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Weekend Link Roundup (October 3 - 4, 2009)

October 04, 2009

Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Chain-links Fundraising

Over at the Agitator blog, Tom Bedford says there are five questions you should ask before you allocate significant time and resources to a social media fundraising campaign:

  • What is the scale of the proposed effort relative to your overall fundraising program
  • Is your fundraising audience — the folks giving your organization money today — ready for a new approach?
  • What do you actually know about the new channel or technology?
  • Are there any opportunity costs?
  • What value will you get from this, and how will you measure success?

(H/t: Give and Take)


After attending a talk by a well-known new media expert at Philanthropy New York last week, Wise Philanthropy blogger Richard Marker was reminded that effective grantmaking is a teachable discipline with its own competencies, ethics, and best practices.


It's not enough to show funders where their money is going, says Katya Andresen on her Non-Profit Marketing Blog. You have to be able to "show real, measurable impact in a way that enables you to be judged on a social ROI or compared to other causes [in terms of] effectiveness." In the current economic environment, adds Andresen, "Donors expect something more than a receipt."

On his Free the Nonprofits blog, Dan Pallotta offers a different perspective on the idea of "taking organizations to scale."

How do you make sure that money donated to a good cause in a developing country gets to its intended beneficiaries when there is no recognized pipeline from donor to recipients? The Nonprofiteer offers a few suggestions.


On the Social Citizens blog, Kristin Ivie writes that she is tired of hearing Millennials say they are going to start their own nonprofit because they "can't get a job doing exactly what [they] want to do at exactly the level [they think they] deserve." If you, or someone you know, falls into this category, says Ivie, ask yourself these questions before you start designing your new logo:

  1. Is another organization already doing something like this?
  2. If there are others doing something similar -- and there almost always are -- how would you do it differently?
  3. What can you do to support existing organizations?
  4. Do you have a real sense of how hard this is going to be?
  5. Why do you want to do this?

Excellent advice.


Responding to a Sean Stannard-Stockton post about the desirability of staffed foundations doing more to share their knowledge to offset a decline in their assets, a Tactical Philanthropy reader asked whether increasing the foundation payout rate was a good idea in the current economic environment. Probably not, says Stannard-Stockton:

The 5% minimum is essentially the highest level that can be required of foundations without eliminating their option to exist in perpetuity.

I don't think that all foundations should plan to last forever. But I do think there are valuable benefits to institutionalizing knowledge and creating long lasting organizations. That being said, there are also good arguments to be made for foundations to elect higher payout rates. While doing so may force them to spend down and disband the organization, they may be able to achieve more impact through this strategy....

On the Inside Philanthropy blog, Todd Cohen applauds the publication of On the Money, a new report from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations that takes foundations to task for placing "'enormous burdens' on nonprofits through grantmaking practices such as 'duplicative' grant applications and demands for 'arbitrary impact indicators'." Given the fact that foundations "face little regulatory oversight [and] are free to do pretty much what they like," says Cohen, foundations should work harder to "address nonprofits' actual needs and challenges." Is he right?

Are we finished talking about embedded giving? Not yet. From Legacy to Leadership: Is Philanthropy Ready for the New Consumer?, a new report from marketing firm BBMG, argues "that our values and social goals are becoming as important in our consuming, donating choices as our practical needs."

Social Entrepreneurship

On his Aid Watch blog, NYU economist William Easterly (The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good) writes that when it comes to social change, a sure recipe for failure is to set big goals and stubbornly refuse to adjust them as circumstances on the ground change.

On the Social Entrepreneurship blog, Nathaniel Whittemore explains how graphical interfaces communicate essential information and big ideas better than non-graphic data. Citing as an example this recent presentation about the healthcare reform debate, Whittemore suggests that "this mode of thinking could be valuable for social entrepreneurs with disruptive models."

Social Media

Guest blogging on Beth Kanter's Blog, Kate Bladow admits to being a listener. And tools like Google Alerts help her "to separate signal from noise." Adds Bladow: "Listening helps me figure out where those good conversations are happening." Does your organization listen? If not, check out these steps on how to get started.

As part of the Case Foundation's Gear Up for Giving initiative, Kari Dunn Saratovsky talks to social media expert Beth Kanter about the live streaming platform Ustream.tv.


Allison Fine offers these takeaways from a recent conference call during which she discussed with other female bloggers key themes in the book Women Lead the Way, by Linda Tarr-Whelan. "Here's the bottom line," writes Fine, "when women make up 30% of the leadership of an institution, or organization, or sector, or board, things change....We need more, real, authentic conversations about the role of women in our society."

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at [email protected]. And have a great week!

-- Regina Mahone

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