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Weekend Link Roundup (May 4-5, 2013)

May 05, 2013

Derby-winner-orbWhat a gorgeous weekend! Hope yours, wherever you are, was half as nice. Here, a little late, is our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....


The Catalytic Network, an interesting new initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, aims to share tools and stories which emerge from the foundation's work with innovators around the globe. In that spirit, Michael Myers, a senior policy officer at the foundation, lays out the 5 Golden Rules of a Great Pitch on the network's site to help nonprofits better tell their story.

The five rules are:

  • Keep it under two minutes.
  • Know your audience, and know the ask.
  • Talk about the problem you are solving -- in one sentence.
  • Give two reasons why your approach is unique.
  • Leave them one memorable, repeatable story.


On the Harvard Business Review blog network, Mark Bonchek, "chief catalyst" at Orbit & Co, argues that without Little Data -- "what we know about ourselves. What we buy. Who we know. Where we go. How we spend our time" -- Big Data "has a tendency to become Big Brother," and that without Big Data, Little Data "is incomplete."


On her Non-Profit Marketing blog, Katya Andresen, the host of the April Nonprofit Blog Carnival, shares two dozen posts from nonprofit bloggers and readers on the theme "the best career advice you ever received."


Amit Bouri, managing director of the Global Impact Investing Network, flags five themes for impact investors to keep an eye on: the emergence of better tools and improved infrastructure; a growing need for strong fund managers; the importance of supporting the "demand side" of the impact investing equation; the growing interest of "retail" investors in the field; and the growing acceptance of and emphasis on impact measurement.


On his White Courtesy Telephone blog, Greater New Orleans Foundation president and CEO Albert Ruesga takes a long look at philanthropy's "uneasy" relationship with the social sciences. "We make grants because we predict (or at least fervently hope) that our interventions will shift human behavior in certain hoped-for ways," writes Ruesga. And after "we make our grants, we test our predictions and adjust our grantmaking accordingly. Those of you with grantmaking experience know, however,

that our interventions seldom, if ever, unfold as we predict they will. Our inability to predict human actions with a high degree of accuracy has been understood and discussed by philosophers, psychologists, social scientists and others longer than the field of organized philanthropy has been in existence. Yet those of us who work in foundations ignore these fundamental truths about the difficulties of predicting human behavior when, for example, we construct elaborate theories of change, or worse, when we inflict them on our grantees. These truths don't absolve us of the responsibility to change or inspire human behavior, but they do place limits on our attempts to anticipate or direct the many twists and turns of the human heart.

If the idea of philanthropy as an experimental social science unnerves you as much as it does me, how would you re-conceptualize it in a way that the most "results-oriented" among us would find compelling? If the idea appeals to you, how would you suggest that philanthropy capture and teach the lessons learned long ago in allied fields, especially those lessons that might help save our grantees and the communities we serve from unnecessary suffering?...

Like pretty much everything Ruesga writes, the post is worth your time.

On NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog, Trista Harris, executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, shares a list of six tips designed to help you become a (social justice) philanthropy rockstar.

Writing on the GrantCraft blog, the European Foundation Centre's Rosien Herweijer looks at a new study from the Association of German Foundations that explores how German foundations approach their mistakes and failure. Not surprisingly, the study found that larger foundations tend to do more evaluation and documenting of mistakes than smaller foundations, while operating foundations tend to be more self-critical than general grantmaking foundations.

In a post musing on the "changing landscape of philanthropy," Senay Ataselim-Yilmaz says that the annual Global Philanthropy Forum should "pay more attention to the rising impact of diaspora [contributions] in global philanthropy."


In an op-ed on the CNN site, legendary investor Warren Buffett argues that women are the key to America's future prosperity. "No manager operates his or her plants at 80 percent efficiency when steps could be taken that would increase output," writes Buffett. "And no CEO wants male employees to be underutilized when improved training or working conditions would boost productivity. So take it one step further: If obvious benefits flow from helping the male component of the workforce achieve its potential, why in the world wouldn't you want to include its counterpart?"

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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