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8 Reasons for Nonprofits to Get Social with Foundations

I probably shouldn't be writing this blog post. I ought to relish the news that most of my nonprofit colleagues are not using social media to connect with the foundations that fund them. According to a new report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), only 16% of the grantees used at least one social media tool created by the funders included in the study. I believe the other 84% are missing out and giving a big competitive advantage to those of us that do see social media as a way to engage with funders.  I've come across thoughtful posts by the Knight Foundation  and the Patterson Foundation sharing the funder perspective on the benefits of engaging with grantees.Read more

9 Tips for Putting Social Capital Into Action

Over 80 Massachusetts philanthropists gathered this week at Brandeis Unversity to explore the topic "Social Captial in Action", the theme of this year's Associated Grantmakers of Massachusetts annual meeting. Needless to say, I was pleased that the local funding community is focusing on this topic. I was happy to have a chance to moderate a panel following Tom Sander's excellent keynote presentation on the subject. Tom is the Executive Director of the Saguaro Seminar for Civic Engagement. He got everyone up to speed on some of the basic social capital definitions and trends, then focused on implications for funders. Tom also previewed some disturbing new data suggesting a widening "opportunty gap" among social classes in America. (This live blog of a recent talk by Robert Putnam provides more information on this research.) After hearing Tom's talk, we were all ready to think about ways we might build social capital and address the problems he framed.Read more

A Super Message the Patriots Send

Everybody wants to tie their brand into the Super Bowl. I felt some obligation to think of a social capital angle we could bring to the big game. But clearly another Facebook or Twitter query, "So what or your plans for the game?" was not very interesting. I was inclined to pass on trying to articulate a connection between the SCI mission and the Super Bowl.Read more

Ford Foundation's Ubinas on Measurement and Social Change

Last night I had the chance to hear Luis Ubinas, President of the Ford Foundation, speak on "Pathways to Lasting Social Change" as part of the Brandeis Heller School 50th Anniversary Speaker Series.  The format was conversational, with Mr. Ubinas being interviewed by Professor Andy Hahn.  This allowed for an interesting exchange on a wide range of topics related to philanthropy, social change and Ubinas' vision for the Ford Foundation.

Mr. Ubinas has been at the helm of Ford for roughly two years, after having spent most of his career with McKinsey.  I'd say we're fortunate to have him now in such a key leadership role in the philanthropic center, as he brings tremendous energy, strategic insight and critical thinking to the work. Read more

The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle

Ann Goggins Gregory and Don Howard have written an important article entitled "The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle", originally published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.  They describe a vicious cycle that causes nonprofits to significantly under-invest in the infrastructure they need for long-term success: unrealistic funder expectations, pressure on nonprofits to conform with these expectations, and unrealistic reporting.

I'd encourage anyone interested in the health of the nonprofit sector read the article here; then pop back over if you'd like to hear my further comments on the article (which hadn't been posted over there yet as of this writing).

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