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From The Network

Change Agent should be landing in your mailbox any day now. Designed by the future-seeing team at Constructive, it's our first transmedia issue, meaning there's an enhanced interactive version online featuring videos, sharable content, additional resources, and more. In this issue, sponsored by The Rockefeller Foundation, you'll hear from NRDC, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Surfrider, Northwestern and Wharton, and many others. We've even rolled back the curtain on the design process, so you can see what we did, why, and hopefully, use some of what we did yourself. We want to hear what you think about it.

As we enter a new year, we've been pondering the future of social sector communications. In our Five Trends In Communications piece for the Council on Foundations, we get our Nostradamus on and predict more data-driven comms, an increased focus on organizational storytelling, and more.

With a new administration poised to assume the White House, controversy and crisis could be coming. Watch our webinar replay, Controversy: Communicating When the Topic Is Tough, to learn how you can add your voice to sensitive but important topics.

Our Members Community continues to grow and foster important and relevant conversations. A question from last week: Do you know of any successful foundation collaborations around public policy? Log in to share your thoughts.

Early bird registration is almost gone for ComNet17 in Miami Beach, September 27-29, 2017. As you plan, here's an approach to consider: Heising-Simons Communications Director Brian Eule explains in a short video why he brought grantees to ComNet16.

Upcoming Events

February 15: Join us for a webinar with the Congressional Management Foundation, which helps all 535 Congressional offices work more efficiently and effectively. They will share the findings of their unprecedented research examining how to be an effective advocate with the U.S. Congress, based on real-world feedback from Congressional staff and members. Details and RSVP to come.

Check out ComNetworkLOCAL groups in your area. 

Surveying the Field

Spitfire's Mindful Messaging is an incredible resource that highlights the neuroscience, behavioral economics, and psychology behind how people think and what influences their actions. It walks through how to think about audiences psychologically, the right messaging to connect with people, and also shows examples of "mindful messaging" in action.

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation will be sunsetting within ten years, "making a clear-headed decision to exchange their institutional life for the greater stability of their select group of grantee organizations."

The Atlantic Philanthropies made their last grant this month, bringing their total to $8 billion given over 35 years. Read President and CEO Christopher Oechsli's letter on the organization's final act.

At a recent Hewlett Foundation symposium, the Center for Effective Philanthropy revealed what more than 200 foundation CEOs think about the future of foundation philanthropy. 

Have a look at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy's 11 philanthropic trends for 2017, which they believe will challenge and inform the work of the social sector in the upcoming year.

Knight Foundation's Knight News Match will match donations from individual donors to a group of 57 nonprofit news organizations in an effort to stem the tide of fake news.

Business and politics — do they mix? Global Strategy Group's new report on the subject reveals that Americans are disenchanted with government, and are looking elsewhere for social change.

Get a 20% discount on a subscription to The Foundation Review using the code CN17.

Good Work + Good Jobs

Work for the global good. Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is looking for an Editorial Director, and UNICEF is hiring a Chief of Media. See more from our job bank.


Happy Holidays!

Thank you for being part of The Communications Network.
Thank you for connecting with your colleagues.
Thank you for caring about our field and about your craft.
Thank you for being open to new ideas and new approaches.
Thank you for generously sharing your insights and expertise. 
Most of all, thank you for your work to make the world a little bit better in 2016.
It matters. 
Hoping the holidays are peaceful and joyous for you and the ones you love. 
-Sean, Emma, and Tristan

What We're Reading (So You Can Use It)

How To Defend Your Brain Against Fake News | Fast Company
Research on what psychologists call the "continued influence effect" suggests that it's remarkably difficult to prevent information that you know to be false from affecting your judgment anyway. Unfortunately, the brain doesn't have a mechanism for removing false information from your memory, so those ideas continue to be recalled.

[Infographic]: How Our Brains Respond to Different Content Formats | Contently
Writing is best for building trust; graphic content is best for making a persuasive argument; interactive content is best for engaging on a personal level; video content is best for forming an emotional connection.

8 Most Useful Nonprofit Resources of 2016 | EveryAction
Includes an event calendar, email deliverability study, a state of nonprofit data report, and a library of free nonprofit resources.

Measurement Will Matter More Than Ever In 2017 | Nieman Lab
If media is only becoming more distributed, then it requires an equally distributed solution for measuring its influence.

The Strategic Plan is Dead. Long Live Strategy. | Stanford Social Innovation Review
As we enter the new year, ponder this: In today’s fast-changing world, why freeze your strategic thinking in a five-year plan?

50 Skills of Community Management | The Community Roundtable
The Community Skills Framework represents the five skill families and top 50 skills that are required to build a successful community program.

Internal Communications (IC) Around the World > IC In North America | Newsweaver
A survey of 700 internal communications professionals reveals: Those who measure their communications and report on their activity have more access to senior leaders, are involved at an earlier stage in key decision making, are more likely to be seen as trusted advisors, and have bigger overall budgets.

Blue Feed, Red Feed | Wall Street Journal
This tool lets you see liberal Facebook and conservative Facebook side by side, filtered by a few select topics including President-Elect Trump. Use it to understand the other side of the aisle better and make your holiday dinner conversations a little less unbearable.

Do You Live in a Bubble? | PBS Newshour
Hint — you probably do.

Culture Report

The Great A.I. Awakening | The New York Times Magazine
A rarefied department within the company, Google Brain, was founded five years ago on this very principle: that artificial “neural networks” that acquaint themselves with the world via trial and error, as toddlers do, might in turn develop something like human flexibility. This notion is not new — a version of it dates to the earliest stages of modern computing, in the 1940s — but for much of its history most computer scientists saw it as vaguely disreputable, even mystical. Since 2011, though, Google Brain has demonstrated that this approach to artificial intelligence could solve many problems that confounded decades of conventional efforts.

Tristan's Three Things for Fun 

  1. SPOILER ALERT: An exhaustive list of the easter eggs in Rogue One.
  2. Nobody likes lame OOO messages. Use this generator to make your vacation sound much cooler than it probably is.
  3. Need a last-minute gift? Consider making a donation in someone's name to an organization that aligns with your values and could use the support.
Aaaand back in time for your New Year's Eve parties: The Communications Network's Best Mostly New Music of 2016. Totally subjective. Infectiously funky. And fun. Turn it up. P.S. This was supposed to be a Drake-free zone but someone just can't help themselves. It's okay. You can skip it.

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Interested in sponsoring the newsletter? Have feedback, or an awesome OOO message we'll get after sending you this? Email

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