Monday, May 24, 2010

Picks of the Week: May 23 - 29, 2010

Website of the Week – Social Edge

Social Edge, a program of the Skoll Foundation, is a site where social entrepreneurs, nonprofit professionals, philanthropists, and other practitioners of the social sector connect to network, learn, inspire, and share resources. Social Edge launched in June 2003 with the mission to: connect social entrepreneurs, their partners and allies to discuss cutting-edge issues shaping the field; foster frank dialogue, mutual respect and a sense of community among all in the sector; and promote learning from the best, promising and disastrous practices. The site attempts to strike a balance between the visionary and the practical, with discussions, blogs, many resource links, and online workshops and features. Social Edge has an audience of tens of thousands of social entrepreneurs around the world; it is particularly targeted at social entrepreneurs with limited access to other local resources and practitioners due to the nature of their work (e.g., international development) or their location (e.g., developing countries or in rural areas). Go to:

Publication of the Week -- Building Strong Nonprofits: New Strategies for Growth and Sustainability edited by John C. Olberding and Lisa Barnwell Williams

From the publisher: Utilizing the extensive expertise of leading fundraising consulting firm Skystone Ryan's executive leadership team and managing consultants to explore and illuminate the most timely issues facing the philanthropic community, Building Strong Nonprofits: New Strategies for Growth and Sustainability identifies new opportunities to define the future of philanthropy.

• Includes notable contributors from the Skystone Ryan leadership team
• Analyzes the most potent trends and developments and interpret their implications for the future of philanthropy
• Offers eight to twelve essays, each by a different Skystone Ryan consultant with particular experience, insight, and expertise in the area

Building Strong Nonprofits: New Strategies for Growth and Sustainability is for you, whether you are a nonprofit leader, executive director, board member, or development director, and are becoming aware that new organizational strategies are called for if the same old donors are not supportive in the same old ways. Click to preview this book on

Trend of the Week – Survey Reveals Widespread Innovation at Nation’s Nonprofits

A new Johns Hopkins University survey has revealed widespread innovation among the nation’s nonprofits, as well as efforts by those organizations to measure their programs’ effectiveness. The vast majority (82 percent) of responding organizations reported implementing an innovative program or service within the past five years, and 85 percent reported measuring program effectiveness. The study surveyed a nationwide sample of nonprofit organizations in four key fields – children and family services, elderly housing and services, community and economic development, and the arts – with 417 organizations responding. It defined an “innovative” program or service as “a new or different way to address a societal problem or pursue a charitable mission that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than prevailing approaches.”

• Substantial majorities of organizations in all four fields covered by the survey reported innovative activity during the previous five years, and this was particularly pronounced among larger organizations, challenging the common assumption that organizations become less innovative as they grow in size.
• The major barriers to more extensive use of performance measurements identified by respondents were a lack of staff time and expertise, and the cost of good evaluation.
• Recommendations from survey respondents for helping to overcome the remaining barriers to nonprofit innovation and performance measurement included better tools to measure qualitative impacts (82 percent of respondents), less time-consuming measurement tools (81 percent), financial resources to support the measurement and research functions (79 percent), greater help from intermediary organizations in fashioning common evaluation tools (67 percent), and training for personnel in how to use these tools (63 percent).
• Sizeable proportions of respondents also urged the new White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation to continue stressing the importance of innovation but to recognize as well the value of effective ongoing programs and the barriers that restrictive regulations, lack of coordination among federal agencies, and inadequate financial support for program evaluation place in the way of innovation and performance measurement.

To download the full report “Nonprofits, Innovation and Performance Measurement: Separating Fact from Fiction” go to

Resource of the Week – Wellness Programs for Nonprofit Staff

Nonprofit organizations often lack wellness programs as part of their benefits packages often because leadership believes they have no merit related to possible costs. There are solutions to the cost issue and wellness is a must for any benefits package. A key issue is that nonprofit leaders often don’t recognize wellness programs as an important component of an organization’s total benefits package. Many leaders have little to no interest in such programs especially when there are costs involved. Nonprofit HR Solutions, a human resources consulting firms dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of nonprofit organizations, has developed a guide to assist nonprofits in starting up wellness programs. To download a copy of the free guide, go to:

Tech Tip of the Week -- SmartArt Graphics in Office 2007

SmartArt is a new feature in Office 2007. It’s easy to use and available in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It can be used to create organization charts and time lines, to show sequential tasks, and much more. These resources can help you get started:

Create a SmartArt graphic

“How to” article from

Demo: Spice up your text with SmartArt graphics

Demo with audio from

Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 introduces SmartArt graphics

Online training from

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