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Weekend Link Roundup (April 4-5, 2009)

April 06, 2009

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


Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing at Charity Navigator, says it's time for nonprofit organizations across the country to follow this example from Texas, where fifty breast cancer charities have dropped their "competitive stance" and joined forces to reduce duplicative programs and find ways to collaborate on programs and fundraising.


On the Growthology blog, Dane Stangler, a senior analyst in the office of the president at the Kauffman Foundation, argues that the current economic downturn is no ordinary recession but rather "a large-scale structural shift in the underlying character of economic activity." What the new economic order might look like post-restructuring, however, is anyone's guess. "At these times, at varying degrees in different sectors, we can't tell what will eventually settle down or for how long," writes Stangler. "But of course this is the glory and agony of capitalism, reflecting the reach of human capability and our allergies toward change and uncertainty." 

Many of the same metaphors figure prominently in three recent posts by Jeff Jarvis, who wraps up his rumination on the "Great Restructuring" (first two posts here and here) with a post on the war over change. "I'm not talking about the post-9/11 resurgence of debate over Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations -- though that's certainly a front in this war," writes Jarvis.

Instead, I'm talking about the clash over change within civilizations, the attempt by some to forestall its inevitability, and their attacks on those who enable, predict, and embrace change as if any of those actions cause change. It's actually rather fatuous to set up a dispute between those who want and don't want change, those who think change is good or bad. Change is inexorable. The question is not what you think about it but what you do about it....

Our advice? Embrace it.


In a new series called "From Entry Level to Leadership," Rosetta Thurman, who joined her first nonprofit board in 2007, encourages young nonprofit professionals to do the same. Board experience, writes Thurman, can bring credibility to your reputation and help you gain respect from older colleagues. It also forces you to become knowledgeable about different areas of nonprofit management, and helps you develop leadership skills you didn't pick up in college or grad school.

Ian David Moss, a second-year student at the Yale School of Management and author of the Createquity blog ("Exploring the link between arts and business in a creative society"), has a nice post about nonprofit compensation at lower rungs of the organizational ladder. That's where you find the "talented Generation Y kids [who] are invading the workforce and begging for more responsibility, meatier roles, more flexible job descriptions at their organizations." The mistake too many nonprofits make, says Moss, is to see these young people as "cogs in a machine," when in fact they're the future of your organization and the sector. In other words, all you boomer execs, don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish.


Paul Brest, president of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, concludes his four-post examination of the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy report Criteria for Philanthropy at its Best with a look at the report's mandate that a foundation must provide "at least 50 percent of its grant dollars to benefit lower-income communities, communities of color, and other marginalized groups, broadly defined." While Brest is broadly sympathetic with the case NCRP makes "for philanthropy's role in addressing poverty and racism as deep systemic and structural problems," he objects to "its effort to use crude proxies for impact -- measuring the percent of grant dollars spent on advocacy or general operating support -- rather than focusing on impact itself." And that, says Brest, represents a "great opportunity" lost.

In a new post on the White Courtesy Telephone blog, Albert Ruesga, newly minted president of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, offers a different take on the NCRP report. "Where some critics see the...report as a kind of ideological manifesto, I see in it a plea for greater effectiveness in grantmaking," writes Ruesga. "If that's the case, then perhaps we can fault the report not for its excesses, but for not having gone far enough." Welcome back, Albert.

As she notes in the first of two posts on the subject, Lucy Bernholz has been thinking and writing about philanthropic and social capital markets for several years. And recent developments in this area, she says, "herald an important shift -- from 1:1 private deals between donor/nonprofit or investor/enterprise to public spaces, with some shared due diligence and some insight into who else might be providing resources." Key to the continued evolution of these markets, she writes in a follow-up post, is the tricky business of establishing shared metrics and comparability with respect to social or environmental return on investment. Here, too, says Bernholz, the news is encouraging. It's great stuff, full of terrific links and insights.

And speaking of terrific, Tactical Philanthropy's Sean Stannard-Stockton gives a big shoutout to Peter Frumkin's Strategic Giving: The Art and Science of Philanthropy, which first appeared in 2006. "Frumkin covers a lot of ground," writes Stannard-Stockton, "including one of the most thoughtful, well reasoned critiques of venture philanthropy that I've seen. But it is Frumkin's Five Elements of Philanthropy that lays down a framework useful to anyone interested in understanding philanthropy."

That's it for now. Have a great week.

-- Regina Mahone and Mitch Nauffts

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Posted by Intern  |   April 07, 2009 at 02:15 PM

This is such an excellent post. We here at the Womens Fund of Central Ohio look forward to reading more blog entries!

Posted by Regina Mahone  |   April 13, 2009 at 09:54 AM

We appreciate your feedback. Thank you for checking us out!

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