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Weekend Link Roundup (March 28 - 29, 2009)

March 29, 2009

Chain-links Here's this week's roundup of noteworthy posts and articles from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

Fresh off teaching a social media immersion class to representatives of twenty-five nonprofit organizations in Norfolk, Nancy Schwartz writes on her Getting Attention blog that the palette of social media tools "is way too new, and changing too quickly, for any definitive must-dos." But she does have a few "should-dos":

  1. Use Google Alerts to "listen" to what others in the Web 2.0 world are saying about your organization
  2. Set up a Facebook Cause page to micro-fundraise and and build your membership
  3. Last but not least, talk, listen, and learn about social media where and whenever you can

Good advice.

Speaking of good advice, Robin Hood Marketing author Katya Andresen offers five helpful tips from her colleague Rebecca Higman for building and maintaining a clean donor e-mail list.

And a hat tip to Katya for pointing to Mark Rovner's terrific post about the importance of good storytelling for nonprofits -- and for clearly laying out the elements of a good story. If you only have time for one post this week, make it this one.

Economy

Ever wonder what a trillion dollars looks like? Now you know. (H/T Sean Stannard-Stockton)

International Affairs/Development

Lucy Bernholz weighs in on her blog with a generally favorable review of Jacqueline Novogratz's new book The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, but says the book could have offered more stories about the people whose lives have been changed by Novogratz's work. "We meet the people who use market forces to bring these tools far and wide," writes Bernholz, "but we don't meet (many) of the people whose lives are changed by them. Maybe in her next book...."

BlackGivesBack, a blog dedicated to philanthropy in the black community, concludes its series on Philanthropy in Africa with a Q&A with Bahia Akerele, an independent consultant based in the D.C. area who works with with national and international foundations as a strategic planner and project manager.

Philanthropy

In his fourth post in response to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy report Criteria for Philanthropy at its Best®, Hewlett Foundation president Paul Brest looks at the central question of whether "a foundation spend all of its assets today, or spend only the income they generate in order to preserve its ability to make grants in the future -- perhaps in perpetuity."

Whether foundations are doing enough to backstop nonprofits during the current economic crisis continues to be a hot topic of discussion on philanthropy blogs. In his Inside Philanthropy blog, Todd Cohen argues that "By hoarding and not paying out a bigger share of their assets in grants, foundations have cost the charitable world of billions of dollars now likely lost forever because of the plunge in the value of their endowments." At a time of "unprecedented economic crisis," adds Cohen, foundation boards "should be using their discretion to spend more of those assets, not save it for a hypothetical rainy day."

Nonprofit Consultant blogger Ken Goldstein agrees with Cohen -- though he's not convinced that the proposal floated by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and two of his Senate colleagues to change the current two-tiered excise tax foundations pay on their investment earnings to a single flat rate of 1.32 percent will do the trick.

Social media experts Qui Diaz, Beth Kanter, and Geoff Livingston have posted the results of their recent Philanthropy 2.0 survey. The goal of the survey, they write, "was to determine whether there is potential for nonprofits to cultivate significant donors online (defined as someone who gives $1,000 or more), and how that can be accomplished." The verdict: Nonprofits have a tremendous opportunity "to participate as trusted providers of credible information and ultimately cultivate the next generation of major donors through the social web."

And in his debut column for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Sean Stannard-Stockton argues that "information that enhances the ability to make smart grants is the real currency in philanthropy." Sean develops that idea further in a follow-up post on his Tactical Philanthropy blog:

[I]n philanthropy, we often celebrate the act of making a grant rather than the generation of impact. This focus elevates the importance of financial capital and makes the size of your endowment or the size of a gift the most important metric and the things that attract media coverage and public celebration.

But if you care about actually making a difference, if you care about impact, then you must recognize that the gift of financial capital is a simple act. It is only when that financial capital is deployed based on superior knowledge that impact can be achieved. Therefore it is the possession of superior knowledge that offers the best opportunity to change the world, make a difference and have an impact....

And that's it for this week. Have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone and Mitch Nauffts

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