Monthly Archives: October 2010

Philanthropic Freedom

This item appeared in a recent SECF newsletter under the heading “Philanthropic Freedom Emerges As Key Theme at Funder Conferences” and I thought it’d be worth pointing out:

At the recent Philanthropy Roundtable conference, Florida legislation passed earlier this year was praised as a win for philanthropy. A session was devoted to the law, which prohibits state and local governments from regulating diversity in foundation governance. Since its passage, a similar resolution was passed in Virginia. Read the full blog post.

At last week’s Independent Sector conference, presenters stressed the importance of foundation advocacy to alleviate the anticipated political “gridlock” due to an increasingly partisan congress. Read the full blog post.

I was  struck by the phrase “philanthropic freedom.”  With annual conference season in high gear, I wonder if this has been a topic of conversation among your members? Or, is the concern still limited to the areas already facing this issue (namely, California, Florida, and Virginia)? What’s your regional associations view of “philanthropic freedom?”


Movie Night

I love when regionals do programming around new documentaries. Not just because it informs what I add to my Netflix queue, but also because it capitalizes on a near universally appreciated form of storytelling to bring attention to important topics.

You may remember I asked Kristin Ruff about Philanthropy New York’s film series a few months back, but this time the documentary-love comes from Northern California Grantmakers. Continue reading

What’s Next for LearnPhilanthropy

After a post-Symposium hiatus, LearnPhilanthropy is back. Just yesterday, the team posted their plans for the next few months over on their blog:

Since there’s no way to know exactly where the interests of the community we are building will take us, we have structured “what’s next” for LearnPhilanthropy by planning only what we hope to accomplish between now and the end of March, 2011:

  1. Expand and mobilize the LearnPhilanthropy network, to create content and build community around grantmaker learning
  2. Pilot a portal of resources for beginning grantmaker education as proof of concept for the power of building a platform for dynamic content
  3. Raise money to demonstrate that “people will pay” for some aspects of this system and its products
  4. Conduct research that documents and builds demand for learning resources
  5. Generate continuously expanding buzz

Continue reading

10 Questions or Less for Cary Walski

10 Questions or Less is a feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week,  Cary Walski, Web Communications Associate at Minnesota Council on Foundations.

You recently led the “Metrics that Matter” Google Analytics Webinar. How’d you get started doing these Analytics presentations?

I’ve presented three iterations of the “Metrics that Matter” (login required) webinar now. It all got started with my own personal feeling like I was not getting enough out of Google Analytics. Frustrated with the lack of information out there on how nonprofits can leverage it specifically, I decided to see if I could start gathering and sharing learnings from my own experience and others.

What are some of your day-to-day responsibilities?

Right now a lot of my daily work revolves around the new website, set to launch in late November. When I’m not working on the site, I’m collecting information for our e-newsletters, helping promote programs online, and writing for our blog at

Is there anything you’re working on now that is particularly exciting?

The new website definitely tops the list – it’s going to be an exciting hybrid of the IMPak database and a CMS built on the opensource platform Ruby on Rails. The byword for the new member experience is “connection.” We will have an enhanced member directory, online forums, and members will be able to personalize their experience with their own photo, bio info, and personal websites like LinkedIn and Twitter.

We’re both Millennials. What, if anything, do you think our generation does differently work-wise?

Ah, Millennials – the fey mental bulimics of the internet age. Every young generation is narcissistic, we’re just enabled by technology to broadcast like no generation before, which I think understandably annoys many of our older peers and workmates who don’t understand the need to tweet and check Facebook while at work incessantly.

Seriously though, I’m really excited about our generation – I think we are and will continue to use technology to work more effectively and create a better world by enhancing our personal connections, and leveraging the constant learning opportunities that we have been gifted with.

I see innovation, transparency and a passion for social justice combining in the field of philanthropy to create new ways to tackle the pernicious problems of living on planet Earth like poverty, inequity, and environmental degradation. The platform Ushahidi is just one example of the exciting things we’ll see in the future.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Working with my amazing, incredibly talented colleagues here at MCF, and the satisfaction of feeling that we’re helping connect members to each other and to the knowledge they need to do their world-changing work more effectively. How can you not be jazzed about that?

What’s one thing you do in your position that the Forum network can help with?

Now that we’re using the IMPak database, the KM group has been very helpful for us. I don’t know what we’d do without Michigan’s manual and the listserve to ask questions! I also really appreciate the programming that you do – especially at this year’s conference, which I was fortunate enough to go to. I’m grateful to be connected to the Forum staff and the Forum Network and to be able to leverage your experience and expertise.

What are you passionate about?

Right now I’m working on creating a business plan for a local search site that will help minority, disabled and women small business owners build a simple web-presence and connect more easily with customers. The idea is very much in the formative stages, but I’m excited to see where it might go. Ideas like this one are what gets me out of bed in the morning.

You’re managing the redesign of Rainbow Rumpus, an online magazine for youth of LGBT families. Can you tell me a little about your involvement?

I helped lead the staff, board and volunteers through a collaborative design process, and now am in the process of building the site with a wonderful volunteer developer Melissa Avery, and the folks over at Advantage Labs, a small development firm that specializes in Drupal development. It’s been challenging but a good learning experience!

Anything else you want us to know?

I dare you to not enjoy this website.

If you’d like to recommend someone for a profile through 10 Questions or Less, contact Dan Brady.

We’re All for P4

Earlier this month, Northern California Grantmakers, in partnership with Southern California Grantmakers and San Diego Grantmakers, launched the Philanthropy Public Policy Portal (P4).  This online resource is designed to help grantmakers:

  • understand how government works at the federal, state, and local levels;
  • know where to go to connect with government officals and staff; and
  • communicate with policymakers in order to convey the value that philanthropy brings to local communities.

P4 will help grantmakers map out their engagement strategies, and at the same time, orient policymakers to the sometimes complex processes of the philanthropic sector.

I’m looking forward to following this intra-state regional collaboration closely. You can too at or on NCG’s blog.

Philanthropy Northwest’s Conference Blog; or, This Is How It’s Done

Did all of you catch Philanthropy Northwest’s coverage of their annual conference on their blog? It was riveting, even from my seat on the other side of  the country. How’d they do it? Here’s a few things that worked for me: daily re-caps, photos, guest posts. Continue reading

User Scenarios for KM 2.0

As part of the planning for the new open source content management system the Forum and our partners will be developing (aka Project Booted Eagle!), we’ve developed a number of user scenarios. These scenarios represent the multitude of ways that users and system admins will use the platform and its Web sites to accomplish tasks critical to delivering their organizations’ missions.

Ultimately, we are attempting to address a few questions with these scenarios: 1) What do users want to be able to do on a member Web site? What do we as organizations want them to be able to do? What happens when they do it? And, the big one, what value is presented to the user?

So I ask you, do these user stories ring true? Have we missed anything? Please add your own user scenarios for your own Web sites. While there will be a great deal of overlap between the behavior of Forum Web site users and your own, each regional offers unique services and experiences for their members and we want to be sure to capture them all as we inventory the needed functionality of the new system.

Continue reading