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Nonprofit Leadership News Brief: Week of September 26th

Submitted by: Zoe Madden-Wood on Sep 26th, 2011 at 7PM PDT

On the Future of Philanthropy...

  • The Stanford Social Innovation Review has an article talking about the changing face of philanthropy. The new generation of philanthropist are young, skilled and tech-savvy individuals. They desire to share their fortune in the same focused manner they have acquired it, by using their knowledge and skills to work on their passions. As larger foundations have been scaling back their contributions, these smaller mid-sized foundations have been increasing both their donation size and number of donations. With online giving associations such as Kiva popping up, perhaps the next wave will include donor-matching organizations that will match foundations with nonprofits as easily as Flixster makes movie recommendations.
  • Information is becoming more and more key in the modern era. Foundations are finding they can further their goals of philanthropy through information distribution, but with the sunset of traditional media sources such as newspapers, that task is somewhat complicated. The CT Mirror and the New Haven Independent are part of a new trend and a new experiment. Both are funded by organizations instead of being profit based and both have hired social media strategists to increase their engagement online. 


On Data...

  • danah boyd and Kate Crawford recently published a major paper entitled the "Six Provocations for Big Data". The claim that the era of Big Data has already begun and changes are expected to ensue. Among their arguments are that the automation of research changes the nature of knowledge, that bigger is not always better, and that not all data is relevant. They also discuss the ethical elements behind who gets access to what. 
  • Marc Maxson of the online donation site GlobalGiving shares the process they used to collect stories and perceptions from around the world. Careful to take out biases and actively aim for a broad perspective, he finds that Ugandans rarely say something is a bad idea, some people don't understand grey areas, and casting a wide net will in the end gain you a complete picture. When acquiring a full set of stories, it's best to pay attention to the details of the acquisition. 


On Communication...

  • Marc Ventresca comments in his speech at TEDxOxbridge that words matter and that he is skeptical of the word "entrepreneur". It brings to mind the quintessential risk taker, but it leaves out what many entrepreneurs actually do. Entrepreneurs are often far from risk takers, but instead were persistent and focused on starting somewhere and building to somewhere else. In general, these 'risky' entrepreneurs go about doing things in a concrete steps. He suggests that a "systems builder" is a more descriptive term to highlight these pillars of the economy.
  • Jack Springman of the Harvard Review tells people to drop "innovation" from their vocabulary. Instead, think of how to create value for those that you serve and the innovations more naturally present themselves. Working with an end in mind is often easier than working with a means of achieving an end. After all, how we frame a challenge greatly impacts how we succeed at it.


On Innovation...

  • Often ROI and innovation seem at odds. With most nonprofits worried about their bottom line, there is little room for experimentation. However, Derrick Feldman encourages nonprofits to fund R&D. He suggests focusing on finding donors to support ideas. This means donors that don't just support the organization, but also invest in the organization's ideas. 


Top Articles:


Bringing Philanthropy into the 21st Century

Author: Andrew Bangser

Date: July 29, 2011

Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review


Making Sense of the Future of News

Author: Ellen Martin

Date: July 26, 2011

Source: FSG Social Impact Consultants


Six Provocations for Big Data

Authors: danah boyd and Kate Crawford

Date: September 21, 2011

Source: Social Science Research Network


Tracking Flow in Storytelling

Author: Marc Maxson

Date: July 25, 2011

Source: Cognitive Edge


Don't be an Entrepreneur, Build Systems

Speaker: Marc Ventresca

Date: July 10, 2011

Source: TEDxOxbridge


Drop Innovation from Your Vocabulary

Author: Jack Springman

Date: September 15, 2011

Source: Harvard Business Review


Increase ROI Without Sacrificing Innovation

Author: Derrick Feldmann, CEO

Date: July 29, 2011

Source: Achieve