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Weekend Link Roundup (March 10-11, 2012)

March 11, 2012

Spring-EquinoxOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


Social media guru Seth Godin has released "Stop Stealing Dreams: What Is School For?", a free 30,000-word manifesto and experiment in what Godin calls "firestarting." As he writes on his blog,

I'm hoping that removing friction from the sharing of this idea will help it spread. If you're interested in the topic (and I hope you are), please tweet or like the project page, download the files, post mirror copies on your own blog and if you can, email them to every teacher, parent and citizen who should be part of the discussion about what we do with our kids all day (and why). If just a fraction of this blog's readers shared it with their address book, we'd reach a lot of people....


Based on his organization's research and his own observations, Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan offers a sharp take on the 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Foundation Boards.

Human/Civil Rights

In a guest post on the Open Society Foundations blog, filmmaker Doug Liman calls on ordinary Americans to fight torture by participating in his current project, Reckoning With Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the “War on Terror". "What I'm asking people to do is both simple and profound," writes Liman. "[T]o film themselves reading one of the eleven documents that make up the script of the movie and send me the footage." The documents in question were among the 140,000 the ACLU uncovered through a Freedom of Information Act request, and to date actors, writers, a former CIA officer, a former interrogator, and the chief prosecutor of the military commissions at Guantanamo have been among those who participated in the project.


In a new post on the GiveWell blog, Holden Karnofsky considers the case of mothers2mothers, a nongovernmental organization based in South Africa that has been criticized for publishing what Karnofsky calls erroneous figures about the number of women it serves. Writes Karnofsky:

We certainly don't think the anomalies we've found show that m2m isn't doing great work, or that its support and awards are undeserved (and we are still considering the possibility of further investigating m2m as a potential GiveWell-recommended group). Still, seeing this sort of problem from an organization that gets as much attention as m2m seems significant. It's another piece of evidence that the philanthropic world -- including many of the largest and best-resourced funders -- is not asking all of the critical questions that it could be asking....

On his Harvard Business Review blog, Uncharitable author Dan Pallotta offers a "unified theory of social change" for nonprofits and institutions seeking to "change the world." The plan, in three parts, looks like this: 1) set big, hairy, audacious goals and deadlines for each problem you want to tackle; 2) collaborate and communicate like there's no tomorrow; and 3) invest in fundraising to dramatically increase the capital available to solve those problems. "It's not rocket science," adds Pallotta. "So let's get on with it."


Philanthropy 2173 blogger Lucy Bernholz has released a new toolkit for foundations and nonprofit organizations based on Philanthropy and Social Investing Blueprint 2012, her annual look at the trends shaping the philanthropic and social change landscape.

Social Media

Beth Kanter looks at the role of transparency in the incredibly viral response to -- and debate over -- the KONY 2012 video, which was posted to YouTube on Monday and quickly racked up fifty million views. Although the video quickly galvanized tens of thousands of young people to pledge to "stop" Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, whose guerrilla army filled with child soldiers terrorized Ugandan villagers for the better part of two decades, the video also generated a backlash among African journalists and others who question its accuracy and the intentions of Invisible Children, the U.S.-based NGO that produced and released it.


Allison Fine celebrated International Women's Day on Thursday by reflecting on a recent development in the human rights arena: the fact that in most cases "protests were started by individuals [on social media channels], not organizations." And while there may be no "Nelson Mandalas or Lech Walesas speaking on behalf of protestors," writes Fine, "social networks aren't leaderless, as critics say, but leaderfull with individuals defining their own roles, uploading videos, [and] posting news without being asked or tasked or targeted...."

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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