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Weekend Link Roundup (April 26-27, 2014)

April 27, 2014

Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....

Earth_day_treeCommunications/Marketing

On the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers blog, Rick Moyers, vice president for programs and communications at the D.C.-based Meyer Foundation, admits to having become "convinced that almost all nonprofits could engage more supporters and have a greater impact if only they were better at telling their stories" -- and shares some resources the foundation has put together to help nonprofits do just that.

Education

On his Straight Up blog, education policy maven Rick Hess shares a "robust" exchange between teacher/blogger John Thompson and Steve Cantrell, senior program officer for research and data at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, regarding Thompson's concerns about the foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching project.

The Lumina Foundation, in partnership with other leading education organizations, has announced the launch of a social network called MoveED for Goal 2025, with the aim of building a national movement to make attainment beyond high school a reality for all Americans, including low-income students, students of color, first-generation students, and adult learners.

Fundraising

Interesting (and, some would say, familiar) story in Tech Crunch about a recent $23 million investment in CrowdRise, a crowdfunding platform conceived by the actor Edward Norton, Robert Wolfe, Shauna Robertson, and Jeffery Wolfe that aims to be "the crowdfunding platform for charitable activity."

Impact/Effectiveness

The Case Foundation has released "A Short Guide to Impact Investing," a basic primer on the subject based on conversations with hundreds of individuals in the impact investing community. The foundation calls this a "working version" and is encouraging feedback from readers on each chapter as the next step in creating a final version of the guide.

And some good news on that front. New numbers from one of the very first SIB-supported programs in the UK suggest that "short-sentenced offenders receiving through-the-gate support on release from HMP Peterborough as part of an innovative payment-by-results (PbR) Social Impact Bond pilot are less likely to reoffend than those outside the scheme."

On the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Jeff Bradach, co-founder and managing partner of the Bridgespan Group, announces the launch of Achieving Transformative Scale, an eight-week-long blog series that will explore some of the solutions that social sector leaders around the world are pursuing to take their work to scale.

Nonprofits

"While there is clearly a power imbalance baked into most transactional dynamics — including funding — I think it's important that we don't frame the need for more honest conversation as one that's only about the funder/grantseeker relationship," says sector thought leader Cindy Gibson in a wide-ranging Q&A on Nell Edgington's Social Velocity blog. "[N]onprofits themselves," notes Gibson,

are reluctant to engage in honest public discussions about their peers.That silence is understandable, but it can be self-defeating — for both nonprofits and grantmakers. Nonprofits aren't given the chance to have thoughtful and open conversations about what's not working so they could use that information help them strengthen their own activities. And philanthropists don't have the benefit of getting honest, first-hand perspectives from a broad array of organizations with expertise...."

With the goal of making the information in its database of nonprofits more accessible to existing or new applications, GuideStar has announced six new application programming interfaces (APIs): GuideStar Charity Check, GuideStar Search, GuideStar Advanced Search, GuideStar Exchange, GuideStar Detail, and GuideStar Simplify Common Data Profile. You can learn more, including the fields included in each API, here.

Philanthropy

In the Huffington Post, Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, argues that a true commitment to values such as humility, transparency, and respect for all people is the first step toward effective foundation practice.

In the sixth installment of the "Making Change by Spending Down" series on our sister GrantCraft blog, Jeffrey Solomon, president of the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies, explores some of the managerial issues presented by time-limited foundations.

And in a post on the Philanthropy New York blog, Tony Proscio, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society at Duke University and a consultant to foundations and nonprofit organizations, reflects on the attention being paid to foundations that have decided to spend down their endowments and suggests that "Everyone would benefit — not least the boards of... [foundations established in perpetuity] themselves — from hearing a detailed justification for preserving a permanent endowment."

Science/Technology

Regulatory capture. That's how many are characterizing the Federal Communications Commission proposal announced earlier this week to embrace a "pay to play" model for the Internet. According to the editorial board at the New York Times, the proposal "would essentially give broadband companies the right to create the digital equivalent of high-occupancy vehicle lanes for content providers, like Netflix and Amazon, wealthy enough to pay a toll." Calling the proposed rule change "a capitulation" to phone and cable companies, the Times urges the FCC, whose chairman, Tom Wheeler, is a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries, to "move in a wholly different direction...[and] classify broadband as a telecommunications service," thereby allowing [the commission] "to prohibit companies like Verizon and Comcast from engaging in unjust or unreasonable discrimination."

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

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