ICYMI: Last Week’s Nonprofit News, Today | Mar. 18

Last week, we saw some sector reaction to the president’s ambitious but (inevitably) controversial “My Brother’s Keeper” project, a bit of positive news on the economic state of the sector, and a lot of conversation about data, innovation, and online engagement coming out of the South by Southwest conference in Austin. Here, the best of what we found, along with some visionary thoughts on sector reform, the record (so far) on direct giving, and more.

HEADLINES

The Take on “My Brother’s Keeper”
(Nonprofit Quarterly)
President Obama’s newly-announced service initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper,” aims to improve the lives of young men, especially men of color, while bringing together a highly diverse range of supporters (the Rev. Al Sharpton and Bill O’Reilly both attended the program’s unveiling) and funders (including $200 million in foundation money). NPQ’s Rick Cohen takes a look at the details (what few there are at this point), the impetus (foundation leaders, rather than the White House, appear to have taken the lead), the criticism (demographically narrow, no systemic reform, no federal funding), and the potential.

New Data Shows Nonprofit Sector Bouncing Back from Recession
(StayClassy)
StayClassy briefs you on the New York Times report showing growth in the nonprofit sector, finding reason to be optimistic (the employment picture) and wary (the growth of demand for human services).

 

COLLABORATION

Structural Revolution and the Social Sector
(Stanford Social Innovation Review)
The development director at New Philanthropy Capital presents his vision of four changes that will both align the sector and, better yet, orient them toward the needs of beneficiaries—not the needs of funders.

 

DATA

SXSW: What Social Media Analytics and Data Can’t Tell You
(Beth’s Blog)
Beth Kanter delivers a highly detailed report from her panel at SXSW, full of insight into the systematic way experts approach a data set, as well as what her recent study says about the relationship between social media activity and donations. (Those short on time can skip to the middle, with “So, that does that mean nonprofits should give up on active social media users as a fundraising target?” [sic], just above the first chart.)

 

FUNDRAISING

GiveDirectly? Not So Fast
(Stanford Social Innovation Review)
Two foundation directors examine the efficacy of hot nonprofit GiveDirectly, which hands out no-string-attached cash directly to those in need—and recently netted $5 million in funding from GiveWell. What they find: an “important experiment” with some underwhelming results.

Live from SXSW: #GivingTuesday — The Sharknado of Giving
(The NonProfit Times)
A panel discusses lessons learned from two years of Giving Tuesdays, the new annual follow-up to the two biggest consumer spending days of the year: Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the Monday after that). NPT quotes Facebook’s head of strategic partnerships and the head of the 92nd Street Y in New York to find out what worked for nonprofits on the national day of charitable giving.

Why You Should Start Your Year-End Fundraising Now
(John Haydon)
Communications expert Haydon highlights a new infographic from Blackbaud summarizing their 2013 Charitable Giving Report, drawing three “action items” from the conclusions that will position your nonprofit to clean up in the last three months of the year, when the most giving happens. (For more on the report, check Blackbaud’s npEngage blog.)

How to learn when you can’t test
(Fundraising in Beautiful)
Perhaps to counteract the data-centric conversation echoing out of Austin, this podcast finds fundraising experts Jeff Brooks (of Stupid Nonprofit Ads fame) and Steven Screen discussing learning opportunities for nonprofit fundraisers without resources for direct-response testing, Their most interesting idea: donate to the big organizations in order to see how they do it.

 

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

How Nonprofits Use Social Media to Engage With Their Communities
(Nonprofit Quarterly)
The results of the Case Foundation’s first study of social media practices at nonprofits, based on a survey of more than 500 organizations, including the finding that nonprofits are putting more manpower on the social media beat (averaging one whole person, up from one-quarter of a person in NTEN’s latest eNonprofit Benchmarks Study).  

SXSW Report: Build Campaigns that Build Super Fans
(Susan’s Site)
Communications consultant for nonprofits Susan Chavez outlines a SXSW presentation on “Surprise and Delight Campaigns,” with eight steps to creating outreach that captures the imagination and passion of your audience.

 

ON GCN.ORG

Resource Opportunity: City of Atlanta Accepting Love Your Block Applications
(GCN)
The City of Atlanta, in partnership with Hands On Atlanta, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, and The Atlanta Community ToolBank, is gearing up for another round of LYB projects. Atlanta residents and neighborhood groups are invited to submit an application for mini-grants of up to $1,000 to improve their communities.

Marc Schultz is contributing editor at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

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