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Weekend Link Roundup (February 14 - 15, 2009)

February 15, 2009

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

Animal Welfare

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) attracted the attention of many after dressing in Ku Klux Klan costume outside the Westminster Dog Show last week to protest the American Kennel Club's promotion of "the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function." Writing on the Philanthromedia blog, Dana Variano criticizes PETA's tactics and argues that the use of "spoof" tactics can be effective -- but not when "coupled [with] insensitivity and sensationalism."

Arts and Culture

The discussion of public funding for the arts should be more focused on the arts audience, says the Nonprofiteer in a recent blog post. Public art "is simply public education on a grand scale" -- and should be recognized and defended as such:

Yes, yes, [I] know: education isn't well-funded either; but relatively few people argue that public funding for education is just a plot to spread disgusting lies, or to keep teachers from having to work. Let's get the discussion about public funding for the arts to the level of conceptual agreement we have for public education, and then we can engage in any further battles that might need to be fought....

In response to the economic meltdown, the Kennedy Center has launched Arts in Crisis to assist nonprofit arts organizations that have lost some or all of their funding and are struggling to stay afloat. Writing on the Nonprofit Board Crisis blog, Mike Burns expresses his disapproval of the new initiative. Along with the hefty $500,000 price tag, Burns criticizes the Kennedy Center for taking business from the local management support centers that already provide free consulting and emergency planning advice to nonprofits in their respective regions.

Development

With the growing popularity of giving modules on well-trafficked social media sites -- Facebook and MySpace come to mind -- it's no surprise that individuals who spend a lot of time online are starting to feel issue fatigue. Last week, Jill Finlayson and Hildy Gottlieb hosted a live discussion on the Skoll Foundation's Social Edge site to help organizations "filter through the clutter and competition and build sustainable support" from exhausted supporters "who just don't have the bandwidth to be concerned about one more issue." Check out the comments section for a lively discussion of the many aspects of this timely topic.

Diversity

Rosetta Thurman takes issue with the use of the term "minority" on her blog. Organizations that refer to a population or community as "minority," writes Thurman, evoke "images of people that are worth less than the majority....It [connotes] a group of people that get stuck on the bottom of society’s shoe." The reality, Thurman points out, couldn't be more different, as non-whites move ever closer to becoming the majority in the United States. Isn't it time, therefore, to "get rid of the antiquated language that remains a huge barrier to our cultural competence."

And in this video excerpt from an old "60 Minutes" episode, Morgan Freeman tells Mike Wallace that Black History Month is a "riduculous" concept. Freeman: "You're going to relegate my history to a month? Which month is white history month? Which month is Jewish history month?" (H/T RemixAmerica.org)

Economy

After a week of negotiations in Congress, the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has passed both branches of Congress and is likely to be signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday. The legislation earmarks some (but not nearly enough, say nonprofit critics of the bill) money for the nonprofit sector, including:

  • $50 million for a new program designed to strengthen nonprofit groups that are working to help people suffering in this economic downturn
  • $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to preserve arts projects and jobs threatened by the decline in foundation and individual donor support
  • $200 million for AmeriCorps, which will be applied to the Corporation for National and Community Service and National Service Trust.

Check out the Chronicle of Philanthropy's coverage for more details.

"Credit markets worldwide are tight, and charitable donations are down," writes Shelly Banjo, reporter for Dow Jones Newswire, "but Web sites that specialize in 'microlending' -- small loans mainly to the working poor -- say they're thriving." That's in part because microlending sites such as Kiva and MicroPlace.com enable users "to lend instead of give," which can be appealing to folks who may be a little strapped but still want to help. (H/T: Give and Take)

Leadership

Trista Harris, executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, which works to catalyze social, racial, economic, and environmental change, has launched a redesign of her blog, New Voices of Philanthropy, where she writes about generational change in the foundation field. (H/T Rosetta Thurman)

Social Media

TopRank CEO Lee Odden has written a great post about the best and worst social media marketing practices.

And Allison Fine wonders whether "there [is] any benefit to organizations raising money through heavily promoted events such as Twestival, a coordinated global campaign in which Twitter users "meet up" offline to network and fundraise for a worthy cause. Instead, maybe it would make more sense for a group like charity:water, the recipient of last week's Testival proceeds, to use Twitter and other online tools to condition donors and potential donors to support it on a consistent basis. Sounds like a good idea to us. 

And that's it for this week. Enjoy the long weekend!

-- Regina Mahone and Mitch Nauffts

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