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Weekend Link Roundup (October 31, 2009 - November 1, 2009)

November 01, 2009

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

Arts and Culture

“I do not think I believe anymore in forcing Eurocentric arts organizations to do diverse works or to put one minority on a board,” writes Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in a recent Huffington Post blog entry. Adds Kaiser:

When large, white organizations produce minority works they typically select the "low hanging fruit," the most popular works by diverse artists featuring the most famous minority performers and directors. This almost invariably hurts the minority arts organizations in the neighborhood, most of which are small and underfunded, and cannot afford to match the marketing clout or the casting glamour of their larger white counterparts....

And when a single minority is placed on a board with no responsibility other than to represent a race, it does nothing to change the true mission, or audience base, of the organization. More is required....

Kaiser goes on to suggest that "we...build the board strength of these vital groups and work with them to build individual donor bases that match their white counterparts," and he concludes by stating, "I am not certain I am right. We need more discussion."

What do you think? Is he right? Share your thoughts below.


Given the state of the economy, it's impossible to know the particular circumstances of every one of your organization's donors, says Katya Andresen on her Non-Profit Marketing blog. To keep those all-important donor relationships intact, Andresen suggests a few "tweaks" to your fundraising appeals:

  1. Empathy is appropriate
  2. Show you are tightening your belt
  3. Demonstrate that all donations count
  4. Show your impact

As always, great advice.

According to fundraising guru Dr. Stephen Goldstein, there are at least seven things fundraisers can learn from a good panhandler:

  1. Tell the truth
  2. Have a plan
  3. Use psychology
  4. Be persistent
  5. Be creative
  6. Make your donor feel good
  7. Be upbeat and thankful

On her Nonprofit Blog at About.com, Joanne Fritz, host of this month's Nonprofit Blog Carnival, offers a selection of blog posts on the topic of fundraising. (H/t: Katya Andresen)


On his blog, Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, explains why donors should care about outcomes and impact. For starters, writes Berger, 98 percent of all nonprofits are unable to demonstrate that their programs create impact. In fact, all "the evidence we see," adds Berger, "shows that objective data on nonprofit performance is needed and desired now more than ever."

Nonprofit Management

In an opinion piece in the Christian Science Monitor, Paul Lamb, a former nonprofit executive, considers the question of whether there are too many nonprofits in America and concludes that the more important issue is the cost-effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the nonprofit service delivery model.

The Minnesota Council on Foundations has compiled a helpful list of resources related to partnering -- from collaborations to mergers and everything in between. (H/t: MCF's Philanthropy Potluck blog)


According to a recent study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, regional trends and values have less of an impact on donor motivation than income and education. But as Sharon Schneider explains on the Philanthropic Family blog, not all donors feel that way. Writes Schneider:

Charity, for me, is about living up to my inner voice, about bridging the gap between the person I am today and the person I aspire to be. And that's also why check-writing isn't the pinnacle of charity, no matter how big the check. In fact, it's just the first step on a journey of a million steps....

Increasingly frustrated by how "profoundly segregated the people trying to change the world are from one another," Dan Pallotta argues on his Free the Nonprofits blog that it's

time for a gathering that will bring everyone in the nonprofit world together, every year, for four or five days of unbelievable 20-minute talks, a la TED, to introduce each of the silos to the others; to expose them to each other's frustrations, expertise, and potential. It should be held in the biggest indoor arena in the country. And it should be open to the world....

Social Entrepreneurship

Last week, twenty-five social entrepreneurs met at FailCon to learn how to turn their failed ventures into learning experiences. Shalyn Hockey, VP of Operations at Assetmap, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that creates Web tools to help other organizations leverage their social capital, summarizes the event on the Social Entrepreneurship blog and offers ten sure-fire "equations" for failure, as well as five equations for success.

Social Media

On the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Prospecting blog, Nicole Wallace notes that of the 587 people who responded to a recent Cone survey, nearly three-quarters agreed with the statement that "new media raise[s] their awareness about causes but do[es] not motivate them to do any more to help."

Guest blogging on Beth Kanter's blog, Michael Hoffman, CEO of See3 Communications, explains how nonprofits can make the most of the video-sharing site YouTube.

Twitter has rolled out a new "lists" feature that allows individuals to categorize and create public lists of other Twitterers. Lauren Cochrane, a "geek girl" who works for a nonprofit in Australia, shares a half dozen or so list building ideas for nonprofits on her blog, Geeking for Good, including: lists of your organization's chapters and campigns, related organizations and campaigns, and media types with an interest in your cause.

Following on Cochrane's post, Amy Sample Ward counsels nonprofits to also create a list of their supporters on Twitter.


At the Case Foundation's blog, Andrew Jensen, CEO and senior consultant for Sozo Firm, an SEO and Web marketing outfit, offers some advice to nonprofit organizations on how they can improve the visibility of their Web site.


A week or so ago, Greg Baldwin, president of VolunteerMatch, wrote a thought-provoking post about the Entertainment Industry Foundation's failed iParticipate campaign, which aimed to promote volunteerism by incorporating service themes into primetime television shows. Despite the cooperation of the industry, wrote Baldwin, the efforts did not result in a surge of visits to VolunteerMatch, VolunteerSolutions, Craiglist, 1-800-Volunteer.org, or Idealist. In fact, notes Baldwin, "Google and the long-tail of the Internet...out performed Hollywood on Thursday [the day of the event] 16 to 1."

In a thought-provoking post of her own, Allison Fine suggest that the iParticipate campaign was a case of "malmeasurement," of "hyperbole gone wild." Writes Fine:

We hear this kind of language so often. That the next campaign will be a "game changer," or create a "tidal wave" of interest, etc. The expectations that highlighting volunteerism within TV programs would be a catalyst for millions of people to volunteer was never realistic in the first place. The distance between raising awareness and action is too far through the light touch of a mention in a TV show. But that doesn’t mean that raising awareness isn't important....

The whole post is worth reading.

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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Posted by DJ  |   November 02, 2009 at 10:18 AM

"The expectations that highlighting volunteerism within TV programs would be a catalyst for millions of people to volunteer was never realistic in the first place"

No kidding. People who watch enough TV to have this message really reach them are not exactly the "get up and go" type....

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