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Weekend Link Roundup (September 20-21, 2014)

September 21, 2014

The link roundup is back, just in time for the autumnal equinox and what some are calling the largest climate change-related demonstration in history. Lots of other things happening as well, so let's get to it....

Charity

Writing in TIME, Jean Case, CEO of the Case Foundation, reminds us that the National Football League is full of players and coaches who exemplify the word "character" and work tirelessly off the field to make a difference in their communities.

On the CoinDesk site, Tanaya Macheel reports that United Way Worldwide has announced it now accepts donations in bitcoin, becoming the latest charitable institution to accept the digital currency.

Communications/Marketing

In the latest installment of her "Big Idea" podcast for the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Allison Fine speaks with Internet pioneer and Cluetrain Manifesto co-author Doc Searls about the "intention economy" and the movement to put customers' needs and desires before those of your business or organization.

On the GrantCraft blog, Marc Moorghen, communications director at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, ponders a question that most of us have asked at one point or another: What is communication all about?

And on her blog, Beth Kanter, recently returned from co-facilitating the "Impact Leadership Track" at the NTEN Leading Change Summit, addresses another good question: Does rigorous data collection thwart effective storytelling by nonprofits?

Education

In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Betsy Doyle and Mike Perigo, a partner in and the head of the education practice at the Bridgespan Group, look at the efforts of district officials and local funders in Memphis, Tennessee, to improve the quality of instruction in Shelby County, where sixty-eight public schools are ranked in the bottom 5 percent in the state in terms of academic achievement. According to Doyle and Perigo, those efforts will be based on "a three-pronged talent strategy focused on: 1) retaining great teachers, 2) developing local teacher talent, and 3) recruiting national talent."

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Teach for America co-founder and CEO Wendy Kopp defends her teacher-training organization from a spate of recent criticism "based on misrepresentation and toxic rhetoric." The impact of TFA, she writes,

is clear. Twelve years ago, D.C. students were scoring at the bottom compared with their peers in other large cities. Today, although there is still much to be done, schools in the nation's capital are improving faster than any other urban district's. This change is the result of the efforts of many people, but without Teach for America alumni, we'd lose much of the energy behind it. We'd lose schools chancellor Kaya Henderson and much of her cabinet, the mayor's deputy for education, the state superintendent, the past four "Teachers of the Year," the managers of the school principals, 20 percent of principals, hundreds of teachers and the leaders of many nonprofits working to support schools and students.

Would the United States really be better off if thousands of outstanding and committed people did not apply to Teach for America? We should be cheering those who devote their energy to working alongside others to meet the extra needs of our most marginalized kids. Not all of them will be teachers forever. But teachers can't solve this problem alone. We also need those who choose careers in education administration, policy, public health, law and business, who will carry with them the conviction and firsthand experience to lead change from outside the classroom....

Impact/Effectiveness

In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Mary Kopczynski, Jesse Fripp, Katie Early, David Jeromin, and Topher Wilkins dissect four myths that have grown up around the emerging field of impact investing and then explain why it's important for everyone in the social sector "to understand the impact space as a middle ground — an ecotone — between the traditional philanthropic space and the traditional commercial space."

On LinkedIn, The Economist's Matthew Bishop (Philanthrocapitalism: How Giving Can Save the World, In Gold We Trust) reports that a task force established by British Prime minister David Cameron and chaired by British venture capitalist Sir Ronald Cohen has determined that impact investing is an idea "whose time has come." What's more, writes Bishop, four themes in the report "stand out as particularly important if we are to refocus business on activities that demonstrably make the world better": the rise of impact organizations, three-dimensional investing, an impact measurement revolution, and new markets for impact.

Nonprofits

In a post on her Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington looks at the five questions every nonprofit leader should ask.

Public Affairs

Of all the things one can (and should) worry about, this is the thing that keeps me up at night. Delighted to see the Obama administration finally taking concrete steps to address the problem.

Social Media

The Nonprofit Quarterly shares a good piece from its summer issue by Julie Sweetland and Rob Shore, director of learning and creative director, respectively, at the Framework Institute, about the importance of "Thinking carefully about the frames we reinforce or disrupt [through] our storytelling" -- especially when disseminating those stories via social media.

With the aim of showing "everyone the right content at the right time so they don’t miss the stories that are important to them," Facebook has announced two changes to its News Feed algorithm --  1) giving greater weight to trending topics, and 2) taking into account the rate at which people like or comment on a post -- that "tips the scale to breaking news."

And on her Nonprofit Tech for Good blog, Heather Mansfield shares nine "must-know" practices for maximizing your content distribution efforts on social media.

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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