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Weekend Link Roundup (January 10-11, 2009)

January 11, 2009

Happy New Year to all. Here's this week's roundup of noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Arts and Culture

Back from the holidays and loaded for bear, the Nonprofiteer questions whether the United States needs -- or can afford -- a national arts policy.


Because so many people had their trust in institutions shattered in 2008, testimonials could be your organization's most powerful communications tool in 2009, writes Nancy Schwartz on her Getting Attention blog.


Nonplussed by a recent assertion in The Economist that giving during the Great Depression actually rose, Lucy Bernholz asked readers to point her to data supporting that conclusion. The discussion in the comments generated by her post is fascinating (and yes, after declining initially in the years 1929-31, giving -- much of it "faith-based" -- did rise, albeit erratically, through the rest of the decade and into the early war years).

Nice profile of Patty Stonesifer, the "woman who built the Gates Foundation," in the December 30 issue of the Financial Times.

Trista Harris (New Voices of Philanthropy) has a nice list of New Year's resolutions for foundations. They include: "unrestricting" grants that have already been given to nonprofits for project-specific activities so that they can make mission-driven choices about their activities in 2009; using 5 percent as a payout guideline, not a rule; to collaborate more with other funders; and releasing staff from their nine-to-five routines.

On his Charity Governance blog, Jack Siegel offers a list of simple steps smaller family foundations can take to protect themselves from Bernie Madoff-style scams. (HT: Give & Take) Here's his list:

  • Reconsider the decision to create a foundation
  • Understand what you invest in
  • Stay away from hedge funds
  • Use an investment advisor who specilaizes in smaller family foundations
  • Diversify
  • Ask about supplemental fidelity insurance
  • Don't invest if you don't understand

The folks at PhilanthroMedia have finished re-posting the "Ten Things We'd Like to Tell Every New Philanthropist" series penned by Paul Shoemaker, executive director of Social Venture Partners Seattle. Have a great idea for a new program and think you should start a nonprofit? Don't, Shoemaker advises.

In short, it is much easier to start a non-profit than a for-profit company, but it is much harder to effectively sustain a non-profit over the long-term. When you have a new idea, please be sure to look around to see if anyone is already doing the work you care about; or if there is someone to partner with or someone that might want to take on a new "line of business"....

Additional topics in the series include funding need vs. impact, improving a grantee's long-term sustainability, and perpetuity vs. "giving while living."

Over the next week or so, Sean Stannard-Stockton will be debating Hewlett Foundation president Paul Brest's framework for strategic philanthropy on Brest's blog. (You can read our interview with Brest here.) Says Sean:

Unlike most of the writing I do, where I advance a specific opinion, this series of posts will be a live discussion in which I have not made up my mind but am skeptical of part of Paul's framework. This is me going through the process of forming an opinion in public. I hope you'll join in the fray....

Social Media

Big Duck, a New York City-based consulting firm that works with nonprofits to improve their marketing and branding practices, has posted a new podcast in its Nonprofit Jungle series featuring NTEN executive director Holly Ross talking about the creation of the We Are Media Project. (HT: NTEN)

The second episode of the new Social Good podcast series hosted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy and presented by Allison Fine features Lucy Bernholz and Katya Andresen talking about how organizations can make the most of their social networks, especially in tough economic times.

As one of her New Year's resolution, Beth Kanter has committed to providing 52 suggestions -- one a week throughout the year -- to make your organization's social media strategy more effective. This week, she focuses on the need for nonprofits to streamline their social media efforts.

That's it for this week. Until next time...

-- Regina Mahone and Mitch Nauffts

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Posted by Allison Fine  |   January 12, 2009 at 10:37 AM

Thanks for the lovely shoutout for my Social Good podcast. One quick clarification: this month Lucy Bernholz and Katya Andreson are talking about how nonprofits and foundations can use social capital in lieu of financial capital this year. Thanks again!


Posted by Regina Mahone  |   January 13, 2009 at 10:53 AM

Allison -- We've updated the post. Thanks for letting us know of this correction!

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    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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