Nonprofit Newswire | January 20, 2010

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The Nonprofit QuarterlyMeaning of Brown Win
January 19, 2010; Wall Street Journal | NPQ found the outcomes of yesterday’s Special Senate race in Massachusetts  unsurprising and its meaning and ramifications are still in play. This article contains a number of interpretations.

The Nonprofit QuarterlyMad Advocate Leaves This Life
January 19, 2010
; NPR | “Let us celebrate the spirit of non-compliance that is the self struggling to survivor (sic). Let us celebrate the unbowed head, the heart that still dreams, the voice that refuses to be silent.” These are the words of Judi Chamberlin, a founder of the self-help/advocacy movement for people who have been diagnosed with, and hospitalized for, mental illness. Chamberlin passed away this past weekend at the age of 65. The Mental Patients Liberation Front which she helped start more than 30 years ago was one of many such grassroots movements at that time—movements that provided a setting for people who had been politically/socially marginalized to define themselves differently than others had, to determine their own concerns, support one another, and have an impact collectively on the public and institutional policies that directly affected them. So instead of writing a piece that attempts to encapsulate this life so well led and worthy of our gratitude we share with you this article of hers from the National Empowerment Center website, Confessions of a Noncompliant Patient. I commend it to you because most of us could afford to be a little less compliant right now. Here is a little teaser: “I’ve been a good patient, and I’ve been a bad patient, and believe me, being a good patient helps to get you out of the hospital, but being a bad patient helps to get you back to real life.”—Ruth McCambridge

The Nonprofit QuarterlyNonprofit Muckrakers?
January 17, 2010; ABC News | There have been many proposals for foundations to support, if not endow, nonprofit investigative journalism entities such as ProPublica, the Center for Investigative Reporting, InvestigateWest, and the Center for Public Integrity. Some foundations have stepped to the table. For example, the multi-millions pledged by the Sandler Foundation to ProPublica and seven figures raised by the Center for Investigative Reporting to establish California Watch. But this Associated Press article suggests that “philanthropy probably can’t maintain all of these groups forever” and described these programs’ exploration of alternative financial models, such as memberships, sponsorships, and of course advertising. Implicitly, the lesson of the article is that nonprofit journalism, even nonprofit watchdogs, require more than foundation money in order to survive. They probably can’t survive, even with largely online presences, without reverting to part of the business model of traditional journalism involving selling advertising.—Rick Cohen

The Nonprofit QuarterlySlow Spending Stimulus
January 17, 2010; Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Who’s responsible for the slow spending in weatherization funds made available through the stimulus? According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, only 430 homes have been weatherized in Georgia from a list of 13,617 homes the state says it will succeed in weatherizing by March, 2012 (11,000 people are on a waiting list for weatherization assistance). The state government explains its slow rate of spending as the result of a desire “to take a very steady approach . . . and . . . to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars.” Georgia isn’t alone however: so far, according to a GAO report in December, only 7,300 homes have been weatherized, 1 percent of the stimulus target of 593,000. What explains Georgia’s slow spending? “[C]oncerns about the ability of Community Action Agencies to absorb and effectively manage large numbers of weatherization requests in a short period of time,” according to the state’s accountability officer in a statement issued on April 30th. Rather than bemoaning community action agencies’ slow starts and worrying about how well they can absorb weatherization funds in a short period, the state might do better to help the agencies expand their capacities and hire the personnel they need to respond to the extent of the need.—Rick Cohen

The Nonprofit QuarterlySocial Media Marketing Check Up
January 19, 2010; The Tennessean | Let’s admit it. We’ve all spent a lot of time recently figuring out how Twitter and Facebook can improve our lots in life. The words “Twitter” and “Facebook” have begun to illicit Pavlovian ticks when heard around our offices. No matter how you slice it though, social networking platforms are ideal tools for individuals and charitable organizations looking to market their causes and Twitter and Facebook have proven to be two of the most effective. There are three ways nonprofits utilize Facebook most, Stephen Moseley, social media guru and vice president of Nashville-based, told the Tennessean. Most organizations will use the Causes application, set up a fan page, or create a Facebook group to share information and solicit support, Moseley said. As it turns out, and predictably so, raising money isn’t as simple as creating a Causes page and telling people about it. Social networking hasn’t yet replaced the success of face-to-face interaction when it comes to raising money. “Most organizations are still getting 80 to 90 percent—if not more—of their money coming in through traditional channels. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be like that forever,” Mosely said. So for now, finding the balance between our traditional fundraising methods and newer technological tools turns out to be our lot in life.—Aaron Lester




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