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Weekend Link Roundup (November 23-23, 2013)

November 24, 2013

Holiday_cornucopiaBrrrr. The weather outside is frightful. Good evening to stay indoors and catch up with this week's best posts and articles from and about the social sector....


Every day in America, 10,000 people turn 65 -- and that won’t stop for the next 22 years, Robert Egger, founder of the DC Central Kitchen and CForward, reminds us in the Nonprofit Times. Is your nonprofit ready? To answer that question, you have to understand three things:

  1. Members of the current "older generation" are a prideful generation and tend to avoid asking for charitable assistance, even when it is a right;
  2. In their earning years, they were more financially responsible and prone to saving money and avoiding credit card debt; and
  3. The charitable sector is struggling to meet current demand.

If your nonprofit is "struggling to serve the current 'hesitant to ask/got a little set aside' older generation," Eggers adds, "what happens when a new generation of elders -- a generation with less money set aside for their later years, who are less hesitant to ask for support, and more demanding in expectations -- begins to show up?" What happens, indeed.

Corporate Philanthropy

CECP has released Giving Around the Globe (20 pages, PDF; registration required), an analysis the global contributions of multinational companies in 2012. According to our story in PND, the sixty companies included in the report gave a total of $6.8 billion in cash and non-cash donations in 2012, with median giving of roughly $29 million. The survey also found that companies tended to favor giving in neighboring countries and emerging markets, with India topping the list of countries receiving contributions from the most companies, followed by Canada, China, and Mexico.


On the TechSoup site, Jim Lynch has a good primer for on the subject of nonprofits and Big Data.


Do funders get it? asks Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan on the CEP blog. Are they investing in nonprofit capacity to assess and improve performance? A few do, writes Buchanan, including the Edna McConell Clark Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the St. Luke's Foundation in Cleveland, and the Stuart Foundation in the Bay Area. But "most don't" -- probably because "it's far, far more difficult to assess performance in our sector than it is to assess performance in the private sector," he writes. "But the degree of difficulty isn't a reason not to support these efforts. Indeed, it's quite the opposite. Until foundations really step up and support nonprofits' data collection, assessment, and improvement, we will not get the best out of our collective efforts...."

The Social Impact Exchange, a national membership organization that is building a capital marketplace to scale top social solutions, is looking for judges for its 2014 Business Plan Competition. Deadline for signing up is November 29.

FSG and the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions have announced the launch of the Collective Impact Forum, a resource for practitioners and funders who are using the collective impact approach to achieve large-scale systems change.


Good post by Nell Edgington on her Social Velocity site about the benefits of one-on-one coaching for nonprofit leaders.


Forbes is out with its annual list of America's 50 Top Givers. Bill and Melinda Gates once again top the list (which is based on money given out, not pledged, in 2012), with $1.9 billion in total giving, followed by Warren Buffett ($1.87 billion), George Soros $763 million), Mark Zuckerberg ($514 million), and the Walton family ($432 million). The biggest giver (#9) relative to the percentage of his net worth was Duty Free Shoppers co-founder Chuck Feeney, who was worth only $2 million in 2012 but gave away, through his foundation, $313 million.

The Hewlett Foundation has launched "Work in Progress," a new blog dedicated to learning and transparency. "Learning," writes Larry Kramer, the foundation's president,

is, or ought to be, about sharing, which links it to transparency and, more broadly, to the idea of working openly. So this blog is also about being open and transparent. Sharing information and communicating what we learn invites others to tell us why our approach may or may not work or how it could be better. It enables intended beneficiaries to share reactions and give feedback, and it invites experts in the relevant fields to offer criticism and advice. Broadly sharing information about our strategies and practices also encourages input from the wider public, whose welfare is our ultimate objective. Just because foundations are not formally required to disclose information does not relieve us of the responsibility to expose ourselves to challenge and critique—even (or perhaps especially) if that means having our ideas and actions questioned. On the contrary, we should welcome such challenges as an opportunity to learn, to engage, and to improve.

By being open and transparent, we can also enhance others work. Openness about what we do enables others to build on our achievements and avoid our mistakes. It can attract new support for effective organizations and strategies, while making philanthropy more efficient by reducing the need for duplicative investigations and unnecessary due diligence. Disclosing information about our strategies, grants, and results can help foster debate about philanthropy, both generally and in particular arenas, as well as encouraging collaboration by making us visible to potential partners....

Be sure to read the comments after you've read Kramer's post.

In the Huffington Post, Bradley Good, CEO of OurGroup Inc., wieghs in with part three of a five-part series in response to Peter Buffett's provocative July 26 op-ed in the New York Times. (The first two posts are here and here.) "The impetus for...writing these posts," says Good, "was because I felt that, when it comes to serving a greater cause, there are lots of discussions about WHAT the problems are, but few effective ideas for HOW they can be addressed." And In order for the philanthropic industry to address that problem, "or any problem our society faces," he adds, "there are a few critical questions that need to be asked":

  1. What does success look like?
  2. What are the obstacles to that success?
  3. HOW will obstacles be overcome to be successful?
  4. What is the value to key stakeholders?
  5. What are the critical implementation issues?

All three posts are excellent, and I can't wait for the concluding posts in the series.

Last but note least, the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation in Washington, D.C., has launched a beautiful new Web site. Congrats to everyone who was involved.

That's it for now. Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org with your own best finds from the week. And have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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