Can Bloggers Change the World? Some Food for Thought on Blog Action Day 2009

September 28, 2009

Can bloggers change the world? The folks over at certainly think so. They are busy orchestrating the third annual Blog Action Day.

The idea behind Blog Action Day is simple. Individual bloggers can only do so much, but if enough bloggers can be united to write about a single issue on a particular day from their own unique perspective, suddenly that issue has an audience of millions.

Reading about’s Blog Action Day got me thinking about the prospect of this type of cross-organizational communication on common causes within Minnesota. As a communicator working in the nonprofit and philanthropic sphere, I know I daily combat the daunting knowledge that we are all in a sense “competing” for a finite amount of the public’s attention.

Seeing the initiative got me thinking. What if groups hooked arms and pulled together around causes, instead of elbowing each other out of the way?

What do you think? Are there more ways that organizations within Minnesota can be collaborating on communication around common causes? How effective do you think online, cross-organizational strategies like these are, especially when there’s no common message per se, but just a common directive to draw attention to the topic?

Can you think of any groups who are taking steps to communicate jointly around a shared interest using their online communications like the folks over at

I am all ears! If you have any thoughts or examples to share about this strategy for public engagement, please leave your comments below.

-Cary Lenore Walski, MCF web communications associate

Second Helpings from the Blogosphere

September 23, 2009

Grab a plate folks, it’s time for your biweekly serving of the latest and greatest commentary from the philanthropy and nonprofit blogosphere.

Are Happiness and Generosity the Future of Marketing Campaigns?
(Beth’s Blog) Beth Kanter waxes philosophical on a micro-trend in marketing towards stressing positivity and affiliation.

Decoding the Future of Philanthropy
(Philanthropy 2173) Lucy Bernholz discusses the future of philanthropy, and how data will be the new platform for determining the flow of philanthropic dollars.

Not Your Mama’s Philanthropy
(New Voices of Philanthropy) Race and gender diversity are often talked about, but what about age diversity? Trista Harris addresses this rarely discussed dynamic and warns us about the consequences of ignoring it.

The Problem with Non
(Seth Godin’s Blog) This is the post that launched a thousand angry comments. If you’re not attuned to the rhythms of the blogosphere, you may be unaware of this particular post which unleashed a shock wave of responses from the nonprofit community. In it Godin lambastes the nonprofit community for not taking risks and engaging in social media.

Why Seth Godin is Wrong
(onPhilanthropy) In this frequently cited response to “The Problem with Non,” Tom Watson criticizes Godin’s arguements, pointing out that fear of embracing new technology is hardly unique to the nonprofit world, and that there many examples of nonprofits successfully leveraging social media to raise funds and awareness.

Photo CC Straitic

Second Helpings from the Blogosphere

September 9, 2009

Grab a plate folks, it’s time for your biweekly serving of the latest and greatest commentary from the philanthropy and nonprofit blogosphere. Combines Philanthropy And Online Dating
(CauseCast) There’s a new matchmaker in The Big Apple, The site allows you to surf for for your soul-mate online, while donating 50% of your monthly membership to the charity of your choice. Sorry TC singles–the site is for New Yorkers only, at least for now.

How to Become a More Resilient Nonprofit Leader
(Stanford Social Innovation Review) Rosetta Thurman shares her thoughts on the dramatic changes occurring in the nonprofit sector, and how individuals can find new ways to innovate and avoid burn-out during these challenging times.

How Do You Create a Culture that is Not Afraid to Fail (or Be More Receptive to Social Media?)
(Beth’s Blog) Beth Kanter suggests redefining “failure” in social media as a “learning experience” with tips on how to help social media skeptics see the engagement opportunities in using new modes of communication.

Social Entrepreneur API
(Tactical Philanthropy Advisors) Sean Stannord-Stockton discuss The Social Entrepreneur API (Application Programming Interface), the first open database of information about social entrepreneurs who have won fellowships and awards from social enterprise funders.

Vote for the Best Taglines — 2009 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards
(The Getting Attention Blog) The 60 tagline finalists for Nancy Schwartz’s annual competition are up on the web, and ready for voting. Submit that digital ballot by Sept. 30!

-Cary Lenore Walski, MCF web communications associate

Photo CC Striatic

Second Helpings from the Blogosphere

July 20, 2009

Grab a plate folks, it’s time for your biweekly serving of the latest and greatest commentary from the philanthropy and nonprofit blogosphere.

Debating NBC’s Drama The Philanthropist
(Tactical Philanthropy) It’s official, folks, The Philanthropist throw-down is happening tomorrow, Tuesday, July 21.  Join Steven Gunderson, Council on Foundations CEO, and Sean Stannord-Stockton, director of Tactical Philanthropy at Ensemble Capital Management, as they debate the merits (or lack there of) of NBC’s show. Stay tuned to Sean’s blog for a complete recap of the event.

How to Innovate
(Donor Power Blog) In this video Guy Kawasaki riffs on the theme of innovation to give us ten shining pearls o’ wisdom. Although awkwardly abbreviated, the video is still a nice pick-me-up for those of us trying to drive change across their organization or across the nation. My favorite? Definitely, “Don’t worry, be crappy.”

Less is More (Again!) — Newark Museum Tagline Success in Just 4 Words
(The Getting Attention Blog) This post is a continuation on Nancy E. Schwartz’s ongoing quest for the best nonprofit tagline. For nonprofits and grantmakers alike, a tagline is one of the best tools you have for making a clear, memorable impression about your organization. Check out this post and Nancy’s tagline contest at her site.

New Models for (Philanthropy) Research & Dialogue
(Philosophy 2.0) Tony Wang critiques the current research paradigm. He recommends some new approaches to sharing information about philanthropy enabled by web 2.0 including crowdsourcing wisdom with wikis, and using twitter hashtags to communicate with grantees and stakeholders.

Using Flickr Creatively
(Beth’s Blog) Deborah Arkanase introduces us to three nonprofits using the photo sharing site Flickr to engage their base in new ways.

-Cary Lenore Walski, MCF web communications associate

Photo CC Striatic

Second Helpings from the Blogosphere

June 22, 2009

Grab a plate folks, it’s time for your biweekly serving of the latest and greatest commentary from the philanthropy and nonprofit blogosphere.

Twenty-one Community Foundations that Tweet
(Philanthropy 411 Blog) The world of philanthropy is all a-twitter! Here’s a list of 21 community foundations from the Philanthropy 411 Blog who are using twitter to keep in touch with their stakeholders.

How to use Twitter to Benefit Your Nonprofit
( Wondering how twitter can help your nonprofit? This article gives an excellent overview of what twitter is, with some ideas on how you can get started with it. (Not technically a blog entry, but it’s so useful I don’t think you’ll mind!)

Nonprofits Will Never Be Respected Until We Start Respecting Ourselves
(Rosetta Thurman) Thurman addresses the important issue of individual responsibility in raising the prestige of working in the nonprofit field.

Philanthropy Feature on AOL News
(Charity Navigator Blog) The Philanthropy Project, in partnership with AOL, recently launched a new site,, to promote the benefits of living a philanthropic lifestyle. There are some great features on the site including interactive quizzes to help you identify your philanthropic interests.

Why Innovation Matters
(Stanford Social Innovation Blog) Mario Morino explores the concept of innovation using the analogy of an ecosystem. Using examples, he outlines a model for fostering a culture of innovation on a national scale.

-Cary Lenore Walski, MCF Web Communications Associate

Responding to Economic Turmoil in the Arts

May 8, 2009

How are arts grantmakers and their arts partners and grantees managing the impact of the recession? What are foundations and other funders doing? How is funding being affected now, and how is it apt to be affected in the next 12-24 months?

The McKnight Foundation’s  Grantmakers in the Arts site has relaunched it’s Economic Turmoil and Change blog to answer questions like these. Items on the blog will be organized into the following categories:

  • Change and possibility: a silver lining?
  • Ideas and action: what funders are doing
  • Research and background
  • Opinion and advice
  • Collective thinking and other resources
  • In the press
  • Welcome Distractions, Art, Humor

The blog  already contains links to some great resources. Check it out and add your comments. It’s a good site that will only get better with your input. The McKnight Foundation is an MCF member.

- Susan Stehling, MCF web communications associate

Googling Philanthropy Just Got Easier

May 5, 2009

Last week, I blogged about IssueLab, an online resource for research by and about nonprofits (including the philanthropic sector). IssueLab is just one of a growing number of online resources for those seeking information on philanthropy. Another, developed in March of this year, is

The site was created by Tony Wang, a staff member at Blueprint Research & Design. Basically, he’s customized Google’s search service to scan 199 web sites that contain information about philanthropy, with the goals of making information on philanthropy more accessible, and encouraging the sector to share higher quality and more useful information. On his blog, he explains his wish for philanthropy to recognize the importance of its knowledge assets and to create a more efficient marketplace of information about those assets. These are laudable goals; Philanthropy Search aims to be a first step in the process.

While Wang is the first to note that there are ongoing design questions that remainto be answered about this site, such as what philanthropic information should be included as part of the universe of Philanthropy Search, and who is going to develop, refine, and market the tool (he’s currently doing it in his spare time), Philanthropy Search has a lot of potential.

For those interested in research by and about the philanthropic sector, this is another good resource. Best of all, the creator is soliciting feedback about how to make the site better. So try it out, see what you can find, and post your thoughts on his blog.

Juliana Tillema, MCF research manager

Conference blog keeps you in the loop

May 4, 2009

The national Council on Foundations’ (COF) annual conference began this morning in Atlanta.  COF’s president Steve Gunderson writes, “There is energy and urgency in the air. It’s a critical time for the country and the world. And it’s just the right time for the more than 1,300 people here to reexamine philanthropy’s place, today and tomorrow.”

Tight budgets may be preventing many from attending this year, but you can still join the conversation and gather insights on what matters in the field of philanthropy.

The Council launched a new blog, which my colleague Juliana Tillema introduced to you on her Philanthropy Potluck blog post April 30. The conference blog, RE: Philanthropy, provides a place for those attending to post reports and reflections on what they see, hear and think. What’s the talk in the halls? Amid all the changes in the economy and Washington, what really matters now?

The blogging team is a mix of expected and unexpected writers, established voices and next-generation leaders, and includes Minnesota connections such as Trista Harris, executive director of Headwaters Foundation for Justice, and Emmett Carson, former president and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation and current CEO and president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.  The blog may also include video.

This morning’s posts include contributors’ responses to the question “What one question do you think philanthropy needs to address?”

COF says the blog will continue beyond the conference. So, check out what your colleagues in philanthropy are saying. Post your own ideas. And join the conversation.

- Chris Murakami Noonan, MCF Communications Associate


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