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Weekend Link Roundup (December 19 - 20, 2009)

December 20, 2009

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

Arts and Culture

Michael Kaiser, president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, suggests that foundations should be writing more challenge grants to arts organizations as a way to build their donor bases.


Sean Stannard-Stockton argues on his Tactical Philanthropy blog that the nonprofit sector garners too few headlines because its work is perceived as being "common place." Writes Stannard-Stockton: "If we...continue to pretend that most nonprofits are doing great work and most philanthropists make great grants, we will continue to limit attention and capital flowing to the nonprofits [that] are really making a difference."


Guest blogging on the Social Citizens blog, Derrick Feldman, CEO of Achieve, encourages nonprofits to think of their supporters in terms of long- and short-term investments. Writes Feldman: "[W]hen it comes to cultivating donors, you need to work with those who can make an immediate impact as well as those who have the ability to contribute stable returns over a longer period." By engaging younger donors, adds Feldman, nonprofits can "develop a relationship that pays long-term returns."


Nonprofit Board Crisis blogger Mike Burns suggests that, in a post-recession economy, board members should be encouraging their organizations to follow five "fiscal rules":

  1. Live within your means.
  2. Look to the future.
  3. Stop deferring expenses.
  4. Dedicate your surplus.
  5. Set up a rainy-day fund.


Responding to the announcement that the Huffington Post plans to let advertisers "buy" comments on its stories and pay for tweets in its Twitter feed as a way to increase ad revenue, Allison Fine calls the news "a horrible idea" and says it smacks of a company getting ready to go public.

Nonprofit Management

"While strategic restructuring is not always the answer," writes Bob Harrington on the Nonprofit Next blog, "nonprofits facing unprecedented challenges to their business models would do well to consider it not just as a survival strategy, but as a vehicle for meeting -- and even transforming -- their mission."


The Current State of Online Philanthropy, a new research paper funded by the Hewlett Foundation, evaluates fifty-five online donation platforms in an effort to "create a common framework for thinking about how...an online giving community can improve the quality of decision making [for] the entire philanthropic sector." Key findings from the report include:

  1. A small number of platforms attract a large majority of users;
  2. Evaluative analysis about nonprofits has very limited reach;
  3. Certain types of platforms offer more resources for evaluation;
  4. Most platforms provide giving opportunities for any cause, anywhere;
  5. Estimates suggest that U.S. users represent less than half the global total.

Author David Koken puts the fifty-five sites into three categories: information, investments, and donations. Responding to the research, Lucy Bernholz writes: "This categorization alone is useful and confirms our claim in the Disrupting Philan thropy paper that these markets -- individually and in the aggregate -- are important new information features in the giving ecosystem."

On the GiveWell blog, Holden Karnofsky asks the "essential" question: "If a charity demonstrates that its core program has changed lives in the past, is likely to change lives in the future, and gets great 'bang for your buck,' is this enough reason to donate to it?" His answer will surprise you.

On her Social Edge blog, FORGE founder Kjerstin Erickson shares the "dark side of online voting contests." According to Erickson, nonprofits need to do a better job of determining "whether or not the predicted payoff of the prize money exceeds the cost of entering the contest."

On the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Julia Craig takes a close look at a recent New York Times' article chronicling the "disproportionate effects of the recession on elderly Americans living in rural areas" and suggests a number of things that philanthropy can do to help.

Social Entrepreneurship

In a series of new posts, Nathaniel Whittemore lists the top trends he thinks will shape the field of social entrepreneurship in 2010. His list includes creativity in seed funding, regional innovation ecosystems, sector blending, co-working environments, and online action platforms.

Social Media

Heather Mansfield looks at the "major changes" Facebook plans to make to its Pages application and flags some of the things that may affect nonprofits. Bottom line: "...[N]onprofits with national and international brand recognition, lots of fans, and technical resources will benefit [from the changes, while]...small nonprofits are going have a harder time."


"Effective online collaboration tools...can't have top-down control interaction design," writes Beth Kanter in a recent post. "This gets in the way of everyone being able to do a little bit of the work." Kanter goes on to list four things that should be embedded in any online collaboration tool to ensure its effectiveness.

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

-- Regina Mahone

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Posted by Alena  |   December 31, 2009 at 02:53 AM

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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