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January 17, 2007


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Phil Anthropoid

I'm bored with philanthropy blogging, present company excluded. Philanthropybeat never finished his roman a clef; Captain Charity is so earnest I want to open my veins each time I read one of his interminable posts; etc. etc.

What's there to talk about? And what kind of conversation is it when you say something (make a comment) but don't hear a reply for another hour or day or week?


Mr. Poid, you are the Return of the Repressed. Countess Apraxina, you have to admit, is very fine. Captain Charity is earnest, but the Countess needs a straight man, if I may put it that way. Conversations can indeed take years, with comments coming months after a post, but in that way blogging resembles a good marriage. My wife will continue conversations we had 30 years ago, and pick up where we left off. Your problem is being ostracized. Mine too.

Tom Williams


After reading this post of yours, I wrote a response but can't seem to track-back. Take a look at givemeaning.blogspot.com


Thanks, Tom, blogged you back.

Dan Bassill

I'd like to encourage this idea of non profit blog exchanging. I've been doing it for a couple of years. At http://tutormentor.blogspot.com/2007/01/im-part-of-non-profit-blog-exchange-5.html you can read my most current post.

A month ago we talked about trying to get the right people to talk to each other. A start would be to get them to exchange blogs as part of a scheduled event.

I host a conference on tutoring/mentoring in Chicago every May and November, so I'd like to find philanthropies who give to youth causes, tutoring, mentoring, etc. who'd be willing to blog and exchange blogs on this topic during May, in conjunction with my conference.

In doing so, we'd get more of the people talking to each other, and raise the visibility on Google. If you search Google for "tutor conference, mentor conference, mentoring conference, etc. my conference web site shows on the first page. Thus, each blogger who links to this, and who I list as part of a blog exchange in May, would gain higher rankings because of being linked together with me in this event.

If we can get this started, and expand it every six months, I think we could bring a lot of people together who don't normally talk, and may begin to prod thinking and innovation that actually begins to generate better results from our service and donor giving.


Combining online conversation with face to face convenings is a powerful combination. Online is wide open. The convenings can be open space to see who shows up, or can be invitational to reach out to key players. After the event the online conversation can continue, only now deepened.

Blogging as publication is a weak medium, but blogging as node on a network is powerful. You need, in the end, a blogging group, not just a category, like "giving" or philanthroy, but a group of bloggers who, around a topic or point of view, blog about each other's posts, and keep the conversation criss crossing back and forth.

If you look at the biggest names in blogging and how they got started, that is how. They had five friends from their real world activities who also had blogs, and they blogged each other over and over. Winer, Weinberger, Searls, Rage Boy, became names this way.

In the giving space, there is as yet now "central circle" of bloggers, no "A List." The A List won't be those who are well published offline, or have off line prestige and power, necessarily, but those online who have the most inbound and outbound links. (Of course off line stature on quality of online content also drive readers and links). "Linkage" - That is how the net is set up to work, and certainly how Google works. "Give and get link love" was the motto of the first blogging groups and it served them well, ultimately it was the key to their becoming the A List.

Combining these dynamics with social organizing, online convenings, and real world action seems like the next big step. Could be a good way to rebuild our civil society, leveraging the breadth of the online affiliations and the density of face to face convenings.

Dan Bassill

All it takes is for one or two people to take the lead. I put up a chart at http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/Partner/CC/Presentations/Leaders/pictures_history.htm

That illustrates this role. By networking with GiftHub, Omidyar.net, Social Edge, and in the NonProfit Blog exchange, I'm inviting others to take the lead and help us build the type of social network you've described.

The next Tutor/Mentor Conference is in May and the web site is http://www.tutormentorconference.org


Do we really do anyone any good if we're just talking to each other? What's a blogging group but an echo chamber for conventional wisdom? My goal with the Nonprofiteer is to host a conversation among nonprofit leaders--that is, the staff and Board of operating charities as well as the staff and Board of philanthropies--about how we can all do our jobs better. Much as I enjoy Gift Hub and benefit from its inside-the-Green-beltway perspective, I often feel as though I'm reading a report from another planet--one with quite rarified air.


You are a fine writer, I read your stuff with interest. If Gifthub seems rarified remember my training is philosophy, literature and pyschology. Far from being inside the Greenway, I work for a Fortune 100 financial services company. Gifthub is recreation for me, and that means theory, and satire, my native gifts. For practical project management, along preordained vectors, call me at the office.

I do think conversation creates connections and trust, and from that unpredictable things can and do happen.

For example, here you are talking to me, how else might that have happened? Who knows where it might lead?

It is worth asking in what capacity a person writes. I write as a citizen. How would you characterize your role?


Phil--Sorry for the long delay in responding. Absolutely, I write as a citizen; I don't purport to speak for the nonprofit sector, and get huffy when I encounter people who assume they have the right to do that. Maybe I've been working in the field too long to still think of myself as the outsider with the ponytail and the dream but there you have it: one's youthful self-image has staying power!


Thanks for returning. For the record I work in financial services and blog as a citizen about the citizen sector. Diogenes was called the "mad Socrates," if only because he lived in the public square naked, accosting the respectable people from all walks of life. My hope in taking "mad" positions and unsettling established protocols is to open a cross sector conversation leading to new models for not only the philanthropic capital markets but also for engaged citizenship. I don't have a pony tail you can borrow, but we do have donkey ears, a bit and bridle, a queen's tiara, and many other costumes if you are inclined to masquerade - or come as yourself.

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