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Weekly News Alert: Networks, Social Investing, Transparency and Social Justice


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On Networks and Leadership Learning Community...

  •  Diana Scearce of Working Wikily writes about how to measure the effectiveness of working through and investing in networks.  Scearce draws upon the article by Bruce Hoppe and Claire Reinelt (of Leadership Learning Community), “Social Network Analysis and the Evaluation of Leadership Networks”, which points to three levels of network impact to consider: connectivity, overall network health and field level outcomes.  Claire Reinelt posts a comment responding to the article, listing ways to track different kinds of data.  She also writes about the idea that ultimate value can only be answered by the network “taking stock of their values and purpose.”
  • Are collaboration and developing a network means or ends?  IISC looks at their own Dimensions of Success (Process-Results-Relationship) model and discusses these questions.  They conclude that the answer to both questions is Yes: collaboration and networking act as both means and ends.  Results are important but the process is as important as the end product.

On Social Investing...

  • The President of Charity Navigator, Ken Berger, writes about the importance of measuring the impact of nonprofit organizations.  About 98% of nonprofits cannot show they have a meaningful impact, he says.  He realizes that people give to nonprofits because of an emotional connection or a compelling story, but he believes there is a trend towards social investing (rather than giving) and it is evaluation and measurable impact that is driving this shift.

On Transparency

  • Philanthropy 2173 writes about PresenTense, an “open source organization.”  PresenTense focuses on building the Jewish community’s next generation of pioneers and innovators by allowing its members to contribute to the organization, meaning it works to “enable all members to add to it, change it, modify and improve it.”  The goal is to encourage collaboration which will generate ideas.  Philanthropy 2173 writes about the trends of data and transparency and gives other real examples in the non-profit world of this type of transparency.
  • Debra Askanase also writes about the PresenTense Group and she expands on the idea of an open source organization.  She comes up with a formula that says Transparency + Clarity + Inclusionary Decision-Making = The Open Source Organization.

On Changing Models...

  • The Bridgespan Group says that philanthropists need to ‘get real’ to make real change.  They need to hold themselves to higher standards which is difficult, they say, because there are too few “truth-tellers” who are willing to point out flawed approaches.  Unlike the business world, there are no market forces driving evaluation and good performance.  To create lasting change, nonprofit organizations cannot over-rely on evidence too early in the process or over-rely on values and beliefs too late in the process.  Additionally, they need to be more receptive to critical feedback.
  • The Christian Science Monitor makes some radical suggestions about how to change the current nonprofit model.  The premise is that we have too many charities in the United States and that we need to concentrate on making the ones we have more efficient rather than continuing to create more, newer ones.  The first idea they suggest is to “let communities engage directly with causes and people in need.” So, rather than giving money to United Way to support Food banks, donors would give directly to the hungry.  Another suggestion they have is to outsource.

On Leadership and Social Justice...

  • In the field of social justice, mindfulness and contemplative practice is important.  In our world of chaos and confusion, leadership based in service and non-judgment needs to be a strong force.  It is this approach of mindfulness and contemplative practice which will allow us to collaborate across differences and create lasting change.
  • In September, John Baldoni of Harvard Business Publishing, wrote an article about humility as a leadership trait.  He said it was important for leaders to temper authority, look to promote others and acknowledge what others do in order to bring people together.  This week he writes a follow-up post about humility as a valuable trait for everyone who works for an organization. He describes humility as developing a sense of self-awareness and a “strong sense of modesty.”

On Philanthropy...

  • The Agitator publishes a post about the differences between donor acquisition and donor conservation.  The post states that we have been stuck in an age where “new donors were plentiful and the only obstacle to success was the will to mail.”  This is termed the age of donor acquisition.  Now we have moved to an age of donor conservation in which life-time value and long-term loyalty from donors is the focus.  We need to understand that donors are not limitless, the post argues.
  • The Foundation Center publishes a report about the impact the recession has had on philanthropic giving.  They conclude that foundations will be giving less than was predicted in January, but many are also rethinking their grantmaking so “fewer dollars will not necessarily mean less impact.”  The report is available for free on the Foundation Center’s website.

Top Articles:

Networks for social impact: making the case
Author: Diana Scearce
Date: October 30, 2009
Source: Working Wikily

Means and Ends
Author: Curtis Ogden
Date: November 5, 2009
Source: IISC Blog

Why Should Donors Care About Outcomes and Impact?
Author: Ken Berger
Date: October 26, 2009
Source: Ken’s Commentary

Open Organizations
Author: Lucy Bernholz
Date: November 5, 2009
Source: Philanthropy 2173
Where is The Open Source Organization?
Author: Debra Askanase
Date: November 5, 2009
Source: Community Organizer 2.0

The Hard Truth: Philanthropists Need to ‘Get Real’ to make Lasting Change
Authors: Susan J. Colby, Susan Wolf Ditkoff
Date: October 29, 2009
Source: The Bridgespan Group
Are there too many charities in America?
Author: Paul Lamb
Date: September 24, 2009
Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Mindfulness and Social Justice
Author: Marianne Hughes
Date: November 2, 2009
Source: IISC Blog

Humility as a Leadership Trait
Author: John Baldoni
Date: September 15, 2009
Source: Harvard Business Publishing

Use Humility to Improve Performance
Author: John Baldoni
Date: November 5, 2009
Source: Harvard Business Publishing

The End Of An Era. Thank Heavens!
Date: November 5, 2009
Source: The Agitator
New Research Advisory Gives Long-Term View of Foundation Giving
Date: November 5, 2009
Source: Philanthropy Front and Center – San Francisco
Research Advisories
Author: Steven Lawrence
Date: November 2009
Source: Foundation Center