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23 posts from March 2013

Redefining Today’s Business Landscape: A Q&A With David Vidal, Corporate Sustainability Thought Leader

March 12, 2013

Headshot_David_VidalDavid J. Vidal, a leading expert on the role of business in society, has over the course of a forty-year career served as a senior fellow with the Conference Board Initiative on Sustainability, as vice president at the Council on Foreign Relations, as assistant vice president at Continental Insurance, and as director of public affairs for the Partnership for New York City, a CEO-led civic, housing, and education group. Vidal also is active in industry leadership activities as a member of the judge's panel of the CERES-ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards, the Newsweek/Daily Beast Green Rankings Advisory Panel, the Giving USA Advisory Council on Methodology, and the U.S. Advisory Council of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).

Recently, Michael Seltzer, distinguished lecturer at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs and a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic, spoke with Vidal about the corporate sustainability landscape.

Philanthropy News Digest: Corporate engagement in society appears to be in tremendous flux, partly as a result of greater demands for corporate accountability. From your vantage point, what's going on in CEO suites?

David Vidal: The corporate contributions function has been overtaken by the broader business social accountability movement. Forward-looking business leaders are concerned today with a growing array of stakeholders and publics. Yesterday's focus on solely producing shareholder value is no longer sufficient. If you open a corporate annual report today, you will more often see a letter from the CEO addressed to shareholders and stakeholders.

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Weekend Link Roundup (March 9-10, 2013)

March 10, 2013

Daylight_savings_2013Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


In a two-part series on her Non-Profit Marketing blog (here and here), Katya Andresen shares highlights of a discussion she had with Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward about the key themes in their recently published book Social Change Anytime Everywhere, including how nonprofits can use online tools to advance their work.

On the Communications Network blog, Courtney Williamson, the network's community manager, shares slides and video from Avoiding the Blind Spot: Telling Your Story With Pictures, a recent network webinar featuring Resource Media's Liz Banse and Scott Miller. Among other things, Banse and Miller outline three principles of good communication: 1) people are visual first, verbal second; 2) people's decisions and actions are based on emotional reaction more than rational thought; and 3) visuals are the most effective communications vehicles for evoking emotion and getting people to take action.

Disaster Relief

On the techPresident blog, Julia Wetherell looks at findings from a new Internews report on the effectiveness of crisis mapping following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. Among other things, the report found that the crisis map created on the Ushahidi platform was "not as critical to [the humanitarian] response" as previously thought, in part because many victims of the disaster weren't aware of it. "The accessibility of crisis mapping was also dependent on the availability of Internet service," says Wetherell. To address that shortcoming, the report recommends strengthening IT infrastructure, particularly in less connected rural areas, before the next disaster hits.

NPR has a good interview with reporter Jonathan Katz, author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.

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Good Read of the Week: 'Women and the Web'

March 08, 2013

Women-and-the-Web_coverToday is International Women's Day, and a whole host of events and discussions celebrating extraordinary women and highlighting the inequities women around the globe continue to face are taking place -- many of them online. Yet few women in the developing world are aware of these online activities, let alone able to participate. Despite all the knowledge and opportunity the Internet has created over the last two decades and the millions of lives it has transformed, women in many parts of the world have little or no access to the mother of all networks.

According to Women and the Web (104 pages, PDF), a report from Intel and Dalberg Global Development Advisors, an average of only 21 percent of the women and girls in 144 developing countries have access to the Internet, compared with 27 percent of men -- a weighted gender gap of 23 percent. And the gap widens to 33 percent in South Asia, 34 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, and 43 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. The situation is even more serious, the report argues, when one factors in the tangible benefits of Internet access for women. These include increases in women's income potential and a greater sense of empowerment. Indeed, the longer a woman has been active online, the report finds, the more likely she is to engage in activities that generate economic benefits.

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Homeownership and the Racial Wealth Gap

March 06, 2013

I'm 29 and still hopeful I'll be a homeowner one day. Both my parents have owned their homes for years, and it has always been clear to me that the financial and social benefits of owning a home outweigh the benefits of paying less in rent and using the extra income for other things. Even though I know, as an African-American woman with some serious student debt living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, that the odds are stacked against me, I've started taking some steps to make homeownership a possibility in the not-too-distant future.

So you can understand my unease after reading the following in a new study from the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University about the growing wealth gap in the United States:

While homeownership has played a critical role in the development of wealth for communities of color in this country, the return on investment is far greater for white households, significantly contributing to the expanding racial wealth gap shown in [the figure below]. The paradox is that even as homeownership has been the main avenue to building wealth for African-Americans, it has also increased the wealth disparity between whites and blacks....

As the report, The Roots of the Widening Racial Wealth Gap: Explaining the Black-White Economic Divide (8 pages, PDF), notes, homes are the largest investment most American families make, and they are by far the biggest item in a family's "wealth portfolio." For African Americans, home equity represents 53 percent of household wealth, while for whites, who typically have a more diversified wealth portfolio, it accounts for just 39 percent. "Yet, for many years," the report's authors write, "redlining, discriminatory mortgage-lending practices, lack of access to credit, and lower incomes have blocked the homeownership path for African Americans while creating and reinforcing communities segregated by race. African Americans, therefore, are more recent homeowners and more likely to have high-risk mortgages, [making them] more vulnerable to foreclosure and volatile housing prices."

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Announcement: Data Interoperability Grantmaking Challenge

March 04, 2013

Data_interoperabilityThe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with Liquidnet for Good, is looking for groundbreaking ideas to help improve data in the social sector.

Data and information are critical tools for making change in our world, but they are tools that are currently difficult to access and use. New data sets are being collected and opened up to the public every day, but for the average donor, nonprofit leader, or community activist with a question or a good idea, it is very hard to make sense of isolated and fragmented data sets. Linking together different kinds of data will ultimately help us get the knowledge we need to inform our decision making and lead to greater social good. The Data Interoperability Grantmaking Challenge seeks creative and bold solutions to this complex but solvable problem.

Applications will be accepted online from March 4 through May 7, 2013, 11:30 AM PST. Each challenge winner will receive a grant of $100,000.

More information can be found at:

For updates on the challenge, subscribe to e-mail updates from Markets for Good or follow #MFGchallenge on Twitter.

Weekend Link Roundup (March 2-3, 2013)

March 03, 2013

Budget-battleOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

African Americans

Washington Post reporter Vanessa Small recaps a recent networking and panel discussion devoted to "young black philanthropy" hosted by boutique marketing firm Friends of Ebonie at National Council of Negro Women headquarters in Washington, D.C. "At one point, the conversation turned to whether wealthy African Americans are doing enough to give back," writes Small, "and by the end of the night, a consensus developed that all African Americans need to do more to hold one another accountable for how they give their time and money."

On one of the last days of Black History Month, a post on the Case Foundation blog celebrated the charity of African Americans:

Giving back and helping others is the fundamental premise of philanthropy and this premise has been a central tenet of African American culture. The distinguished researcher Mary Winters notes in her study on Endowment Building in the African American Community that perhaps out of survival, "Black Americans have been compelled to share and give back from the moment they arrived on the shores of this country. When they have money to give, they give; when there was no money to give, a generous heart, a strong back or a keen mind. As a value, 'giving back' is firmly rooted in black history." Research funded by the Kellogg Foundation supports this belief. The report, Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color, shows that African Americans give 25 percent more of their income [annually] than white Americans. These findings go to show just how deep the spirit of giving runs within the black community....


On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen shares some highlights from a post by Steve Daigneault at M+R Research Labs about what the Obama reelection campaign got right -- and not so right -- in terms of its digital outreach efforts.

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Version 2.0: The Giving Pledge Globalizes

March 01, 2013

(Bradford K. Smith is the president of the Foundation Center. This post originally appeared on the center's Transparency Talk blog.)

Headshot_brad-smith2They said that the Giving Pledge was "made in America," they said that Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett didn't understand other cultures, and that their brand of philanthropy was inappropriate for (substitute the country of your choice). They were wrong: on Tuesday, February 19, the ranks of the 93 American billionaires who have already signed the Giving Pledge -- a public commitment to dedicate more than half their fortunes to philanthropy -- were joined by a dozen more representing eight countries. In one fell swoop, the Giving Pledge has gone global.

How could the skeptics have gotten it so wrong? Since the Giving Pledge launched in 2010, wherever my travels have taken me, I have heard Brazilians, Mexicans, Europeans, and Chinese go to great lengths to explain why it would never catch on in their countries. On the eve of the Gates/Buffett visit to China, I was interviewed on CCTV2 (the English language channel of China's state-controlled media conglomerate) by a reporter who bombarded me with question after leading question to prove that theirs was a fool's errand. It was all I could do, in vain I suppose, to tell her that as hyper-developed as philanthropy may be in the America, it is alive and well and growing in China.

Here's what the skeptics fail to understand about the Giving Pledge:

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (February 2013)

Hello, March. Spring is right around the corner, but before you put your winter coat and hat into storage, check out the most popular posts on PhilanTopic in the month just passed:

What are you reading/watching/listening to? Share your faves in the comments section below....

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

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

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