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Weekend Link Roundup (August 22 - 23, 2009)

August 22, 2009

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

Communications/Marketing

On Monday, August 24, Steve MacLaughlin, director of Internet solutions at Blackbaud, will launch NetWits Summer Camp, a series of five Webinars covering "what every nonprofit professional needs to know about Web sites, e-mail marketing, online fundraising, social media, and related metrics." On his Connections blog, MacLaughlin offers a list of five common mistakes made by nonprofits.

Okay, you've used social media to "listen" to what people are saying about your organization. What next? Nonprofit marketing expert Kivi Leroux Miller has put togther a nice list of concrete actions you can take.

Philanthropy

According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, men prefer to give to organizations/causes closer to home ("in-group"), while women are more likely to donate to causes in the developing world ("out-group"). While "the new study does not attempt to explain the choices of super-rich philanthrocapitalists," note Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, co-authors of Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World, one factor alluded to in the paper

may be an influence on super-rich as well as ordinary donors: that the sense of an 'in-group' (Katrina victims) and an 'out-group' (tsunami victims) is not fixed but is shaped by our connection to those people. So, as we learn more about another group of people, we may come to see them as part of our 'in-group' rather than our 'out-group'.

As we point out in the book, successful entrepreneurs in a global economy are more likely to be well traveled than, well, your average congressman. As a result, they are probably more likely to see the needs of people overseas [than] those of their 'in-group'....

So-called embedded giving was all the rage last holiday season. But in this podcast, National Public Radio's Amanda Dyer explains that charities which have integrated embedded giving into their fundraising efforts may be losing out on an opportunity to connect with bigger dollars. (H/t: Lucy Bernholz)

On the GiftHub blog, Phil Cubeta wonders "what is lost when we recode a gesture (giving) that predates not only money, but articulate speech, in terms drawn wholly from Wharton or Harvard Biz school?" Indeed.

Regulation

On his Free the Nonprofits blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta argues that the best way to foster social change and innovation is to change the tax code to give consumers a tax deduction on "products and services [purchased] from for-profit companies whose work [involves] embedded social good." Such a change would affect the nonprofit community in a number of positive ways, argues Pallotta:

[It] would break the 501(c)3 monopoly on "charity" and allow a host of financially incentivized for-profit players to enter the game. It would also give 501(c)3s the freedom to change their tax status and break the bonds of their restrictive operating rules. Most important, it would open the door to social change to the most powerful economic force known to humanity: the entrepreneurial spirit -- a spirit which is effectively eradicated in any nonprofit setting by

  1. The obstructing power of Boards of Directors, which are notoriously risk-averse
  2. The inability to offer stock options to attract a kick-ass team
  3. The inability for entrepreneurs to own any of their creation themselves
  4. The inability to hire without interference from an outdated moral code on compensation

On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz argues that the time has come "to invite nonprofit and philanthropy professionals, social entrepreneurs, social capital market makers, data wonks, think tanks and others to reimagine the regulatory and policy structures that guide and inform philanthropy. What policies or regulations would improve philanthropy? asks Bernholz, who then offers a short list of some of the ideas being debated around "Internet watercoolers":

Social Entrepreneurship

As recently noted on the TechCrunch blog, the venture firm Y Combinator has started issuing "Requests for Startups" as a way to encourage young entrepreneurs to tackle opportunities that may be "missing in the market." Up first? The future of journalism -- specifically, what will online content sites look like when print publications are gone? Note: Groups applying to work on this idea

should include at least one person who can write well and rapidly about any topic, one or more programmers who are good at statistics, data mining, and making sites scale, and someone who's reasonably competent at graphic design. These functions can of course be combined, and in fact it's even better if they are. Ex-Googlers would be particularly well suited to this project.

Social Media

Responding to a Beth Kanter blog post that analyzed a list of some ninety foundations that tweet, Tactical Philanthropy's Sean Stannard-Stockton suggests that the foundations which infuse their brand on Twitter with the personality of a real person/employee are inherently more interesting than those that don't. Adds Stannard-Stockton, "As we strive to build a more effective philanthropy, to share knowledge and support what works, let’s not become disconnected from the human element that drives philanthropy."

On her blog, Kanter has a list of things she learned about Causes on Facebook from a recent NTEN-hosted "Ask an Expert" chat with Causes co-founder Joe Green:

  • Nonprofits can integrate Causes by adding a tab on their Fan Page;
  • Nonprofits should be proactive and work with volunteers who set up a Cause for their organization;
  • The audience reached through Causes is typically younger and are often first-time donors;
  • Brand equity is less important on Causes; what's most important is how organizations communicate what they do; and
  • New and improved analytics data are coming soon.

Puget Sound Off, a Web-based project that aims to be "a catalyst for increasing youth involvement and engagement within the community while encouraging expression of one's beliefs, respect for others, and commitment to public service," has added instructional videos to the How-To area of the site. "And since the videos were developed largely by young people," writes Allison Fine on her blog, "it's a great example of reverse mentoring!"

Guest blogging on the Community Organizer 2.0 blog, Brenna Holmes, an online account executive at Adams Hussey & Associates, documents how she helped the California State Parks Foundation increase the number of fans on their Facebook Page from 517 to over 45,000 fans in just three months.

Technology

The PanelPicker voting interface for the 2010 SXSW Interactive Festival next March in Austin, Texas, has been opened to the online community. To help inform your choices, Social Edge has compiled a list of programming proposals of interest to social entrepreneurs, while SocialBrite has put together its own list of "awesome" nonprofit panels. Check out all the program proposals on the SXSW Web site, and don't forget to vote.

That's it for this week. What did we miss? Use the comments section to send us your suggestions, or e-mail me at rnm@foundationcenter.org.

-- Regina Mahone

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