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October 2010 (6 posts)

Encouraging Transparency
October 22, 2010

magnifying glassA number of articles have recently been published discussing transparency specifically in the nonprofit sector and more broadly. Both authors bring up the point that transparency is more than disclosing details of company regulations or posting regulatory documents, but about developing a culture of openness and trustworthiness.

In fact, the Foundation Center was originally founded with the mission of making foundations more transparent, based on the conviction that philanthropy would be best served by proving that it had nothing to hide. More recently, we have consolidated our initiatives to encourage foundation transparency on glasspockets.org. There, you can view profiles of some of the largest foundations, showcasing their accountability practices, sign up for Grantsfire, which allows foundations to post grants in real time, or view other facts about philanthropy. It is a fantastic resource for those who want to know more about how foundations function.

Like the authors of the articles point out, participating in these initiatives do not guarantee complete transparency, but at least it's a start - and the fact that transparency is become more of a present issue is an indication of its importance. We hope that our continued work with Glasspockets will inspire foundations to have greater openness about their operation and increasing impact by highlight both successful and unsuccessful initiatives.  

Introducing GrantSpace
October 14, 2010

Originally posted on PhilanTopic.

Cynthia Bailie is the director of special information initiatives at the Foundation Center and heads the Center's Cleveland office. She blogs regularly at the Philanthropy Front and Center-Cleveland blog and wrote about the center's Nonprofit Collaboration Database for PhilanTopic in May.

GrantSpace Are you wasting time looking for resources, tools, and training needed to kick-start your fundraising and social change efforts? Good news. The Foundation Center has added a new online community to its portfolio of web properties that has everything you need in one place.

After a year-long process built on engaging with our audiences and five decades as the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, the Foundation Center is pleased to announce the launch of grantspace.org. GrantSpace places the best information about grants and fundraising within reach of organizations of all sizes, providing grantseekers with a one-stop shop for knowledge, community, and expert guidance. Complementing the resources on the Foundation Center's main site, foundationcenter.org, GrantSpace gathers, on a single convenient platform, recent news, reports, podcasts, videos, statistics, sample documents, and requests for proposals related to the most pressing social change issues of the day. Links to relevant FAQs are included throughout the site, and an "Ask Us" link on each page connects visitors to expert assistance from Foundation Center staff via live chat or e-mail. The site also offers a comprehensive calendar that lists and allows registration for upcoming Foundation Center training opportunities in classrooms around the U.S. as well as online.

GrantSpace's user-focused assortment of tools and resources is designed to get you up-to-speed on all it takes to finance and operate a nonprofit organization. Register now (it's free) and begin rating content and weighing in on what matters to you. New members can also grab a free 24-hour subscription to the Foundation Directory Online Professional, the center's searchable database of nearly 100,000 grantmakers and more than two million grants.

But wait, there's more. Over the coming months, we'll be introducing an online diagnostic tool for nonprofit practitioners looking to add to their knowledge base; a variety of community forums; live events; and additional must-have content from the Foundation Center and its growing list of partners.

In the meantime, we want to hear from you. What would you like to see in GrantSpace? Know of a cool tool or compelling content we should add? Drop us a line using the Feedback link and we'll see what we can do.

What are you waiting for? Click on over to GrantSpace to explore a growing range of in-depth content, engage with your peers and experts, and energize your fundraising efforts. And, of course, feel free to share your thoughts and feedback in the comments section.

-- Cindy Bailie

Corporate Funding
October 08, 2010

Wired for GoodIf you're a frequent user of Foundation Directory Online Professional, hopefully you are familiar with the "Search Companies" tab. Yet companies are often forgotten as a source of funding or other resources for nonprofit organizations. The Foundation Center - San Francisco recently hosted a workshop with Joni Podolsky, author of Wired for Good: Strategic Technology Planning for Nonprofits and principal of CommunityCollage Consulting. Throughout the workshop Corporate Partnerships in a Downsized World, Podolsky discussed the many reasons why corporations give, resulting in a better understanding of how nonprofits can create stronger partnerships with corporations. A full round-up of the event can be viewed at the Philanthropy Front and Center blog.

Learn more
If you want to learn more about corporate giving, check out the Foundation Center's Introduction to Corporate Giving, which is available as self-paced e-learning, a webinar, or as a free classroom training course. For a more in-depth introduction, try the day-long course Securing Corporate Partnerships. Also be sure to check out the other resources available on our website, including sample documents, podcasts, and videos.  

Introducing the Social Media Tab
October 06, 2010

Button_social_mediaWe have an exciting new enhancement to announce for Foundation Directory Online Professional grantmaker profiles. Included in the expanded Professional portfolio is a tab housing each grantmaker's social media and multimedia channels, including:

  • Facebook wall content and "like" box
  • Twitter feed
  • Recent videos posted to YouTube and Vimeo
  • Flickr photo badge
  • Recent Blog entries
  • Links to LinkedIn, MySpace, and multimedia pages, including podcasts and video hosted on the grantmaker's web site

For subscribers at all plan levels, links to this content remain available in the Online Communications field on the main profile tab. But with this new enhancement, the feeds of all this content displayed directly on the new tab allow Professional subscribers to follow grantmakers' social media activity right in FDO.

Try it today!
To get started exploring this feature, just keyword or Power Search the name of any social media channel you're curious about and your results will list the grantmakers whose profiles include that content. Or just search the grantmakers database as you normally would and see which foundations have social media feeds available (look for the social media badge above on the profile main tab).

And the best part is, we're just getting started. Keep an eye out for additional social media channels and multimedia content in the coming months, and we'd like your help. If you know of a foundation in your community with a presence on any of the media channels listed here, or on other channels we're not currently displaying, just let us know using the link at the bottom of the Social Media tab. The more you participate, the more robust this enhancement will become. 

Are You Ready for Nonprofit Collaboration?
October 05, 2010

(from Cynthia Bailie at Philanthropy Front and Center - Cleveland)

Five Suggestions for Getting Ready for Collaboration:

Collab1. Familiarize yourself with how nonprofits are working together.

Our Collaboration Database is a resource for everyone seeking real-life examples of how nonprofits are working together. Find information from more than 250 nonprofit collaborations drawn from the 2009 Collaboration Prize, created by the Lodestar Foundation. Explore different collaboration models, learn about strategies for overcoming challenges to working together, find metrics for measuring outcomes, and more.

2. Learn the language of nonprofit collaboration.

You can start with this FAQ from LaPiana Consulting, "What are Some Common Types of Strategic Restructuring?" It explains that "strategic restructuring occurs when two or more independent organizations establish an ongoing relationship to increase the administrative efficiency and/or further the programmatic mission of one or more of the participating organizations through shared, transferred, or combined services, resources, or programs."   

The Center for Nonprofit Excellence offers this list of terms and definitions from John A. Yankey, Ph.D.,   director of the Strategic Alliances Project at the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Case Western Reserve University.

3. Assess your organization's readiness.

Here's a fun little exercise from Innovation Network, "What's Your Organization's CQ (Collaborative Quotient)?" to measure your organization's culture of collaboration.  The Collaboration Benefits program of BASAAC (British Association of Settlements and Social Action Centres) offers resources and tools for identifying, planning, and implementing collaborations.

4. Read up on recent trends in nonprofit collaboration.

Visit our library to read or borrow these and other items:

~La Piana, David. "Merging Wisely." Stanford Social Innovation Review vol. 8 (Spring 2010) p. 28-33. Available online.

~Lieber, Penina Kessler;  Chase, Susan. "Mapping a Process for Successful Mergers." Nonprofit World vol. 28 (July-August 2010) p. 18-9.

~Sowa, Jessica E. "The Collaboration Decision in Nonprofit Organizations: Views From the Front Line." Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly vol. 38 (December 2009) p. 1003-25.

5. Build your network.

We invite you to attend any of our classes and events to meet others who are working in your field of interest.

More on Social Media
October 04, 2010

PhilanTopic, the blog of the Foundation Center's Philanthropy News Digest, just posted an interview with social entrepreneur Alison Fine. Her second cook, co-authored with Beth Kanter, is The Networked Non-profit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Social Change, which develops the concept of a "networked on-profit" and describes how organizations comfortable with social media can use it effectively as part of a greater overall strategy. The interview provides some great expert insight into why everyone should reconsider their engagement with social media - particularly if this engagement is currently non-existant - and addresses some of the common concerns of skeptics.

 A recent article by Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker, Small Change: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted, clearly establishes him as one of these skeptics. In the article, Gladwell highlights the famous Woolworth's sit-in of the civil rights movement, comparing this sort of social activism to that generated by social media. He argues that outlets like Facebook and Twitter will never be able to produce social change on the scale of the civil rights movement, primarily because such change requires more personal investment than simply virtual support of a cause. This has prompted a number of critical responses in the blogosphere, and Beth Kanter highlights a number of them in her own blog. Whatever your views on social media, it is important to at least be aware of the discussions surrounding its role in the realm of philanthropy.