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Weekend Link Roundup (December 5 - 6, 2009)

December 06, 2009

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


Appearing on NPR's "Marketplace" program, Philanthropy 2173's Lucy Bernholz talked with Kai Ryssdal about the top philanthropy-related buzzwords of 2009 (interview transcript here). On her Nonprofit Marketing blog, Network for Good's Katya Andresen adds a half dozen of her own to Lucy's three.

How can nonprofit organizations make the most of their taglines? Nonprofit marketing expert Nancy Schwartz provides a dozen tips on her Getting Attention blog.


Rosetta Thurman says that if nonprofit organizations care about having a more racially diverse workforce, they need to "implement strategies specifically designed to attract people of color."


Does board service automatically provide individual board members with enough capacity/experience to be an effective executive? Not necessarily, writes Mike Burns on his Nonprofit Board Crisis blog. "Board members have a special set of skills and experience," adds Burns, "that do not instantly apply to the fundamental management skills needed for operating a nonprofit, nor even managing a board for that matter...."


For some, the big news of the week was the press release issued by Guidestar, Charity Navigator, GreatNonprofits, Philanthropedia, and GiveWell. Titled "The Worst (and Best) Way to Pick A Charity This Year," the joint release says that "overhead ratios and executive salaries... [are] useless for evaluating a nonprofit's impact." On the Charity Navigator blog, CN president and CEO Ken Berger wrote:

[We do] not agree with everything that is stated in this press release (we think overhead does have a place in rating charities, yet agree it should not be primary or overly emphasized), but we do concur with the fundamental truth that the most critical dimension in evaluating a nonprofit has to do with achieving meaningful results (we call them outcomes)....

In the post, Berger explains how Charity Navigator, over the next year and a half, plans to improve its frequently criticized rating system to include indicators related to an organization's financial health, accountability, and outcomes.


On the Social Citizens blog, Kristin Ivie notes that while her fellow Millennials are an "idealistic generation, with very high standards for ourselves, our organizations, our colleagues and our politicians," they've struggled to come to terms with "disappointments in the organizations we have been involved with and our sector as a whole." What to do when reality falls short of expectations? Ivie has a few suggestions: volunteer for another organization, spend time with a mentor, express your concerns about the nonprofit in question, and/or do a "reality check."


Sean Stannard-Stockton weighs in on why the recently launched Social Impact Exchange is important and matters to philanthropy.

Social Entrepreneurship

On his Change.org blog, Nathaniel Whittemore shares three lessons social entrepreneurs can learn from World AIDS Day.

Social Media

On the What We Give blog, Larry Blumenthal, director of social media strategy for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, discussess steps taken by the Hewlett Foundation to be more transparent in its work with Hewlett communications director Eric Brown.

If an organization wants to successfully implement social media, "[it] needs to be part of everyone's job," writes Beth Kanter in a recent post.

On her Business of Giving blog, Seattle Times reporter Kristi Heim takes a look at GlobalMojo, "a Web browser that channels money to nonprofits when its users search, shop, or book travel." But are services such as these "giving us the illusion we're doing community service," asks Heim, "when in fact we have no real connection to the cause and we're simply buying more stuff or getting lost in our gadgets?" And does it matter?

Google Wave -โ€“ an "online tool for real-time communication and collaboration" โ€“- may just be another "shiny new object," but Idealist's Scott Stadum thinks it has a lot of potential for the sector and shares some ideas about how nonprofits can make the most of it.

According to About.com's Joanne Fritz, "generosity will get you everywhere in social media." To that end, Fritz shares some tips about building relationships online:

  • Listen and get to know the community you want to interact with;
  • Ask questions;
  • Invite comments on your blog and respond to the comments you receive;
  • Look for information about your subject that you can pass on to your readers;
  • Retweet others' tweets;
  • Say "thank you" and give compliments frequently;
  • Be present, responsive, and in it for the long haul.

On his With or Without You blog, Mitch Hurst looks at how the top 30 foundations are using Facebook and Twitter. Based on his informal survey, Hurst writes:

The most active foundations in the social media space are focusing their efforts on pushing dialogue about specific issues or on reaching out to specific audiences that are heavy social media participants. Foundations that fund interest areas that are currently in the news or are part of national policy discussions are also getting their perspectives out, particularly on Twitter. At an institutional level, foundations are drawing significant followings on Twitter by posting information about individual grants and linking back to additional information on their Web sites....

Adds Hurst, "As adoption by the general public of social media platforms increases, and the dialogue that takes place becomes more influential, foundations that stay on the sidelines will miss out on the substantive discussions about their issues that are taking place online." We agree.


Last but not least, Allison Fine wonders whether women can use blogs and social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook "to overcome the traditional barriers that exist within institutions of position, financial resources, and permission." And if not, can women use social media to create their own platforms for social change? 

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

-- Regina Mahone


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Posted by Joanne Fritz  |   December 06, 2009 at 09:51 PM

Thanks for another terrific roundup of links and for including me. You do such a good job and I love the format.

Posted by Regina Mahone  |   December 07, 2009 at 02:32 PM

Thanks, Joanne. We enjoy reading your blog and are happy to include your posts in the roundup.

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