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Weekend Link Roundup (September 21-22, 2013)

September 22, 2013

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

Corporate Philanthropy

Corporate support can be a key factor in securing your organization's future, but many of you may be lost when it comes to attracting and keeping such support. Not to worry. Guest blogging on Beth Kanter's blog, Simon Manwaring, CEO of We First, shares a seven-step plan designed to help you do just that.


Nonprofits want to be loved, and they especially want to be loved by their donors. How can they make that happen? Start by loving your donors back, writes Jeff Brooks on his Future Fundraising Now blog. "Focus on them. Obsess about them. Seek ways to understand, serve and please them."


On the Collective Impact blog, Christine Kendall, a senior consultant at FSG, argues that, like it or not, the Affordable Care Act, is going "to drastically change healthcare in America as it is rolled out over the next five years." And for organizations in the healthcare space, "[b]eing ahead of the healthcare reform curve means moving from symptoms, diseases, and working in isolation to thinking about health determinants, systems change, and collaboration."


What can nonprofit managers learn from the classic children's book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? Plenty, says Kate Barr on the Nonprofits Assistance Fund blog. In the book, writes Barr, "the simple offer of a cookie leads to the straw, a napkin, and then into grooming, housecleaning, naps, art projects, and more." The same thing happens in nonprofits, where any "major change in one part of a nonprofit's business model creates the need for changes elsewhere. If the needed changes aren’t made, the original effort is hard to sustain."

Social Entrepreneurship

Whose job is it to solve the urgent social and environmental problems that confront us? In the past, argue William D. Eggers and Paul Macmillan on the Harvard Business Review blog, most people would have said "government." Today, in contrast, a new economy

has emerged at the borderlands where traditional sectors overlap. This economy trades in social outcomes; its currencies include public data, reputation, and social impact. Previously untapped markets drive financial returns. The business models are unusual. The motivations range from moral obligation to new notions of public accountability, or even shareholder value. This "solution economy" represents not just an economic opportunity, but a new manner of solving entrenched societal problems....

And what about government? Its role has shifted, Eggers and Macmillian write. "Sometimes it is a funder; sometimes it integrates all the players; sometimes it's the market maker; sometimes it's just one of many contributors to the solution. Sometimes all it has to do is provide a space for these solution markets to work." Are they right? Are the days of Big Government as the answer to all our problems numbered? Will social entrepreneurship prove to be our salvation? Use the comments section to share your thoughts....

Social Good

In this month's installment of her Social Good podcast (hosted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy), Allison Fine chats with Peter Buffett about the controversial op-ed he penned for the New York Times back in July and how social media is helping to advance a thoughtful debate about the future of philanthropy.

Writing on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Cynthia Gibson, Katya Smyth, Gail Nayowith, and Jonathan Zaff take gentle issue with an article in the fall issue of the same publication (“When Good Is Not Good Enough,” by Bill Shore, Darell Hammond, and Amy Celep). In their article, Shore, Hammond and Celep chide the social sector for what they see as a lack of ambition and a focus on short-term needs, when what we really need are long-term solutions to deeply rooted problems. While Gibson et al agree that "transformational change" should be the name of the game, they're skeptical that the failure to achieve it is a function of flawed tactics or strategies. The uncomfortable truth about transformational change, they write, is that it

requires digging down into the trenches and facing the reality that problems like poverty are nuanced and multi-dimensional....It requires understanding that definitions of problems are fluid and subjective. It means...that we can’t address everything....It means authentically engaging the community in every step of the process -- including identifying issues, creating plans to address them, and rolling them out. It also means accepting that an unforeseen crisis sometimes wipes away gains, allies and advocates sometimes move on to other issues, energy wanes, and resources dry up....

In the first of a six-part series on the CSRwire Talkback blog, direct marketing legend Mal Warwick asks a similar question more directly: Why have conventional efforts to end global poverty failed? While Warwick doesn't answer the question in the post (you'll have to read the next installment in the series for that), he makes a strong case that the premise of the question is unassailable.

It's true that the social sector's challenges are vast and well documented, writes Full Contact Philanthropy's David Henderson. Which makes it all the more frustrating that  Silicon Valley and the tech sector have "focused on the least of these issues, catering to a caricatured vision of the social sector [that is] content to earn five-dollar donations for their do-gooder [activities]."

Social Media

Almost two years, a group of Communications Network members got together to share their experiences and solicit best practices around the use of social media. Calling themselves the Social Media Collective, they quickly moved beyond the "Is social media right for our organization?" question to a series of more interesting questions: What level of engagement should we be confident in pursuing? How do we effectively match strategies to platforms? How can we measure "influence"? How can we "fail fast"? And, are we hitting our stride? Members of the group are still trying to answer those questions, but now they want to hear from their colleagues at other foundations. Have you hit your stride on social media? Leave them a comment, anecdote, or lesson learned here. And if you're in New Orleans for the Communications Network's 2013 Fall Conference, be sure to check out the discussion they'll be leading, Hitting Your Stride in Social Media.

That's it for now. Drop us a line at [email protected] if we missed something. Have a great week!

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