458 posts categorized "author-Mitch Nauffts"

Weekend Link Roundup (March 9-10, 2019)

March 10, 2019

John-Oliver-picture-1A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

"We have reached a moment when foundations must face the ways they may be reinforcing inequality," write Brittany Boettcher and Kathleen Kelly Janus in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. But, they add, there are three things funders can do to improve their efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Grantmaking

Candid, PND's parent organization, will be well represented at this year's PEAK Grantmaking conference in Denver. On the GrantCraft blog, Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Candid, previews the sessions she and our colleague Jen Bokoff will be leading.

Health

On the Commonwealth Fund's Tipping Point blog, Billy Wynne, co-founder of Wynne Health Group, and Josh LaRosa, a policy associate at the firm, look at actions taken by the Trump administration and Congress to rein in prescription drug prices — and find little to cheer about. 

Journalism

The sale of the Newseum building in Washington, D.C. to Johns Hopkins University is a cautionary tale — one that the museum’s leadership must take to heart when and if it ever opens its doors again. Kriston Capps reports for CityLab.

Nonprofits

On her Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington looks at five key traits that separate nonprofits that grow their work and impact from nonprofits that don’t. 

In a new post on his Nonprofit Chronicles blog, Marc Gunther updates readers on the steps taken by the Humane Society of the United States to recover from the charges of sexual harassment levied against Wayne Pacelle, its former chief executive.

Philanthropy

Jeff Polet, a professor of political science at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, argues in a post on the Philanthropy Daily site that that the first rule of philanthropy (and economics and politics) ought always to be "First, do no harm."

In a post on the HistPhil blog, Drummond Pike, the founder and former president of the Tides Foundation, details the fall of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, better known as ACORN — and, in the words of the site's editors, provides "a new perspective on an important development in the recent past — the tension that arose between grantmaking foundations and more radical grantee organizations." 

How are millennials and Gen Z changing the landscape of philanthropy?

Social Justice

In his latest, Nonprofit AF's Vu Le argues that it is critical that all "communities of color examine [their] relationships with one another, [their] own biases, and how [they] may be benefiting from the oppression of others, especially of the Bback community, without even realizing it." 

Women and Girls

In Fast Company, Eillie Anzilotti examines an unconditional cash transfer program in Kenya which found that when people in a relationship — especially women — received extra money, rates of physical and sexual violence declined.

And on the GuideStar blog, Erica Roberts, a communications coordinator for Candid, shares key findings from the report Encouraging Giving to Women's and Girls' Causes: The Role of Social Norms, which examined survey responses from more than twenty-five hundred people who were asked questions like "How interested do you think others are, or will be in the future, in giving to women's and girls' causes?"

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Newsmakers: Jean Case, Author, ‘Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose’

March 01, 2019

Jean Case is a woman on a mission. As the youngest child of a single mom working to raise a family in the small town of Normal, Illinois, and then in the Fort Lauderdale area, Case studied hard and dreamed big — of becoming a lawyer and maybe having a career in politics. But a few years out of college, something new called the Internet beckoned, and she found herself working at the one of the first pure-play online services. In short order, she took a similar position at General Electric and then, in her late twenties, landed a job at another startup, soon to become America Online (AOL), where over the next decade she and her colleagues helped usher in the Internet revolution.

In 1997, Case left AOL and not long after, with her husband Steve, then the chair and CEO of AOL, started the Case Foundation with an eye to "investing in people and ideas that can change the world." As the organization's founding CEO, Jean has helped guide its investments in online platforms like Network or Good, Causes, and MissionFish, and has spearheaded its forays into the still-nascent impact investing field. She currently serves on the boards of Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2) and the White House Historical Association, and on the advisory boards of the Brain Trust Accelerator Fund, the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and Georgetown University's Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation. In 2016, she was named chair of the National Geographic Society’s board of trustees, the first female chair in the society’s history.

Case attributes much of her success to her mother, her "first and most enduring role model" and the person who taught her "to take risks, to see possibility, and to be good to others." In her new book,Be Fearless: 5 Principles for a Life of Breakthroughs and Purpose, Case shares the stories of ordinary people who overcame their fear, took a bold risk, and did something extraordinary.

PND spoke with Case in January about the book and the lessons she has learned about success and the people who achieve it.

Headshot_jean_case2Philanthropy News Digest: Jean, I think a lot of people would like to know why you decided to write this book.

Jean Case: Well, the book is premised on research the Case Foundation undertook a number of years ago, where we set out to investigate the core qualities of great entrepreneurs and change makers, past and present, from around the world. And what we discovered was really surprising. When you think about what vaults people to success, it wasn’t genius, or privilege, or wealth. Instead, it boiled down to five things that are present whenever a transformational breakthrough happens. We thought it was interesting research, and we wanted to share it. And we quickly learned that what we were sharing resonated with people in every sector, with leaders of organizations in every sector, from college students to CEOs, in terms of challenging them to think about how they might move something for­ward that might have been languishing, or that they didn’t think they could do.

PND: The transformational breakthroughs you talk about in the book are almost always rooted in the willingness of an individual or an organization to make a big bet, take a risk, and let urgency conquer their fear. Urgency is key in that equation, isn't it?

JC: It is. In fact, I think the role it plays is often underestimated. I like to say that there is no better time to do something than when your back is against the wall, because you have nowhere left to go. It's what Martin Luther King called the "fierce urgency of now," and sometimes it's exactly the motivation we need to get out there and try.

That's really what the book is about. It's a call to people who have an idea about how to make the world better to get out there and try. And it provides a playbook, based on five principles, to help get folks started and to give them a sense of what they need to think about as they try to execute on a big idea.

PND: What do you say to young people who approach you and say, "Jean, I care, I really do, but I've got a lot of student debt, my parents aren't wealthy, housing costs are through the roof, and I just need to find a good job and make some money."

JC: Well, you know, the first chapter of the book is titled "Start Right Where You Are." And it’s meant to push back against the idea that to do something transformational, something that represents a breakthrough, you've got to have everything planned in advance and a detailed roadmap pointing you to where you hope to end up. That's just not what our research shows. It turns out that a lot of people who've gone on to extraordinary success got started in small ways. Yes, they might have had a big idea, but they started right where they were.

For example, I open the book by telling the story of Barbara Van Dahlen. Barbara was a family counselor, a sole practitioner, who was helping families deal with various mental health issues. But it began to dawn on her that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq had created a huge mental health crisis among returning vets, and that the country simply didn’t have the capacity to meet the mental healthcare needs of veterans and their families. So, Barbara started donating an hour a week of her time to these families. And then she started talking to her colleagues, many of whom responded in kind, which then led her to wonder whether she could scale the effort. And that’s what she did, ultimately building a national network of thou­sands and thousands of doctors willing to donate healthcare services — some $25 million worth to date — to veterans and their families. She didn't quit her job, and she didn't wait until she had earned an MBA; she just started where she was and, step by step, took a big idea and moved it forward.

PND: If you had to choose between betting big on a person or betting big on an idea, which would you choose?

JC: I would always choose the person. You know, one of the things I point out in the book is that a lot of people who’ve seen success have had failures along the way. And often, the difference between people who find success and those who don’t is that the former are undaunted by their fears and failures. They've stared them in the eye, and they've pushed past them. It's not that they don't have them. We all have fears, and we all have had failures. But the person who learns to overcome them is more likely to be the person that finds suc­cess.

When I invest in startup companies, for instance, I like to invest in entre­preneurs who may fail, because I know they will take to heart those lessons I talk about in the book and will keep going forward, applying lessons they learned to their next company or startup situation. You know, Einstein said failure is success in progress. Too many of us don't think about it that way, and we need to.

PND: Do you have a favorite big bet, one that grabbed you as you were researching the book and exemplifies the maxim you attribute to Jane Goodall, namely, that every person can make a difference every day.

JC: It's interesting you mention Jane, because for me, she probably emerges as the truly iconic be-fearless story. Here she was, a young British woman with no education but who had a love and passion for animals. So, she gets herself to Africa, where she has the good fortune to meet Louis Leakey, who sends her out into the field, all by her­self, to do her chimpanzee research. She wasn't formally trained, so a lot of her methods were unconventional. But she ended up changing the field of primate research and today is considered to be one of the preeminent animal researchers in the world. She also likes to encourage others to act on their big bet and not be daunted by things they may not have or possess. In Jane's case, it was a degree. And that ultimately worked to her advantage.

PND: There are a lot of great quotations in the book. One of my favorites, credited to Henry Ford, is: "If I’d asked people what they wanted, they'd have said faster horses." He was referring to the importance of not only having a great idea, but also being stubborn enough to ignore the naysayers. Where does that kind of confidence come from?

JC: You know, you have to work at it, and hopefully people who are reading this have someone around them who encourages them when others are trying to rain on their parade. But even if they don't, if they have a big idea they probably also have a gut sense that they are on to something great. I talk in the book about moments in my own life where others were quick to tell me I was crazy and I just had to close my ears and do what I had to do. There are always going to be naysayers, but the person with a big idea knows in his or her gut that they’re on to something. They may have to pivot or change things along the way, but deep down they know that if they just keep going, they will achieve success.

The other thing the Henry Ford quote alludes to is how people with a big idea often have a knack for seeing around corners. They see things coming that others don't, and that gives them the confidence to stick with what they're doing. You know, when we started AOL, only 3 percent of Americans were online, and they were only online for an average of an hour a week. We had many people say to us, Why would I ever need e-mail? Why would my business ever need a website? It's really that ability to see what others can't that helps keep you going.

PND: In terms of practical advice, I really like your idea of pursuing a big bet in "chunks," a step at a time. But I think a lot of people who are passionate about making a difference want to make things happen now and have a hard time accepting the idea that change is a process, that it's more evolutionary than revolutionary. Is that how you see it?

JC: I definitely see it that way, and again I think this is one of those areas where people need to understand that there are small things they can do today, no matter their circumstance, to begin moving their idea forward. There are several tips and techniques in the book designed to help people get started from where they are, which is really key.

PND: Is the framework you lay out in the book translatable to other fields? A lot of foundations were established in perpetuity, and that tends to make the people who run them risk-averse and predisposed to the status quo. Can the Be Fearless framework work in an institutional philanthropy context?

JC: It most certainly can, and thanks to my role as chair of the National Geographic Society, a hundred-and-thirty-year-old organization, I can totally relate to the situation of larger, endowed, legacy organizations and the concern that trying new things can put all that at risk. I tell the story of National Geographic in the book, because it’s a great example of the need for organizations to constantly innovate and iterate if they want to stay relevant. Back when color photo­graphy was a new technology, the publisher and editors of National Geographic, the magazine, decided they wanted to include photographs in each issue, which led some members of the board to re­sign, because they felt that color photography was just a fad and not in keeping with the scientific mission of the National Geographic Society.

Fast forward to 2019 and look where we are — not only are we the most popular organization on Instagram, with over a hundred million followers, but our brand has become synonymous with high-quality color photography. And the society has been able to pull that rabbit out of the hat through each successive stage of technological disruption and change. When cable TV was the hot new medium, we introduced the National Geographic Channel in partnership with Fox. The same is true of social media more broadly, where we have the biggest footprint of any brand in the world. So, although we're an older, legacy organization — I mean, there are still mem­bers of the board related to the founding family — the one thing we are committed to is not settling for the status quo. We believe that if we don't continue to disrupt ourselves and find new ways to be relevant, we will lose our relevance altogether.

PND: At the same time, lots of people, in the U.S. and around the world, feel technology is moving too fast, that it's too disruptive, that we've let the genie out of the bottle and someday, in the not-too-dis­tant future, we're going to regret it. Is that a valid concern?

JC: I wouldn't necessarily say it's a valid concern or that we're going to regret it. But I do think it's accurate to say that the pace of tech­nological change is running faster than ever before in history, and that if we don’t have clear frameworks around ethics, around how to make sure all that change is in service to humanity, we could find ourselves in trouble. But, you know, I'm encouraged by all the people who are looking at this, and the very fact that we're having a dialogue about it. Things have happened quickly on the technology front and have taken us further than perhaps anyone would have guessed, and now we need to catch up and put some frameworks in place to make sure the future lives up to the promise.

PND: As you detail in the book, you didn't have a perfect Ozzie and Harriet upbringing. But you did have a very determined mother, wonderful grandparents, an excellent support system, and ended up living the American dream. Is that dream still achievable for most Americans?

JC: I would like to believe it is, but part of the reason I wrote the book is to sound a sort of clarion call to anyone who is questioning that. I was the youngest child of a single mom. What I had in my early years came to us through the generosity of others. One of the stories I include in the book is the story of Madame C. J. Walker, who was born the daughter of a slave in Louisiana a few years after the end of the Civil War. I mean, talk about starting life with challenges. And yet C.J. Walker built a hair care empire by herself, becoming the first self-made female millionaire and philanthropist in America.

It's stories like Madame Walker's that should inspire everyone who thinks the world has counted them out to say, "I'm not counting myself out. I know there are still opportunities in America for someone like me to do something great." That's why I wrote the book.

PND: What's the best piece of advice you ever received from a mentor?

JC: I'd probably have to say it's, "Don't wait to find the time to do the thing that matters." Life is short, and it's really important to make the time to do the thing that matters. In the book, I talked about how I use my calendar to do that. If I'm really trying to move toward a goal, I want to make sure that this week, every week, I've done something to move me closer to that goal. That won't happen if I just sit around and hope it does. I liter­ally have to put on my calendar as a reminder that I need to work on it. I have to be intentional in writing down what it is I want to achieve this week. It's a great piece of life advice that was shared with me early on, and I swear by it. It's really made a difference for me, and I believe it can make a difference for other people as well.

PND: A final question for you. Here we are a month or so into the new year. As you look ahead to 2019 and beyond, are you an optimist?

JC: I'm a total optimist. I think there’s never been a better time for people who see a way to make a difference in the world to make a difference. They just need to get started. And I'm super-optimistic that more and more people will feel called to do that. Yes, we have challenges, but we also have opportunities, and lots of people who see those opportunities, and I think that's true not just in the United States, but in countries around the world. So, I'm optimistic. And I'm looking forward to what 2019, and the future, brings.

— Mitch Nauffts

Weekend Link Roundup (February 23-24, 2019)

February 24, 2019

Gw-life-mask-frontA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Democracy

"The key to improving the voting process," writes Adam Ambrogi, irector of the Elections Program at the Democracy Fund, "is straightforward: expand accessibility while also prioritizing security."

Giving

Have women's motivations for giving changed over time? Andrea Pactor, interim director of the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy; Hillary Person, a former development director at the Pensacola State College Foundation; and Dyan Sublett, president of the MLK Community Health Foundation, take a look at the data.

Governance

On the NCRP blog, Rick Moyers, former vice president of programs and communications at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation and a board member at BoardSource, reminds readers that while "[d]iversity is only one aspect of a larger conversation about equity and power," many boards aren’t ready to have that conversation. With that in mind, there are four things senior leadership should look for to determine whether their board is ready for deeper work in pursuit of equity.

International Affairs/Development

GiveWell has announced a call fro proposals from outstanding organizations operating in Southeast Asia and, in partnership with Affinity Impact, a social impact initiative founded by the children of a Taiwanese entrepreneur, will  provide three grants — one of $250,000, and two $25,000 grants — to organizations that are operating programs in global health and development in any of the following countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. More details here.

Philanthropy

In an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Allison Powell, Willa Seldon, and Nidhi Sahni argue that "historic growth in wealth globally and the rise of new philanthropists threaten the relevance of institutional philanthropy — while creating new opportunities for impact and influence."

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Naomi Orenstein, CEP's director of research, and Matthew H Leiwant, a former associate manager of research at the organization, share some suggestions for funders interested in helping their grantees, beyond the grant, with non-financial support.

Then again, says Nonprofit AF's Vu Le, sometimes the best thing donors can do to advance social justice is to just write a check.

In a piece on the foundation's website, MacArthur Foundation president Julia Stasch, who will be stepping down from her position later this year, reflects on the Foundation’s approach to work in our hometown, the nonprofit organizations we support, and their creative and effective efforts make the Chicago region a better place to live, work, and learn for everyone.

In a post on his blog, veteran philanthropy advisor Richard Marker explains the thinking behind the (modest) re-branding of his firm.

Social Change

Reflecting on Jo Freeman's 1970 essay "The Tyranny of Structurelessness," Rhodri Davies, head of policy at the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) argues on the HistPhil blog that the "power" imbalance between participants in a group is a helpful reminder for today's social movement organizers and their funders. And while "the offline power dynamics between members of a group may still have a determinate impact on their position in the online network...in the context of digitally networked movements, another dimension of power also emerges: namely, control of the platform on which the network operates." 

Transparency

On the Glasspockets blog, our colleague Janet Camarena chats with Maya Winkelstein, executive director of the Open Road Alliance, about the critical role transparency play in the initiative's philanthropic efforts.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Weekend Link Roundup (February 9-10, 2019)

February 10, 2019

Homepage-large-fc-and-gs-are-candid_tilemediumA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

"Someday, perhaps, an entire nation could be powered by renewable energy, but that day is too far off to deal with the climate threat," say Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist in a new book called called A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow. Instead, Goldstein and Qvist tell Marc Gunther, countries should be looking to nuclear as the short-term answer to the problem. For many in the environmental community, that is a non-starter. Gunther explores the dilemma.

Governance

Writing on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Kim Williams-Pulfer, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, shares some thoughts on nonprofit boards and the diversity imperative.

International Affairs/Development

On the OECD Development Matters site, Benjamin Bellegy, executive director of the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), shares his thoughts on how philanthropy can best contribute to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

Journalism/Media

Journalism and the news media in the U.S. are in trouble, the traditional business model for news threatened with extinction by the consolidation of eyeballs and ad dollars on a few mega-platforms. Forbes contributor Michael Posner looks at the conclusions of a new report funded by the Knight Commission on Trust, Media, and Democracy and finds that while the report diagnoses the problem well, "its recommendations do not go far enough."

Nonprofits

A new report from the Building Movement Project, a nonprofit research group, finds that women of color in the nonprofit sector face are twice as likely to be discriminated against than white men, more likely to be overlooked for advancement than any other demographic group, and, come review time, are more often ignored or subject to scrutiny in ways that appear directly related their minority status. Ben Paynter reports for Fast Company.

Social good organizations that don't gather and pay attention to feedback from their constituents are passing up a golden opportunity to improve their services and offerings, write Fay Twersky, director of effective philanthropy at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Fred Reichheld, a fellow at Bain & Company and creator of the Net Promoter System®, in the Harvard Business Review. Fortunately, there are a growing number of tools out there, including something called Listen for Good (L4G), which is based on Reichheld's Net Promoter System, that make it easier than ever to do so.

In an era in which data is "revered," Paul Jolly, a fundraiser, creativity coach, and poet, reminds us on the GuideStar blog that "data does not guarantee good strategy. Data simply answers questions. And asking the right questions requires wisdom and curiosity."

Philanthropy

Amanda L. Gordon, who reports on wealth and philanthropy for Bloomberg, asks: What does it mean to be a billionaire in an age when there have never been so many? The answer is entirely unclear. 

On the Project Syndicate site, Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and founder of the nonprofit organization The Life You Can Save, suggests that the Sackler family, the family behind the pharmaceutical company that has fueled America's opioid crisis, should stop using its wealth to promote the arts and start supporting, on the same scale as their arts philanthropy, groups that reduce suffering anywhere in the world.

In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fidelity Charitable's Pam Norley and Elaine Martyn argue that donors with donor-advised funds "are poised to advance an emerging practice in philanthropy: listening to the organizations and people they are trying to help." But, they add, to "listen well, they will need the help of nonprofits they fund."

Science/Technology

Privacy in the twenty-first century is a complicated and often contested issue, writes Wilneida Negrón, a technology fellow in the Gender, Racial and Ethic Justice program at the Ford Foundation. Is it a human right? How much of it are we willing to give up in exchange for convenience or public safety? Should we expect the tech industry to self-regulate, or should government step in? All good questions, with no easy answers in sight. But there are things, says Negrón, that each of us can do "to build public support for laws, regulations, and interventions to promote privacy — and to ensure that the voices of the people and communities most affected are taken into account."

Social Good

As you're probably heard, Foundation Center and GuideStar have joined forces to become Candid. In this post, Brad Smith and Jacob Harold, president and executive vice president of the new entity, explain why it makes sense at this moment in time for the two organizations to combine their talent, technology, data, and leadership teams to help transform the work of social good. And in this post, Jen Bokoff, director of stakeholder engagement at Candid, and Gabe Cohen, senior director of marketing and communications, explain what the change means for users of GuideStar and Foundation Center products and services — over the next few months and in the years to come. 

Tax Policy

For Democrats, taxing the wealthy seems like a good first step to addressing  the urgent social and environmental challenges we face as a country. But it's not as easy as it might seem and, as always, the devil is in the details. Paul Sullivan reports for the New York Times.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Weekend Link Roundup (January 26-27, 2019)

January 27, 2019

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

Communications/Marketing

In a guest post on Kivi Leroux Miller's Nonprofit Communications blog, Peter Panepento, philanthropic practice leader for Turn Two Communications, shares ten mistakes you need to avoid if you want to get more media coverage.

Corporate Philanthropy

New research from Marianne Bertrand and her colleagues at the University of Chicago  that matches charitable-giving data of Fortune 500 companies with a record of public comments submitted to the federal government on proposed regulations between 2003 and 2015 shows how individual corporations influence the rulemaking process via gifts to nonprofits. Christopher Ingraham reports for the Washington Post.

International Affairs/Development

Nonprofit organization Verra has launched the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard, or SD VISta for short. Under the standard, which sets out rules and criteria for the design, implementation, and assessment of projects designed to deliver sustainable development benefits, projects must demonstrate to the satisfaction of a third-party assessor that they advance the SDGs. Amy Brown reports for Triple Pundit.

Nonprofits

Nonprofit AF's Vu Le seems to have struck a nerve — eighty-two comments and counting — with his latest: Why nonprofit staff should not be asked to donate to the organizations they work for.

Over at the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies site, Lester Salamon, the center's director, announces the release of the 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report, which found, among other things, that for-profit companies are making significant inroads in key nonprofit fields, cutting into nonprofits' market share.

Philanthropy

Center for Effective Philanthropy president Phil Buchanan checks in with a stout defense of philanthropy, including three examples of trending philanthropic critiques that seem to be "a bit iffy." 

In his latest, Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther suggests that the important thing about wealthy people like the late Jack Bogle, the "father of the index fund," is how they make their money, not how they give their away.

Thanks to some good, old-fashioned reporting by The Guardian's Mark Harris, we now know a lot more about Elon Musk's secretive private foundation than we had previously. 

On the Ford Foundation's Equals Change blog, Hilary Pennington (executive vice president for program), Bess Rothenberg (senior director, strategy and learning), and Megan Morrison (officer, strategy and learning) explain what the foundation learned from the most recent Grantee Perception Report it commissioned from the Center for Effective Philanthropy and what it is doing to strengthen its relationships with grantees.

Whose voices should foundations listen to when they are ready "to engage meaningfully with those who would question their grantmaking strategies?" asks Ryan Schlegel on NCRP's Keeping a Close Eye blog. In other words, asks Schlegel, who has power and privilege in a changing country and world? And who should?

In a post on The Philanthropic Initiative blog, TPI president Ellen Remmer announces the launch of Invest for Better, a field-building initiative aimed at mobilizing women "to invest their personal, philanthropic, and institutional capital for good." 

Transparency

And philanthropy writer and communications strategist Elaine Gast Fawcett shares a few stories on the Transparency Talk blog that illustrate how family funders are thinking and acting when it comes to transparency.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Weekend Link Roundup (January 19-20, 2019)

January 20, 2019

Shutdown+Architect+of+the+Capitol+US+Customs+and+Border+ProtectionA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Civil Society

According to a poll funded by the Knight Foundation, there "remain some aspects of American life where political partisanship does not yet dominate" — and philanthropy is one of them. Martin Morse Wooster reports for Philanthropy Daily.

Climate Change

"Despite its stature as a major funder of climate-change solutions, [the] MacArthur [Foundation] continues to finance the fossil-fuel industry," writes Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther, and "does so deliberately...by seeking out opportunities to invest in oil and gas...."

Communications/Marketing

On her Getting Attention! blog, Nancy Schwartz shares four steps you can take in 2019 to develop a more effective marketing plan.

Fundraising

Pamela Grow shares ten things your nonprofit can do to make 2019 its most successful fundraising year ever.

Andrea Kihlstedt, president of Capital Campaign Masters and co-creator of the Capital Campaign Toolkit, explains why capital campaigns can be a boon to major gift programs.

Inequality

The racial wealth gap is worse than it was thirty-five years ago. Fast Company's Eillie Anzilotti has the details.

Innovation

"[I]f innovation is essential to the ultimate achievements of the sector, we should spend less time on success, and more time on failure." Rohini Nilekani, philanthropist, social entrepreneur, and writer; and Kyle Zimmer, social entrepreneur and Schwab Foundation Fellow, talk with the folks at the World Economic Forum about failure and the social sector.

International Affairs/Development

A decade ago, microfinance was touted as the solution to global poverty. It hasn't worked out that way. Vox's Stephanie Wykstra takes an-depth look at its successes and failures.

Nonprofits

As we look ahead to a new year, Social Velocity's Nell Edgington has some hopeful words for nonprofit leaders and changemakers.

Is not having a COO a risk for a nonprofit organization? Eugene Fram explores that question through the lens of three different examples.

Philanthropy

Ford Foundation president Darren Walker ushers in the New Year with a clear-eyed analysis of the factors behind our current season of discontent and calls on philanthropy to "dedicate [itself], anew, to the cause of justice."

"Philanthropy's version of the 'gig economy' has bedeviled the progressive nonprofit sector for decades," argues Ryan Schlegel on the NCRP blog. "Nonprofit leaders chase program grants that pay some portion of their bills — effectively serving as short-term contractors for foundations – while hoping one day their luck will break with a general support grant that gives them time and space to actually lead." It's a dynamic, adds Schlegel, that is limiting the effectiveness of progressive foundations and their grantees.

In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO of the Nonprofit Finance Fund and a former program officer at the Rockefeller Foundation, shares seven questions he now wishes he had asked himself and his former foundation colleagues back in the day.

In a guest post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Joanne Kelley, CEO of  the Colorado Association of Funders, a regional philanthropy-serving organization, shares three themes that emerged from an effort in her state to encourage openness and feedback in the philanthropic sector, with the goal of increasing both foundation and nonprofit effectiveness. 

On the Transparency Talk blog, our colleague Janet Camarena chats with Lani Evans,  manager of the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation, the newest foundation with "glasspockets."

Angela Hariche, editor-in-chief at Two Lane Media, has a good Q&A with sector veteran Heather Grady, currently a vice president at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.

And the McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minnesota, has unveiled a new mission statement.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

New Year's Eve Roundup (December 31, 2018)

December 31, 2018

Happy_new_yearHere's our final roundup of the year. Wishing everyone a peaceful and prosperous New Year! For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Economy

No one has ever confused private equity with charity. That's not a surprise. As the Ford Foundation's José García and Xavier de Souza Briggs remind us: "One of the functions of private equity investment is to finance early-stage ideas and companies. Another is to help transform mature companies, for greater competitiveness....But too often," they add, "we have seen private equity funds focus narrowly on maximizing profits through leveraged buyout practices that come at the expense of disadvantaged workers, families, and communities." Must that always be the case? And is there any reason to hope that private equity investors might do something different to address the needs of displaced workers? In a post on the foundation's Equal Change blog, García and de Souza Briggs share a tale that provides a glimmer of hope.

Eillie Anzilotti, an assistant editor for Fast Company's Ideas section, shares seven things we, as a country, can do to create a more inclusive economy.

Fundraising

On the GuideStar blog, veteran fundraiser Barbara O’Reilly, CFRE, looks back at the year just passed and identifies some reasons for concern: giving in each quarter fell about 2 percent on a year-over-year basis, and the number of donors in the first half of the year fell about 7 percent (compared to same period in 2017). Just as importantly, donor retention rates dropped by 4.6 percent. As people start to file their 2018 returns, nobody knows how changes to the tax code will affect giving, but O’Reilly has some sound advice for nonprofits hoping to navigate the next twelve months unscathed.

Giving

Does taking pleasure in giving to others make us selfish? In Psychology Today, Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz, PhD, and Abigail Marsh, PhD, suggest that "it is our fundamentally caring nature that moves us to help others, and that feeling good may be merely a lucky and foreseeable outcome of giving, rather than its purpose — a critical distinction."

Urban Institute vice president Shena Ashley shares three trends in 2018 that could shape/reshape charitable giving in the years to come.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (December 15-16, 2018)

December 16, 2018

Christmas-in-new-yorkA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Children and Youth

Once a thriving center of industry, Hudson, New York, was hit hard by de-industrialization over the closing decades of the twentieth century. But a recent wave of gentrification has made it a darling of tourists and second-home owners — a renaissance that hasn't benefited all its residents, write Sara Kendall and Joan E. Hunt on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog. Kendall, a co-founder and assistant director of Kite’s Nest, a center for liberatory education in Hudson, and Hunt, co-director of the Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, share some of what they have learned through the Raising Places, an initiative funded by RWJF that has spent the last year exploring ideas about how to create healthier communities that are also vibrant places for kids to grow up.

The Philanthropic Initiative's Robin Baird shares some of the themes related to the critical work of supporting young people that kept popping up at the 2018 Grantmakers for Education Conference in San Diego.

Civic Engagement

Martha Kennedy Morales, a third-grader at Friends Community School, a small private Quaker school in College Park, Maryland, ran for class president and lost, by a single vote, to a popular bot in the fourth grade. Then she got the surprise of her life. The Washington Post's Valerie Strauss shares what happened next on her Answer Sheet blog.

Fundraising/Marketing

On the GuideStar blog, George Crankovic, an experienced copywriter and strategist, shares three fundraising lessons he learned the hard way. 

Getting Attention! blogger Nancy Schwartz shares some advice for development and fundraising folks who want to use stories and photos of clients in their organizations' fundraising materials but also want to be respectful of their privacy.

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Weekend Link Roundup (December 8-9, 2018)

December 09, 2018

F2abfbb4-60b6-4641-ae9f-37fc3299453b-Dole_BushA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Children and Youth

Here on PhilanTopic, the Heising-Simons Foundation's Barbara Chow, and Shannon Rudisill, executive director of the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, discuss  the results of a joint effort to map the last ten years of philanthropic giving in the field of Early Childhood Care and Education

Climate Change

On the Surdna Foundation site, Helen Chin, director of the foundation's Sustainable Environments program, explains how a recent rethinking of the program was an "opportunity to build community resilience...in partnership with grantees working at the frontlines in communities of color — communities hardest hit by climate change, disinvestment, and racist planning practices."

A caravan of Central American migrants "seeking relief from a protracted drought that has consumed food crops and contributed to widespread poverty," hundreds of millions of people in India at increased risk of not having enough water, prolonged drought in the Horn of Africa that has "pushed millions of the world's poorest to the edge of survival" — all, writes Landesa's Karina Kloos, "are stark reminders that the most severe consequences of climate change are being inflicted upon people living in the Global South...."

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Iowa this week to take the temperature of Democratic primary voters and while there vowed to make climate change "the issue" of the 2020 presidential race. Trip Gabriel reports for the New York Times.

Criminal Justice

A new report funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation found that the arrest rate for California has dropped 58 percent since 1989, reaching a historic low of 3,428 per 100,000 residents in 2016. The report also found that individuals who are arrested tend to be nonwhite, younger, and male; that racial disparities in arrests have narrowed; that overall declines are mainly due to plummeting arrest rates for juveniles and young adults; and that women account for nearly a quarter of all arrests.

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (November 2018)

December 02, 2018

Devastating wildfires in California, a freak early season snowstorm in the Northeast, and a blue wave that flipped control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the Democrats' favor — November was at times harrowing and never less than surprising. Here on PhilanTopic, your favorite reads included new posts by John Mullaney, executive director of the Nord Family Foundation in Amherst, Ohio, and Jeanné L.L. Isler, vice president and chief engagement officer at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy; three posts by Larry McGill, vice president of knowledge services at Foundation Center, from our ongoing "Current Trends in Philanthropy" series; and oldies but goodies by Thaler Pekar and Gasby Brown, as well as a group-authored post by Nathalie Laidler-Kylander, May Samali, Bernard Simonin, and Nada Zohdy. Enjoy!

What have you read/watched/heard lately that got your attention, made you think, or charged you up? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Interested in writing for PND or PhilanTopic? We'd love to hear from you. Send a few lines about your idea/article/post to mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Weekend Link Roundup (November 24-25, 2018)

November 25, 2018

Givingtuesday3A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Arts and Culture

What role might foundations play in addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), a significant risk factor for a variety of health and social problems across the lifespan? John Mullaney, executive director of the Nord Family Foundation, has been thinking about that for some time now and, in a post here on PhilanTopic, shares his thoughts.

Climate Change

Thirty years after The New Yorker published "The End of Nature," Bill McKibben's seminal article about the greenhouse effect, McKibben returns to the pages of the magazine with a look at what we have learned in the decades since about climate change, extreme weather, and their impact on human society. You will not be encouraged.

Education

On the HistPhil blog, Leslie Finger, a political scientist and lecturer on government and social studies at Harvard University, considers some of the implications of foundation grants to state education agencies.

Fundraising

It's not enough for nonprofits to simply thank their donors, says Vu Le, who shares twenty-one tips designed to help you and your organization be better at recognizing and appreciating the people who support your work.

On the Bloomerang blog, Terri Shoemaker, chief strategy officer at Abeja Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona, pays tribute to "the small donor. The little ones. Those generous folks that give when they can to a mailing, online, or even to your very specific appeal on social media."

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (November 17-18, 2018)

November 18, 2018

61ucszqqXOL._SX425_A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Evaluation

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Jehan Velji and Teresa Power of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation share one of the lessons the team there has learned as the foundation pursues its limited-life strategy: the most important goal of evaluation is not to determine whether a program works or doesn't work, but to discover how to make a program work better over time.

Giving

Giving Compass, a nonprofit platform that is "organizing the world's information to make it easier to give well," recently celebrated its one-year anniversary. Interim CEO Stephanie Gillis reflects on what she and her team have learned over the last twelve months.

Guest blogging on the GuideStar blog, the Identity Theft Resource Center shares a few tips designed to help you avoid scammers and keep your personal data safe this giving season.

Health

Inadequate access to quality health care is a big problem in many rural areas. On the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog, Melissa Bosworth, executive director of the Eastern Plains Healthcare Consortium, a five-hospital in Hugo, Colorado, shares five recommendations for anyone interested in improving rural health access and equity.

Nonprofits

Nonprofit leaders need to stop saying "There's only so much money to go around," writes Vu Le on his Nonprofit AF blog. It's "a counter-productive self-fulfilling prophecy" that jeopardizes the future of your organization — and besides, your communities deserve better.

In the same vein, Nell Edgington shares some thoughts about how nonprofits can break through the financial glass ceiling — a level above which the money just won't grow —  that seems to exist for so many of them.

Looking for a good read this holiday season? Check out this list from Beth Kanter of books that should be on every nonprofit professional's reading list.

Continue reading »

A Conversation With Ann Mei Chang, Author, 'Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good'

November 14, 2018

Poverty. Mass migration. Economic dislocation. Climate change.

The problems confronting societies around the globe are big and getting bigger. The resources available to address those problems, however, are shrinking, as governments burdened by huge debts and future obligations and corporations wary of controversy pull back from “feel-good” causes and collective action. And while countless foundations and civil society groups continue to fight the good fight, their resources seem Lilliputian compared to the magnitude of the challenges we face.

It’s a moment that demands big thinking, bold thinking but also creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. The kind of thinking we’ve come to expect from Silicon Valley, the global epicenter of a certain kind of innovation and can-do spirit. The question, for many, is: What, if anything, can technologists teach nonprofits and social entrepreneurs about social change?

In her new book, Lean Impact: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good, Ann Mei Chang, a respected social change-maker and technologist, tackles that question head-on. Based on interviews with more than two hundred social change organizations spanning almost every continent, the book distills the lessons learned by change-makers over the years into a set of "lean" principles for nonprofits looking to innovate their way to greater impact.

PND recently spoke with Chang about the genesis of the book, the sometimes testy relationship between tech and the nonprofit sector, and her advice for millennials and social entrepreneurs impatient with the slow pace of change.

AnnMeiChang-32Philanthropy News Digest: How did you get into social change work?

Ann Mei Chang: I studied computer science in college and then worked in Silicon Valley for over twenty years, at big companies like Google, Apple, and Intuit, as well as a number of start-ups. But I had known since my mid-twenties that I wanted to spend the first half of my career in tech, and the second half doing something more meaningful, something to make the world a better place. I hoped I would be able to make that change, and I was committed to it, although I didn't know exactly when or how. But as I got closer to that point in my career, in my early forties, I began to look around at all the things I cared about, and decided to focus on global poverty, as it seemed to be at the root of so many other problems I cared about.

I recognized there was a lot I needed to learn about a very different space. I ended up taking a leave of absence from Google and went to the State Department on a fellowship, where I worked in the Secretary's Office of Global Women’s Issues, with a focus on issues around women and technology. It didn't take long before I was hooked. I resigned from Google and signed on for another year. After the State Department, where a lot of the work takes place at the ten-thousand-foot level, I joined a nonprofit called Mercy Corps to learn how the real work was being done in the trenches.

Then I was offered my dream job — as the first executive director for the Global Development Lab at USAID, the agency's newest bureau with an inspiring two-part mission. The first part was to identify breakthrough innovations that could accelerate progress in the global development and humanitarian aid work that USAID does. And the second was to look at how we could transform the practice of global development itself by bringing new tools and approaches to table. The first was the "what," and the second the "how."

It fit exactly into the way I was beginning to think about what was really needed to make a difference. That's why it felt like a dream job — it was an opportunity to do this work at the largest aid agency in the world, in the belly of the beast, so to speak, but where I'd be responsible for thinking about how we could work differently and more effectively.

PND: It's an interesting career trajectory, in that it bridges the worlds of both technology and social change. In your experience, do technologists get social change? Or do they tend to see it as another problem that needs to be "engineered"?

AMC: That really depends on the technologist. As with everything, people in tech exist on a spectrum. I've known people in tech who think that technology can solve everything — we'll build a smart phone app and that will somehow end global poverty. There can be a naiveté and hubris, especially when you’re building products for people who live in contexts that you’re not that familiar with.

But there's also a thriving community of tech people in the global development sphere — we call it ICT4D, or information communication technologies for development — who are both technologists and development professionals looking at the intersection between the two. This community has developed something called the principles for digital development, which embody the best practices for the responsible use of technology in development.

One of the really exciting things that happened while I was in government was the creation of US Digital Services and 18F, where a lot of people from the tech sector came in to work for the govern­ment and saw that their skills could be put to use to help the government better serve people. It was catalyzed by the debacle with HealthCare.gov, which caused a lot of people to recognize that tech had something it could contribute that would really make a difference.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (October 27-28, 2018)

October 28, 2018

Pittsburgh synogogue vigil union sq 353A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

In September, we reported on a coalition of mostly U.S.-based foundations and philanthropies that have pledged $4 billion to combat climate change. But what exactly can charitable efforts on that scale do to slow the pace of global warming and help people cope with its consequences? More than you think, writes Morten Wendelbo, a research fellow at American University, on The Conversation site.

Civil Society

Palaces for the People, a new book by Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University and director of its Institute for Public Knowledge, examines how "social infrastructure" — libraries, parks, playgrounds, gardens, child care centers, churches, and synagogues — help us form some of our most significant and abiding connections. These spaces are also crucial, Klinenberg argues, for bridging divides and safeguarding the values of democracy. Katie Pearce reports for Johns Hopkins University's Hub.

Education

A lot of kids graduate high school unprepared for success in college and beyond. A new study from the New Teacher Project, a national nonprofit focused on teacher development and educational programming, puts most of the blame on school itself. Eillie Anzilotti reports for Fast Company.

Environment

The environmental movement is a lot of great things, but diverse isn't one of them. Vu Le's organization, Rainier Valley Corps, is creating a new program called the Green Pathways Fellowship designed to addressed the situation. In his latest post, Le shares a few components of the program. 

Equity

"[Philanthropy] defines people as 'low-income', 'at-risk', 'high-crime', 'low-literacy'. We define people by stigmatizing labels," Trabian Shorters, a former Knight Foundation VP who founded BME (Black Male Engagement) Community, tells Generocity's Julie Zeglin. A better approach would be to frame our narratives in terms of assets. Or as Shorters tells Zeglin: "[T]o really advance equity, you have to remind those who are really concerned with these questions that all of us are striving to do the best we can under the conditions that we're dealt. When you remind people of that, then we look at solutions entirely differently."

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (October 20-21, 2018)

October 21, 2018

Red-Sox-Dodgers-jpg_grandeA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Agricultural

The challenges facing the world's food systems are great and becoming greater. To avoid disaster, food producers, politicians, and consumers must pursue a new vision that "account[s] for human health and nutrition, environmental impact, and the hundreds of millions of jobs that depend on farming," writes Roy Steiner, managing director, food, at the Rockefeller Foundation. That will require at least four major transformations: a shift to more "flexitarian" diets; dramatic reductions in food loss and waste; stepped-up efforts to build and conserve soils; and applying our best technologies to the most underserved regions and populations.

Civil Society

"During much of the last century, philanthropic foundations based in the United States exported American ideals about democracy, market economies, and civil society. That mission was made possible by ideological support from and alignment with the U.S. government, which, in turn, imbued foundations with prestige and influence as they operated around the world," writes Ford Foundation president Darren Walker in Foreign Affairs. But, adds Walker,

American philanthropies such as the Ford Foundation can no longer count on such support. Nor can they be sure that the goals of increased equality, the advancement of human rights, and the promotion of democracy will find backing in Washington.
As U.S. leadership of the global order falters, American foundations must blaze a new path. The first step will be recognizing difficult truths about their history. The old order they helped forge was successful in many ways but also suffered from fundamental flaws, including the fact that it often privileged the ideas and institutions in prosperous Western countries and failed to foster equitable growth and stability in poorer countries. For all the good that American philanthropies have done, they have also helped perpetuate a system that produces far too much inequality. Their task today is to contribute to the construction of a new, improved order, one that is more just and sustainable than its predecessor....

In a time when society seems to be coming apart at the seams, libraries may just be "the last safe, free, truly public space where people from all walks of life may encounter each other.” In Quartz, Jenny Anderson looks at how libraries are reinventing themselves for the twenty-first century.

Climate Change

"I do not expect every foundation, corporation, and nonprofit to make climate change its top priority; there are many urgent issues that demand attention," writes Packard Foundation president Carol Larson on the foundation's website. "But if you care about children, if you care about health, or you care about economic development, you have to care about climate change. There is a role for every organization to play, and an urgent need for every organization to seize the opportunities in front of it...."

Continue reading »

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  • "Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary...."

    — Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

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