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Weekend Link Roundup (March 23-24, 2013)

March 24, 2013

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

Black Male Achievement

On the GuideStar blog, Zeina Fayyaz, manager of the Social Innovation Forum and Social Innovation Accelerator at Root Cause, announces a call for applications to the 2013-14 Black Male Achievement Social Innovation Accelerator. Modeled after the Social Innovation Forum, the accelerator program will provide, over twelve months, capacity-building and coaching support totaling more than $150,000 to five BMA Innovators, along with opportunities to network with funders and the chance to become a national leader in the field of black male achievement.

Higher Education

Is student debt the new subprime? Writing on the Demos blog, Thomas Hedges thinks it may be. "Education itself, which many considered a right thirty years ago, has become a market product," writes Hedges. "University presidents are, in the end, fundraisers, soliciting large donations and encouraging students to take out loans that will take decades to pay back. The costs of tuition, which are cleverly obscured for low-income students, slam students years after they graduate, once they realize what paying off, say, $30,000 in student debt means." As one 30-year-old woman with $120,000 in student loans tells Hedges: "The grim truth is that universities and student loans are no longer creating the American dream, they are destroying it, one wide-eyed dreamer at a time.”


On the Arabella Advisors blog, Cynthia Muller, director of the firm's impact investing practice, is encouraged by signs that the strategy is gaining traction.

On his Gift Hub blog, Phil Cubeta shares an "open" letter addressed to venture philanthropy pioneer and Leap of Reason author Mario Marino. Writes Cubeta:

I work with financial people. When they learn they can keep clients from giving money out from under management by selling them a feel good story about a “social venture portfolio,” the social economy will shift from nonprofits to for-profits. What will be lost are the local, small, inept organizations that formed you. Like the parish. That is, unless we show respect for these informal orgs and love them back as they loved us, when we were weak

And Mario responds.

"Debates in the private sector have devolved into an existential struggle between two camps: one which believes that privacy is dead and profit is king, and one which fears that any reuse of data beyond the original purpose for which it was collected is a potential threat to privacy and civil liberties," writes Robert Kirkpatrick, director of the UN's Global Pulse initiative, on the Harvard Business Review blog. "[Our] goal is to insert a third pole into this discussion: Big Data is a raw public good, and we must work together to find ways to harness it for massive social impact, both safely and responsibly. For this to happen, data philanthropy has to become a private sector priority."

Nonprofit Management

Nonprofits need to lose their fear of failure, writes Ashley Good, founder and CEO of Engineers Without Borders Canada's Fail Forward project, on the Idealist.org blog, "because almost everything we do has elements of both success and failure." To get beyond that fear, Good suggests six strategies designed to "encourage communication about failures, support collaborative learning, and break down much of the fear associated with taking action."

Charity Navigator's Sandra Miniutti defends the charity evaluator's recent decision to factor out joint cost allocations from program expenses and allocate them to fundraising costs. As a result of the change, sixty-six charities in the CN database now have lower ratings, leading one of the nonprofits to compare CN to the hall monitor from the animated South Park series. Writes Miniutti:

[A]re we offended to be called the "mean-looking hall monitor from South Park?" No, we can take it. This type of response is in the nature of what happens when you make judgments and rate organizations....But what really concerns us is that wasting time calling us names doesn't change anything. Where is the outrage in the sector with regards to excessive joint cost allocations? Where are the charities that refrain from this practice? They should be standing up and demanding that other charities change their ways....


To mark the centennial of the Rockefeller Foundation, the the Rockefeller Archive Center has created a Web site to tell the story of the foundation’s first hundred years. The site includes an overview of the foundation's work by subject area; a sampling of internal reports and memoranda, correspondence about Rockefeller Foundation projects, excerpts from board meeting dockets and entries from the diaries of foundation staff members; and an interactive map to help visitors to the site navigate the material. Nicely done!

Social Media

Social Media for Social Good author Heather Mansfield shares five types of tweets nonprofits should avoid sending. The list includes: 1) truncated automated tweets from Facebook; 2) automated tweets announcing new photos posted on Facebook; 3) tweets with too many hashtags; 4) poorly formatted tweets; and 5) tweets with semicolons (who knew?).

Best-selling author Seth Godin suggests that we create a standard for online communicating that encourages fairness and generosity. "Online communities are quick to form, but they're just as quick to fade, to become less open and to become less trusting because sometimes we have a cultural orientation toward taking, not giving," writes Godin. "We forget to feed the network first, to take care of those we care about."

Women & Girls

On the Huffington Post, veteran journalist Evelyn Leopold recaps the UN's recent Commission on the Status of Women conference, which concluded with all UN member states agreeing to a code that condemns violence against women and girls.

That's it for now. What did we miss? Drop us a line at rnm@foundationcenter.org. And have a good week!

-- The Editors

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