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Managing Stress During Gov't Shutdown

Hey, Rosemary Freitas Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy, discusses her concerns with rising stress during the gov't shutdown, and she refers to available resources. She talks about Managing During Stressful Times. The DoD's focusing on resources that are available to help military families deal with the challenges of the shutdown. It's a really stressful time for folks, and it's important to know that there are good people out there who are willing to help out.

UntitledRosemary says:

"As the government shutdown continues, I am in awe of the patience and resolve shown by members of the military community. We have all been touched by the recent furlough. I know that some of our military families depend on a spouse's paycheck to help make ends meet. Additionally, some spouses are among the many federal employees waiting at home for the government shutdown to end. There is the lingering issue of the possible paycheck delays. Despite all these challenges – as always – you are managing these new challenges with characteristic resourcefulness and resilience. [...]

Most of us like to think that we can manage on our own, but reaching out for support is so critically important for our overall health and well-being. We are strong as individuals but stronger as a community, caring for each other and helping each other through even the most challenging of times. Reaching out for support – to a family member, a friend, a chaplain, the installation military and family support center, or Military OneSource – means you have the strength to recognize when new information, resources or skills will help you through life’s challenges. But it is up to you to seek assistance if you need it and to know where to refer someone if they are experiencing unhealthy stress.

We are here to help. [...]

To learn more about confidential non-medical counseling and financial consultation options call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647 or contact your installation military and family support center. To locate installation and JFSAP programs near you, visit MilitaryINSTALLATIONS."

Read the full article here. More to come…

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First bi-directional API for nonprofit sector about to launch

Hey, I'm always excited about technology for social good. My motto for craigconnects is using technology to give the voiceless a real voice, and the powerless real power. Recently, I invested in GreatNonprofits.org to create a Yelp for nonprofits. I asked Perla Ni, of GreatNonprofits to write a guest blog post about this investment I've made.

Craig Newmark funds API to build user-generated nonprofit reviews into software

GreatNonprofits.org has a robust website with over 170,000 peer-to-peer reviews on over 16,000 nonprofits. GreatNonprofits.org is now building an API to embed these reviews into grants management and employee giving software and other programs so funders and grant makers can look holistically at their portfolios – incorporating the quantitative and qualitative data into decision making. To start, GreatNonprofits.org is partnering with Fluxx – a new grant management software with a lofty goal of bringing all donor management data into one place for better decision-making.

A screenshot of a Fluxx page.

A screenshot of a Fluxx page.

Collaboration, Bi-Directional Knowledge Sharing and Beneficiary Feedback

With more and more CRM tools (like Salesforce) in the market, talk of collaboration and data sharing is rampant.  Organizations are increasingly working with more data and more people—hence, the need for better tools.  This is especially true in the nonprofit sector where grant makers have many data points to manage and consider—from financial to program data and even beneficiary feedback.

While, as humans we are always well intentioned to gather various data points while formulating decisions, the harder it is to gather and analyze this data the less likely we are to incorporate it fully into our analysis. Sadly, this is often the case when it comes to beneficiary feedback in the nonprofit sector.  Well, that is about to change with this recent investment.

A New API; A Whole New World

GreatNonprofits – now the largest nonprofit review site of its kind – is building a write-a-review API. This new API will allow third party partners to integrate reviews into their systems in a seamless and automated fashion.  One of GreatNonprofits first software partners is Fluxx—an innovative grants management CRM system that allows foundation officers and executive staff to easily make decisions by housing all pertinent data in one place.

“We’re trying to push all information to the program manager in one place. And once that data is available to the program manager, he or she can pivot on the view,” says Jason Ricci, CEO of Fluxx.

So whether you’re at a foundation and need to check the 501(c)3 status prior to writing a check or if you want to understand other charities that fellow foundations have donated to, you can do this all in one place.

The partnership between Fluxx and GreatNonprofits is one of the first of its kind to bring this bi-directional data together in one place.  And this is key, because in all the data mining, some times the stories of the beneficiaries served gets lost. But with over 170,000 reviews and growing, plus this new API functionality — these stories will be made available to foundations and corporations all in one place.  And this benefits not only the foundation or corporation who is trying to analyze the impact of the investment beyond financial metrics, but also to the nonprofit who needs a little help in demonstrating their impact to the world.

“What I love about GreatNonprofits,” says Ricci, “is that they’re collecting actual reviews from people in the field who know an organization’s work well—and those reviews are starting to tell stories about that organization’s work.  So from a grant maker’s perspective, they’re not just looking at an organization’s financials to make decisions on whether to fund them, but they’re looking at real reviews from real people.”

So What’s next?

This is the first of many ventures for Great Nonprofits to extend over 170,000 nonprofit reviews to other sectors.  Along with this, GreatNonprofits is looking to partner with employee engagement software providers, so employees of corporations can read and write reviews about the impact they are having on nonprofits, and the corporation can easily collect these stories of impact to marry with other information about their charitable giving programs.

Toward this goal, GreatNonprofits is also in discussion with Benevity, (www.benevity.com), a software social enterprise.  Benevity’s award winning employee giving and volunteering solution, Spark!, is used by some of the most notable companies in the world to engage employees around causes.  Benevity has committed to embed the GreatNonprofits.org API into its platform to help inspire and inform giving decisions for its end users.  The soon to launch partnership with Benevity will help its clients engage their employees and add more information and interaction to their giving activities.

While we wait… (back to Craig)

As an investor, I think it's really important for the next advancement in the nonprofit sector to bring reviews and crowd-sourced information about beneficiary feedback directly to donors, foundations, and nonprofits.

While we wait for this launch, you're able to play a part in increasing beneficiary feedback and collaboration by writing a review at GreatNonprofits.  And then, later this year, the information that you write about your favorite nonprofit will be available in the Fluxx grant management software, Benevity’s Spark! workplace giving solution software among others. This relates to my recent blog post, Supporting some nonprofits, and some not, here's the deal.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can contact GreatNonprofits' CEO and founder, Perla Ni at perlani@greatnonprofits.org.

Supporting some nonprofits, and some not, here's the deal

For well over ten years, a whole bunch of nonprofit orgs (NPOs) have asked me for assistance, and I think I've gone way above and beyond to help as much as I could.

The vehicle for all that is now craigconnects.org, where I support some causes for the short term, while learning how to do it way, way better with a twenty-year horizon.

I've chosen a range of causes that feel right to me, they resonate for me at a gut level. Military families and veterans efforts feel right, so does the effort to help restore trustworthiness to journalism.

altruism2-meme

One way that I validate my gut reaction about a NPO is through good orgs like Charity Navigator, Guidestar, Center for Investigative Reporting, and GreatNonprofits. They help me find good, effective nonprofits. When they talk about America's 50 Worst Charities or rate how NPOs are doing, I pay attention.

If I believe in a cause enough, it becomes a craigconnects focus, and my team and I locate NPOs who are really good at helping, at "moving the needle," and support them.

Also, I'll support NPOs that are effective and do things that I believe in, with no specific pattern.

The danger with going with my gut is that we've learned, the hard way, that some NPOs are really good at telling a really good, heart-rending story. Turns out that they aren't really good at helping anyone who needs help. Cash sent to them winds up in some briefly attention-getting awareness raising, something normally useful, and in salaries and perks. Usually, an NPO gets attention via getting real results, but the kind I'm talking about, they get attention, and hope that no one checks if they get anything done.

NPOs want help from me in social media, both in consulting mode and in using social media to their benefit. I'm okay with both. Even a nerd can get to be good at all this, though I'll never be good as a natural.

For more, please check out craigconnects.org, check out [connect with Craig], that's a start, and I really appreciate it.

Thanks!

 

Finding accurate reporting about gov't shutdown

(this relates to efforts to find news I can trust)

These days, I rely heavily on media ethics professionals like the folks at Poynter Institute:

ISBN

Poynter's new book re: journalism ethics

"Don’t call it an impasse, stalemate, or standoff."

The deal is that the accurate reporting on the standoff is hard to find, but it reflects importantly on the "how do I find news I can trust" issue.

Specifically, this is about "false equivalence," the tendency to fake journalistic objectivity by presenting two sides as equal when the facts compel a different conclusion:

"'Specificity is the way to counter false equivalence,' Adair said.

Reporters covering the shutdown must competently describe how it happened. Using vague throwaway terms is misleading, inaccurate and undermines the core journalistic value of seeking the truth."

The good folks at Poynter point to really good reporting going in depth:

"To suggest that this current government shutdown is an example of Republicans and Democrats simply unable to reconcile their differences is to ignore the facts of how budget appropriation bills are passed.

Dan Froomkin points this out in an opinion piece for Al Jazeera. James Fallows calls it out in The Atlantic. And Greg Mitchell screams about it in the The Nation."

Okay, it's important to include an update from Jon Stewart: "If President Obama can make a deal with the most intransigent mullahs in the world but not with House Republicans, maybe he is not the problem."

 

Remember, I speak as a news consumer, I don't want to "fix the news," that's up to the professionals.

I say this all the time, I want news I can trust. I know this is not a simple problem. But it starts with journalists using their expertise and authority to accurately describe what is happening, rather than pulling their punches (or mincing their words) in order to appease a political faction.

 

Government Shutdown Resources for Vets & Milfams

Hey folks, with the government shutdown happening I felt it was real important to share resources for military families and veterans.

We'll try to keep it current.

If you have resources that you'd like to share, please note them in the comments. As we get new resources, we'll update this post.