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Weekend Link Roundup (September 26 - 27, 2009)

September 27, 2009


Here's this week's roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Arts and Culture

Over at the Createquity blog, Ian David Moss offers a detailed examination of Americans for the Arts' 2007 economic impact survey Arts & Economic Prosperity III and its finding that "the nonprofit arts sector is responsible for $166.2 billion in economic activity nationwide." His conclusion: "A&EP III is a serious study, one worthy of our attention and use for advocacy and research purposes. However, some of its potential impact is undermined by the hyperbolic language with which it is often presented to the press and politicians...." (Thanks for the tip, Ian).


In the fourth installment of his "Connecting" series, Philanthropy Journal publisher Todd Cohen argues that stories "capture the indispensable role that nonprofits and charitable giving play in our communities" and can also "teach, inspire and engage." But in order to do so, says Cohen, they need to be clear, authentic, and genuine.

As part of the Case Foundation's Gear Up for Giving initiative, a month-long series of social media tutorials, Marnie Webb, co-CEO of TechSoup Global, lists five ways that nonprofits can build stronger relationships with their supporters:

  1. Write them a note. For no reason at all.
  2. Show up at their party.
  3. Give your supporters something special.
  4. Give them something else to do.
  5. Ask for feedback and change because of it.


For the next three weeks, Rosetta Thurman will profile Hispanic-American nonprofit leaders on her blog in observance of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Last week, Thurman posted the first and second installments in her series, highlighting the affinity group Hispanics in Philanthropy and posting an interview with Ian Bautista, president of United Neighborhood Centers of America.

On the Greater New Orleans Foundation's Second Line blog, guest contributor Martin Gutierrez, executive director of Neighborhood and Community Services, celebrates the contributions that Hispanics have made to the post-Katrina recovery of communities in the Greater New Orleans area.


"Isn't it time to ask how ideas from the non-profit world can improve business?" writes Seattle Times reporter Kristi Heim on her Business of Giving blog. The economic crisis has proven that "the market is [not] the best judge of success or failure," adds Heim. How then can nonprofits help the business world reinvent itself? Matthew Bishop, co-author of Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World, offered a few ideas in a recent talk, which Heim includes in her post.


Can money buy happiness? According to a recent op-ed in the Dallas Morning News, it can. On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen connects the Morning News piece to charity and reminds fundraising professionals that they are not only in the business of doing good; they're in the business of making people feel great.

On a similar note, Gift Hub blogger Phil Cubeta admonishes fundraisers to rise above their own agendas and serve, rather than solicit, donors. Writes Cubeta:

If [fundraisers] want...a seat at the planning table where the big dollars are planned, they too will have to serve not solicit the donor. They do that by letting go of a personal agenda long enough to learn what motivates the donor, to recommend advisory work when needed, and to suggest a mission match and charitable tools when and only when they fit in the larger planning picture....

And on the Donor Power Blog, Jeff Brooks says that you shouldn't believe everything you hear about the imminent demise of direct mail.


On the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation blog, Margaret Stanley, former executive director of the Puget Sound Health Alliance, suggests that they key to healthcare reform may involve forging bonds and achieving consensus among local organizations and stakeholders.

International Affairs/Development

Can microfinance institutions sustain their business models in a down economy? Perhaps, says John Liebhardt on the Global Voices Online blog, thanks to the emergence of social media technology. Writes Liebhardt:

The marriage of microlending and social media works two ways. First it allows a disparate group of people, perhaps the entrepreneurs, to communicate and become organized. Secondly, it allows them to reach out and relay their message with the larger world. Microlending organizations have latched on to this, leveraging technology to make sure potential lenders can put a face to recipients’ stories. Perhaps these personal bonds originate from the Grameen Bank, which began lending funds on the basis of trust and used peer pressure to insure the loans were repaid. Or, perhaps microlenders online use interpersonal connections as a bulwark against compassion fatigue....

"With all the technology supporting these sites, however," adds Liebhardt, one has to wonder "whether these schemes will pass the sustainability test that often separates good development projects from just good ideas....

(H/t: AFP blog)


On the Foundation Center's Philanthropy Front and Center–Atlanta blog, Asia Hadley shares what she saw on a recent visit to New Orleans and asks, Where did the money go? As Hadley notes, a new Foundation Center report, Giving in the Aftermath of the 2005 Gulf Coast Hurricanes (2007-2009), attempts to answer that question and, in so doing, reveals "a shift in the focus of service providers and grantmakers from immediate relief to recovery and rebuilding." But as Hadley also notes, less affluent parts of the city still have a long way to go.


Writing on the eJewish Philanthropy blog, Steven Windmueller argues that "we are experiencing the greatest institutional crisis since the 1930s" and that "thinking outside the box" may not be enough to lead organizations through the current crisis as the "box" itself has become a moving target. In the "new normal," adds Windmueller, complexity is the name of the game, nothing is sacred, and values-driven leadership must be embraced as an essential feature of successful institutions.


"From the standpoint of foundation giving, more than half of the impact of the stock market crash has yet to be felt," writes Sean Stannard-Stockton on his Tactical Philanthropy blog. Indeed, says Stannard-Stockton, the

full effect of the financial crises will not hit the foundation sector until next year. When it does, the thing that will matter most to the social sector will be whether the influence of the collective expertise of foundation employees is greatly diminished or whether foundations step up to the plate and find creative ways to get their knowledge into the hands of major donors....

Social Entrepreneurship

The MacArthur Foundation has announced its 2009 fellows. And among the many terms used to describe these talented people, "social entrepreneur" fits best, says Nathaniel Whitemore on the Change.org blog. "[The winners] share a capacity to think differently and look for creative solutions," writes Whittemore, and "an unwillingness to accept the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be." Sounds like a pretty good definition of a social entrepreneur to us.

Social Media

On the Social Edge site, publisher and CauseWired author Tom Watson explains how this year's meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative became "a virtual boombox empowering women" thanks in part to social media wielded by celebs, bloggers, and journalists from traditional media outlets.

We can all learn from the social messenger framework developed by David Lipscomb, founder and president of communications firm Redpen21, says social media expert Beth Kanter. The idea, writes Kanter, is that nonprofits should not only use social media to listen and engage, but also think about how engagement supports their overall communications goals.


The Huffington Post has launched a new technology portal. Kicking things off, Robin Caldwell, managing editor at BlackWeb20, weighs in with a post about the "missing faces in technology and innovation." Writes Caldwell:

As we inch closer to Web 3.0, the question of ownership will be directly tied to who has access to the necessary tools to build on the "land." And if memory serves me correctly, the one who owns the land is the one who holds the power.

So why is it that I see the same names and faces -- none of which look like mine -- positioned as thought leaders and innovators in Web 2.0? Why do I see the same faces as representative of the power in technology

I've been informed on more than one occasion that we're hard to find....

[But] we're here. Now you know. And once you know, you're accountable....

And in part two of her forward-looking "Decoding the Future" series, Lucy Bernholz argues that cloud technology and peer to peer networks are on the verge of changing expectations about philanthropic data and the behaviors associated with those expectations. These changes, says Bernholz, "coupled with changes in the public and private sectors, are pushing a transition to a 'social economy' made up of interdependent public, private and philanthropic capital and creators of social goods." Good stuff, as always.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone

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