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Weekend Link Roundup (May 16 - 17, 2009)

May 18, 2009

Chain-links Here's our latest roundup of noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector. Enjoy....


Do you wish your board members were better communicators of your organization's mission? On her Getting Attention blog, Nancy Schwartz offers the following tips:

  1. Make sure they know your organizations's talking points and elevator pitch cold.
  2. Share your marketing strategy with them and tell them what they can do to advance it.
  3. Teach, don't tell. Have a real, sit-down training session with new board members to give them some practice and increase their comfort level with their role

AdWeek recently reported that the more than 60 percent of the people that try Twitter, the popular microblogging platform, do not return after the first month. On his Donor Power Blog, Jeff Brooks argues that while nonprofit organizations should take some time to learn what Twitter is about, they shouldn't get their hopes up when it comes to using it to motivate action and raise funds. "If I had to place a bet on which will go away first -- Twitter or postal mail," writes Brooks, "I'd bet that the post will outlast."


Rick Cohen takes a closer look at the Obama administration's proposed FY2010 budget, which includes several programs of importance to nonprofits.


The margin for failure in the education sector is virtually nonexistent, writes Chris Murakami Noonan on the Philanthropy Potluck blog. Noonan agrees with a finding from Lessons in Education Philanthropy: Proceedings from BHEF’s Inaugural Institute for Strategic Investment in Education that "strategically targeted philanthropic resources can serve as a vital catalyst for positive, lasting and high-impact change in public education." But without transparency, says Noonan, the successes achieved by private philanthropic dollars -- which, after all, are small compared to overall support for education -- are easy to miss. The question, then, is what can private philanthropy do to enhance its commitment to transparency so that others can learn and build on that work?

On the White Courtesy Telephone blog, Albert Ruesga asks readers to consider: Which sector has had the bigger say "in framing the purpose of K-12 education," business (Homo economicus) or government (homo democraticus)?


Seth Godin's talk at this year’s TED conference has been posted online. On the Social Citizens blog, Kari Dunn Saratovsky says the seventeen-minute talk is "a good introduction to [Godin's] book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us." In both, adds Saratovsky, "Godin argues that lasting and substantive change can be best effected by a group of people connected to each other, to a leader, and to an idea."

Nonprofit Management

Dan Pallotta, author of Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential, has started blogging for the Harvard Business Review. And in his first post, he urges the nonprofit sector to -- surprise! -- re-visit its "fundamental canons." "It's time," writes Pallotta, "to give charity the big-league freedoms we really give to business. The fight for these freedoms must be our new cause, because without them, all of our causes are ultimately lost." Or not. Jump over to the HBR site to join the conversation.

On the Social Venture Partners blog, Lynn Coriano offers a nice summary of the recent Money Matters conference in New York City, including discussions of whether grantmakers are "buyers" of services and programs or "builders" of nonprofit enterprises.

Social Entrepreneurship

In response to a recent post by Allison Fine, Root Causes' Andrew Wolk argues that the government's recently announced Social Innovation Fund could be helpful in breaking down some of the existing "silos" in the social impact arena and is a good first step toward realizing more sustained and collaborative public-private partnerships.

Tony Wang, a researcher at Blueprint Research & Design (Lucy Bernholz's shop), argues that for-profit businesses are better at creating social impact than aid and nonprofits/NGOs -- and is thoughtfully engaged in debate by Tony Pipa (in the comments) and Nell Edgington, among others.

Social Media

Social Actions, in partnership with the Skoll Foundation, PopTechideablob, and Civic Ventures, has launched the Social Entrepreneur API, a new resource that will make it easier, says Sean Stannard-Stockton, for people interested in social entrepreneurs to “follow the smart money.”

Retailer Target has launched Bullseye Gives, its first giving campaign on Facebook, and from May 10 through May 25 is inviting everyone to help it decide how to allocate $3 million among ten large institutional charities. On her blog, Beth Kanter wonders whether these types of contests are moving philanthropy forward via the use of new technologies, or further exhausting an already cause-fatigued crowd. Writes Kanter:

On the one hand, I think competition is healthy and pushes us to take a few risks, innovate and explore these new tools, particularly if the potential reward $ is big. On the other hand, online contests remind of an experience I had in Hawaii feeding fish and makes [me think] about the drawbacks like cause fatigue, transactional vs relational, and promoting scarcity thinking....

Katya Andresen shares some key findings from the eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, a new study by M+R Strategic Services and NTEN that examined the effectiveness of online nonprofit fundraising in 2008. Here are a few of her takeaways:

  • Online fundraising was up 26 percent in 2008
  • E-mail fundraising and advocacy response rates held steady, compared to declines in previous years
  • The average online gift size was $71, down $15 from the previous year. The decline was most pronounced in the fourth quarter of the year (as the economy fell off a cliff)
  • Fundraising e-mails sent to previous donors generated response rates more than three times as high as those sent to non-donors
  • For most organizations, almost one-third of all online actions are taken by the most active subscribers, who comprise just seven percent of all donors
  • E-mail click-through rates fell in all issue sectors

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

-- Regina Mahone

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Posted by Christine Egger  |   October 09, 2009 at 12:24 PM

Thanks for drawing attention to the launch of the Social Entrepreneur API in your Social Media update. FYI the Draper Richards Foundation has joined the Skoll Foundation, Schwab Foundation, PopTech, ideablob, and Civic Ventures, and a search interface is now available at http://search.socialentrepreneurapi.org.

Christine Egger
Social Actions

Posted by Regina Mahone  |   October 12, 2009 at 11:27 AM

Thanks for the update, Christine!

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