• This week’s BLOGGER ON FIRE award indisputably goes to Phil Buchanan, founder and CEO of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, for a tour-de-force series of posts on the new Intrepid Philanthropist blog hosted by the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Buchanan, whose CEP is very much at the forefront of the national discussion of best practices in philanthropy, takes direct aim at a lot of the conventional wisdom developing around that conversation, and gets off some killer shots. He takes on buzz darlings and sacred cows from Matthew Bishop to Dan Pallotta to Jack Welch, challenging the notion that nonprofits should be more like businesses and encouraging the nonprofit sector to stand up for itself and take pride in its unique strengths. His arguments are, for the most part, not especially new, but it is very significant to hear them coming from as respected a player in the field as he (not to mention a Harvard MBA in his own right).
  • Two gifted bloggers offer reflections on financing for nonprofits and small businesses respectively. Andrew Taylor explains the “rent, buy, build, or borrow” framework for accessing growth capital for arts organizations, while Seth Godin suggests a model for entrepreneurs who need outside money that’s borrowed from the book publishing industry.
  • Is your arts organization losing ticket revenue by asking website visitors to register before purchasing? Drew McManus investigates.
  • After a long hiatus, creative economy guru Jay Corless has returned to theideafeed.com with a site redesign and a bunch of round-up style posts. Jay’s summer project Cities x Design, by the way, is one of the best-kept secrets on the web: the online text-and-video detritus of a massive, 30-city fact-finding adventure across the United States. Jay and Sali Sasaki interview reams of business owners, city employees, graphic artists, and the like about the ways in which design plays an important role in their work. For more of these kinds of profiles, check out Deborah Weisgall’s four-part series of interviews with Boston-area creative professionals in ArchitectureBoston magazine: I, II, III, & IV.
  • Did you know that there is a cultural center devoted to promoting the arts of Alaska in SoHo, New York? I didn’t, but apparently the philanthropist who set it up (who happens to be married to the director of the co-founder of The Carlyle Group) is now asking the State of Alaska to pump several hundred thousand dollars into it to keep it afloat.
  • The world is changing, and it’s becoming easier than ever for individuals to connect with each other around issues of common interest. A website called SeeClickFix has already notched a few local advocacy victories, while Idealist gets ready to roll out what sounds like a massive citizen/donor engagement campaign. Meanwhile, Lucy Bernholz points us to yet more data aggregation resources for philanthropy, and Google is thinking collaborative data platforms as well.
  • The annual report on corporate giving by Fortune 100 and other companies from Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy finds that, not surprisingly, overall giving declined slightly in 2008, but that giving levels are not necessarily dependent on corporate profits on an individual company basis. The report also sees more companies becoming strategic and proactive in their grantmaking.
  • An Oxford academic plans to give away $1.7 million by voluntarily living like a student for the rest of his life, and has started a nonprofit to encourage others to tithe to charity.
  • Over at the Philanthropy Journal‘s Inside Philanthropy blog, Todd Cohen tells the story of a motivational speaker who told his wrenching personal story of abuse, neglect, rape, and nonprofit-social-worker salvation to a gathering of philanthropists that shocked them during their elegant catered lunch. The story reminds me of a moment during the Grantmakers in the Arts Social Justice Preconference when one of the presenters shared that his college-age son had been shot to death during the making of, of all things, a film drawing attention to the problem of youth violence in New Orleans’s 7th ward. These are experiences that are beyond all comprehension for me, and I’m sure for most of the people in those rooms as well. Sometimes the infrastructure of nonprofits can serve as a (too-easy) buffer between philanthropists and the constituency they are theoretically serving, unfortunately.
  • Music as Weapon?’s David T. Little is blogging over at the Dilettante site for the duration of his digital composer residency.
  • I’m linking to this Greg Sandow piece not so much for the commentary contained within (though the notion of a semi-crowdsourced orchestra piece is intriguing) as for its guide to experiencing the brilliant Star Wars Uncut website. Do check them both out.
  • Knitting as anti-corporate statement?