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Weekend Link Roundup (December 28-29, 2013)

December 29, 2013

New_year_2014_shutterstockOur final roundup for the year of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector. See you in 2014!


In a Q&A on the Harvard Business Review blog, Michael Norton, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, suggests that the way corporations and individuals approach charitable giving is starting to change -- for better and worse.

Higher Education

On the Inside Higher Ed blog, Dan Greenstein, director of postsecondary success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, argues that "higher education is at a tipping point, and that it will soon look nothing like it does today, except perhaps at a few ivy-covered, well-endowed institutions." Lots of pushback in the comments section.


Tracy Palandjian, co-founder and CEO of Social Finance US, and Jane Hughes, director of Knowledge Management at the organization, have an excellent piece on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog that looks at three possible future scenarios for the social impact bond market. They are:

  1. Boom-Bubble-Bust
  2. SIBs Are the Wave of the Future — and They Always Will Be
  3. A Successful Market for Social Outcomes

Palandjian and Hughes then examine some of the factors that will determine which scenario plays out. If you're at all interested in the impact investing space, this is a must-read.

International Development

Could crowdfunding kickstart solutions to some of the developing world's most urgent challenges? Yes, writes Sherwood Neiss, principal at Crowdfund Capital Advisors, on the Crowdfund Insider site. Not only does it solve "pressing problems for both NGOs and developing world entrepreneurs," argues Neiss.

It answers the question, where do I find capital? It makes the impossible possible. It provides a continuum of funding and community engagement from product to process. And it allows investors to enjoy the greatest opportunity for economic value, which is created at the inception and historically limited to the very few.

But crowdfunding doesn't come without risks. And these risks (lack of oversight, regulation, and policy) can be greater in the developing world. There are ways to mitigate this risk. It begins with standardizing the process, coming up with a standard disclosures, connecting these ideas to co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators that are sponsored by trusted brokers like the World Bank and regulating all this online, via websites that are registered and tied into reporting systems where investors can see how their money is being spent....


Excellent post by Beth Kanter on LinkedIn about the benefits for nonprofits of content curation, which she defines as the process of "sifting through information on the web and organizing, filtering and making sense of it and sharing the very best content with your network." At the same time, she writes, it is not simply "about sharing links as you find them. It is finding great stuff amid the noise, annotating it, organizing it, and adding your wisdom or perspective and sharing a collection of curated links in a context or time that adds value."


On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Larry Kramer and Fay Twersky, president and director of the effective philanthropy group, respectively, at the William and and Flora Hewlett Foundation, argue that it's time for foundations to be more open. And by open, they write,

we mean proactively sharing the answers to [critical] questions...and letting others in on what goals foundations are pursuing and supporting, how they are doing it, and what they are learning -- both about effectiveness of process and about results. The problems we work on -- education, climate change, poverty, and the like -- are incredibly difficult and complex and can be solved only if we work together and learn from each other. It's time to embrace a philanthropic culture that values and emphasizes openness and learning, a culture that encourages us to regularly share stories about our strikeouts as well as our homeruns....

In a post on his Wise Philanthropy blog, Richard Marker offers a balanced assessment of the advantages and disadvantages -- for donors and society -- of donor-advised funds.

On our sister GrantCraft blog, Jeffrey Solomon, president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, explains how spending down plays into a foundation's mission.

Social Entrepreneurship

While most of us were doing our last-minute holiday errands, The Economist's Matthew Bishop penned a nice tribute to Gregory Dees, the pioneering social sector thinker who passed away on December 20 at the much-too-early age of 63.

Social Media

Debra Askanase, who blogs at Community Organizer 2.0, argues that 2013 is the year in which the "communication disruption" we know as social media was recognized and embraced by nonprofits and became part of organizational practice. Among other things, writes Askanase, more and more nonprofits began to realize the negative impact of "siloing" social media, the benefits of measuring their social media activities, and the importance of budgeting for social media. Is she right? Did your nonprofit recognize and embrace the importance of social media in 2013? Shre your thoughts/experiences in the comments section below.

Hard to believe the year is almost over, but it looks like that's it for 2013. What have you been reading/watching/listenng to? Drop us a line at [email protected] or via the comments box below and we'll add it to the above....

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Posted by Debra Askanase  |   January 02, 2014 at 09:12 PM

Thanks so much for including my thoughts on 2013 nonprofit social media. I'd love to hear any thoughts or comments on this topic.

Wishing you and PhilanTopic a wonderful 2014.

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