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Weekend Link Roundup (May 20-21, 2017)

May 22, 2017

Pause-button-2Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....


Does your organization have a strategy for dealing with the media? To help its members think beyond the press release, dispel misperceptions about working with the media, and provide practical guidance on how to approach this powerful medium, Exponent Philanthropy has released A Funder's Guide to Engaging With the Media, which includes the five building block of a successful media strategy highlighted in this post on the organization's PhilanthroFiles blog.

"Why do so many nonprofits take on the burden of producing the equivalent of a magazine a month [i.e., your monthly newsletter] that gets an average 1.5 percent click through rate and 14 percent open rate?" That's one of the controversial questions Ally Dommu poses in a post on the Big Duck site. Before you do anything rash, take a look at some of the other questions Dommu poses in her post and read the half a dozen or so comments submitted in response to her post.


Budget documents obtained by the Washington Post offer the clearest picture yet of how the Trump administration intends to shrink the federal government's role in education and give parents more opportunity to choose their children's schools. Emma Brown, Valerie Strauss, and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel report


In his first four months as president, Donald Trump has walked back many of the promises he made to supporters on the campaign trail. One thing is absolutely clear, however: he is committed to rolling back a half-century of environmental regulations and protections supported, at different times, by majorities in both parties. And that, according to the findings of a new Pew Research Center survey, puts him at odds with a majority of Americans.

Global Health

On the Devex site, Rebecca Root shares five key takeaways from her conversations with attendees at the recent G-20 meeting on global health innovation.


Evidence has been a buzzword in philanthropy for the better part of twenty years now, writes Forbes contributor Jake Heyman. "And yet no such demand for evidence is applied to the work of funders themselves, be they philanthropists, corporate donors or foundations. [Instead, a] typical funder journey seems to be identifying an area of perceived need, finding a program/organization that is judged to counter that need, and then throwing an arbitrary amount of money at it."

Would grantmaking be more effective if it was focused on identifying and supporting critical "inflection point" interventions? The Heckscher Foundation for Children's Peter Sloane thinks so and, in a post here on PhilanTopic, explains why.

Higher Education

"Good boards ask good questions, and great boards ask great questions." But at many colleges and universities, "[t]oo many boards struggle with asking questions at all, let alone asking good or great questions," write Peter Eckel and Cathy Trower in Inside Higher Education. Instead, "[s]tatements, not questions, frequently carry the day. Why? [Boards] lack sufficient curiosity."

International Affairs/Development

Are foreign aid and charitable giving to help the poor in developing countries part of the problem rather than the solution? On the MIT News site, Amy MacMillan Bankson chats with Mark Weber, and MBA student at the MIT Sloan School of Management and producer of the award-winning documentary Poverty, Inc., about the pros and cons of the global charity model.


What are the traits nonprofit leaders need in today's uncertain environment? The Forbes Nonprofit Council, an invitation-only organization for nonprofit CEOs, asked seven of its members for their thoughts.


On his Nonprofit Chronicles blog, Marc Gunther shares highlights of a recent conversation he had with Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, in which Heintz updated Gunther on RBF's divestment process, discussed its approach to mission-aligned investing, and talked about why a foundation built by a nineteenth-century fortune should persist into the twenty-first century.

Contributions to the Obama Foundation jumped to more than $13 million in 2016, according to an IRS filing released a couple of weeks ago, and they're expected to skyrocket in 2017 with the lifting of a self-imposed $1 million cap on donations. Lynn Sweet reports for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Institutional philanthropy may have gotten used to the idea of itself as "risk capital," but it has a lot of work to do to turn the idea into reality, write the Rockefeller Foundation's Pam Foster and Ellen Taus — and that includes working with grantees to get them to become more comfortable talking about the risks inherent in their proposals.

Tax Policy

And in his weekly syndicated column, Denver Post columnist Bruce DeBoskey weighs in with a good overview of what proposed changes to federal tax policy could mean for donors and nonprofits.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a line at [email protected].

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    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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