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Weekend Link Roundup (April 9-10, 2016)

April 10, 2016

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

African Americans

Black Lives Matter is both a sprawling social movement and a civil rights organization with more than thirty chapters across the United States. But that distinction, and many other  nuances, rarely make it into coverage of either the movement or the organization, writes Jephie Bernard, a student at the Columbia School of Journalism, on the CJR website.


And not a moment too soon...  NWB's Vu Le rides to the defense of the Oxford comma.

Global Health

"Pessimism is fashionable. It's also wrong," writes Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther. "People are safer, better-educated, better-fed, and wealthier than they used to be. Democracy and human rights are spreading. Perhaps most important, people, and in particular the world's poorest people, are healthier." So why aren't we cheering? Because, says Gunther, echoing others, "the world's governments, aid agencies, foundations and nonprofits could be doing much better."


On our sister Transparency Talk blog, the Surdna Foundation's Adriana Jimenez explains how the foundation's decision to move to a workflow- and cloud-based system grants management system has enabled it to work more collaboratively with grantees; increased collaboration and learning within the foundation; and improved its capacity to share data and lessons learned with the rest of the sector.

Higher Education

Given that  just 14 percent of children from the bottom third of the income distribution will complete a four-year degree, writes Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, maybe it's time to rethink our current "bachelor's degree or bust" strategy — especially if the result, all too often, is a young person who drops out of college at age 20 or so with no postsecondary credential, no skills, and a fair amount of debt. 


On the Philanthrofiles blog, Exponent Philanthropy's Hanh Le and Talent Philanthropy's Rusty Stahl bemoan the lack of investment in nonprofit talent and argue that "it will take new attitudes and actions from the funding community" to turn the cycle around.

In an op-ed in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Tim Delaney, chief executive of the National Council of Nonprofits, writes that a "rash of hostile bills" either passed or under consideration by state lawmakers in Oklahoma, Missouri, New Jersey, and elsewhere is threatening the constitutional rights, not to mention independence and effectiveness, of nonprofits.

On the Classy blog, Allison Gauss explains why your nonprofit needs a director of impact.


Listen up, affluent boomer parents. According to Jake Hayman, a millennial, "Your kids don’t want to play 'foundations' with you because they hate your philanthropy." And here's why.  

A recent study of high-net-worth donors found that 52 percent of those in the $10 million-plus bracket said their philanthropy kept them up at night with worries that they were not giving enough to make a difference or that their money was being wasted. Michael Fischer, a contributor to ThinkAdvisor, has the story.

In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Hal Harvey, co-author, with Paul Brest, of Money Well Spent: A Strategic Plan for Smart Philanthropy and founder and CEO of the Energy Foundation, argues that the strategic philanthropy approach he once championed has hit some shoals and shares "six observations and suggestions" that could help steer it into safer waters.

Amy Krumboltz is co-director of the Seattle-based Brainerd Foundation, which is in the process of spending itself down, and she once worked for Hal Harvey at the Energy Foundation. And in her twenty-five years in philanthropy, she writes 0n Medium, she has come to realize "that writing checks is a small part of the job....[W]hether we are able to fund a program or not, we should always stay humble and try to be 'movement generous.' We can help introduce an organization to another funder who is addressing a similar challenge; we can share things we've learned from other grantees along the way; or we can help connect the dots between two like-minded efforts. And in so doing, we can honor not only those organizations we plan to fund, but also those we can't."

In a different post on Medium, Jeff Raikes, go-founder of the Raikes Foundation and the former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, explains why he and his wife are taking "a time-limited approach to philanthropy, rather than establishing a philanthropic institution (and endowment) that could make grants in perpetuity."

Will foundations simply sharing more about how they assess their work — and what works and doesn't work — actually lead to improvements in philanthropy? asks Melinda Tuan, project manager for Fund for Shared Insight, in a post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog. Sharing is important, she notes, but it "is only one part of the equation for philanthropy....In order for philanthropy to improve, foundations need to not only share what they know but also listen to what others — including grantees and the people they seek to help — have to say, and, as appropriate, act on what they learn."

On the eve of the Council on Foundations' annual conference, COF president and CEO Vikki Spruill and Diana Campoamaor, president of Hispanics in Philanthropy, note in an op-ed the Nonprofit Quarterly that while philanthropy has made progress in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, the field lags in terms of the number of racial and ethnic minorities and, to a certain extent, women in leadership roles.

And here on PhilanTopic, Ridgway White, president of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint, Michigan, explains what the foundation has been doing to address the water crisis in that beleaguered city — and why philanthropy alone can't be expected to solve America's urban infrastructure problems.

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 section below....

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