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23 posts from February 2010

Weekend Link Roundup (February 27 - 28, 2010)

February 28, 2010

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

Disaster Relief

About.com's Joanne Fritz has posted a good list of links and resources for folks looking for information about the nonprofit response to the 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile.


On the Tactical Philanthropy blog, guest contributor Steve Goldberg (Billions of Drops in Millions of Buckets: Why Philanthropy Doesn’t Advance Social Progress) suggests that the "emerging discipline of 'moving money'...holds out hope for reducing [the nonprofit sector's] over-reliance on fundraising. Writes Goldberg:

Fundraising relies on building relationships with prospective donors and telling engaging stories about the nonprofit’s work.It represents the personal connection of philanthropy, one that’s inherently time-consuming and labor-intensive. Moving money is data-driven: it depends on creating new value from market intelligence.

Fundraising is useful for even small donations, but spending time and effort to move money around only makes sense for sizable, usually aggregated funding looking for investment opportunities that individual donors can’t find on their own. If nonprofit capital markets became more adept at moving money, it could reduce the need to repeatedly raise new money in small amounts....


Nonprofit consultant Marion Conway provides highlights from and her own commentary on Grant Thornton's 2009 National Board Governance Survey for Not-for-Profit Organizations.


The Center for Effective Philanthropy's Ellie Buteau writes that funders should see the advent of the Social Innovation Fund as an opportunity to step up and share responsibility for the development of more rigorous nonprofit performance data.

Tactical Philanthropy's Sean Stannard-Stockton argues that the social sector is uniquely positioned to "embrace rampant information sharing" -- and gets some pushback from his readers.

Social Entrepreneurship

Allison Fine calls the new database of social entrepreneurs put together by Social Edge a "great" idea. "Enabling social entrepreneurs to connect with one another by geography or issue area," adds Fine, "is an important step in the creation of a more cohesive field."

Social Media

The New York City-based, Open Society Institute, which works "to improve the lives of the world's most vulnerable people and to promote human rights, justice, and accountability," has launched a blog to highlight its work and give OSI experts and grantees "a platform to sharpen their thinking and bring underreported issues to light."

On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz takes a closer look at mobile technology and concludes:

I've come to think that the question should not be "to text or not" but "what matters about mobile?" From the point of view of nonprofits, mobile gives them the opportunity to add a new location. Essentially, every organization in the world just got the opportunity to expand their footprint to include their current location and every mobile phone.

It may be like winning the location lottery. An organization can be where they are now and also on everyone's mobile phones.* That might be through a text short code. It might be through an app. It might be by being on FourSquare or other geolocation services. Maybe NPOs should start tagging their service delivery areas on Google Maps? The possibilities are many -- far more than "just" a question of getting text donation enabled. Of course, like winning the lottery, organizations now have to make choices they never had to worry about before....

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

-- Regina Mahone and Mitch Nauffts

Quote of the Day (February 27, 2010)

February 27, 2010

Quotemarks "Corporations, which have hijacked the state, are delighted with the demise of journalism. And the mass communications systems they control pump out endless streams of gossip, trivia and filth in lieu of news. But news, which costs money and takes talent to produce, is dying not only because citizens are migrating to the Internet and corporations are no longer using newsprint to advertise, but because in an age of profound culture decline the masses prefer to be entertained rather than informed. We no longer value the culture or journalism, as we no longer value classical theater or great books, and this devaluation means the general public is not inclined to pay for it. Journalists, like artists, are expected to provide their work free -- this is the idea behind websites like The Huffington Post -- and the only people who receive adequate compensation in our society are those skilled in the art of manipulation. Money flows to advertising rather than to art or journalism because manipulation is more highly valued than truth or beauty. Journalism, like culture, in America has become advertising...."

-- Chris Hedges (Review: 'The Death and Life of American Journalism') 

Mobile Giving Codes for Chile Earthquake Relief

As it did after last month's devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Mobile Giving Foundation is helping to promote and facilitate mobile-giving campaigns to help victims of yesterday's 8.8-magnitude earthquake in Chile. As of 3:30 EST, several relief and humanitarian organizations had established short codes for mobile giving. (Updated: March 1, 5:00 p.m.):

Text the word "CHILE" to 25383 to donate $10
On behalf of Habitat for Humanity

Text the word "CHILE" to 20222 to donate $10
On behalf of World Vision

Text the word "CHILE" to 52000 to donate $10
On behalf of the Salvation Army

Text the word "CHILE" to 45678 to donate $5 (In Canada Only in English)
On behalf of UNICEF Canada

Text the word "CHILE" to 45678 to donate $5 (In Canada Only in French)
On behalf of UNICEF Canada

Text the word "SAVE" to 20222 to donate $10
On behalf of Save the Children Federation, Inc.

Text the word "CHILE" to 85944 to donate $10
On behalf of International Medical Corp

Text the word "4CHILE" to 50555 to donate $10
On behalf of Convoy of Hope

Text the word "CHILE" to 50555 to donate $10
On behalf of Friends of the World Food Program

Text the word "REBUILD" to 50555 to donate $10
On behalf of Friends of Operation USA

As was (and is) true of the mobile campaigns for Haiti relief, 100 percent of your donation goes to the recipient charity and will appear as a charge on your carrier bill.

We'll continue to update this list as additional codes are established.

-- Mitch Nauffts

What About the Stories We Aren't Seeing?

Nonprofit marketing expert Nancy Schwartz (Getting Attention!) has written at length about why it's important for your organization or cause to have a compelling tagline.

It's early yet, but my vote for the best tagline of 2010 -- "Harnessing the Power of Storytelling to Change the World" -- goes to ViewChange.org, a new digital-media hub funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that will highlight progress in reducing hunger, poverty, and disease in the developing world.

According to the folks at LinkTV ("Television Without Borders"), the San Francisco-based satellite television network behind the project, ViewChange will use semantic Web technology to create a platform that "combines the video sharing power of YouTube with the open information of Wikipedia and the mission of your favorite advocacy organization." As actor/activist Danny Glover explains in the video below, it's an idea whose time has come.

-- Mitch Nauffts

Readings (and Other Stuff) - Feb. 26 2010

February 26, 2010

Here are a few items that grabbed our attention on this very snowy day in NYC:

Still snowing here, as it has been for the last twenty-four hours. Cool. 

Why Don’t Social Investors Ask for ROI Data When Donating?

(Jeff Mason is vice president of Social Solutions, a leading provider of human and social service software, and serves as chair of the Alliance for Effective Social Investing, a network of more than thirty-five nonprofit leaders committed to driving more money to high-performing nonprofits by helping donors adopt sound social-investing practices. In his last post, he explained why givers must become social investors.)

Return-on-invesment For many, giving to charity is an emotional proposition. And because it usually feels good to "help others," too few donors think about return-on-investment (ROI) when it comes to their giving.

Most social investors, for example, do not ask whether their philanthropic investments actually improved lives or helped an organization achieve specific programmatic goals. Indeed, most donors don't expect anything in return for their donations beyond the psychic benefit that comes from helping people who are less fortunate.

This mind-set has to change, for the following reasons:

  1. Many programs currently funded by well-intentioned donors could be doing more harm than good;
  2. Too often, donations made without any thought to ROI end up being wasted by ineffective organizations; and
  3. It's morally wrong.

Okay, I'm sure many of you are scratching your heads over that last point. I'm not saying that giving for the sake of giving is a bad thing -- the last thing I'd ever want to do is discourage people from giving to worthy causes. At the same time, when social investors fail to do their research and give to organizations that are unknowingly causing more harm than good, it becomes a moral issue, plain and simple.

Fortunately, we are beginning to see a bottom-up movement in the sector toward better performance metrics and management, including a focus on clearly articulated goals and strategies, better methods for monitoring progress toward those goals, the ability to make mid-course corrections, and a commitment to sharing results regardless of outcome.

All these practices are part of a heightened emphasis, within and beyond the sector, on effectiveness. And when they are embraced by nonprofits, donors can begin to tell whether specific programs are working or not, or even whether they are causing harm.

While many nonprofits today have the capacity and management talent to implement such practices, most are unlikely to do so until and unless their donors begin to demand a clear accounting of how their money is being used and, more importantly, to what end.

As more social investors begin to ask for such an accounting, others will follow suit and will begin to steer more of their discretionary giving to nonprofits able to demonstrate their effectiveness. Who knows, with a little luck the ability to demonstrate social ROI might just become a nonprofit industry standard.

That would be something we could all feel good about.

-- Jeff Mason

5 Questions for...Antony Bugg-Levine, Rockefeller Foundation

February 25, 2010

Bugglevine Antony Bugg-Levine is managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation's impact investing initiative and an associate adjunct professor at Columbia Business School. Prior to joining the foundation, he served as country director for TechnoServe in Nairobi, Kenya, and was a consultant with McKinsey &Co. working in the areas of financial services and health care. A native of South Africa, he served in the late 1990s as communications director for the South African Human Rights Commission and as a speechwriter and media strategist for South Africa's ruling African National Congress party.

Philanthropy News Digest: What is the GlobalGiveback Innovation Challenge?

Antony Bugg-Levine: The GlobalGiveback Innovation Challenge is a partnership between GlobalGiving, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Innocentive to give five nonprofit organizations access to Innocentive's network of solvers. It's the second time the Rockefeller Foundation has partnered with Innocentive. The first was in 2006, when we supported ten challenges on the Innocentive platform and achieved an 80 percent success rate in finding solutions to those challenges. Indeed, one of the most successful challenges to come out of our partnership was posted by SunNight Solar, which was seeking to improve the design of a self-contained solar flashlight that could also light a room. The challenge was ultimately solved by an engineer in New Zealand, and the parts for the flashlight were manufactured by a company in China. Today, the flashlight is being successfully distributed and used in Africa, the Gaza Strip, and other parts of the developing world. After that success, the foundation decided to continue to support our partnership with Innocentive.

PND: How does crowdsourcing figure into this new challenge?

ABL: In three different ways. First, GlobalGiving used crowdsourcing to reach out to their eight hundred project leaders in eighty countries for ideas about potential challenges. GlobalGiving then selected five challenges to move forward by promoting them to the Innocentive network. Second, Innocentive is posting those challenges for three months and inviting its network of hundreds of thousands of experts to crowdsource solutions to the challenges. With the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, individual challenge solvers will get cash rewards of up to $40,000 each for a winning solution. Finally, after the solution winners are selected, GlobalGiving will once again use crowdsourcing to raise funds for the implementation of the winning designs or methods.

The focus on crowdsourcing is part of a broader initiative at the foundation to support the application of cutting-edge innovation processes to the solving of social problems. In addition to working with Innocentive, we have also funded the expansion of Ashoka's Changemakers collaborative competition model, have worked with the firm IDEO to apply their design approach to problems of poverty, and have supported efforts by the Rural Innovation Network in India to identify innovations developed by poor people in rural India that can be usefully scaled up.

PND: The latest competition involves five water-related challenges. Can you tell us a little bit about them and how they were chosen?

ABL: As I mentioned, GlobalGiving used crowdsourcing to reach out to its project leaders for potential challenge ideas. Interestingly, most of the issues that met the selection criteria were water-related and the final five were selected and posted on Innocentive. The first was posted by the EDGE Project and involves the development of an easy-to-use method that purifies water from Lake Victoria so it's safe to drink; the second, posted by the Fundación SODIS, seeks an indicator able to give a visual sign that a quantity of water has been exposed to enough sunlight or UV light to disinfect it; the third, posted by Rainwater for Humanity, seeks the development of a low-cost rainwater harvesting storage tank for use in wetland regions in India; the fourth, posted by Green Empowerment, involves the development of a small-scale river turbine that can be used on the rivers of the Peruvian jungle to electrify villages, schools, and medical centers; and the fifth, posted by Intermediate Technology Development Group, seeks an improved water tank that more efficiently uses titanium oxide nano-particles to sterilize drinking water.

PND: In terms of coming up with solutions, are the specific challenges deadline-driven or open-ended?

ABL: The challenges will remain on the Innocentive network for three months, which is the time frame Innocentive sets for most of its challenges. If the network fails to come up with a solution in that amount of time, it often means the network will not be able to find a solution at all.

PND: What are the broader implications of crowdsourcing and this initiative for the work of large private foundations?

ABL: We understand we don't have all the answers to some of the world's most challenging questions or the capability to reach out to all the people who may be able to solve them. As the world becomes ever more connected, there is an unprecedented opportunity to capture that untapped creativity on a global basis. That's why the Rockefeller Foundation has invested in our Advancing Innovation Processes to Solve Social Problems initiative to explore if and how new innovation approaches such as crowdsourcing can be applied in the development world. Our partnership with Innocentive and GlobalGiving allows us to bring these new innovation techniques to the nonprofit world directly.

Emily Robbins

Readings (and Other Stuff) - Feb. 23, 2010

February 23, 2010

Here are a few items that caught our attention today:

What are you reading?

The Power of Now

(Jessica Sklair joined the London-based Institute of Philanthropy as director of research in January 2009. In addition, she is doing research for her Ph.D. in anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. This is her first post for PhilanTopic.)

In keeping with its role as world leader in philanthropic giving, both in terms of scale and innovation, the United States tends to generate many of the new trends in global philanthropy. This has certainly been true in the case of "spend out" -- the decision to limit the lifetime of a foundation rather than build a permanent endowment to support its existence in perpetuity. While a report published last year by the Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations (Perpetuity or Limited Lifespan: How Do Family Foundations Decide?) suggested that around 12 percent of family foundations in the U.S. have chosen to spend out, informed anecdotal evidence from the United Kingdom suggests that the number on this side of the Atlantic is around 0.5 percent. In the UK, even the terminology used to describe spend out is comparatively new, a fact that creates further difficulties for gathering data on the subject.

Later this week, however, the Institute for Philanthropy will publish a new research paper, The Power of Now: Spend Out Trusts and Foundations in the UK (56 pages, PDF), which reveals that while spend out may be rare among British foundations, many of those that have chosen to adopt the model are using it to develop a strategic form of high-impact grantmaking. The paper, which presents findings based on survey responses and in-depth interviews with a sample of spend out and recently closed trusts and foundations, explores the spend out landscape in the UK, what motivates trusts and foundations to choose spend out as a model, and the experiences and practicalities of spending out in the British context. Key findings from the survey data are compared with those from the 2009 Foundation Center/Council on Foundations report and show that spend out is a broadly comparable phenomenon in the two countries.

As debate on strategy, impact and effectiveness in grantmaking continues to rage within the philanthropic community on both sides of the Atlantic, the spend out trusts and foundations surveyed in our paper add a strong and convincing voice to the discussion. While our sample revealed huge diversity in the size, origin, and issue areas of spend outs in the UK, the majority of foundations we spoke to told us that spend out had helped bring clarity, focus, and parameters to their work, aiding them in defining their objectives and in building the grantmaking strategy necessary to create real impact with their philanthropy.

Indeed, a particularly interesting finding concerned trusts' approach to the issue of the long-term impact of their work. A common argument against spend out is that, by using all one's resources in the short term, foundations are depriving future beneficiaries of support and not taking into account the long-term nature of the problems they seek to address. Many of the trusts and foundations we spoke to, however, were quick to disassociate the idea of their own continuing existence from the potential impact their work might have over decades. Through funding strategies such as endowing grantee institutions, providing grants to help NGOs invest in mechanisms to ensure their own sustainability, or supporting the creation of forums and partnerships that strengthen the work of whole sectors, these foundations were investing in long-term, systemic change. In fact, as many told us, it is the very condition of spend out -- which makes available the funds to support these strategies -- that enables them to do so.

Spend out trusts and foundations in the UK are well aware of the work of their American counterparts, and the growing body of literature on the subject coming from the U.S. serves as an extremely helpful source of information in developing the practice on this side of the Atlantic. At the same time, our research shows that many of those who have chosen to spend out in this country are doing so in bold, innovative, and highly strategic ways that merit consideration by foundations on the other side of the Atlantic. There aren't many of them, but UK spend outs have much to contribute to the growing international debate on the benefits of this model of grantmaking.

One of the recommendations in our paper is for the boards of foundations to have a discussion about spend out. Whether this leads to a decision to limit the life of any one foundation or not, it can be a useful exercise for revisiting mission and considering whether a foundation's current grantmaking strategy is the most effective one for achieving it. With that in mind, the Institute for Philanthropy has designed a number of questions to help trustees frame such a conversation:

  1. Is the way we are using our resources truly aligned with the pursuit of our philanthropic mission?
  2. Are there any particular funding opportunities in the areas we support that could benefit from greater capital investment right now?
  3. Where do we see our foundation in ten, twenty or fifty years' time? What do we want to have achieved by then? Are we on track to do so?
  4. Who will manage the foundation once we have rotated off or stepped down from the board? Will the foundation be a burden to them? Are we comfortable with the possibility of mission drift by the foundation in the future?
  5. How do we feel about shifting to a higher impact grantmaking strategy? Would choosing to spend out or increasing our yearly payout make it easier for us to do so?
  6. If we had to spend out over the next ten years, how would we alter our grantmaking strategy? Are there any elements of such a situation that we could incorporate into our grantmaking now?

We hope you'll take a few minutes to review the report. And if you have any comments about our finding or spend out as a strategy for U.S. or UK foundations, we'd love to hear from you.

-- Jessica Sklair

Weekend Link Roundup (February 20 - 21, 2010)

February 21, 2010

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


On the Audacious Ideas blog, A. Adar Ayira of Associated Black Charities suggests that its time to rethink how we celebrate Black History Month.


"With the recession vaporizing over one-fifth of the value of foundations' assets, foundations should be looking harder for additional strategies they can use to advance their charitable mission," writes Todd Cohen on his Inside Philanthropy blog. What do you think foundations should be doing in this tough economic climate to leverage their resources and advance their missions?


On his Future Fundraising Now blog, Jeff Brooks offers some advice on how to "romance your donors."


In a two-part series on the Health Beat blog, Century Foundation fellow Maggie Mahar wonders whether mortality rates are the best measure of a healthcare system. Writes Mahar:

Ultimately, when people ask "how many lives would be saved if we all had insurance?" I think they are posing the wrong question. A better question would be: "How many people suffer needlessly because they don't have access to care?"

Why should "mortalities" be the measure of how much good health insurance -- or medicine itself -- can do? Health care will not rescue us from the human condition. And as I explained in part 1, evidence shows that access to medical care is not the major factor that guards against premature death. Genes, social circumstances, and personal behavior all are far more important.

Despite our national obsession with longevity, and our belief that hi-tech medicine will rescue us, the truth is that very often, modern medicine cannot cure us -- but it can provide comfort and care. This is why health insurance is important....


On his Harvard Business Review blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta argues against the use of focus groups. "There's a profound difference between asking people what they think of an idea in the abstract versus telling them, 'Here it is.'" writes Pallotta. "The former is following, the latter is leading. People respond to leadership...."


While there are any number of reasons to question the effectiveness of crowdsourced online giving contests, says About.com's Joanne Fritz, the Pespi Refresh Project is one such contest deserving of our attention.

According to the Minnesota Council on Foundation's Chris Murakami Noonan, "leverage" is fast becoming the philanthropy buzzword du jour.

In a new post on his White Courtesy Telephone blog, Greater New Orleans Foundation president and CEO Albert Ruesga suggests that "in many important domains of philanthropic activity, effectiveness requires attention to the social justice dimensions of a given problem."

Social Entrepreneurship

And on the Social Entrepreneurship blog, Nathaniel Whittemore takes a closer look at the revised application guidelines for the federal government's Social Innovation Fund (SIF) and declares them much improved.

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

-- Regina Mahone

Readings (and Other Stuff) - Feb. 17, 2010

February 17, 2010

Here are a few items that caught our attention today:

What are you reading?

A Chat with Gloria Steinem

February 15, 2010

(Regular contributor Michael Seltzer spoke with Gloria Steinem last week about the economic downturn and its impact on women and nonprofit organizations that serve and support women and girls. In his last post, Seltzer shared his thoughts about what donors to Haiti relief efforts can learn from past disasters.)

Steinem Michael Seltzer: There has been a lot of discussion among nonprofit leaders about the fact that nonprofits have become the nation's de facto safety net for those most affected by the economic downturn. Do you agree? And what do you think the Obama administration should be doing to address the situation?

Gloria Steinem: Americans need more than a safety net. They really need a trampoline to get back on their feet. The New Deal provided that by creating jobs at the bottom, where they were needed most. In this recession, in contrast, all we've seen are "trickle down" approaches to the problem. Money has not been injected at the bottom, but instead has gone mostly to the big financial institutions and banks at the top of the heap.

MS: Some journalists have used the term "mancession" to describe this downturn. To what extent do the unemployment numbers support that characterization?

GS: The public is pretty aware that industrial manufacturing and construction have been especially hard hit in this recession, which means we've lost proportionately more of the blue-collar, higher-salary, good-benefit jobs where men tend to be employed than the lower-paid, lower-benefit jobs in the pink-collar ghetto that are disproportionately held by women and people of color.

Those jobs have been in a recession for a long time, but economists and journalists seem to take it more seriously when white males lose jobs or suffer income loss. Job loss is even used to excuse male violence, but never female violence. This shouldn't be a competition for sympathy. A growing number of women find themselves in the position of having to support their families on less money than might have been the case a few years ago, whether it's because they're the sole breadwinner for the family or because their male partners are now out of work. In any case, most women are working at two jobs, with one being inside the home. In fact, one of the positive things that could come out of this recession is if more men become equal partners and parents at home.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (February 13 - 14, 2010)

February 14, 2010

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

Children and Youth

The March issue of City Limits magazine takes an in-depth look at Harlem Children's Zone, Inc., the much-praised organization/movement that some have called the "most innovative poverty-fighting initiative in decades."

Disaster Relief

When it comes to fundraising, not all disasters are equal, writes Future Fundraising blogger Jeff Brooks.


In the March issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Don Peck takes a long, sobering look at how a new jobless era will transform America.


In a recent post, Rosetta Thurman wonders why individuals in the nonprofit sector are not asking the tough questions. Writes Thurman:

When I first started out in my nonprofit career, I was constantly praised for implementing all the neat stuff I'd learned in grad school. "This is how you write a grant proposal," I would say to organizations that needed help building their capacity. Not once did I broach a conversation with them about why they were using problematic language. Not once did I question the status quo....

But after a while, I did begin to ask questions. Why do we do what we do the way we do it? Why do we say one thing in the staff meeting and another in the fundraising meeting? Why do we have to kiss so and so politico's ass when they clearly don't give a damn about the people we serve? Why aren't we using our power to compel the community to action? Why are there so many white people in nonprofit leadership positions when so much of our work is serving communities of color?

I learned the answers to these questions and more very quickly. The easy answer? Because that's just the way it is and always will be. The more nuanced one? Because no one wants to rock the boat with their boards, with their "friends" inside the City Council or the White House, with their funders. Especially with their funders. It's much easier to obey....


After a fundraising appeal issued by Idealist executive director Ami Dar a few weeks ago, Social Velocity blogger Nell Edgington and Louder Than Words president Rich Polt weighed in on the wisdom of Dar's move in a series of posts on the Tactical Philanthropy blog. Edgington's main concern was "how [Idealist is] going to get out of this position after the emergency funds that they are attempting to raise dry up," while Polt compared Dar's appeal to one made by Kjerstin Erickson of FORGE last year and wonders whether we might not be witnessing the beginning of a trend.

Social Entrepreneurship

On the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Yoga Bear founder Halle Tecco shares ten "invaluable" resources every social entrepreneur should know about.

Social Media

In honor of Valentine's Day, Social Citizens blogger Kristin Ivie explains how to land a "social-Web savvy, cause-oriented team player."


The 2010 Technology Entertainment Design conference, better known as TED, kicked off last week. On the Mashable blog, Matt Silverman shares five "insightful" TED Talks about social media, including presentations by Clay Shirky (Here Comes Everybody), Twitter CEO Evan Williams, and marketing guru Seth Godin.

In a related post, Social Entrepreneurship blogger Nathaniel Whittemore shares five "game-changing, mind-bending or generally vital" ideas from participants in the TED Fellows program.

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

-- Regina Mahone

Readings (and Other Stuff) - Feb. 12, 2010

February 12, 2010

We certainly enjoyed the snow day on Wednesday. Here are a few items that have crossed our radar since then:

What's on your reading list?

Celebrate the Birth of Lincoln and Darwin (Reprise)

(Ed. note: We posted the following last year to mark the 200th anniversary of Abe and Charlie's birth and liked it so much that we've decided to re-run it to mark their 201st.)

On this day two hundred years ago, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin -- "two men whose ideas and actions continue to shape the course of the world" -- were born just hours apart, Lincoln in a one-room log cabin in frontier Kentucky, Darwin into upper middle class prosperity in Shropshire, England.

Lincoln, of course, eventually became the sixteenth president of the United States and steered the country through its greatest crisis. As the New York Post put it, "Without his singular Civil War leadership, the American experiment would have died less than a century after its birth -- with dire consequences for the nation, and for human liberty."

Darwin's achievement, while less dramatic, is no less important. The first of the evolutionary biologists, his principal works, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), established evolutionary descent as the dominant scientific explanation of diversification in nature and provided the theoretical basis for the modern life sciences.

To celebrate their legacies, we've created two word clouds using Wordle. Join us in wishing Abe and Charles a happy 200th birthday, 21st century-style.

(Click for larger images)

Wordle based on Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address:


And a Wordle generated by an excerpt from Darwin's introduction to On the Origin of Species:


-- Regina Mahone

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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