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Weekend Link Roundup (January 16 - 17, 2010)

January 17, 2010

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

Corporate Philanthropy

Now you see her, now you don't. The Nonprofiteer was back this week with a blast at Goldman Sachs, which is thinking about requiring its executives and top managers to set aside a percentage of their earnings for charity. "If the big banks want to dampen public outrage over the enormous bonuses they're paying," said Ms. Kleiman, "they should take the simple step of not paying them. And...[if they don't], public criticism [of the bonuses] should be made law in the form of taxes and regulations to recapture the windfall profit the banks made with public money...."

Disaster Relief

The earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti, including Port-au-Prince, its densely populated capital, has spurred an outpouring of donations for relief and recovery efforts. Reflecting on the grim news coming out of the Western hemisphere's poorest country, Social Entrepreneurship blogger Nathaniel Whittemore argues that, as much as Haiti needs emergency aid now, over the longer term it deserves much more than that from the developed world.

Appearing on NPR's "Marketplace" program, Katya Andresen, chief operating officer at Network for Good, talks with Kai Ryssdal about why hundreds of thousands of people have chosen to donate to Haiti relief efforts via text message -- and what it means for relief and recovery efforts in the devastated country.

In a related post, Social Citizens blogger Kristin Ivie wonders whether the response to the disaster in Haiti will be a "game-changer" for mobile giving. Will service providers use the disaster as a CSR opportunity, asks Ivie, "dropping the commercials about...maps for a commercial about how they are funding organizations like mGive and the Mobile Giving Foundation?" What do you think?

Many bloggers and organizations provided advice on the best way to contribute to Haiti relief efforts, including Charity Navigator, which offered these tips:

  1. Avoid newly formed charities and instead give to established charities that have worked in the country
  2. Do not give to the government of Haiti
  3. Designate your contribution
  4. Do not give supplies
  5. Be careful of e-mail solicitations
  6. Donate through a charity's own Web site
  7. Consider the nature of the charity's work
  8. Be inspired by social media but do your homework
  9. Avoid telemarketers
  10. Do not expect immediate results but do keep tabs on what your donation accomplishes

And on a related topic, Rosetta Thurman weighs in on four common misperceptions about philanthropy.


On her Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington wonders why organizations like the Nonprofit Finance Fund -- which published a survey last March on how the economic downturn is affecting the sector -- focus solely on the challenges and not the opportunities for nonprofits presented by this recession.


On the It's Your World blog, World Affairs Council president and CEO Jane Wales points to a recent report which found that "in just 20 years, demand for water will be 40 percent higher than it is now." According to the report, "enhanced agricultural productivity –- increasing 'crop per drop' -– is essential to closing the gap between demand and supply."


Responding to an article by New York Times reproter Stephanie Strom in which Strom argues that the high number of "frivolous" new applications for public charities is "depriving the federal budget of billions of dollars," Tides Foundation executive vice president Ellen Friedman writes, "There are plenty of reasons for concern about the federal budget, but singling out the nonprofit sector in this way overlooks some important points." Adds Friedman:

Not only is this sector working on innovative ways to make the world a better place and connecting people with a sense of common good, nonprofits also contribute billions in tax revenue through employee payroll alone.

Moreover, in an age of dwindling public resources, when the role of government in addressing social problems is feverishly debated, the American public is taking matters into their own hands. This heightened wave of community activism, volunteerism, and social entrepreneurship needs to be celebrated, not discouraged....


Over the last week or so, Tactical Philanthropy blogger Sean Stannard-Stockton invited members of the Tactical Philanthropy community to comment on a draft version of the application guidelines for the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) issued just before the holidays. Last week, Stannard-Stockton shared his own thoughts on the draft:

  • The draft seriously overestimates the availability of conclusive evidence in the nonprofit sector.
  • The model sub-grantee should not be an organization that has rigorous evidence of program effectiveness.
  • The model sub-grantee should be an organization that actively collects information about the results of its programs, systematically analyzes this information, adjusts its activities in response to new information, and has an absolute focus on producing outcomes.
  • The goal of the SIF should be to fund and build the evidence base of the next Nurse-Family Partnership (the nation's premier example of an organization that has "rigorous evidence" of effective programs).


Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta argues on his Harvard Business Review blog that "there's a direct correlation between leaders' nearness to suffering and public outrage over their compensation." Explains Pallotta, "high salaries can be paid to entertain high society without a question. But the moment the thought of a starving child or a struggling mother is introduced, all the rules change."

Social Media

Responding to a post by Jon Stancato of the Stolen Chair Theatre group, Allison Fine shares some thoughts about how nonprofit theaters (and other arts groups) can begin to transform themselves into social networks that would be "less expensive to run and maintain and more connected to its real and virtual communities." Her post is well worth a few minutes of your time.

And that's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org.

-- Regina Mahone

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