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Weekend Link Roundup (August 18-19, 2012)

August 19, 2012

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


On the Communications Network blog, Courtney Williamson talks to Allyson Burns, vice president for communications at the Case Foundation, about the foundation's Be Fearless Campaign. The initiative, which aims to "[encourage] all organizations trying to improve people’s lives 'to take risks' in how they approach their work," was inspired by a request from Case Foundation CEO and co-founder Jean Case for "a new messaging strategy that reflected how the foundation’s work has evolved since its inception." With the help of branding firm BBMG, Burns says, the foundation identified two themes, experimentation and partnership, that became the linchpin of the new strategy. "It doesn't mean we're always fearless," says Burns, "but I'm trying to do better every day."

On her Non-Profit Marketing Blog, Katya Andresen introduces a mini-guide created by her organization, Network for Good, that walks readers through the basics of e-mail engagement.


On the GiveWell Blog, Holden Karnofsky explains how GiveWell differentiates between strong and weak evidence when it evaluates charities. "By 'evidence,'" writes Karnofsky, "we generally mean observations that are more easily reconciled with the charity's claims about the world and its impact than with our skeptical default/'prior' assumption." General properties that make for strong evidence, Karnofsky adds, include relevant reported effects, attribution, representativeness, and consonance with other observations.


In a typically thought-provoking post, Public Parts author and Buzz Machine blogger Jeff Jarvis takes issue with the idea that mobile is the "next big thing" in media. Writes Jarvis:

Saying that mobile is what comes next means, I fear, that we're going to take what we do in media -- making content, selling audiences -- and figure out how to keep doing it on video, in social, and in mobile.

But that's not what we really do....

With newspaper companies, I've been arguing that they should abandon page views as a metric because it has been a corrupting influence that carried on the old-media myth that the more "audience" you have the more you can charge advertisers and the more money you'll make. The pursuit of page views has led news organizations to draw traffic -- people -- they cannot monetize (because they come from outside the market or come just once from search or Drudge). And the insistence that they remain in the content business has led news organizations to believe they must still sell that content; thus, pay walls.

Google views content -- our content -- as a tool that generates signals about their users, building relationships, data, and value. Google views mobile as a tool that also generates signals and provides opportunities to target content and services to the individual, where she is, and what she's doing now (thus Android's Google Now).

We in news and media should...knit a mobile strategy around learning about people and serving them better as a result -- not just serving content on smaller screens. Mobile= local=me now. We should build a strategy on people over content, on relationships....


On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Lucy Bernholz shares a list of impact investing terms curated by Beth Busenhart and Charlie Kuhn of App-X, a Colorado-based tech that works with alternative asset fund managers and institutional investors.

And in a different post, Bernholz introduces the concept of the "data dividend." "It may cost $X to get a few demo programs running or to build a few prototypes or to conduct an evaluation," writes Bernholz. But if

the process of gathering the information and the plan for distributing it after the funding is built in from the start and the information is designed to 1) help someone get something done and 2) take advantage of in-person and online sharing systems then the return on the $Y data dividend could be even higher. Suppose you spend $3 million on a school program and $250,000 documenting, learning from, and building a community of two dozen other school professionals who have said they want to learn from that original program. Where $3m gets one school program, the $250K might spark change in two dozen others. And the nature of (well structured) information is that it can keep being used, reused, shared, re-applied -- that's the data dividend.

Social Media

On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, MCF Web communications associate Chris Oien recaps a recent Center for Effective Philanthropy webinar about the CEP report Grantees’ Limited Engagement With Social Media (12 pages, PDF), which found, among other things, that while 80 percent of surveyed grantees said they use social media, only 16 percent said that they "personally follow the efforts of the foundations funding them." During the webinar, Elizabeth Miller, a communications associate at the Knight Foundation, presented some social media tips for foundations (which Oien shares in his post), including the importance of creating a culture that encourages all staff -- not just a social media manager -- to use social media to engage with grantees and other audiences.

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

-- The Editors

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    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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