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Weekend Link Roundup (October 11-12, 2014)

October 12, 2014

Flock-of-migrating-cranesOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....


On the Kauffman Founders School blog, Neil Patel explains why email marketing  trumps social media.

Although he's primarily talking about news, Robinson Meyer, an associate editor at The Atlantic, explains how social media has become the new press release, with lessons for all of us.

Giving Pledge

According to this short Bloomberg TV segment, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú, the second richest man in the world, will not be signing the Giving Pledge anytime soon.


In the second installment of a two-part series on the Markets for Good site, Peter York, the founder/CEO of Algorhythm, an "impact science organization that combines social science, outcome measurement, next generation analytics and technology to place highly accurate and actionable insights into the hands of social change agents,"argues that it's "time for the social sector to try out the method that medicine, psychology, business, economics and ecology have been using for a long time: the observational cohort study (OCS)."

Crain's Chicago Business has a good article about a group of investors led by Chicago billionaire J.B. Pritzker that plans to invest $16.9 million in "an innovative financing scheme that allows Chicago to expand pre-kindergarten programs for more than 2,000 low-income children over the next four years." According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, this is the fifth social impact bond to be announced in the U.S.

International Affairs/Development

In The Nation, public health expert Annie Sparrow argues that Western biases and fecklessness at the World Health Organization allowed the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to "run wild." "On August 8," she writes,

On August 8, after months of denial (and the infection and evacuation of two American medics), WHO suddenly reversed itself and declared Ebola a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). This was the second PHEIC announced this year (the resurgence of polio was named one in May), but only the third since the concept was devised in 2005 (the other being for swine flu in 2009). The first child infected in this latest outbreak of Ebola died in December, but by the time WHO recognized the threat posed, the epidemic was out of control.

Something similar happened in Syria. Despite the shocking reappearance of highly contagious polio in May 2013, after it had been eradicated from the country eighteen years earlier, WHO didn't acknowledge it until October 2013 and, as noted, didn’t announce the PHEIC until May 2014. Polio is spreading in Central Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and last week Pakistan's number of polio cases reached a fourteen-year high. So much for WHO’s promises of eradication by the end of this year.

An earlier response might have stopped both diseases in their tracks, but in each case WHO denied the gravity of the situation for months. Even then, it emphasized the responsibility of each government to address its own public-health threat, although the state's lack of health infrastructure was a major reason for the outbreaks in the first place. Indeed, in the case of Syria, it was the government that destroyed the hospitals and attacked the doctors in the opposition-held areas where polio broke out. Small wonder both of these global threats moved quickly across borders....

Good NPR profile of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, the highly effective humanitarian medical organization that was on the ground early in West Africa.

On the tenth anniversary of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health program, Bill Gates explains why the program is a good example of "catalytic philanthropy."

And on the Humanopshere blog, Tom Murphy looks at what the data tells us about progress made by the global community to ameliorate hunger.


What's the secret to a good nonprofit training session? Salsa Labs' Jennifer Gmerek shares eight tips she picked up from a Beth Kanter presentation titled "Designing and Delivering Nonprofit Trainings."


Foundations looking to leverage their grantmaking resources need to think about the full "range of non-financial assets at their disposal," writes Michael Feigelson, interim executive director of the Bernard Van Leer Foundation,  on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog. That includes things like expectations, choice of partners, and flexible administrative support.

Are private foundations warehousing hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth? Ray Madoff, a law professor at Boston College and the author of Immortality and the Law: The Rising Power of the American Dead, thinks so, and in an op-ed in the New York Times she offers what she considers a better to encourage charity in the U.S.

Last but not least, Rick Cohen looks at whether the rationale for the "Grand Bargain" – "the deal that saved the collection of the Detroit Institute of Art from being auctioned in exchange for over $800 million in foundation and state funds that would help pay for the city's public pension obligations" – was perhaps more about legal strategy than [municipal] redevelopment?

That's it for now. What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Drop us a line at[email protected] or via the comments box below....

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