Tactical Philanthropy's Sean Stannard-Stockton to hail her experiment in "radical transparency," posts the first of the ten things she has learned about transparency.

Beth Kanter has a great post on how nonprofits can use metrics to refine their social media strategy. To start, writes Kanter, "you need to set overall goals for your blog and understand your audience. Next, you need to know the right metric(s), the tool or combination of tools to collect the data, and how the tools measure the metric. Most importantly, you need a thinking process -- either alone or as a team -- to harvest insights." You'll want to read the whole thing.

Philanthropy

Seattle Times' writer Kristi Helms has started a new blog dedicated to the Business of Giving. Early posts about microfinance, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, and the Gates Foundation have us looking forward to more.

That's it for now. Enjoy the inauguration!

-- Regina Mahone and Mitch Nauffts

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