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Weekend Link Roundup (March 24-25, 2012)

March 25, 2012

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

Impact/Effectiveness

On the Center for American Progress site, Jitinder Kohli, Douglas J. Besharov, and Kristina Costa take a closer look at the potential of -- and some of the challenges associated with -- social impact bonds.

International Affairs/Development

Is the animating spirit behind last year's Arab Spring uprisings spreading to other parts of the world? That would seem to be the case in Russia, where the months leading up to Vladimir Putin's re-election to the presidency were marked by an upsurge in civic activism. Remarkably, writes CAF Russia's Inga Pagava, "[s]treet protests were not suppressed, and that proves there is an opportunity in the country. [But to] translate that opportunity into real action, some serious and careful organizing jobs need to be done to make sure the unique spirit is not lost or stifled." For more on the "Russian Spring," take a look at the excellent article by Ellen Barry and Michael Schwirtz in today's New York Times.

Nonprofit Management

On his Inside Philanthropy blog, Todd Cohen reminds us why it's important for nonprofits and their staff to have time to think. Writes Cohen:

The warped logic of funders and donors seems to be that the nonprofits they support should stretch every dollar they receive to make an impact on clients, rather than making any investment in thinking or planning, even though that kind of investment can lead to improvements that will better serve clients. And the sad logic of boards and CEOs seems to be to pander to their donors and funders for fear that questioning their unrealistic expectations or speaking honestly about organizational problems will risk the loss of their funding....

Philanthropy

Philanthrocapitalism co-authors Matthew Bishop and Michael Green share some good news from last week's Indian Philanthropy Forum in Mumbai, which included the release of the third annual survey of Indian philanthropy by Bain & and Co. According to the survey, giving by the wealthiest Indians is on the rise, with "69 percent of the philanthropic families surveyed [reporting that] they had a [family member under the age of 30] spearheading or shaping the family's charity decisions." And that, write Bishop and Green, "certainly bodes well for the future."

In the final post of a series on the four stages of becoming a more strategic donor, Ellen Remmer, president and CEO of the Philanthropic Initiative, looks at a few of the "road blocks" keeping many donors from achieving a "higher level of strategic thinking and giving," including challenging family dynamics, isolation and privacy concerns, arrogance and cynicism, and inadequate or imbalanced information about impact and results.

Social Media

Guest blogging on Beth's Blog, MomsRising.org social media specialist Elisa Batista explains how her organization used Twitter to test a strategy to reach Latinos with information about the Affordable Care Act.

In a guest post on the Communications Network's blog, PhilanthroMedia president Susan Herr writes about the "widespread commitment to harnessing emerging communications technologies in the service of transparency, accountability and engagement for the public good" at this year's SXSW Interactive conference. But getting your message to be heard in an increasingly noisy information marketplace requires a laser-like focus on strategy, adds Herr, who then shares a few tips for doing just that. "Forget viral content. Pursue the anti-viral" -- that is, produce videos for small but strategic audiences rather than for broad consumption; and think about your storytelling in terms of "multiple platforms," for example by combining live video feeds with copy.

Chris Oien, Web communications associate at the Minnesota Council on Foundations, summarizes a recent presentation on social media analytics and metrics that he gave at the Nonprofit Technology & Communications Conference with his colleague Jamie Millard. Among other things, Oien reminds all of us who create social media content to connect that content to our organization's mission, keep tabs on what works and what doesn't, and communicate the results of our efforts to upper management and board members to show "what [these activities] mean for the bottom line."

Transparency

On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz commends the Omidyar Network's David Sasaki, who last week tweeted and blogged about his goal "to be [the] most transparent grant-maker in philanthropy." In his post, Sasaki commits to publishing a blog post within fifteen days of the signing of a grant agreement that contains the following information:

  • Amount of grant
  • Date that grant agreement was signed
  • Name and link to receiving institution and other organizations involved in the project
  • Name and link to co-funders
  • Summary of grant
  • Contextual analysis of related issues
  • Metrics to gauge the impact of the grant
  • Date and manner that the relevant project will be evaluated

What do you think? Is it something every program officer at a major foundation should commit to? And if not, why not?

And over at our sister Glasspockets site, we've launched a real-time RSS feed that displays raw data reported by foundations using the innovative Grantsfire "hGrant" format. At the moment, the feed includes grants reported by five foundations -- the Energy Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation -- but we hope to be adding more soon. To learn how your grants data can be pulled directly from your Web site through the hGrant format, click here.

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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