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Weekend Link Roundup (January 19-20, 2013)

January 20, 2013

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


MLK_2013Writing on the Chronicle of Philanthropy's Government and Politics Watch blog, Cody Switzer shares a video in which the NAACP's Benjamin Jealous explains how his century-old organization engages young activists: "Listen to them first, find out what they are really angry about, and then say, 'This is how we turn it outward, and we actually overcome that issue.'"


On the Huffington Post's Impact blog, Katya Andresen shares an infographic from the Georgetown Center for Social Impact Communication that illustrates four different categories of potential cause influencers: Mainstreeter, Minimalist, Moderate, and Maximizer.


On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, CEP president Phil Buchanan suggests that nonprofits have a "dependency" problem -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing.


Philanthrocapitalism authors Matthew Bishop and Michael Green discuss a recent Wall Street Journal review of Robert Dalzell's The Good Rich. In the review, Journal contributor Amity Shlaes argues that "Charity is a sideshow: What matters about the rich, if we are considering the public good, isn't their charity but their investments -- their ideas about what to do with 'slimey petroleum' and microchips -- and the jobs and activity they create." Bishop and Green disagree:

We are, on the whole, enthusiastic champions of the role that business plays as a creator of value in the world. (With the caveats that not all profit is socially valuable -- think of the profits that Lehman Brothers earned before it crashed, which at the time seemed to indicate that the investment bank was well managed, rather than the reality that it was gambling recklessly -- and that not all billionaires are equal, as how they have earned their money and whether they have paid their fair whack of taxes are important questions in judging whether someone is a 'good billionaire' or, perhaps, a tax dodging monopolist.) Indeed, we would even accept that, in some or even many cases, a dynamic entrepreneur may have more to add to the world through business than through philanthropy. But the judgement on whether any particular billionaire's philanthropy is worthwhile or a waste must be based on an analysis both of what he contributes through business and what he contributes through philanthropy. It cannot be assumed a priori, as the Journal seems to do, that business is always, necessarily better....

Social Good

Writing for the Harvard Business Review blog network, Charity Case author Dan Pallotta argues that nonprofits need to embrace a capitalistic mindset and methods if they truly want to solve the world's problems. "Our social problems are gigantic in scale," writes Pallotta. "We need gigantic responses to them. And if we freed the humanitarian sector to use the tools of capitalism, we could bring private ingenuity to bear on those problems, and we wouldn't have to depend on the government to fill the gaps."

Social Media

In a post on his LinkedIn blog, Likeable Local chief executive Dave Kerpen offers five tips for social media success:

  • listen first and never stop listening;
  • don't tell your customers to like you and follow you, tell them why and how they should;
  • ask questions;
  • share pictures and videos; and
  • spend at least thirty minutes a day on social media.

Kerpen adds, "if you stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a customer, you'll understand that the secret to social media is in the 'social' more than in the 'media' -- it's in being human -- being the sort of person at a cocktail party who listens attentively, tells great stories, shows interest in others, and is authentic and honest."


Philanthropy 2173's Lucy Bernholz reflects on the death of 26-year-old technologist Aaron Swartz, an "Internet folk hero" who, faced with the possibility of thirty-five years in prison for illegally downloading nearly five million documents from JSTOR, a subscription-based online service that scans and distributes articles from scholarly journals, committed suicide on January 11. "[Our] rules about information are clearly, clearly broken," writes Bernholz. "For acts done to further a cause, we have now seen overzealous prosecution result in death." She continues:

Our rules about information have been rules about ownership. How we use information, give it, charge for it, share it. These rules are changing, due to the efforts of people such as Aaron. They must change more. How that happens will not be easy or simple. Big institutions will lose lots of power when we make the changes we need, but we can all hope it doesn't involve any more death....

Elsewhere, Holden Karnofsky shares some additional thoughts about his friend Aaron in a post on the GiveWell blog.

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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