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Weekend Link Roundup (December 3 - 4, 2011)

December 04, 2011

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

Environment

On the Mother Nature Network, author Chris Turner (The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy) suggests that the problem with the modern environmental movement is "a maddening combination of Much Too Big and Way Too Little": Rio, Kyoto, Copenhagen, and Durban -- "the entire international emissions treaty process...[is] predicated...on convincing essentially the whole world to take [the first step] all at once, in unison," while our individual decisions to use eco-friendly products at home just aren't going to change the world. In his post, Turner offers advice about how to nurture your own activism and points to the solar energy boom in Gainesville, Florida, as an example of right-sizing a community sustainability effort.

As part of Occupy the Future, a forum on lessons to be drawn from the Occupy movement hosted by the Boston Review, Paul and Anne Ehrlich (co-authors, most recently, of The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment) offer a much darker view of the "conflict" between capitalism and the environment. "It is clear that we must redesign governments to regulate the marketplace so that most externalities are internalized for the good of society," write the Ehrlichs. "Everyone should recognize that old-time capitalism, like socialism and communism,

simply has not and cannot generate the sustainable redistribution and material and population shrinkage that are essential to creating an environmentally sound and equitable global society. The challenge is immense and unprecedented, with the dilemma exacerbated by plutocrats buying politicians and funding a powerful and effective disinformation machine programmed to lie about environmental threats. Overcoming that machine will require much cooperation, which won’t likely be achieved without new institutions and a broad increase in social justice. And these will require what the Occupy movement apparently demands: that we step back and consider whether the society we’ve built is indeed the one we want. But we have no choice but to meet the challenge. Either we will change our ways, or they will be changed for us.

Fundraising

Future Fundraising Now blogger Jeff Brooks explains why the advent of Web 2.0 fundraising tools has not killed direct mail. "Direct mail is the greatest fundraising medium ever created -- after the church collection plate," writes Brooks. "It's changing, getting more complex and more expensive. But it's not dying."

Health

On the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists blog, Dr. Bart Haynes, head of the NIH NIAID Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology (CHAVI), marks the thirtieth anniversary of the global AIDS epidemic by reflecting on the progress that has been made in developing a safe and effective AIDS vaccine.

In an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal ("No Retreat in the Fight Against AIDS"), George W. Bush recounts the successes over the last decade of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). More than 4.7 million people have received AIDS treatment through the Global Fund and PEPFAR, Bush notes, while some 450,000 children have been born HIV-negative due to the latter's programs to disrupt mother-to-child transmission. And while acknowledging that "in lean budget times the U.S. and developing world must prioritize," the former president closes by urging Congress to think twice before it cuts funding for the programs.

On the same topic, Open Society Foundations program officer Shannon Kowalski gives two reasons why it's unlikely AIDS will be eradicated: "political will and the money to do it." Writes Kowalski:

These two barriers came into painfully clear view last week when the board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria announced that it was cancelling its latest call for applications for funding and adopted a set of drastic measures so that it could maintain funding for the essential services that it is currently supporting. At precisely the moment we've realized how to curb HIV, donors have left the Global Fund treading water, struggling to keep funding flowing to preserve the lives of those who are already on treatment....

And in "World AIDS Day: The Role of Religion," the Council on Foreign Relations' Isobel Coleman writes that "[t]he obstacles to achieving an AIDS-free generation -- and the benefits of this achievement for humanity -- make the constructive involvement of religious institutions crucial." While religious leaders have "contributed to the epidemic by denying the importance of condoms in HIV prevention and contributing to the stigma that AIDS patients already confront," Coleman writes, USAID is partnering with religious leaders in places like Indonesia to "facilitate the implementation of HIV policy statements" and "share a compilation of fatwa (religious guidance) on HIV prevention."

Journalism/Media

Author, NYU professor, and new media deep thinker Clay Shirky (Here Comes Everybody: The Power Of Organizing Without Organizations) brilliantly rebuts a lengthy piece in the Columbia Journalism Review written by Dean Starkman in which Starkman argues "for the continued relevance of existing news organizations, especially newspapers, in something very close to their current form." It's long, well worth reading, and includes this observation: "No medium has ever survived the indifference of 25 year olds...." Indeed.

Philanthropy

The folks at the BlackGivesBack blog need your help selecting the top ten celebrity philanthropists of 2011. Anyone can vote, as long as they do it before Sunday, December 11.

Social Justice

At the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog, Sara K. Gould, former president and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, shares key findings from Diminishing Dollars: The Impact of the 2008 Financial Crisis on the Field of Social Justice Philanthropy (35 pages, PDF), a new study which she authored with help from colleagues at the Cricket Island Foundation, the Foundation Center, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and the Social Justice Philanthropy Collaborative.

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

-- The Editors

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