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Weekend Link Roundup (November 14 - 15, 2009)

November 15, 2009

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

Accountability/Transparency

In a recent post on the GiveWell blog, Holden Karnofsky takes the Carter Center to task for its lack of accountability and transparency.

Communications/Marketing

"Listening is everything," writes Katya Andresen on her NonProfit Marketing blog. But how does one make the time to do it? Have any suggestions? Leave your suggestions below.

Last week, marketing expert Nancy Schwartz released the 2009 Nonprofit Tagline Report. "A strong tagline complements your org's name [and conveys] its unique value or impact with personality, passion and commitment," writes Schwartz, adding, that "If you fail to make the most of your tagline, you throw that opportunity away." You can download a copy of the report here.

Impact/Effectiveness

Do donors care about nonprofit impact? Charity Navigator has gotten some surprising feedback on that question and wants to hear from you. After you fill out the three-question survey, read what others are saying here.

International Affairs/Development

Matthew Bishop shares a few thoughts about how former Gates Foundation executive Raj Shah can make the most of his new position as head of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Microfinance

In his "last word" about the so-called Kiva controversy, Nathaniel Whittemore argues that even though the folks behind the online giving platform "messed up," we should unequivocally support the organization's future efforts. "Kiva is a young organization," Whittemore writes,

and one of the first to really harness the Internet to extend the experience of giving in dramatically new ways. In my mind, they may have goofed on the trust that they have with their lenders, but they have not undermined the trust that we must have in any nonprofit to be committed to delivering the services it promises in the way that most effectively helps the people it's trying to serve. They've changed their communication, they're proactively seeking to rebuild trust with lenders, and at the end of the day, the amount of good that has been done through Kiva remains immense....

Philanthropy

Although the latest iteration of the online America's Giving Challenge campaign extended over fewer days than the inaugural challenge in 2008, it still managed to generate more than 105,420 donations and raise over $2 million for charitable causes. Allison Fine offers her post-mortem here.

On his Wise Philanthropy blog, Richard Marker argues that in order to be effective, donors first have to understand their "culture and values." Writes Marker:

I am a believer in the concept I coined a few years ago: that those of us above a certain age are "guests in this century." The challenge is NOT to get [the denizens] of this transformed world to embrace a culture or values of a century and era now past. That is not a worthwhile enterprise and would be unsuccessful anyway. It is incumbent upon [those of us who are older] to embrace the culture of this world -- or get out of the way....

On the Nonprofit Charitable Orgs blog at About.com, Joanne Fritz shares five suggestions taken from The Art of Giving, the new book by Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, to leverage your charitable giving.

On the MCF's Philanthropy Potluck blog, Chris Murakami Noonan recaps the recent joint annual conference of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Minnesota Council on Foundations. Speaking to conference attendees, Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, said that this is "the era of partnerships" in philanthropy and then listed the four "Cs" that drive effective public/private partnerships: connections, communication, capacity-building, and convening.

Lucy Bernholz singles out two new database applications that underscore the role "data will play as platforms for change": TRASI (Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact), a joint effort of the Foundation Center and McKinsey & Co., and KidsData, a project of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health that aggregates information on three hundred indicators related to the health and well being of children in communities across California.

Social Media

Philanthropy Action's Tim Ogden and Laura Starita have released the results of a survey about the use of social media by mid-size nonprofits. "In terms of fundraising and attracting volunteers, metrics that most nonprofit boards and executive directors highly value, the available evidence suggests that social media is not very effective," writes Ogden. Click here to download the complete report (22 pages, PDF).

Beth Kanter takes a close look at the results of the Philanthropy Action survey and compares it to the findings of a different report released earlier in the week. Her conclusion: It's too early for nonprofits to ditch their social media efforts. Writes Kanter:

It's time to set realistic outcomes, look for strategic efficiencies, and define and share best practices. I don't think it is a good idea to simply dismiss social media. I think it is important to have the conversation, but don't look at ROI in such a narrow [way]. Look at the missed opportunity costs of not participating -- as well as take it as an opportunity to look at everything you're doing and figure out what isn't working and try social media in its place. It also important to keep measuring and improving....

In the first post of a two-part series on "social media for accountability" at the Future Leaders in Philanthropy blog, Zach Wales explains how social media can help board members bring "integrity to their nonprofits, and reinforce everything that made them join the board in the first place."

Technology

On the GOOD blog, William Simpson, vice president for information technology at CHF International, argues that it's time for nonprofit IT heads to start running their departments like a business. And the first step is to ask these five simple questions:

  1. Is this technology practical?
  2. What is the true cost of this technology?
  3. Are we looking at all the options?
  4. What existing solutions are there within the organization's global operations?
  5. Have we hired the best we can afford?

(H/t: AFP blog)

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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