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News from the Case Foundation and what people are talking about this week in the world of giving, tech and everything in between.
Local media and bloggers highlight America's Giving Challenge winnersLast week, along with our partners at Causes and PARADE Publications, we announced the official results and winners of the 2009 America's Giving Challenge, during which more than 105,000 donations helped to raise $2.1 million for nonprofits. Several bloggers and local news outlets wrote about the results and highlighted the winners, including Katya Andresen, who in a blog post entitled "What the Winners of America's Giving Challenge Can Teach Us," writes:
The greatest value of the Giving Challenge is the new messengers it inspires and the engagement it prompts. Take a page from Atlas and ask your champions - whether they be volunteers, donors, beneficiaries, partners or fans - to not simply give but to also recruit.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch highlighted a local Virginia organization, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, who won a $10,000 award in the Challenge, and the South Bend Tribune highlighted Five Star, an Elkhart, IN organization which was able to claim one of the final $10,000 awards, noting that "Five Star used a combination of Facebook, other social media and radio stations to get the word out, and also credited the dozens of volunteers that made it possible." And in the latest edition of Allison Fine's regular Social Good podcast on the Chronicle of Philanthropy site, the Case Foundation's Kari Saratovsky discussed lessons learned from America's Giving Challenge and online giving competitions with Allison and Tom Watson.
What's the best and worst way to pick a charity this holiday season?Earlier this week, a consortium of organizations including Great Nonprofits, GiveWell, Philanthropedia, Charity Navigator, Guidestar, Hewlett Foundation and Philanthropy Action, teamed up to issue guidance designed to help donors evaluate and choose nonprofits to give to this holiday season. In addition to the press release, several of the organizations provided additional insight on their own blogs, including Tim Ogden of Philanthropy Action, who emphasizes that "donors who use overhead ratios to evaluate charities are doing more harm than good." Ken Berger, CEO of Charity Navigator also blogged about the guidance and provided more information on the organization's announced plans to change its nonprofit rating system.
Several bloggers in the nonprofit sector discussed the news, with many pointing out the significance of Charity Navigator's role in such an announcement. Sean Stannard-Stockton of Tactical Philanthropy notes that the new guidance is "a very important moment for the charity evaluation movement," praising Ken Berger's leadership and willingness to undertake a major overhaul of Charity Navigator's rating system. Nathaniel Whittemore also praises the consortium's guidance on his Social Entrepreneurship blog and states, "the thing that makes this press release particularly significant is the role of Charity Navigator - for a long time the leading advocate of the overhead ratio style metrics." In her post, Allison Fine notes her enthusiastic agreement with the guidance:
I couldn’t agree more with this assessment. It has always seemed ridiculous to me that every organization should have to try to conform to a standard level of overhead whether it suits their particular efforts or organization or not. The overhead for an opera company with its own space, for instance, is astronomical in comparison to a chamber orchestra that shares space with another group.
Beth Kanter also chimes in on the discussion with some insight on how she herself makes holiday giving decisions.
Online giving expected to increaseAnd speaking of holiday giving, this week nonprofit technology company Convio issued the results of a survey conducted on its behalf by Forrester, which estimates that online giving this holiday season will reach $4 billion and nearly two-thirds of online consumers will donate via the Web this year. The NonProfit Times features a thorough summary of the survey results, including comments from Convio's marketing and communications director. The Chronicle of Philanthropy also highlights the survey findings, as does eJewish Philanthropy, who also highlights the survey's finding that nonprofit websites play a role in all holiday giving decisions, regardless of whether the donation itself is made online.
World AIDS Day and the tech / social media communityIn honor of World AIDS Day on Tuesday, top online social media sites Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr came together to help raise awareness about the disease. ReadWriteWeb posted a great summary of each organization's involvement in the Day, and also featured some commentary from the CEO of (RED), a brand that helps raise awareness and money for the fight against AIDS in Africa, on the goal of a social media campaign like this one, noting:
Like social media itself, with (RED) the power is not so much in the act of one individual but in the incredible power of the collective acts of individuals. In just over three years, over 1.5 million people have joined (RED) via a range of social media.
ReadWriteWeb also published a list of bloggers and tweeters who are sharing their experiences living with HIV and AIDS. On the Huffington Post's Impact section, online media strategist Ari Herzog shared how he had "gone RED" in honor of the day, and Google provided some additional color on their involvement on the Google.org blog.
Barron's 25 best philanthropistsOver the weekend, Barron's published its list of the world's "25 Best Givers," including well-known names in the philanthropy sector like Bill & Melinda Gates, Jeff Skoll and Bill & Hillary Clinton, as well as celebrities who are known for giving back such as Brad Pitt and Magic Johnson. Barrons explains the methodology behind the selection of the list, which was created in partnership with Global Philanthropy Group, noting that:
Global Philanthropy Group and Barron's considered scores of philanthropists, rating them on such criteria as innovation, quality of alliances with other groups, the ripple effects of their giving and the extent to which their successful projects can be replicated. We gravitated to philanthropists whose causes address severe problems, like children's health in high-poverty regions of the world, but a broad range of causes, even in the arts, are reflected in the final cut.
A few bloggers chimed in, including Sean Stannard-Stockton, who is somewhat critical of the list, specifically noting his concerns over Barron's attempt to rank the top philanthropists in order. He notes:
...if we are going to publicly rank donors based on effectiveness, we need to do it in a way that is transparent enough that we begin to set a bar for donors to attempt to clear. Otherwise, we risk making donors shrug off the need to be effective, since there are no obvious guideposts for what the concept actually means.
On Philanthropy News Digest's PhilanTopic blog, Mitch Nauffs notes that "lists like this are designed to spark conversation and debate" and highlights Barron's explanation that the creation of the list did in fact require some subjective calls. After reading some of the different perspectives, what do you think of the Barron's list?