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Weekend Link Roundup (March 15-16, 2014)

March 16, 2014

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

Communications/Marketing

Guest blogging on Nancy Schwartz' Getting Attention blog, Julie Brown, program director at the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation in Ohio, shares the steps she and a colleague have taken over the last year to achieve "storytelling success" and boost donor engagement at the foundation.

Community Improvement/Development

On the Huffington Post's Black Voices blog, Ashley Wood, Detroit editor for the HuffPo, takes a closer look at the hipsters-are-taking-over-Detroit narrative and uncovers a fascinating (and more nuanced) conversation. As Meagan Elliott, an urban planner and Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan, says at the end of the piece: "I think everyone is open to change. That's what makes the conversation interesting. Everyone recognizes that things need to change here."

Corporate Philanthropy

In Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza explains why every company should pay its employees to volunteer.

Data

Writing on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Foundation Center president Brad Smith looks at the three types of data (transactional, contextual, impact) foundations need and suggests that "for strategic philanthropy to realize its true potential, foundations need to learn how to manage information (data) to produce and share knowledge. Doing so," adds Smith, "will depend on changing internal incentive systems, in which foundations employ static data primarily as means for approving strategies and monitoring grants."

Giving

Nice infographic on the npEngage site illustrating highlights of Blackbaud's 2013 Charitable Giving Report. Click here to download (registration required) a copy of the report, which includes overall giving data from 4,129 nonprofit organizations representing more than $12.5 billion in total fundraising and online giving data from 3,359 nonprofits representing $1.7 billion in online fundraising.

Global Health

Guest blogging on Tom Paulson's Humanosphere site, Johanna Crane, a medical anthropologist and assistant professor at the University of Washington, takes note of something many North American universities have figured out over the last decade: Global health is a hot commodity -- and, Crane writes, that is both good and bad news.

International Affairs/Development

To mark the third anniversary of the start of the civil war in Syria, the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world today, fifty-three CEOs of major international NGOs have signed a statement calling on all parties to the conflict to "immediately allow and facilitate unfettered humanitarian access" throughout the country.

Is ending world poverty an "unrealistic goal"? Yes, writes Jonathan Tanner, media and public affairs officer at Overseas Development Institute, because "Poverty is a perception...a status which is bestowed on people who have relatively little – even in societies of plenty.

That's why we probably can't really ever "end" poverty. To see a world in which so many people have less than you and to want them to have more is, to many of us, human nature. It's why poverty in the UK matters as much as poverty abroad, despite the material differences. Relative poverty will always exist and it should always be at the forefront of efforts to improve our world because it demands more than the bare minimum solution....

Nonprofits

Over the last fifteen years, technology has driven the marginal cost of production to zero in industry after industry. "The unresolved question," writes economic and social theorist Jeremy Rifkin in the New York Times, "is how will th[e] economy of the future function when millions of people can make and share goods and services nearly free?" His answer? Civil society, i.e., "nonprofit organizations that attend to the things in life we make and share as a community." And not just because nonprofit revenues grew at an inflation-adjusted rate of 41 percent from 2000 to 2010, more than doubling the growth of gross domestic product. "What makes the social commons more relevant today," writes Rifkin,

is that we are constructing an Internet of Things infrastructure that optimizes collaboration, universal access and inclusion, all of which are critical to the creation of social capital and the ushering in of a sharing economy. The Internet of Things is a game-changing platform that enables an emerging collaborative commons to flourish alongside the capitalist market....

Philanthropy

In an essay for a special Alliance magazine feature on grantmaking for social change, Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan asks "So, what then is the right role for philanthropy? Should foundations focus on making grants? Or should they seek to influence policy? Or invest in nonprofit capacity?...The answer, of course," writes Buchanan, "is, 'it depends'."

In an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times, Jack Shakely, president emeritus of the California Community Foundation, argues that the battle for philanthropy's future is being won by donor-advised funds. Not that there drawbacks to DAFs. Among other things, they "put a thumb on the scale of the always precarious balance of power between grant seeker and donor. [And they] don't publish mission statements or set up application procedures, which leaves nonprofits and individuals no easy way to target funding sources or make their appeal." But while "people cannot be forced to be charitable," writes Shakely, "it helps to remove the barriers to giving. Donor-advised funds are an easy in, easy out way to give away money."

Social Good

You say you want a revolution? Whether you do or not, "the social sector needs to undergo a paradigm shift if it’s to help tackle the big challenges society faces," writes Tris Lumley, director of development for London-based New Philanthropy Capital, in the second installment of a two-part piece for the Stanford Social Innovation Review. And the sector should start by reorienting itself "toward beneficiaries and away from itself and its funders."

Social Media

In the Nonprofit Quarterly, Ritu Sharma shares some takeaways from a new report issued by the Case Foundation and Social Media for Nonprofits that looks at how nonprofits use social media to engage their communities. The report's findings include:

  • Email and Web sites still rule.
  • Nonprofits seem to be allocating more personnel to their social media efforts.
  • A large majority of nonprofits (74 percent) still use social media "as a megaphone, announcing events and activities and sharing organization-centric info."
  • Social media engagement benchmarks are fuzzy and not widely shared.

And just returned from the SXSW Interactive Festival, where she was on a panel that tackled the topic "What Social Media Analytics Can't Tell You," Beth Kanter shares her notes from and for the session as well as a nice slidedeck. Enjoy.

That's it for this week. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org or via the comments box below....

-- Mitch Nauffts

Comments

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Great round up! Thanks for these! Did PND happen to go to SXSW? I was just wondering if you have any coverage of the highlights in regards to nonprofits and tech. It seems alot of media coverage was devoted to NTEN over SXSW this year - probably with good reason. :)

Cheers!

Thanks, Daniel. We didn't have anyone at SXSW this year, and I haven't seen much in the way of nonprofit tech/coverage from the conference. Agree with you that almost everyone seemed to be at or following (on twitter) the NTEN conference. They did a great job.

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