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Weekend Link Roundup (July 18 - 19, 2009)

July 19, 2009

Chain-links This week's roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

On his Donor Power Blog, Jeff Brooks agrees with author and blogger Dan Pallotta that charity watchdogs place too much emphasis on administrative costs. But instead of whining about the issue, says Brooks, charities falling into the high-overhead category should spend more time talking about their work to donors and should do more to persuade watchdog organizations to broaden their evaluation criteria.

Is this the best presentation deck of the year for nonprofit fundraisers and marketing professionals? Robin Hood Marketing guru Katya Andresen thinks so.

Impact/Effectiveness

Taking a closer look at social impact data on the Change.org blog, Steve Wright, director of innovation at the Salesforce.com Foundation, suggests we need a system of measurement that allows us to "crowdsource insight and facilitate unpredictable explications and fresh perspectives."

Microfinance

Last week, eighty would-be entrepreneurs and sixteen lenders participated in a call-in conference held by Kiva, the popular microfinance site that recently expanded its platform to include small business owners in the United States. While some callers criticized the intent of the expansion, others were quick to defend the move. Here are a few comments from the discussion:

  • Lenders should have choice; Kiva is merely a conduit between lenders and borrowers.
  • While the definition of "working poor" may vary by country and region, working poor is still working poor.
  • Loans, of any kind, to developed nations will not end poverty in those countries.
  • The assumption that entrepreneurs in the U.S. cannot benefit from small loans is flawed.
  • It is a mistake to believe that only small entrepreneurs in developing countries are in a position to put microloans to good use.

The folks at Kiva plan to post a response to comments like those above sometime this week. In the meantime, you can listen to a recording of the call here.

Social Entrepreneurship

In this video, marketing guru Seth Godin encourages students attending a seminar hosted by the Acumen Fund to embrace risk. "The most interesting point [Godin] makes [in the video]," writes Nathaniel Whittemore on his blog, "is that the Acumen Fund's job with these students is to produce competition that can breed ecosystems." Indeed, at a time when social innovators are struggling to secure funding, adds Whittemore, these ecosystems are the best bet to "provide the capital that is truly needed to support entrepreneurs."

Guest blogging on Beth Kanter's blog, Peter Dietz urges the nonprofit technology community to adopt open standards that "help us all become more effective at what we urgently need to do: raise money, recruit and coordinate volunteers, promote events, create profiles on social networks, generate reports for grant-makers, and the list goes on."

Social Media

In a recent opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Mark Pfeifle "nominates" Twitter for this year's Nobel Peace Prize because it was the "megaphone" that delivered the "pictures, videos, sound bites, and blogs" that really showed what was going on in Iran earlier this month. On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz argues that "achieving huge social goals such as peace...[requires] contributions from all sectors and groups." Change, adds Bernholz, can "come from anywhere." Amen to that.

All summer long (through August 28), social media guide Mashable is playing host to the Summer of Social Good campaign, an online-only effort to raise funds for the Humane Society, Livestrong, Oxfam America, and the World Wildlife Fund. In collaboration with the campaign and MaxGladwell.com's "10 Ways" series, Josh Catone offers ten social media-related things that anyone can do to support their favorite charity:

  1. Write a blog post
  2. Share a charity-related story with friends
  3. Follow your favorite charities on social network sites
  4. Support a cause on an "awareness hub"
  5. Volunteer
  6. Embed a charity widget on your site
  7. Organize a "Tweetup"
  8. Express your passion for a cause by making a video
  9. Sign or start a petition
  10. Organize an online event

What are you waiting for?

Social Justice

Thanks to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, "the poor are no longer invisible," writes Bill Shore, executive director of Share Our Strength, a nonprofit organization working to end hunger, on his Huffington Post blog. With "instant access to information about virtually everything," people are not only hearing...[about] the latest celebrity scandal, but also from communities that are "hurting, left out, left behind, and why." Writes Shore:

One no longer needs to travel to the Mississippi Delta to find hunger as Bobby Kennedy did, or hold Congressional hearings to reveal it like Senator George McGovern. Internet technology brings more to our fingertips than downloadable music and sophisticated video games. It brings the opportunity to learn and know how other people live across town and across the world. With that comes a responsibility to engage as a citizen, locally and globally, in new and more powerful ways. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, writing about journalistic responsibility and Iran, reminded us that social media is not as powerful as personally bearing witness. "To bear witness means being there -- and that's not free. No search engine gives you the smell of a crime, the tremor in the air, the eyes that smolder, or the cadence of a scream." But search engines and social media can strip away the invisibility of the poor that 40 years ago was a plausible excuse for inaction. If the poor are invisible to us now, they are invisible by our choice, our lack of curiosity, our lack of civic engagement and commitment.

Social media can't ensure social justice. But it can affect the invisibility that is the first barrier to achieving it....

What did we miss? Use the comments section to tell us about your favorite recent posts. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone

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