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25 posts from May 2011

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (May)

May 31, 2011

As is our custom on the last day of every month, here's a short list of the most visited PhilanTopic posts in May. Enjoy.

What's the best thing you've read/watched/heard this month?

Spotlight on Economic Development Grantmaking in Ohio: An Update

May 30, 2011

(This post originally appeared on the Philanthropy Front and Center - Cleveland blog.)

Three years ago, we spotlighted key facts about economic development grantmaking in Ohio. Earlier this month, we released an update to the original report (Spotlight on Economic Development Grantmaking in Ohio, 2011) which found that grant dollars for economic development increased from $24.5 million in 2005 to $62 million in 2008, a 152 percent increase. As a share of total giving in Ohio, economic development grants doubled, from 7 percent to 14 percent.


Giving to two major subcategories, employment and training services and urban development, accounted for nearly three-quarters of all giving for economic development in Ohio. A significant increase in giving for employment training and services can be attributed to a major gift of $20 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to the University of Akron Foundation's Austen BioInnovation Institute; the gift is expected to create 2,100 jobs.


The report also identified the top ten foundations awarding grants in Ohio for economic development as well as the top 10 recipients of economic development.



A special area of the Foundation Center's Web site provides access to the report, free online resources including an interactive map of economic development grants in Ohio, a video highlighting the report's findings (see below), audio and video recordings of local leaders in the field talking about Ohio's funding landscape, and links to other published reports.

To read or download the report (2 pages, PDF), click here.

The report and web page were funded in part by the Cleveland Foundation, the Generation Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

Weekend Link Roundup (May 28 - 29, 2011)

May 29, 2011

Memorial-Day Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Disaster Relief

Last week, three tornadoes caused severe damage in northern Minneapolis. On its Philanthropy Potluck blog, the Minnesota Council on Foundations shares a few examples of how its members are contributing to relief and recovery efforts.

Nonprofit Management

Rick Cohen looks at a new study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce which found that college majors with the lowest median earnings tend to be dominated by women and minorities. "There is no excuse for how poorly our nation values the work of people who are dedicated to helping and caring for others," writes Cohen, "but thank goodness that a large proportion of the population has sought lives of personal and societal fulfillment rather than focusing narrowly on compensation...."


The UK's Cabinet Office has released a white paper that outlines "three core strands of activity where [the UK] wants to work with partners to make giving as easy as possible, make giving as compelling as possible, and give better support to those that provide and manage opportunities to give...." In response, Matthew Bishop and Michael Green write on their Philanthrocapitalism blog:

The White Paper is not going to revolutionize giving overnight. Nor is it going to win the British public over to Mr. Cameron’s Big Society idea. (Indeed, there seems to be more enthusiasm for the Prime Minister’s big idea on the other side of the Pond.) Yet, as we argue in The Road From Ruin, there is the potential for the Big Society to be the basis of a much-needed reinvention of how Britain solves social and environmental problems....

Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks offers his take on the debate about where fundraising is easier to do/better, the United States or UK. Brooks, who has fundraised for organizations on both sides of the Atlantic, concludes that "fundraising in the UK is more difficult than in the US. The main reason is the lower level of religious participation there. It's just harder to find and motivate donors...."

On the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Lisa Jordan, executive director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation, weighs in on the transparency and accountability challenges confronting the European foundation community.

In order for young practitioners in philanthropy to "build a career serving the public good" they must become "become experts at asking questions about what it means to create the most effective and impactful sector," writes Christine Reeves on NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog.

Social Media

Allison Fine wonders whether cause fatigue is real or "an assumption [made up] by the causerati." Even if we could measure it, writes Fine, "how do we know it's a bad thing?...Maybe people have to get tired of causes before they really pay attention?"

Last but not least, Beth Kanter, who co-authored the Networked Nonprofit with Fine, reminds us to protect personal information online. With the proliferation of online networking tools, writes Kanter, it's important for users to be "vigilant and educated" when it comes to security and privacy.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And enjoy the rest of your long weekend!

-- Regina Mahone

European Foundation Funding for Women and Girls

May 27, 2011

According to a new report from the Foundation Center and Mama Cash, the world's oldest international women's fund, more than a third (37 percent) of European foundations have intentionally focused at least some of their work on women and girls, while nearly one in five (19 percent) said that they explicitly named women and girls in their mission statement or grantmaking guidelines.

Based on responses from 145 foundations in 19 countries, the report, Untapped Potential: European Foundation Funding for Women and Girls, found a wide gap in the number of foundations funding women and girls (62 percent) and the number interested in at least one issue area related to women and girls (90 percent). One possible reason for that gap, the report suggests, is that foundations, despite their interest, are still looking for a suitable point of entry for this kind of work.

The report -- the first to examine the scope, distribution, and diversity of European-based funding for women and girls as well as the most comprehensive study to date on the philanthropic activities of European  foundations in general -- also found that, on average, surveyed foundations endorsed eight issues of interest, with especially high levels noted for violence against women (74 percent), poverty among women and/or girls (73 percent), and women and/or girls' access to education (71 percent).  

"The gap between interest and investment tells us that there is genuine potential and motivation for European foundations to step up and provide more funding for women and girls," said Nicky McIntyre, executive director of Mama Cash. "Data consistently show that no country has yet achieved gender equality. We at Mama Cash hope that the report's findings will inspire conversations and collaborations that will, in turn, contribute to mobilizing leadership and realizing increased giving in support of the rights, well-being, and empowerment of women and girls."

To download the complete report (52 pages, PDF), click here.

5 Questions for...Don Crocker, Executive Director/CEO, Support Center for Nonprofit Management

May 25, 2011

(The Support Center for Nonprofit Management is dedicated to improving society by increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit leaders and the organizations they lead. Focusing on three key areas -- organizational change consulting, executive search and transition management, and professional development for nonprofit managers -- Don Crocker and his team have been helping foundations support their grantee investments in the tri-state (NY/NJ/CT) area since 1986. Laura Cronin, a regular contributor to PhilanTopic, spoke with Crocker recently.)

Crocker_don Laura Cronin: While foundation endowments have started to come back and giving trends aren't as bleak as we might have predicted two years ago, the uneven economic recovery has been difficult for most nonprofits and the people they serve. It seems clear that nonprofit executives will be navigating very rough waters for the foreseeable future. How do things look from where you sit?

Don Crocker: It's not a pretty picture. Although it appears that foundation assets may be stabilizing, many organizations have had their foundation funding cut back and are scrambling to replace it. In addition, many of the organizations we work with rely on gifts from individuals, state or federal funding, and federal reimbursements, and we've seen major cutbacks in each of these areas. If you're an organization that relies on these sources, you probably feel like you're in the middle of a perfect storm: you have less money to meet growing demand for your services. At the same time, we do see many foundations that are fulfilling commitments to their current grantees, even if they don't have the resources to be open to as many new grantees as they might like.

In this environment, nonprofit organizations can't assume that their past funding strategies will support future needs. In fact, we need to raise our game, focusing on the core programs that most benefit our communities and clients, demonstrating that we are well run and have strong, engaged boards, that we are efficiently staffed, and that we have healthy fundraising and revenue-generating capacities.

Many of our best and most critical organizations are working hard to adjust to the new reality and could benefit from capacity-building support from their funders. But funders who have not traditionally given in this area are sometimes slow to see the need. More grantmakers need to see investments in building organizational infrastructure as an integral part of their funding priorities -- to understand how strengthening an organization's management and governance will lead to a greater return on investment from their grants.

Continue reading »

Why the Liberal Arts Matter

May 23, 2011

As commencement season nears its end, Wesleyan University president Michael S. Roth asks us to think again before we relegate the liberal arts to a dusty, pedagogical closet:

My parents were part of a wave of Americans after World War II whose confidence in the future and belief in education helped create the greatest university sector in the world. Students from all walks of life began to have the chance to acquire a well-rounded education, and it was on this basis that Americans created a vibrant culture, a dynamic economy and a political system that (after many struggles) strove to make equality before the law a fundamental feature of public life.

A well-rounded education gave graduates more tools with which to solve problems, broader perspectives through which to see opportunities, and a deeper capacity to build a more humane society.

In recent years university leaders in Asia, the Mideast, and even Europe have sought to organize curricula more like those of our liberal art schools. How, they want to know, can we combine rigorous expectations of learning with the development of critical thinking and creativity that are the hallmarks of the best American colleges?

But in our own land we are running away from the promise of liberal education. We are frightened by economic competition, and many seem to have lost confidence in our ability to draw from the resources of a broadly based education. Instead, they hope that technical training or professional expertise on their own will somehow invigorate our culture and society.

Many seem to think that by narrowing our focus to just science and engineering, we will become more competitive. This is a serious mistake.


We should look at education not as a specific training program for a limited range of mental muscles but as a process through which one will generate some of the most important features in one's life. It makes no sense to train people as narrowly as possible in a world going through cataclysmic changes, for you are building specific strengths that leave you merely muscle-bound, not stronger and more flexible.

We should think of education as a kind of intellectual cross-training that leads to many more things than at any one moment you could possibly know would be useful. The most powerful education generates further curiosity, new needs, experiences to meet those needs, more curiosity, and so on.

Education isn't just an object that you use to get started in a career; education is a catalytic resource that continues to energize and shape your life. Education enhances your ability to develop new skills and capacities for connectivity that allow you to solve problems and seize opportunities.

I hope that parents across the country can still believe in this form of education as they attend graduation ceremonies across the country. America should not retreat to a narrow, technical education in hopes that it will make us tougher in global competition.

We should have confidence, as my parents did, that a broadly based, liberal education will help our young people lead lives of creative productivity, lives in which they can make meaning from and contribute to the world around them.

Wesleyan is famous, of course, for putting the "liberal" in liberal arts. But in a global economy that increasingly rewards creativity, entrepreneurial drive, and the ability to process and synthesize enormous amounts of information, the future is likely to belong to those who use both sides of their brain.

What do you think? Is Roth right about the continuing value and relevance of a liberal arts education? And if he isn't, why are so many people willing to pay so much money for one?

Weekend Link Roundup (May 21 - 22, 2011)

May 22, 2011

Education_definition_highlight Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


On his Harvard Business Review blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta announces the launch of a new advertising firm, Advertising for Humanity, that hopes to market "benevolence as brilliantly as Budweiser markets beer."


Back from the Center for Effective Philanthropy's annual conference, the Wallace Foundation's Ed Pauly reminds grantmakers that a "passion for results is what's behind every grant, every initiative, and every philanthropic foundation." To that end, when a tool (e.g., strategy, feedback from grantees, performance assessment) fails to deliver impressive results, it's time to "recognize that it didn't work -- and get the facts to build a better strategy." Writes Pauly:

When your first foundation performance assessment doesn't illuminate anything, recognize that the lights are still off -– and put a brighter flood lamp on the facts. When your grantee feedback is awful, zero in on the bleakest spots and the facts that will help you work with your grantee partners more effectively.

Our passion needs facts about our results. Are we making a difference yet? Have we learned how to work successfully with our grantee partners? Are we reducing poverty yet? Try a solution, and then get the facts to find out what happened....

International Affairs/Development

On Thursday, Bill Easterly and Laura Freschi announced that, after two years and four months, they were ending their Aid Watch blog to "free up...time for writing longer and more substantive pieces, both academic and non-academic, on development."

On the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Jessica Majno of Bridging the Divide responds to Kelly Kleinman's May 3 op-ed in which Kleinman advised nonprofits to steer clear of initiatives that attempt to reinvent the nonprofit model. Contrary to Kleinman's advice, writes Majno, "in the field of foreign assistance, it is exactly the failure to reinvent and adapt to changes in technology and the social landscape that is diminishing nonprofits' ability to serve their intended beneficiaries and that is threatening to render them irrelevant...."


In the third in a series of posts on the Knight Foundation blog, Elise Hu, digital editor of the Impact of Government project at NPR, shares eight things nonprofit news organizations are doing to boost their revenue.


On NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Christine Reeves recaps a recent Hudson Institute event in which the panelists shared their views on likely changes in the global philanthropic landscape over the next decade. GlobalGiving co-founder Dennis Whittle, one of the panelists, said that "the practice of affluent Westerners with power (grantmakers) determining how to frame and approach philanthropic problems, solutions, funding strategies and evaluation metrics will be supplanted by the practice of voices and ideas of people affected by problems and solutions (the beneficiaries of grants)."


The Nonprofiteer's Kelly Kleinman wonders whether we're asking the right question in the charitable deduction debate. "The tax code is designed to provide the government with resources to do its job," writes Kleinman. "Its job, among other things, is to provide essential services to citizens who cannot provide those services for themselves; and the more money it collects, the more services it can provide. What's important is that those services get provided, not that they get provided by the sector that happens to employ the Nonprofiteer...."

Writing on her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz considers some of the ways in which the regulatory landscape for nonprofits is shifting and sees in them a potential set of "new rules for a new social economy."

Social Media

NTEN's Amy Sample Ward explains the difference between crowdsourcing and community-sourcing and why both can be "valuable for the success of your campaign or call to action."

And at the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Social Philanthropy blog, Derek Lieu discusses the Rasmuson Foundation's foray into Second Life, the Internet-based virtual world where it has created a floating digital museum that displays works created by Rasmuson-funded artists.

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

-- Regina Mahone

Funder’s Forum: Laura K. Landy, President/CEO, Fannie E. Rippel Foundation

May 20, 2011

The mission of the Morristown, New Jersey-based Fannie E. Rippel Foundationis to serve as a catalyst for new ways of thinking about the health system that lead to better health, better care, and lower costs. Recently, the Foundation Center spoke with the foundation's president and CEO, Laura K. Landy.

Laura_landy Foundation Center: With its emphasis on direct charitable activities (DCAs) and systems thinking, the Rippel Foundation takes an unusually proactive approach to health system challenges. Can you describe your approach and the kind of impact your efforts have had?

Laura Landy: Our own circumstances -- limited funds and ambitious goals -- mirror the challenges of our health system and require that we be innovative in our efforts and highly strategic in what we do.

We also know that most of the current efforts in health reform are designed to address the short-term challenges and symptoms that plague our health system, not the fundamental solutions that will result in a redesigned system that's sustainable over time. As a result, our approach is to actively engage leaders from in and outside the health sector who can help bring new insights to system redesign and change. With a belief that all health and health care is ultimately local, much of our work has a regional focus. Moreover, rather than believing we have all the answers, we work to enable those best positioned to lead change to explore and implement innovative initiatives in order to create sustainable new models of health and care.

ReThink Health, our key initiative, is both a way of thinking and a collaborative initiative we've developed over the last few years. In an environment that fosters exploration and encourages dialogue, we bring together leaders from diverse disciplines on a regular basis to think and talk about what health and healthcare change might look like and how it can be achieved. Those in the room have included health leaders like Don Berwick and Elliott Fisher, environmentalist Amory Lovins, system dynamics expert John Sterman, management guru Peter Senge, and others. Over time, those conversations led participants to ask questions others weren't asking and, eventually, to create a vision for health and care in America and develop guiding principles for fundamental change. Working with this core group, a leadership team of committed and talented project directors and a group of partnering organizations have launched a number of exciting and different efforts to test innovative approaches to regional change, most of which have been drawn from other industries and social movements.

Our role has been to promote the vision, convene key players, and support ideas and explorations that emerged from the group discussions. Through this process, ReThink Health has catalyzed or contributed to a number of developments, including:

  • a broader understanding of regional disparities in healthcare costs tracked by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and disseminated through the national media;
  • critical understanding of the role of regional culture in system change;
  • greater awareness of healthcare systems that are providing high-quality care at lower costs;
  • a growing emphasis on the role of leadership and cross-boundary collaboration; and
  • the creation of a growing number of cross-boundary leadership teams across the country engaged in system thinking and redesign.

Some of our other key projects include:

Organizing for Health, an action-research initiative led by Marshall Ganz, acclaimed community organizer for Barack Obama and Cesar Chavez, that is aimed at exploring how American communities can act to simultaneously achieve better health, higher-quality care, improved access, and lower costs, as well as how diverse community members can organize themselves and develop the leadership capacity to effect change in their own systems. Columbia, South Carolina, has been selected to serve as a pilot site in which Ganz' community-organizing techniques will be applied to healthcare advancement.

Managing the Health Commons, another action-research initiative that is applying the groundbreaking work of Elinor Ostrom, winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics, to health care. Dr. Ostrom theorized that societies can identify and successfully manage their common pooled resources by developing a common vision, shared trust and respect, and a system of governance that ensures long-term sustainability of limited community resources. Over the course of eighteen months, Dr. Ostrom and her team at Indiana University’s Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysisare investigating and documenting the process, identifying and managing the "health commons" in four U.S. communities -- Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Bloomington and Bedford, Indiana -- as well as developing tools for future community analysis.

Understanding Regional System Dynamics and Opportunities for Change: A Simulation Model and Gameis a project in which the Rippel Foundation is collaborating with three MIT-trained experts to develop a simulation game that will enable health and healthcare stakeholders to imagine, experience, and better shape the future. The first stages of the project are focused on the development of a system model that illustrates important regional and community-level health and healthcare dynamics. Eventually, an interactive simulation game based on the model will be developed that allows players from different sectors of a community, including healthcare, to better understand the complexities of the health system as well as the impact of various types of interventions and change.

Last but not least, Leading for Health is a collaborative effort with Society for Organizational Learning founder and chair Peter Senge, a legendary authority on organizational learning and leadership, and Sherry Immediato, founder and president of Heaven & Earth Incorporated and a current trustee and former president of SoL. Based on SoL's Foundation for Leadership program, ReThink Health is working with Sherry and Peter to develop a health leadership program and learning community. The goals are to help build a shared language, a set of common concepts, and new leadership capacity within the healthcare system, as well as to explore the profound connections between personal mastery and systems thinking that link deep change in our social systems and in one's self.

FC: Given the foundation's focus on and experience in rethinking the healthcare system, are there opportunities for other grantmakers working on healthcare issues to align their work with yours?

LL: What has been most exciting is the growing interest in ReThink Health's approach to change. New ideas such as conferences, distance-learning programs and a wider array of training programs are on the agenda, both as a way to reach more communities and to support leaders. In addition, we've identified a growing list of case studies and research projects to advance our collective learning and expand our reach. We're also exploring hands-on efforts in new regions across the country as well as deeper commitment in some of the communities in which we are currently engaged. One of the more effective strategies has been to partner with other foundations -- including the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which helped support two national conferences, and the California HealthCare Foundation, which is partnering with us on the system dynamics model and game. We appreciate the importance of foundations as key players in the system of regional change and invite a broader conversation of how we can all look more systemically and strategically at the impact of our work in a way that leverages the intrinsic motivation in communities and respects regional and cultural variation. And we welcome the opportunity for collaboration with anyone who shares our values and interests.

FC: Is there anything else you want your colleagues in the field to know about the strategies the Rippel Foundation employs in its chosen program areas?

LL: Our work has evolved through a recognition that we don't have all the answers, that health and health care are local, that sustainable change must emerge from the community, and that new ideas can often be found in places people don’t think to look. As a result, we have sought to build an active learning organization that takes a cross-boundary approach to finding the best solutions to health and healthcare transformation. We recognize this won't be accomplished easily, or quickly, and so we have embraced a long-term vision for achieving change.

We also recognize the value of experimentation and failure, as well as the importance of committing to partners whom we believe can make a difference. As our first president, Julius A. Rippel, said, "We must have substantially new manners of thinking to enable mankind to bridge the gap between the things that have been and the things which will be." He also said that a foundation had the responsibility to take risk. We honor these words every day in the hope that we might contribute to the true innovation -- not just improvement -- required to improve health and health care in our country and to redesign our health system to meet the needs of our children and their children.

-- Foundation Center

Commentary: Young Kids Need to Learn About Social Entrepreneurship

May 19, 2011

(Lisa Novick is a co-founder of YesKidzCan! and has spent the past twenty years working in the philanthropic sector as a consultant, fundraiser, and volunteer.)

Yeskidzcan-logo Who among us hasn't looked at a child and wondered, "What will she be when she grows up?" And who hasn't also thought, "What can we do so our kids get the education, resources, and life experiences they need to discover their life's calling?" That's why we believe that as parents, educators, and community leaders, we are doing a disservice to our children by not exposing them at the elementary-school level to an important field -- social entrepreneurship.

At YesKidzCan, our definition of social entrepreneurship is the act of creating a venture or business that can help solve social problems or benefit society. For children, this can mean creating things to sell, providing a special service, or organizing an event to earn money for a cause, resulting in what many experts call "social value." Take Alex Scott. She was four years old and battling cancer when she started a lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research. After a year, she had raised $2,000. By the time she was eight, she had raised $1 million through the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Let's be clear about a few things. First, many kids like Alex are motivated to pursue a social entrepreneurial activity because they've been touched by something serious or significant and are moved to take action. And whether or not our kids are natural change-makers, any kid would be hard-pressed to implement a venture of this kind without the support of an engaged and enthusiastic adult. We are not suggesting that we teach elementary school kids to run businesses on their own or learn to create a spreadsheet. We do believe, however, that we should impart the basic concepts of social entrepreneurship to kids at an early age; that we should teach them simple activities to reinforce these concepts; and that we should lay the groundwork for more substantial action as they enter middle school, high school, and beyond. In doing do, we will be helping our kids open their minds to all they can be.

What's the Value of Social Entrepreneurship?

Social entrepreneurial ventures have become an important part of today's economy. In the past, charitable organizations and government agencies focused their considerable resources and energies on the many challenges confronting us, including poverty, the environment, education, and health. Over time, however, it became clear that that wasn't enough and that more resources, ideas, and innovative approaches were needed to address the serious problems we face. Businesses emerged that were dedicated to finding solutions to today's problems — bringing with them a new generation of innovators and problems solvers comfortable with the social entrepreneurial model. Eventually, it became clear, as Roger L. Martin and Sally Osberg wrote in the Spring 2007 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, that "social entrepreneurship is as vital to the progress of societies as entrepreneurship is to the progress of economies." Since then, the field of entrepreneurship has been incorporated into educational curriculum at all levels and has demonstrated numerous benefits for kids, including greater awareness of one's personal talents and skills, enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills, improved academics and attendance, and an improved grasp of the economy, finance, and the concept of social responsibility. If we place value on teaching elementary school kids about entrepreneurship, our hope is that social entrepreneurship is not too far behind.

Need for Action

Many reputable organizations such as Ashoka, EchoingGreen, and the Skoll Foundation are inspiring and supporting teens and young adults to be social entrepreneurs. Thanks to these organizations and others, the field of social entrepreneurship has expanded significantly. However, little attention is being given to teaching our nation's youngest entrepreneurial talent -- our future problem solvers. Rather than just talk about it, it's time to act.

That's why we recently launched the Social KidPreneuerz Awards Program. The goal of the program is to make $100 awards to kids in grades 3 through 5 and inspire them to undertake an entrepreneurial activity that benefits society. While modest in size, each award brings with it a substantial feeling of responsibility and ownership and requires a commitment to complete the task. Our intention is to plant the seeds of social entrepreneurship among younger generations, instilling in them a belief that they can shape their world. We are also developing learning tools for parents, teachers, and community/faith leaders to use with students, either independently or in conjunction with the award application process.

The Shape of Things to Come

Not every child is temperamentally suited to be a social entrepreneur. Not every child is suited to be a scientist, mathematician, or artist. But elementary school-age kids do have the natural curiosity, imagination, drive, and ability to come up with innovative ways to change the world for the better. By exposing our kids to a variety of disciplines, including social entrepreneurship, we are teaching them they have what it takes to "be the change." One well-known expert on social entrepreneurship, David Bornstein, puts it this way: Once an individual has experienced the power of social entrepreneurship, he or she will "never go back to being a passive actor in society."

Don't we owe it to our kids -- and the future -- to do more?

-- Lisa Novick

Cause Marketing 2.0

May 18, 2011

Dosomegood Pepsi Refresh, a cause-marketing campaign launched in 2010 that invited nonprofits to compete for $20 million in grants from the food and beverage giant, would not have happened without GOOD (the company that publishes GOOD magazine), a recent article in the New York Times suggests.

What exactly did GOOD do to help turn Pepsi Refresh into the fifth-best social-media campaign to date, as ranked by Forbes magazine? In addition to helping Pepsi come up with the idea, the Times says, GOOD developed the online voting platform for the contest, "assembl[ed] a grant management team to assist award recipients, recruit[ed] an advisory board to lend the effort cachet and credibility, and docu-
ment[ed] the community projects in videos that have raised the profiles of the projects and the program."

The contest was such a hit that Pepsi decided to offer an improved version in the U.S. this spring and is also bringing it to China and parts of Latin America.

Building on that success, GOOD announced last week that it was creating a subsidiary called GOOD/Corps to help businesses "align strategy with impact, profit with progress." (To learn more about the venture, visit the GOOD/Corps Web site, which includes case studies of GOOD's work with Pepsi, Toyota, Starbucks, and IBM.)

As the site puts it, "There is no such thing as a consumer in today’s world. There are people who choose to participate, or choose not to." And the aim of GOOD/Corps isn't to "help brands win by targeting consumers with messaging. [It's to] help brands win by turning their audience into advocates -- people who participate with the brand in a common purpose."

So that's what cause marketing looks like in 2011.

A few months ago, I asked in a post here whether Pepsi should be doing more to align the Pepsi Refresh campaign with its internal CSR goals. But as increasingly social-media savvy corporate giants continue to fudge the line between PR and CSR, I'm beginning to wonder, from the point of view of the consumer participant, whether it matters.

Does it? Has the so-called Values Revolution (a GOOD/Corps coinage) relegated the hard, bright line between PR and CSR to the dustbin of history? And as more companies follow in Pepsi's footsteps, what might be the fate of more traditional corporate philanthropy efforts -- matching-gift programs, in-kind contributions, employee-volunteer programs, and the like?

-- Regina Mahone

This Week in PubHub: Health, Place, and Race/Ethnicity

May 16, 2011

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her previous post, she highlighted nine reports that address various aspects of the global war on terror, including strategies and tactics in that conflict, their effectiveness, and their long-term implications and consequences for detainees and the U.S.)

The issue of racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes isn't new. Less discussed is how structural racism, environmental conditions, and indequate health inputs reinforce one another, perpetuating those disparities. This week in PubHub we're featuring reports that examine the need for race-conscious strategies that take into account individual health-related interventions as well as broader efforts to improve socioeconomic and physical conditions in communities of color.

Why Place & Race Matter (113 pages, PDF), a report from PolicyLink and the California Endowment, describes how structural racism continues to shape the economic, social, and physical environments of communities of color, which in turn affects educational and financial opportunities for residents of those communities, and how, even at higher income levels, discrimination based on race can affect one's physical and mental health. The report highlights strategies for building healthy, thriving communities by dismantling entrenched patterns of inequality, residential segregation, and unequal resource distribution, all of which contribute to the concentration of poverty in inner-city neighborhoods.

The UCLA Center for Health Policy report Income Disparities in Asthma Burden and Care in California (22 pages, PDF) finds that asthma disproportionately affects low-income Californians -- especially children and people of color -- who are more likely to be uninsured, lack access to quality health care, and be exposed to environmental risk factors such as second-hand smoke, mold, and air pollution. As a result, low-income Calfornians experience more frequent asthma attacks, visit emergency rooms and are hospitalized more often, and miss more days of work and school than their higher-income peers. Diminished productivity and poor attendance in turn affect low-income asthma sufferers' employment opportunities and income, which tends to exacerbate their negative health outcomes. Funded by the California Endowment, the report calls for expanding coverage and benefits for low-income Californians with special healthcare needs as well as improving their access to patient-centered medical homes, disease and case management, and culturally appropriate patient education.

To be sure, differences in health coutcomes among racial/ethnic groups can vary in unexpected ways, as illustrated by The Unequal Distribution of Health in the Twin Cities (44 page, PDF), a recent report from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation. For example, while mortality rates for Native Americans, African Americans, and foreign-born Southeast Asians in the region are higher than they are for non-Latino whites, they are slightly lower among Asians, foreign-born blacks, and Latinos. And while racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes were indeed narrower in higher-income areas, the link between per-capita income and life expectancy is clear, with every $10,000 increase in a neighborhood's median income appearing to buy its residents another year of life. Funded by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, the report recommends targeting the lowest-income Native-American and African-American communities with comprehensive interventions designed to close race-based disparities in educational and economic opportunity, ending economic and residential segregation, and improving health outcomes for all Twin Cities residents.

Finally, in Regional and Racial Variation in Primary Care and the Quality of Care Among Medicare Beneficiaries (36 pages, PDF), the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice questions whether merely expanding access to primary care is sufficient to overcome racial disparities in health and health care. Funded by the National Institute on Aging and the California HealthCare, Robert Wood Johnson, United Health, and WellPoint foundations, the report found that neither a greater supply of primary care physicians in a given region nor regular visits to a primary care physician was a guarantee of better treatment or outcomes, and that addressing such disparities is likely to require more effective integration and coordination of care among primary care clinicians and other healthcare providers.

Do you have any examples of or stories that illustrate the links between race/ethnicity, place, and health? Are you aware of any promising strategies or initiatives in this area? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

And don't forget to visit PubHub, where you can browse more than eighteen hundred reports on health-related topics.

-- Kyoko Uchida

Weekend Link Roundup (May 14 - 15, 2011)

May 15, 2011

Mortar-board Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen explains why it's important for community foundations and (nonprofits with a broad mission) to use a "modular" approach to donor cultivation.

Kivi Leroux Miller shares a new video on her Nonprofit Communications blog in which the Foundation Center's social media manager Jereme Bivins explains how he helps the center maintain an active presence on various social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter.


On the Minnesota Council on Foundation's Philanthropy Potluck blog, Chris Murakami Noonan shares an interview with David Nicholson of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice in which Nicholson discusses what it takes be a leader on diversity and inclusivity issues. Among other things, says Nicholson, leaders should be humble, push themselves (and others) to have relationships with the "other," and "be interested in advancing systems thinking, to understand how things work in our society."

On her blog, Rosetta Thurman takes a look at The Voice of Nonprofit Talent: Perceptions of Diversity in the Workplace (17 pages, PDF), a new study from Commongood Careers and the Level Playing Field Institute. According to the study, there's "a significant disconnect...between the stated values and beliefs of nonprofit organizations regarding the importance of racial diversity, and their attempts to proactively increase diversity and inclusiveness within their organizations." This explains why "even if recruitment is successful, retention can be a challenge," writes Thurman. "Once people of color join the staff of a nonprofit, they need to feel included and supported within the organization -– or else they feel like they've been duped...."


At NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, field director Sean Dobson suggests that the "Giving Pledgers" who met recently in Arizona to discuss their giving should adopt the "winning approach" that helped them build successful businesses in the first place. Writes Dobson:

Comparing notes with each other about effective strategy is a good first step. But the fact remains that many of the Giving Pledge billionaires are philanthropic rookies who have either just set up a foundation or are in the process of doing so. Thus, their next step should be to reach out beyond Giving Pledge members and learn from knowledgeable outsiders such as colleagues at older foundations and from best-practice research by groups such as NCRP, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Alliance for Justice, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, GrantCraft and others.

Social Innovation

The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) at the Corporation for National and Community Service has published an excellent map/legend detailing its subgrantee initiatives by state, metro area, and funding area.

Social Media

"For the most part, foundations are using social media as a one-way communications tool about their programs, not for interaction with grantees," writes Beth Kanter, who appeared on a panel at last week's Center for Effective Philanthropy conference. "Grantees are reading about foundation's programs through social media channels, but not engaging with funders. A skeptic's view might be: why waste time? Another lens, ask why?"

Kanter's Zoetica colleague Geoff Livingston suggests on his blog that the echo-chamber quality of the blogosphere is creating a social ecosphere predicated on "an oral-based retelling of the same story." What's scary about that, writes Livingston, "is that the 'good referred stories' may not be grounded in reality. And that's when whole sectors are led by their digital bards off the proverbial cliff...."


In between tri to her next speaking gig, Philanthropy 2173's Lucy Bernholz shares some thoughts about how different kinds of institutions are crowdsourcing new ideas and creating tools and resources as part of the sharing economy.


On her About.com Nonprofit blog, Joanne Fritz recaps a recent Small Nonprofit Twitter Chat (#smNPchat) that explored nonprofit accountability. Among other things, the group agreed that "nonprofits owe their donors transparency, which is all about making it easy for a donor to look into the organization's finances and management, and what impact the organization is having on the problem it addresses." Fritz goes on to provide examples of how some nonprofits are demonstrating impact.

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

-- Regina Mahone

Return of the Mega-Gift

May 13, 2011

Charity-donation-gift-benjamins The announcement earlier this week of a $225 million gift from Raymond and Ruth Pereleman to the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine confirms what many have been saying for a while now: the Great Recession, for the mega-wealthy at any rate, is history.

The gift from the Perelemans is, to the best of our knowledge, the eighth nine-figure gift announced by an individual, couple, or family foundation since January 1. Here are links to info about the others:

And that's not counting a $150 million gift to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston from Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayad Al Nahyan; a $100 million gift to Western Michigan University from a group of donors that wished to remain anonymous; or a $100 million endowment gift to Teach for America from philanthropists Steve and Sue Mandel and the Eli and Edythe Broad, Laura and John Arnold, and Robertson foundations.

In addition, there have been at least a dozen eight-figure gifts (more info here, here, and here) and three eight-figure bequests. And we're not even a full five months into the year.

What's going on?

Have the efforts of the Fed to target asset prices and gin up the "wealth effect" through quantitative easing succeeded beyond Chairman Bernanke's wildest dreams? Is the Giving Pledge having more of an impact than perhaps many of us thought? Could it be a tangible manifestation of the intergenerational transfer of wealth we've all been told to expect? Could it be related to recent and/or anticipated changes in tax policy? All of the above?

Would love to hear what others think...

-- Mitch Nauffts

ANNOUNCEMENT: American Express NGEN Leadership Award Nomination Deadline Extended

May 11, 2011

Do you work with or know a nonprofit leader who:

  • Demonstrates transformative impact in their field beyond their organization;
  • Displays a proven ability to collaborate in innovative, inclusive ways;
  • Identifies needs, generates solutions, and assesses progress toward goals;
  • Is currently employed by a U.S.-based nonprofit or non-governmental organization; and
  • Is age 40 or under?

Then hop on over to the Independent Sector site to nominate that person for the 2011 American Express NGEN Leadership Award.

Now in its second year (click here to learn more about last year's finalists and the 2010 winner, Darell Hammond), the program honors an accomplished nonprofit leader age 40 or under who has demonstrated significant impact in addressing society's critical needs.

The winner of the 2011 NGEN Leadership Award will be honored at the John W. Gardner Leadership Dinner, October 31, during Independent Sector's annual conference in Chicago. In addition to recognition for his/her efforts at the conference, the winner will receive:

  • a $3,000 leadership scholarship to further develop his/her leadership skills and strategies;
  • scholarship admission to NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now, October 29-30 (just prior to the IS conference);
  • complementary registration to the IS conference;
  • membership on the 2012 American Express NGen Award Selection Committee;
  • recognition on the IS Web site, as well as in a press release, IS member publications, and the 2011 annual conference program; and
  • roundtrip airfare to and lodging for the conference.

Finalists for the award will be asked to demonstrate transformative impact, speak clearly to their core values as a leader, and participate in a virtual Leadership Forum with the NGen community to discuss issues of importance to young leaders and the nonprofit community as a whole.

The nomination deadline for the award has been extended through May 16. Self-nominations will not be accepted.

To nominate a nonprofit leader for the award, click here.

Newsmaker: Tom Tierney, Chairman/Co-Founder, Bridgespan Group

May 10, 2011

Tom_tierney From climate change and resource constraints, to adverse fiscal and demographic trends, to rising inequality, the problems we face are large, complex, and increasingly global.

In such an environment, says Tom Tierney, chairman and co-founder of the Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit consulting group that helps nonprofit and philanthropic leaders build organizations that inspire and accelerate social change, every donor wants his or her money to make a difference, and nobody wants to see hard-earned wealth go to waste. And yet, says Tierney, philanthropy's natural state is underperformance -- a condition in which the tendency of grantmakers to accept things as they are and avoid hard questions about what is or isn't working too often leads to disappointing results.

Recently, Philanthropy News Digest spoke with Tierney, whose new book Give $mart: Philanthropy That Gets Results, outlines a "rigorous process of inquiry" for donors and grantmakers who want to boost the impact of their philanthropic investments, about the tendency of philanthropy to underperform, the reasons for that underperformance, and whether he thinks philanthropy takes enough risks.

Philanthropy News Digest: In your new book, you suggest that the philanthropy of the industrial era, the philanthropy of Carnegie and Rockefeller, was not all that different from the philanthropy of today. What are some of the similarities between the two and what's the biggest difference?

Tom Tierney: The basic premise behind the book is that there must be ideas relevant to philanthropy that have been proven over time, ideas that were as useful to Andrew Carnegie as they are to Bill Gates. One of the reasons [co-author] Joel [Fleishman] and I teamed up was that he has done extensive research on twentieth-century philanthropy, a lot of which he used in The Foundation. And Bridgespan, which has been around since 2000, has deep experience in twenty-first-century philanthropy. So by collaborating, Joel and I were hoping to identify timeless truths, if you will, that would be useful for philanthropists ten or twenty years from now. And I think we did.

First and foremost, we learned that philanthropy is personal. The charitable act, which has been around for as long as mankind has been around, is a deeply personal decision about what you do with and hope to accomplish by giving your time and money. And what Carnegie has in common with Gates is a focus on results. That's not always the case. I've had philanthropists tell me that the act of giving in and of itself provides enormous satisfaction. But focusing on the act of giving is different than focusing on what one hopes to achieve through his or her giving.

What hasn't changed? Well, there are philanthropists out there -- more than ever, I'd suggest -- who not only want to achieve results with their giving but are committed to using their time and their influence to drive change. That hasn't changed. Other things haven't changed. Philanthropists still enter into public-private partnerships, as they did in Carnegie's day. They still look to fund innovation and experimentation. And they are doing it in many of the same fields that attracted earlier generations of philanthropists -- education, the environment, health and human services, and the like. So the basic motives haven't changed, and many of the fundamental practices haven't changed.

What has changed are the context and the tools. The context has changed because the social sector is now dramatically larger than it was even a decade or two ago. There are more organizations from which to learn. The boundaries between for-profit and nonprofit are blurring. And people are getting involved at an earlier age. You have people in their twenties engaging in philanthropy -- witness Mark Zuckerberg and his huge gift to Newark public schools. It's not simply an avocation for wealthy retired people. It's something all of us can do, all the time.

Knowledge also has changed. Think about all the information we have today about things that worked and things that didn't work. Look at the Foundation Center. It wasn't around in Carnegie's day. People are learning more and experimenting more. And the scale of that learning and experimentation is greater than ever, which means the momentum behind philanthropy is greater than ever. But the basics, one human being voluntarily giving his or her money to achieve a social end, haven't changed.

Continue reading »

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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