Posts Tagged ‘fundraising’

Asymmetrical power relations in the social sector: Lucy Bernholz’s “Disrupting Philanthropy”

11 December 2009

Lucy Bernholz’s “Disrupting Philanthropy: Technology and the Future of the Social Sector” has gotten a lot of attention on the Intertubes and among the twitterati (hashtag: #disruptphil) the past few days – and rightfully so. Her plain-English portrait of how digital technology is already changing the face of philanthropy and NGO life is, I think, a foundational document for what comes next. It’s that good.  (BTW, it’s one of those weird Futurama disconnects that Lucy works at BluePrint R+D 2 blocks away from the Mother Ship, with Jack Chin, who was one of the first people I met in the SF NGO scene way way back – and we’ve never met in person. We’re promising coffee in the new year, right Lucy!?)

It sounds like philanthropy is approaching one of those “whoa, what comes next” moments that us folks in the media/journalism world have been living through for, well, years. It makes for a fun ride (if your livelihood doesn’t depend on old models that are shakier by the day) and is definitely food for thought and the young at heart. So with one foot in (30+ years of) nonprofit life and the other in journalism world with more than passing interest…
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Katz’s 3 axioms of foundation funding for journalism

21 September 2009

Last week, I shared a drink at Union Square with Michael Stoll, the project director for San Francisco’s nonprofit Public Press; he’d reached out to me after the Free Press online chat on “What’s the Future of Foundations and Journalism?” – and I’m glad he did.

One of the things we talked about was the significance of Geoff Dougherty’s recent announcement that the Chi-Town Daily News, Chicago’s Knight Foundation-funded experiment in nonprofit journalism, would be shutting down. The Chi-Town Daily was one of the first to receive Knight funding, and also one of the larger operations, so there’s been a lot of chatter about the shop’s closure over the past couple of weeks (here are 2 good ones from Jim Barnett’s NonProfit Road, and a video from Dave Cohn). I don’t know Geoff, and I’m not familiar with Chi-Town’s inner workings, but at the risk of misreading the tea leaves, herewith my Three Axioms of Foundation Funding for Journalism.

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Coming up: a conversation with Dave Cohn

17 May 2009

spotusAbout a month ago Dave Cohn of Spot.us responded to a post I’d put up here that wondered how he and his sidekick Kara were doing, and particularly whether and how they were encouraging people who donated money to a specific “pitch” to also make a donation to the organization. He wrote back to say that they’d been thinking a lot about this question in slightly different terms:

Are we a platform that puts weight on the reporters to fund themselves – assuming that most donors are one-time givers.Or are we a community site that is going to try and create a dynamic relationship with our audience and give them more than the single project. More and more – we are trying to become the second.

Good questions for anyone who’s going to push the practice of crowdfunding forward. It’s also a question we deal with all the time at Mother Jones, and so I was especially interested to see how Dave and Spot.us approach it, literally with fresh eyes.

So I asked Dave if he’d be up for talking about the fundraising end of things with me – and that’s what we’ll be doing over the next few days. Keep an eye out for it, and once it gets going, join the conversation. (PS – Dave is threatening to respond via video, which means I may be making the jump into that medium too. . . uh oh, moving pictures…)

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In which Phillip D. Smith attempts to cure me of my curmudgeonly ways

7 May 2009

I’m a big fan of Grist. They do a great job of aggregating the most valuable enviro news of the day, plus they write good stuff of their own (Dave Roberts‘ reporting on cap and trade v carbon tax is some of the best out there – oh btw Mother Jones has pub’d him too; ditto on Tom Philpott’s coverage of the swine flu epidemic ). They’ve also done a terrific job figuring out who they are, what kind of voice they want to have, and how they want to be connected to their community – and they’ve delivered on it consistently, year after year.

Offhand, I can’t think of a website with a more coherent identity than these guys: they’re smart without being in the slightest bit pedantic, funny without being nasty about it (must be something about being based out of Seattle), and they cleverly walk the line between a journalism organization and a community site. I was personally really pleased when Grist joined The Media Consortium, a network of about 50 indy media groups I was helping to pull together a few years ago.

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