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Weekend Link Roundup (January 30-31, 2016)

January 31, 2016

Woolworth_sit-inOur weekly round up of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

According to Jessica Leber, a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist, Al Gore, at one time "possibly the gloomiest man in America," is feeling somewhat hopeful for the future of the planet, thanks in part to what he sees as the success of the recent Paris climate change talks.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Hey, you CSR types, looking to achieve more social good in 2016? Saudia Davis, founder and CEO of GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning, shares some good advice.

And Ryan Scott, founder and CEO of Causecast, a platform for cause engagement, weighs in with six reasons businesses need to increase their CSR budgets.

Criminal Justice

"It is clear," writes Sonia Kowal, president of Zevin Asset Management, on the NCRP blog, "that our justice system is designed for control rather than healing. And with the alarming demographics of national incarceration rates, it's also clear that it helps facilitate an economy of exclusion that considers many people of color to be unemployable and disposable." What can foundations and impact investors do to change that paradigm. Kowal has a few suggestions.


The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has announced the launch of EDInsight, a new education-related blog that will  "provide a forum for discussing a variety of topics related to education — including teacher preparation, school quality, postsecondary attainment, use of education data and other education news and trends."

Giving Pledge

The New York Times reports that, since July, investor and Giving Pledge co-founder Warren Buffett has gifted $32 million worth of stock in Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company he controls. The Times also notes that the total represents "a relatively small part of Buffett's plan to give most of his $58.3 billion fortune to charity." Interestingly, despite giving roughly $1.5 billion a year (mostly to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) since launching the Giving Pledge in 2010, Buffett's personal net worth, most of it tied to Berkshire stock, has increased by more than $10 billion, while Bill Gates's net worth has grown by $27 billion, from $53 billion to $80 billion. In other words, neither man is giving his fortune away as quickly as he is adding to it.


On the Knight Foundation blog, Daniel Harris, San Jose program director for the foundation, shares his top ten tips for grantseekers, including chase your vision, not the money (#2); don't just talk, listen (#4); share bad news early (#7); and under promise, over deliver (#8).


The 2015 Culture of Health Prize winners demonstrate that there's "no single blueprint" for addressing health equity locally, writes Joe Marx, a senior advisor and senior communications officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, but there are key lessons to be learned from their success.

Higher Education

On the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists blog, Timothy Renick, vice president for enrollment management and student success and a professor at Georgia State University, explains Georgia State, and others, are successfully pairing technology/data and human interaction in several new student-success initiatives.

International Affairs/Development

"Over the past 20 years, the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty has been cut in half," writes Ann Mei Chang, executive director of USAID's ;U.S. Global Development Lab. Ending extreme poverty everywhere in the world, as called for by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), won't be easy, she adds, but a great place to start is Silicon Valley, the world's "most powerful innovation ecosystem."

Researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School have just launched a China Philanthropy Project, including an inaugural list  and map of the top 100 Chinese philanthropists.

On the Open Society Foundations' Voices blog, Jonathan Birchall introduces Talking Justice, a monthly podcast dedicated to international justice and human rights. Episode one considers the case of Laurent Gbagbo, former president of Ivory Coast who is on trial before the International Criminal Court at The Hague for crimes against humanity.


Good news for the sector from the PNP Staffing Group, whose just released  2015-2016 NonProfit Salaries & Staffing Report finds that "the nonprofit sector has grown by 20 percent over the last ten years, in contrast to a growth rate of about 2-3 percent in the for-profit sector," and that "[h]iring among nonprofits continues to grow, with more than 50 percent of the survey respondents reporting staff increases."


In a thoughtful post on the Cornerstone Capital Group site, Foundation Center president Brad Smith explores the tension between private foundations' desire to have impact while keeping a low profile and the public's growing expectations for philanthropic transparency.


In USA Today, Fredreka Schouten reports that billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, one of the subjects of the recently released Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, is creating a nonprofit organization called Stand Together that will focus on poverty and educational quality. According to Evan Feinberg, the group's executive director, Stand Together plans initially to avoid policy fights and instead will "focus on partnerships with private groups addressing social problems such as gang violence and high recidivism rates."

Public Affairs

The BBC's Echo Chambers blog (sort of) unpacks a recent study by Princeton University professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University professor Benjamin I. Page which argues that the United States is an oligarchy, not a democracy. 

Do philanthropy and the nonprofit sector have the resources and enough influence to increase voter turnout and civic participation in the U.S. Kicking off a new series for the Stanford Social Innovation Review as part of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation's Madison Initiative, Hewlett's Kelly Born says yes, but with caveats... 

Racial Equity

And earlier this week, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced the launch of its Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) enterprise, an "unprecedented" multiyear effort  "to engage communities in racial healing and change efforts that address current inequities linked to the belief in a racial hierarchy." As part of that effort and to help confront stereotypes, labels, and misperceptions of people, the foundation is inviting Americans to "remix the narrative" -- to share, in their words and their voice, the story of "how others see you" and "how you see yourself. " In turn, those stories will be widely shared with others via Twitter and Facebook using the #remixthenarrative hashtag.

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

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