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Weekend Link Roundup (December 27-28, 2014)

December 28, 2014

2015 New Year's Eve_December 2014 Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sectorFor more links to great content from and about the social sector, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

African Americans

In a post on the Open Society Foundation's Voices blog, Ken Zimmerman, director of U.S. Programs at OSF, salutes the achievements of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement as it prepares, under the continued leadership of Shawn Dove and Rashid Shabazz, to become a standalone organization.

Were the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the widespread protests that spread across the country in the aftermath of grand-jury decisions finding no negligence on the part of police a "movement moment"? It sure looks that way, writes Alfonso Wenker, manager of diversity, equity and inclusion at the Minnesota Council on Foundations. For grantmakers who are wondering what they can do to help close racial achievement gaps and support the movement for racial equity in the United States, Wenker shares a list of helpful tools and resources.

Communications/Marketing

In a  post on Kivi Leroux Miller's Nonprofit Communications Blog, Sean King, director of marketing and communications for Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!), shares some takeways from a fundraising campaign that saw seven nonprofit arts organizations in Allentown, Pennsylvania, join forces on #GivingTuesday to create some buzz and raise some money in support of their efforts.

Data

The most popular post on the Markets for Good site in 2014 was this contribution from Scott Harrison, the founder and CEO of charity: water, who used it to explain why the organization's goal of helping 100 million people get access to clean and safe drinking water by 2022 would be impossible without data.

Looking for a good read or two to close out the year? Beth Kanter shares five book recommendations for "the nonprofit networking and data nerd in your life."

Fundraising

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), a joint initiative of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute and the Association of Fundraising Professionals, has released the 2014 edition of its Fundraising Survey Effectiveness Report (30 pages, PDF). The report, which summarizes data from 3,576 survey respondents covering year-to-year fundraising results for 2012-13, found that gains of $1.334 million in gifts from new, upgraded current, and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of $1.228 million through reduced gifts and lapsed donors — in other words, 92 percent of gains in giving were offset by losses in giving. The report also found that while the median donor retention rate increased from 39 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2013 and the gift or dollar retention rate increased from 40 percent to 46 percent, over the last nine years, donor and gift or dollar retention rates have consistently been weak — averaging below 50 percent.

Leadership

To better understand the state of leadership in the social sector, McKinsey & Company asked two hundred CEOs and other top managers "to identify the critical attributes for leadership success in their sector and then to rate the performance of leaders in the field against each attribute." According to an article on the McKinsey site by Laura Callanan, Nora Gardner, Lenny Mendonca, and Doug Scott, the findings of that research "suggest that chronic underinvestment in leadership development within the U.S. social sector, accompanied by 25 percent growth in the number of nonprofit organizations in the past decade, has opened a gap between demands on leaders and their ability to meet those needs."

Meanwhile, in the Harvard Business Review, Gianpiero Petriglieri suggests that the so-called leadership vacuum — the "dangerous shortage" of strong and effective leaders in business, government, and academia — "is a convenient yet misleading story" that disguises "a more disturbing interpretation of the data." The fact, writes Petriglieri, is that "There are plenty of strong leaders. Eagerly and effectively pursuing the goals they are selected and rewarded to pursue — in the ways they are trained and expected to. Those goals are simply not aligned with the changes most of us wish to see, and their pursuit benefits only narrow circles on whose approval those leaders depend."

Philanthropy

In the Washington Post, Ariana Eunjung Cha profiles Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz, the youngest couple ever to sign on to the Giving Pledge, the campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to encourage the world's billionaires to commit to giving away most of their wealth.

Can philanthropic transparency be a bad idea? Indeed, it can, writes Jo Andrews, director of Ariadne, European Funders for Social Change and Human Rights, on the Foundation Center's Transparency Talk blog — especially when it endangers the work and lives of activists in countries where the prevailing political climate is hostile.

In a related post on Transparency Talk, Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, chats with the Foundation Center's Janet Camarena about the work of the Fund for Shared Insight, a collaborative effort of seven funders to pool financial and other resources to make grants to improve philanthropy. 

Last but not least, Ruth Levine, director of the Hewlett Foundation's Global Development and Population Program, shares three resolutions for 2015.

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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