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Weekend Link Roundup (January 30 - 31, 2010)

January 31, 2010

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


A recent Nancy Schwartz & Company survey of more than 900 nonprofit leaders found that most nonprofit messages don't connect strongly with the key audiences for those messages. The survey also found that 86 percent of nonprofits characterize their messages as difficult to remember. On her Getting Attention blog, Schwartz reminds readers that "messaging is the first step in effective marketing communications."

On IssueLab's Footnotes blog, Luise Barnikel, host of this month's Nonprofit Blog Carnival, offers a selection of posts on the topic of nonprofit communications on a budget.

On the Nonprofit Tech 2.0 blog, Heather Mansfield offers simple definitions of "Web 1.0," "Web 2.0," and "Web 3.0," and then explains what it all means for nonprofit communicators.

Disaster Relief

How fast are donors losing interest in Haiti? According to data gathered by Network for Good, the answer is quickly, though not as quickly as has been the case in other recent disasters. On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Network for Good VP Katya Andresen offers some advice to charities working in Haiti who want to keep the attention of potential donors.

Responding to the increase in online donations following the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, Doctors Without Borders asked potential donors to give to its Emergency Relief Fund so that "funds pouring in for Haiti relief can be spent more flexibly." Not such a good idea, says Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks, who thinks that designating future donations to a general fund serves to discourage individuals interested in supporting Haiti relief specifically.


On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Minnesota Council on Foundations communications associate Chris Murakami Noonan highlights what a number of the largest foundations in the state are doing to address the economic downturn.

Last week, Idealist founder Ami Dar announced on Twitter the imminent launch of a "Save Idealist" fundraising appeal. In a recent post on her blog, Rosetta Thurman reflects on the news and wonders what the future holds for nonprofit infrastructure organizations now that the "pool of funding sources for non-direct service programs, [which] has always been slim,...is...getting slimmer."


Allison Fine reflects on the growing popularity of text message fundraising campaigns and identifies what could be a major shortcoming of such campaigns down the road: "relationship building...is going to be inherently difficult."


In an "open letter" on the Fast Company site, Do Something CEO Nancy Lublin shares with "her power[ful] 'friends' at foundations" four things she'd like them to stop doing:

  • Stop thinking you know everything
  • Stop mistaking marketing for overhead -- and stop hating on overhead
  • Stop funding redundancy
  • Stop thinking that newer is better

Lublin concludes her letter by offering one promise: "I [will] stop calling 'for advice' or 'just to check in' when...we both know what I really want: your check."

Over at Tactical Philanthropy, Sean Stannard-Stockton challenges the views articulated by Michael Edwards, former director of the Ford Foundation's Governance and Civil Society Program, in Why "Social Capital Markets" Could Be a Really Bad Idea, the second in a five-part series of posts by Edwards on the Intrepid Philanthropist blog. "The social capital market Edwards describes is a shallow, mechanical market that has little resemblance to how real markets work," writes Stannard-Stockton. "It is critical that as we build robust social capital markets, that we create vibrant, human markets, not some sort of mechanical sorting machine."

In a comment rebutting Stannard-Stockton's charge, Edwards writes:

As I said in my first blog post on Philanthropy Central on Monday, civil society and the social economy are very different things, animated by different mechanisms, fulfilling different roles, and requiring different forms of support from philanthropy. One cannot simply ignore the trade-offs that exist between competition and cooperation as you do. nor sweep under the carpet the difficulties imposed by the fact that social ‘goods’ are not commensurable or substitutable (now there’s a mouthful!). That’s the subject of today’s blog post, so I encourage you to check it out.

A "farmers market" is still a market, and markets are places where people buy and sell. Civil society is not, and that’s why we need more "meeting grounds," not markets....

You can find the other four posts by Edwards here, here, here, and here.

On the heels of the release of Bill Gates' second annual letter, Seattle Times reporter Kristi Heim shares this brief Q&A with the co-chair of the world's largest private philanthropy.

Here on PhilanTopic, Foundation Center president Brad Smith argues that foundations need to be more transparent and explains how the center's new Glasspockets initiative will facilitate greater transparency on the part of major U.S. foundations.

Social Media

Following lots of grumbling about the final outcome of the Chase Community Giving Contest on Facebook, the debate over the value proposition of such contests continues. Beth Kanter, for one, doesn't think they should be banned, just changed. To that end, Kanter offers three suggestions for designing better contests in the future: don't promote scarcity thinking; create (and clearly identify) a role for expert opinion; and strike an appropriate balance between social good and cause marketing to avoid tha appearance of "cause washing."


A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that rates of volunteerism increased in 2009 -- but not by much. While a recent post at the New York Times' Economix blog takes a "pessimistic" view of the report, an upbeat Joanne Fritz says the report shows the glass is half full.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at [email protected].

-- Regina Mahone

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Posted by Joanne Fritz  |   January 31, 2010 at 02:45 PM

Regina, you are the master of the roundup! Thnaks for including my post.

Posted by Regina Mahone  |   February 01, 2010 at 02:08 PM

Many thanks, Joanne!

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