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Weekend Link Roundup (December 17 - 18, 2011)

December 18, 2011

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

Communications/Marketing

In a post on her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Network for Good's Katya Andresen weighs in on a new Silverpop white paper that looks at where digital marketing trends are headed. Among other things, writes Andresen, nonprofit marketing staff should expect their work to become more personal, "human," and mobile in 2012.

Disaster Relief

On Oxfam International's From Poverty to Power blog, Chris Anderson, Oxfam's global adviser for disaster risk reduction, makes the case for more investment in disaster preparedness, noting that investment in DRR accounts for less than 1 percent of official humanitarian assistance to the world's twenty biggest recipients of such assistance.

Diversity

Rosetta Thurman shares a new article from the Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group in which Katherine E. Jacobs and Andrew Grant-Thomas explain that when it comes to recruiting there "is no such thing as a diverse candidate."

Education

Writing about federal education policy in the New York Times ("Class Matters. Why Won't We Admit It?"), Helen Ladd, a professor of public policy and economics at Duke, and Edward B. Fiske, a former education editor at the Times and the author of the Fiske Guide to Colleges, pose what they believe is a critical question: "Why do presumably well-intentioned policy makers ignore, or deny, the correlations of family background and student achievement?" Ladd and Fiske propose that rationales for ignoring such correlations range from a belief that schools are capable of offsetting the effects of poverty, to not wanting to lower expectations for poor students, to the huge challenges posed by tackling poverty as a whole. "Let's agree," they write in closing, "that we know a lot about how to address the ways in which poverty undermines student learning. Whether we choose to face up to that reality is ultimately a moral question."

Global Health

On his Humanosphere blog, Tom Paulson has some nice things to say about Seattle-based PATH's acquisition of the nonprofit drug company OneWorld Health.

Philanthropy

On his Inside Philanthropy blog, Todd Cohen commends foundations and corporations for "moving beyond grantmaking and investing more of their assets to address critical social and global problems." "[T]hat kind of innovation," adds Cohen, "is critical to help make the social economy more productive in serving people and places in need."

Philanthropy 2173's Lucy Bernholz shares her annual list of new buzzwords and phrases, including evidence based, shapeshifting, and disruption.

Social Media

Nonprofits shouldn't confuse content curation -- "the organizing, filtering and 'making sense of' information on the web" -- as aggregation, writes social media expert Beth Kanter in a recent post on her blog. "The debate in content curation circles [right now]," adds Kanter, "is that [if] we treat content curation as aggregation, then we’ll miss the point and just create noise. We don't need more content but a human point of view guided by intelligent tools that can help others find and make sense of the information and resources out there."

Transparency

On the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Bill Somerville, executive director of the Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, offers his take on the relationship between transparency and effectiveness that was the subject of recent event in San Francisco co-hosted by the Foundation Center and the Center for Effective Philanthropy. Writes Somerville:

Does transparency and glass pockets help effectiveness? I don't know. What difference does it make for people to know foundation salaries? If it does make a difference, then we are talking about accountability not effectiveness. Is the foundation accountable in being efficient, frugal, responsible, responsive and productive?

Foundations have a special place in the community in that they are answerable to themselves. They are independent and have maximum latitude to do their work. They have a unique asset in that their money is not political, not in competition with anything or anyone, and they have no ax to grind. So, what are the factors of excellence in the exercise of philanthropy? A question foundation personnel should ask themselves every day....

One is leadership. Foundations should exercise leadership in their willingness to venture where others haven't gone, to take risks, to think into the future rather than indulge themselves in endless paper. A leader is one who brings out the best in others. Isn't this what foundations should be doing?

Another factor of excellence is modesty. Money is the tool of philanthropy and money is power. Foundation personnel must understand that it is not their money nor is it their power. Foundations are investing funds in people and programs worthy of the investment. They are not "giving money away."

Somerville concludes by noting that his comments are meant to "create a dialogue and stimulate other people to add their thoughts on what makes for effectiveness." Here's your chance to join that conversation. What do you think an "effective" foundation looks like? And what is the relationship between transparency and accountability? Use the comments section to share your thoughts....

That's it for now. With the holidays looming, most of our shopping still be done, and miles to go before we sleep, we'll be posting a little less frequently over the next couple of weeks. Here's hoping you get to spend time with friends and loved ones. Have a great holiday!

-- The Editors

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