New study finds that 4.2 million kids experience homelessness each year

By Leila Fidel at NPR (5 minutes)

Researchers from the University of Chicago released data recently on a hard to understand epidemic in our country - homelessness among kids.  NPR presents the data along with some stories that help kickstart understanding. The full report from UofC can be accessed HERE.  

We recommend listening to the less than four-minute audio link from NPR (top left of article) as well which provides additional insight and an interview with a community member who has experienced homelessness as a minor.  

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The "20 armed octopus": deconstructing the opioid epidemic

From Jessie Mechanic via Huffington Post (9 minutes)

The 20 armed octopus covered in vaseline seems like a perfect description for the complexities of this relatively new national epidemic. This article offers a unique approach to "deconstructing" the problem. 
The author offers six distinct strategies which, in his opinion, could impact the current state of the epidemic.  Some strategies are very tangible, such as a new balance around medication regulation. Meanwhile, others are less tangible, such as the need to decrease stigmas around addiction.


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Carol Dweck: a summary of the two mindsets and the power of believing that you can improve

From Farnam Street (7 minutes)

We simply love the principle of growth mindset versus fixed mindset.  This article briefly lays out how the different mindsets intersect with challenges, failure, and success.  

If nothing else, click the link and scroll a fourth of the way down the page to see the "Two Mindsets" graphic that compares the two.  Here's to valuing growth and embracing challenges!

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Just how much food do cities squander?

By Jessica Leigh Hester (10 minutes)

Researchers recently dug through trash cans and landfills to learn more about food waste in major cities in America - that's commitment. In this article, you will find interesting data about the state of food waste in our country.

Beyond that, the author explains some of the challenges and some of the new ideas around keeping that food out of landfills and, instead, getting it into the hands of people in the same city who need it.  Good read.

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Burnout at work isn't just about exhaustion, it's also about loneliness

From Emma Seppala and Marissa Kind at the Harvard Business Review (9 minutes)

The authors of this article connect burnout to exhaustion and loneliness in a convincing fashion. Focusing on loneliness, the author goes into detail to demonstrate how it contributes to burnout in the workplace.

Seppala and Kind list three specific action points you can begin to implement immediately to ensure that the culture in your organization works against loneliness and the burnout that can occur with it.


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The secrets of Disneyland: A company vet explains how the magic happens

From Rina Raphael at Fast Company (8 minutes)

Whether we are aware of it or not, every organization is building a brand and every brand is telling a story. So how does an article about Disney magic apply to you?

The author interviews Jody Jean Dryer, former Senior Vice President at Disney.  Dryer provides 5 best practices you can leverage to tell your organization's story and "make the magic happen" (couldn't resist). We hope you find something here that helps you tell a powerful story for the good work you do. 

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Is your nonprofit built for sustained innovation?

From the Stanford Social Innovation Review (22 minutes)

It is well-documented and critical to understand that the long-term sustainability of a nonprofit organization relies on innovation at appropriate stages of the organization's life cycle.

This article, well organized, lays out six elements common to nonprofits with a history of innovation.  Of the six, the curious culture - a culture that values questions and encourages challenging assumptions - stands out to this reader. Enjoy, and innovate!


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Collective impact without borders

From the Stanford Social Innovation Review (9 minutes)

Written in part by local Walton Family Foundation Head of Strategic Initiatives Arani Kajenthira, this article presents two focal points for launching international Collective Impact Initiatives. Upon reading, it seems apparent this information is relevant for local initiatives as well.  
The focal points - first, build relationships and test provider and stakeholder interest and second engage local government officials regularly - are international learnings with local value. Bonus: Arani will be briefly speaking at our Collective Impact workshop in two weeks!

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Madi Hutson - The Provider Series

From The Provider Series, Madi Hutson of Teen Action & Support Center shared with a local audience the idea of "yes, and...".  Madi tells how this idea has shaped her personal and professional career as a daughter, a mother, and the Executive Director of TASC.  The 17-minute talk can be viewed by clicking the button below.  

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Collective Impact Case Study

Gearing up for the Collective Impact Workshop with FSG next month?  Here is a link to a Collective Impact case study about Vibrant Communities Canada, an initiative working to reduce poverty. The link has a video interview and a case study PDF you can download.  

Of particular interest in this case study is the emphasis on incorporating perspectives of people with lived experiences into the framework of an initiative. If you are doing this or know you need to, this study is for you!

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5 Mental Health Tips for Back to School

From Ross Szabo at The Huffington Post (6 minutes)

We are one week into the back to school madness! This article gives 5 mental health check-ins for you or a loved one.  A question, almost two weeks in, how are you doing?

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Infographic: generational giving

From Ellie Burke at Classy.org (6 minutes)

If your work is close to fundraising in any way, I hope you have time for a quick study of this infographic. It is packed with useful information.  

The image unpacks data broken down by 5 generations that will serve as an introduction to understanding generational differences as well as a useful quick reference guide. Did you know that 21% of millennials volunteer their time while only 11% donate money?

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What your therapist doesn't know

From Tony Rousmaniere at The Atlantic (17 minutes)

This article hits the mark on an emotional and practical level. Rousmaniere tells a provocative story about a client and uses the story to illustrate how "big data" can positively impact mental health services.

The author goes on to show how industry metrics can increase effectiveness, decrease dropout rates, and shorten treatment. It is a long read, but worth the time.

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A 6-part structure for giving clear and actionable feedback

From Marshall Goldsmith at the Harvard Business Review (9 minutes)

For many in leadership, giving useful feedback can be quite challenging. Anytime we are outside of our comfort zone, good structure can quickly become our best friend.  

This article provides a quick list of 6 simple questions you can begin to implement today in feedback sessions with those reporting to you.

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Unwind this weekend!  How to (really!) recharge

From contributors at The Muse via Forbes (5 minutes)

Posted 6.29.17

For starters on our theme of taking care of yourself, we look at a simple but helpful list of 5 ideas to unwind and recharge over the holiday weekend.

While the ideas discussed are certainly not groundbreaking, as providers we often need a reminder of specific things shown to be refreshing. Which of these will you be trying this weekend?

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The surprising thing people talk most about in therapy

From Katherine Schafler at Thrive Global (7 minutes)

Posted 6.29.17

Continuing down our path of self-care for this weekend, I love this article about being ordinary. From the article, "what people care deeply about and cherish and talk to their therapists most about and fall madly in love with you over is your particular combination of ordinary."

This weekend, go live in and celebrate the beautiful ordinary. You will be better for it, and so will those around you.

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What 2,000 deaths can teach us about living a good life.

From Rebekah Barnett at ideas.ted.com (9 minutes)

Posted 6.29.17

Referring to the obituary sections of the newspapers as "celebrations of humanity", this article's author showcases the 5 main takeaways of the obituary research of Lux Narayan. 

Covering topics such as patience and humility, the article provides a quick list of things we can take with us into our long weekend to build on personally.  

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The two minutes it takes to read this will improve your writing forever

From Josh Spector at Medium.com (2 minutes)

Posted 6.15.17

It makes us a bit self-conscious to write a commentary on an article about writing well.  That aside, the author provides useful, succinct tips to improve your writing.  

I am thinking that you are going to like reading this article - a bit of an inside joke for those of you who click the link and see the "do nots" listed.  We will do our best to avoid these mistakes in the future.

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Nonprofits tools and resources on Facebook

From Facebook.com

Posted 6.15.17

Have you explored everything Facebook can do for your organization?  The social media giant has a wonderful resource page to show how others have leveraged their platform and how you can too.

Check the page to see tools and resources available to your organization.  Also, Facebook says updates to nonprofit pages are coming next week, so now is a great time to get started!

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A practical roadmap for resolving conflict

From Jim Ferrell at The Arbinger Group (10 minutes)

Posted 6.15.17 

Revisiting our keynote speaker from the Connect the Community Summit 2017, Jim Ferrell unpacks a simple, straightforward approach to conflict at your organization.

He lays out an interesting story regarding conflict management in the Middle East with Palestinians and Israelis. If you like this article, consider checking out their newest book "Outward Mindset"  here.

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How U.S. healthcare got safer by focussing on the patient experience

From Thomas H. Lee, MD at the Harvard Business Review (12 minutes)

Posted 6.1.17

Performance in human services is not measured today the same way the field historically has done so. Today, performance (this article highlighting healthcare specifically) is measured not only via financial reports but also by patient experience.

Further, this article highlights a compelling correlation between patient experience, safety, and financial viability - a fact reaching not only healthcare but all of human services.

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Six nonprofits using technology to accomplish their mission

From Sean Chisholm at Classy Blog (8 minutes)

Posted 6.1.17

Profiling six organizations, including some well known and some lesser, "Classy Blog" shows the strategic use of technology and the potential to advance their mission.

As I read this, I found myself wondering how friends and colleagues at local organizations could begin using different apps, strategies, websites, and more to advance their mission.  If you have ideas or questions, we would love to hear from you!

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Video - Stephanie Summerville, "Life Support"

From  The Moth via YouTube (14 minutes, 45 seconds)

Posted 6.1.17

The power of story entices us with an emotional, provocative tale of redemption.  It is told by an African-American woman suffering from depression whose job is to "sit" and care for a dying white man.  Who happens to be a racist.  Not just any racist, but a former member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Without spoiling more of this powerful story, I hope you find time to watch and be reminded of the power of the human spirit.  

NOTE:  language warning, there are a few curse words.

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Kids who suffer hunger in first years lag behind their peers in school

From Rhitu Chatterjee at NPR (10 minutes)

Posted 5.18.17

Reporting on a new study in the latest edition of the journal Child Development, this article presents information about the school impact of kids who experience food insecurity early in their education career.  

The article goes on to explore a troubling reality: kids who fall behind at school early tend to stay behind long term.

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How poverty changes the brain

From Tara Garcia Mathewson at The Atlantic (11 minutes)

Posted 5.18.17

A truly compelling article discussing (among other things) the limbic system, feedback loops, and pattern development, this article presents findings on how people's brains are changing when they experience poverty.  

One focus is a current effort in Boston that empowers clients to set their own definition of success as well as their goals.

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Cognitive bias cheat sheet

From Buster Benson at Medium (5 minutes)

Posted 5.18.17

An article we simply love, this is the cheat sheet to help us think better.  The author succinctly presents the four reasons why thinking is hard and then remedies to each one: too much info, not enough meaning, not enough time, and not enough memory.

Why do we need to read this?  Well, as the article says, because "thinking is hard!"

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Identifying, Recruiting, and Onboarding New Board Members

From John McConnell and Bond Lammey at The Giving Institute (7 minutes)

Posted 5.4.17

In this article, the importance of a board succession plan in the longevity of an organization is brought to the surface with helpful suggestions.

The bulk of the article is a starting line template for a work process in order to identify, recruit, and onboard new board members.  This process is presented in a straightforward list fashion.

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How to Develop a Great Board

From Steve Graves at www.stephenrgraves.com (7 minutes)

Posted 5.4.17

Written by local author Steve Graves, this article provides two very useful frameworks for developing and engaging your board.

First, the "4 W's of a great board" lays out the four things a board should provide - "wisdom, work, wealth, and witness."  Then the article lays out three stages of board development highlighting some differences seen and felt along the process of organizational maturation.

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How to diagnose nonprofit growing pains

From Suzanne Smith at Social Impact Architects (8 minutes)

Posted 1.15.17

As we approach 2017, this article explains how organizational life cycles impact strategic planning year to year.

Using detailed insights and diagrams, the reader is walked through the six stages of a nonprofit life cycle and shown how understanding where your organization is can be used to avoid unnecessary growing pains.

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Building your Nonprofit's Board

From Peri Pakroo at Nolo (9 minutes)

Posted 5.4.17

If you are in the early stages of a board process, this article is for you. The subtitle of the article captures well what to expect - how to "select qualified and enthusiastic board members to help your nonprofit flourish."

Best practice roles of a board are provided as well as some helpful tips on recruiting and onboarding board members.

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How will the rise of crowdfunding reshape how we give to charity?

From Ben Paynter at Fast Company (17 minutes)

Posted 3.16.17

An important read for the efforts of executive directors and organizational fundraisers to understand millennial giving and crowdfunding, this article (in long read form) lays out a "new cultural frontier of charitable giving."

There is a great application in this article for harnessing the potential of giving in new sectors while recognizing that traditional funding sources and practices are not going away in the foreseeable future.

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Five lessons I've learned as a crisis counselor

From Jared Wolf at Thrive Global (4 minutes)

Posted 3.16.17

Providers across the board in the human services and non-profits find themselves in moments where crisis response is required.  This article provides five applicable lessons from a professional with years of experience in crisis response.  

These lessons can be used as a framework for responding well to clients in those critical crisis moments in your office.

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How health care can reduce domestic violence

From Olga Khazan at The Atlantic (10 minutes)

Posted 3.16.17

Drawing on learnings from HAART, the 1990's groundbreaking treatment for HIV, this article describes how health care can impact domestic violence far more than most people realize.  

When HAART was introduced to women with HIV, domestic violence rates within observed patients dropped from 29% to 10%.  The author connects the hope created by improved physical health (through health care treatment) to the motivation to escape abusive situations.

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One obstacle to curing cancer: patient data isn't shared

From Richard G. Hamermesh and Kathy Giusti at Harvard Business Review (9 minutes)

Posted 3.1.17

An observation of the role the "cancer ecosystem" is playing in society's effort to cure cancer, this article notes the necessity for change in how patient data is managed and distributed.

Nationally populated data sets are needed to further research, however, this is currently absent as data is left in separated silos.

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Let's stop calling them 'soft skills'

From Seth Godin at It's Your Turn (12 minutes)

Posted 3.1.17

Comparing soft skills to vocational skills (often seen as the "real skills"), Godin argues firmly that "culture defeats strategy, every time", yet the financial investment by organizations in the two often does not reflect that.

In an effort to shift perspective from soft skills to real skills, the author lists five categories that organizations should be fostering: self-control, productivity, wisdom, perception, and influence.

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Five ways non-profits can think like startups

From Jessica Livingston, Grace Garey, and Y Combinator (9 minutes)

Posted 2.16.17

Providing five concrete ideas which can be leveraged today, this article encourages non-profits to implement strategic, actionable ideas borrowed from for-profit startups.

While the ideas themselves may not be revolutionary, the combination, organization, and explanations provide appreciated perspective and motivation for the new year.

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The hidden epidemic of teen hunger

From Laura Bliss at The Atlantic (12 minutes)

Posted 3.1.17

This article speaks to the normalization of hunger among teen peer groups while confronting important misconceptions such as the relationship between teen obesity and hunger.  

The author highlights some of the obstacles to combating teen hunger such as the stigma that prevents teens from asking for help which can sometimes lead to risky behavior.

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Mapping America's appalling affordable housing deficit.

From Tanvi Misra at City Lab; from The Atlantic (5 minutes)

Posted 2.16.17

Detailing that no single county in America has sufficient affordable housing for minimum wage earning citizens and families, this article maps out (by state) affordable units available per 100 minimum wage earning households.

While the national average is 31 units available per 100 needed, the article shows Arkansas as offering 41 such units.

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Ethos, logos, and pathos: the structure of a great speech

From Farnam Street (8 minutes)

Posted 2.16.17

From time to time, most of us have to give a speech to our board, our staff, our supporters, etc. This article addresses the structure (and the history of the structure) of a great speech.

The structure of speeches - and the persuasion used in them - is given from the perspective of presenting a speech as well as having a speech presented to you.

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Voices of board chairs: a national study on the perspective of nonprofit board chairs

From Judy Freiwirth at Nonprofit Quarterly (20 minutes)

Posted 1.15.17

Featuring four perceptions of the board chair role and seven recommendations for governance practice, this article summarizes the voices of interviewed board chairs from around the country.

The findings are well organized and displayed, giving the reader insightful perspective from board chairs.

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The three minutes it takes to read this will improve your conversations forever

Posted 1.15.17

A fresh perspective on a well-covered topic, this article provides a brief list of best-practices to drive the impact of your conversations.
We all know to avoid yes/no questions, but what do we ask instead? What are some creative questions we can ask to keep clients, colleagues, and donors engaged?

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Stop treating HUD like a second-tier department

Posted 1.15.17

As evidenced by Ben Carson's indecision about taking the lead post in this department, HUD has long been undervalued in Washington.

This article points out the in-congruency between the priority placed on HUD and it's critical role in American poverty.

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