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Weekend Link Roundup (May 11-12, 2013)

May 12, 2013

Poster_mothers-rightOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


On the Philanthropy Potluck blog, Megan Sullivan shares a list of tools for resource-constrained nonprofit communications officers.


Frustrated by your organization's inability to turn its good work into consistent, sustainable donor support? Hop over to the Fired-Up Fundraising blog, where fundraising consultant Gail Perry shares a very good list of the ten things you need to understand about how fundraising really works. Recommended.


On the Markets for Good blog, Laura Quinn, executive director of Idealware, argues that as much as funders and others value the idea of more and better performance data from nonprofits, most nonprofits do not have the resources to provide high-quality data about their own effectiveness. How do we get them to a point where that’s possible? asks Quinn.

It would take more than just a little training or a second look at their priorities. They'd need sizable investments in a number of areas. They'd need help with technology, and to understand how to best make use of data and metrics on a limited budget. They'd need a rationalized set of metrics and indicators that they're expected to report on, standardized as much as possible per sector with a standard way to provide them to those who need them.

Funders need to understand what is and isn't feasible, and to redirect the focus of their desire for community impact evaluations from small nonprofits to the university and research world so the nonprofits they support can be unencumbered to work toward a better world....

Building out the "information infrastructure" of the social sector, as Markets for Good and its supporters (the Gates and Hewlett foundations prominent among them) propose to do, is an admirable idea, writes Bridgespan's Daniel Stid on the Markets for Good blog. But "if we build it," he asks, "will the putative buyers and sellers in the envisioned marketplace -- the philanthropists and nonprofits spending and soliciting money within it -- use it as planned?... [W]ill better information change their behavior?" What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


"There are a number of affinity groups that focus on bringing together younger grantmakers," writes Greater New Orleans Foundation president Albert Ruesga on the White Courtesy Telephone blog. "Their challenge, as I see it, is to avoid simply turning younger practitioners in the field into older practitioners in the field...."

Nonprofit Management

In an excellent post on the Nonprofit Quarterly site, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits executive director Jon Pratt argues that financial independence not only is something that nonprofits should strive for, it's something they can achieve -- with good planning, continuous and active attention, and lots of hard work.


In a world characterized by growing social and environmental challenges, foundations need to think and act more like "catalysts," writes Erik Rasmussen, founder and CEO of Scandinavian think tank Monday Morning, on the Huffington Post's Social Entrepreneurship blog. What's more, says Rasmussen, catalytic philanthropy isn't about how much you give,

but how you give. [C]atalytic foundations have realized that they can make a big difference not by writing checks but by offering their competencies, network[s] and way of thinking as a new form of capital. By doing so, they bring forth innovative capital that opens the door to great changes and improvements in society. Imagine what change we could gain from one hundred philanthropists thinking and working [like] Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or David Rockefeller....

"What does the journey from entrepreneur to philanthropist look like, and how can we chart these experiences to help the cause of more and increasingly effective giving?" asks Charles Harvey, pro-vice-chancellor for humanities and social sciences at Newcastle University. Citing Andrew Carnegie as "perhaps the best example" of an entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, Harvey, who helped lead the research team that looked into the question, writes: We want this research to show there is a logical process at play which many struggle to understand. Entrepreneurs apply the same rigour and disciplines from the world of commerce to the charitable sector, which suggests there is in fact a science to giving at this level that can be replicated and learned from....

What are the hallmarks of "entrepreneurial" philanthropy? Harvey and his team suggest the following:

  • It is the pursuit by entrepreneurs on a not-for-profit basis of big social objectives through active involvement of their economic, cultural, social and symbolic resources.
  • They apply business-like methods when making social investments: key performance indicators and rates of return.
  • Entrepreneurs invest more than simply money [in] their causes: time, connections, the "know-how," branding.
  • They like to leverage investments and frequently partner with others, including governments.
  • Businessmen and women don't believe in giving handouts. They want to help others to help themselves.


Joanne Fritz has a good post on crowdfunding site Benevolent, which enables Chicagoans to help ordinary folks who find themselves in a tough spot. As Fritz explains, the site is effective in part because it works with nonprofits that "vouch" for the individuals listed (i.e., verify that their needs are legitimate and reasonable). The site has been a hit, she adds, because it's simple to use and because people understand that giving through Benevolent is less about charity and more about "neighbors helping neighbors."

On her Philanthropy 2173 blog, Blueprint 2013 author Lucy Bernholz fleshes out her digital civil society concept and explains that the discussion going forward should be focused on governance issues and how such assets work, not about gadgets.

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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