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Weekend Link Roundup (May 19-20, 2012)

May 20, 2012

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


On NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Lisa Ranghelli gives a shout out to the Alliance for Justice's new site, Bolder Advocacy, noting that the "'A' in advocacy used to be akin to the adultery committed in Hawthorne's novel,...a symbol of failure to adhere to the mores of the community, a sign of risky behavior, even law-breaking."


There's an opportunity for nonprofits to improve their organizational stories with data beyond presenting the information in a simple chart, writes Susan Stehling at the Minnesota Council on Foundations's Philanthropy Potluck blog. Indeed, software like Microsoft Excel has made it too easy for organizations to create bad graphs and charts. To avoid such a fate, Stehling suggests that nonprofits follow in the steps of Cole Nussbaumer, people analytics manager at Google, who advises them to "step back and answer some basic questions" before creating their next chart.


On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz wonders whether "the next ten years [will] see the creation of hybrid foundations -- a capital investing form structured specifically to allow greater flexibility in how funds are used for social good?" Few of today's "institutions...look as much like their forebears as do philanthropic foundations," writes Bernholz. "It's illogical that this century's wealth creators are going to be content with last century's philanthropic forms...." Interesting discussion in the comments section, as well.

Responding to news that a second closed-door meeting of Giving Pledge signatories was held earlier this month in Santa Barbara, Philanthrocapitalism authors Matthew Bishop and Michael Green ask why the billionaires are being "bashful" about sharing their giving stories, successes and failures, with the general public. "The importance of failure as a way to learn is now well understood in the world of business," write Bishop and Green.

In Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs wear their first disastrous start-up or two as a badge of honour. Philanthropy, by contrast, has long missed out on the feedback loop from failure that is so valuable to business, and so often ends up frittering away scarce resources on projects that someone else has already found wanting. Thus it is excellent news that in Santa Barbara the leaders of America's new generation of philanthropists started to take their failed efforts at giving seriously enough to learn from them. Nonetheless, how much better if at next year's gathering they open up and let the rest of us learn those lessons from failure too....

As if anticipating Bishop and Green's concern, James Irvine Foundation president Jim Canales and Kevin Rafter, the foundation's manager of research and evaluation, describe the Irvine Foundation’s approach to performance assessment and discuss three lessons the foundation has learned over the past six years in an article the Stanford Social Innovation Review.

In the first in a series of six blog posts, Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan suggests that "the nonprofit sector may be losing the public battle to define itself" to those who espouse a "business-as-savior perpesctive." Yes, writes Buchanan, we must "push harder to maximize the effectiveness of foundations and other nonprofit organizations....But we need to do our work

in a way that is rooted in a deep understanding of the particular role and context of nonprofit organizations, rather than in a way that assumes that “business thinking” and market approaches represent the secret formula for nonprofit success. We must be clear that the advocacy of those pushing market-based solutions for all of our social problems, which sometimes takes on a cultish feel, is misguided. It won’t work, and it threatens to undermine the public’s understanding and appreciation of the vital role of the nonprofit sector as distinct from business and government....

Social Entrepreneurship

On the Social Velocity site, Nell Edgington reviews Billy Parish and Dev Aujla's Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money and Community in a Changing World, "a career guide for the generation that finds themselves on the precipice of some pretty monumental global challenges."

Social Media

In a guest post on Beth's Blog, Geri Stengel, founder and president of Ventureneer.com, explains the benefits of LinkedIn groups for nonprofit professionals and asks readers to weigh in on a discussion about the ethics of accepting "tainted" money.


On the Growthology blog, Dane Stangler, shares findings and a great map from a recent study published by the Center for an Urban Future, a Kauffman Foundation grantee, which found that technology startups have boomed in New York City over the past few years.

Although the semantic Web envisioned by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee "might be able to reduce donor 'friction' -- the many steps and processes that interpose themselves between a donor's initial desire to give and her consummation of a gift," it may be years before it becomes a reality, writes Greater New Orleans Foundation president Albert Ruesga on the White Courtesy Telephone blog. In the meantime, there are things nonprofits can do to "maximize their online success," including putting "Give Now" buttons on multiple pages of their Web sites.


And in a post on her blog, Allison Fine commends the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for its effort to "go beyond the busy-ness of social media to get to the 'so what' of it for social change."

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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