ICYMI: Last Week’s Nonprofit News, Today | Mar. 3

In today’s roundup of last week’s nonprofit stories: the falling volunteer rate (not as bad as it looks), the MacArthur “genius grants” of the nonprofit world (who knew?), the leadership development potential of “nothing” (surprisingly high), the power of nonprofit management strategies (surprisingly profitable), the secret factor behind viral ideas (it’s not them, it’s you), the limits of celebrity endorsement (just ask Oxfam), and more. 


Troubling Numbers in Volunteer Rates
(The NonProfit Times)
The latest Labor Department statistics show 1.1 percent drop from 2012 to 2013 in the number of people who volunteered, making for the lowest rate since the agency began keeping track in 2002. The NPT takes a long look at what the numbers mean, and tries (unsuccesfully) to get some answers from the organizations and sponsors responsible for the study. More forthcoming are sector observers, who note that total volunteer hours are “very, very consistent” over time, indicating that the volunteers who remain are putting in even more work. (For a shorter look at the numbers, check the story in U.S. News & World Report).

MacArthur Foundation Rewards 7 Ingenious Nonprofits with Flexible Long-Term Investments
(Nonprofit Quarterly)
You know about the MacArthur “Genius Grants” for individuals, but did you know they award the same kind of grants for nonprofits? The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will provide a total of $6.5 million in no-strings-attached organizational funds to the seven winning organizations, including the National Housing Trust, ProPublica, and Nigeria’s Women’s Rights and Protection Alternative.

Nonprofit Health Insurance Co-Ops Making Progress on the Exchanges
(Nonprofit Quarterly)
How nonprofits are challenging the corporate health care oligopoly on the Affordable Care Act exchanges by bringing down costs and providing better options for customers--like one Maine co-op that gives customers near the border access to four hospitals across the New Hampshire state line.  



How Nonprofits Keep Up with Online Fundraising
(Nonprofit Hub)
Highlights from a new report on nonprofits’ online fundraising processes, including the findings that everyone has room for improvement, email appeals are faltering, and many nonprofits make donating online far too complicated.



Developing Leaders by Stepping Aside
(Nonprofit Quarterly)
One foundation’s strategy for prepping young leaders to take a commanding role in the sector? “Nothing,” or “not too far from that.” How the Oishei Leaders program succeeds by being “deliberately [and] absolutely free of any kind of structure or expectation.” (Short on time? The final four paragraphs detail the program itself and its success.)



Why You Should Run Your Business Like a Nonprofit 
(Nonprofit Quarterly)
This article aimed at for-profit businesses, which originally ran on Forbes.com, provides refreshing perspective on the strengths of our sector, including the specific ways we use the mission, and principles like donorship and volunteerism, to create strong management practices.  



Got a Blog? It Could Be a Perpetual Content Creating Machine for Your Nonprofit
(Joanne Fritz / About.com)
How a blog can serve as an outreach factory for your marketing and communications efforts, complete with a link to Clare Axelrad’s list of easy, low-cost, actionable ”ways to rock your Nonprofit blog.” For a deeper look at how content marketing can improve donor retention rates, check out this list from the Content Marketing Institute, which includes some sharp examples.  

The Other Factor that Makes an Idea Spread
(Harvard Business Review Blog)
Research, and plenty of well-known examples, back up an easily-overlooked fact about ideas and how they spread: the idea-carrier is just as important, and maybe even moreso, than the idea itself. A fresh take on why likeable sources and individual connection are key to making sure your message sticks.

As Facebook Grows Up, Nonprofits Need a New Approach
(The Chronicle of Philanthropy)
In this helpful 11-minute podcast, CoP’s Allison Fine talks with Blackbaud’s director of digital marketing to find out the best ways to get your message out on the ever-evolving grandaddy of social media platforms--and why nonprofits need to keep up a dialog with Facebook to ensure their concerns aren’t forgotten in favor of shareholders’ and commercial sponsors’.

From a Millennial: Nobody Wants to Hear Your Stories. We Want to See Them
(npEngage / Blackbaud)
The younger generation is becoming less patient with text, and more attuned to the power of visuals, thanks to the rise in photo-first social media like Instagram and Pinterest. Taking a look at the new sponsored content opportunities on Instagram, one Millennial proposes a winning tactic for nonprofits seeking the attention of smartphone-happy twentysomethings. (And for a more critical look, check out PRNewser’s report from Social Media Week on the pros and cons of a visual-first marketing strategy.)



Will ScarJo Oxfam Controversy Hurt Philanthropy?
(Nonprofit Quarterly)

Lessons from the recent brouhaha over Scarlett Johansson’s decision to ditch her relationship with OxFam, which opposes Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank, to stick by corporate sponsor SodaStream, which operates a factory in one. Rick Cohen examines the reaction, and what it means for both the credibility of celebrity endorsements and the expectations nonprofits bring to them.  



We Need More Scale, Not More Innovation
(Stanford Social Innovation Review)
The head of the California Endowment provides an insightful, impassioned, in-depth argument about the limits of innovation and the necessity of scaling successful social solutions through smart community organization and advocacy. (Just don’t look for SSIR to change the name to Stanford Social Scale Review anytime soon.)



Annual Report 2013: Fueling Impact
Introducing our annual report for 2013. Find out how GCN continues to leverage our influence, know-how, and assets to forge powerful partnerships, help great ideas scale, and produce High Performance Nonprofits across our state.

GCN Member News: Feb. 25
From a collection-expanding addition to the Center for Puppetry Arts to the Atlanta Track Club’s new Olympian ED, GCN members share the honors, achievements, impact, and changes of the year so far.

Marc Schultz is contributing editor at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

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