Sam Harrelson

Facebook Is Throttling Nonprofits and Activists

“Facebook urgently needs to address the impact that its algorithm changes are having on nonprofits, NGOs, civil society, and political activists—especially those in developing countries, who are never going to be able to “pay to play” and for whom Facebook is one of the few really effective ways to get a message out to a wide audience without government control or censorship.”

Source: Facebook Is Throttling Nonprofits and Activists

I’d urge nonprofits (like our own Hunger Initiative) and activists to seek out means of distributing and organizing online communications that aren’t reliant on social networking silos.

Of course, it’s easy to point to Facebook with its 2 billion users or Twitter with its ~400 million users and say that’s where people are in 2016. However, nothing is to stop groups from developing their own sites / forums / online presences (even on limited funds in places of civil unrest or poor network connections) and piping content into the silos that are at the behest of corporate interests (as in the case of Twitter’s apparent decision to pursue algorithmic feeds).

Indie is the way to go, especially if you want to authentically share your own gospels:

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

YouTube Donation Cards for Nonprofits

We recently began rolling out donation cards to US creators, which let your subscribers and viewers donate directly from your videos. Just add a donation card, pick a nonprofit, and start doing good. You can choose any United States, IRS-validated 501(c)3 public nonprofit organization and they receive 100% of the money donated. We’re excited to take this first step and look forward to expanding into other countries so creators across the world can power nonprofits they care about.

Source: YouTube Creator Blog: Transform a view into a donation

I could see this being a nice secondary stream of donations for nonprofits and churches in 2016…

Gender pay gap among clergy worse than national average, and why that infuriates me


I won’t lie. It’s difficult to see my wife struggle with her call to ministry in that she has to constantly be juggling her time and serving others while trying to find and clarify her own voice. I struggle against my urge to be a “manly man” and step in and tell her she can be a stay-at-home mom and doesn’t have to deal with all of the daily grind that no one else sees and feels but her. I get glimpses of what she goes through occasionally, and I’m not sure how she balances what are essentially two full time jobs that get labeled as “part-time” (can there ever be a part-time pastor?) along with the demands of our newborn son on top of having to deal with me.

I imagine that’s the same with every pastor and every pastor’s family.

Yes, there is credentialing and educational requirements (undergrad, seminary, internships … and the high rate loans that are associated with them), but it’s no coincidence that pastors are also among the highest professional groups to struggle with depression and high suicide rates.

To compound that with these stats is, well, infuriating and disappointing.

New national data reveals that women clergy earn 76 cents for each dollar earned by male clergy. This is substantially worse than the national pay gap of 83 cents. The clergy pay gap is even more stark when compared to similar occupations…

The gap among clergy is noteworthy because, as an occupation, the clergy has credentialing (ordination) and educational requirements that should encourage similar pay for similar work. Religious organizations often have educational requirements and institutional controls for clergy.

Source: Gender pay gap among clergy worse than national average – A first look at the new national data – Corner of Church and State

As Willie Nelson sang, “these are difficult times” for churches and pastors. We’re seeing cultural and socio-economic shifts that (for better and for worse) are resulting in diminishing church attendance and financial support. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, and it will result in a church that “looks” very different in the coming decades both here in the US and on a global scale as the southern hemisphere begins to assert its growing influence on christendom.

It also means that churches should think about how they “treat” and pay their pastors differently. Whether it’s a 5,000 member congregation or a 50 member country church, the failed policies of the baby boomer generation in regards to running churches-as-a-business have failed. No where is that more apparent than in the relative cultural homogeneity of any particular church (at least here in the American South), and the way we’ve treated female pastors who have unique abilities to salvage their congregations.


Imagine, if you will, that everyone who has bought a “powerball” ticket over the past few weeks had given that $2 to a non-profit, temple, homeless shelter, church, humane society, synagogue, food pantry, school PTA, mosque, hunger relief effort, community garden, or women’s shelter.

“It’s all for fun. Don’t be a buzzkill.”

Greed has been sold to us as a golden ticket out of the lower classes and closer to the life we all subscribe to on the Bravo! channel. If we wish / pray / think hard enough about the right things, it’ll happen to us. Knock, and Uncle Moneybags will answer the door.

Lotteries and Powerballs and Pick 5’s are evil and do damage to our society, culture, and communities.

Like it or not, we vote with our money in the United States. Render unto Caesar what you think belongs to Caesar.

Your chances of winning the Powerball jackpot are one in 292 million. Here’s what that looks like…

Source: How tiny are your chances at winning the Powerball jackpot? This tiny. –

I may be a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…

The New York Public Library Uploads 200,000 Images for Public Use

What the web was made for… much more beneficial to humanity than social media silos or native content ads:

The New York Public Library just uploaded nearly 200,000 images you can use for free | The Verge: “The New York Public Library just released a treasure trove of digitized public domain images, featuring epic poetry from the 11th century to photographs of used car lots in Columbus, Ohio from the 1930s. Over 180,000 manuscripts, maps, photographs, sheet music, lithographs, postcards, and other images were released online Wednesday in incredibly high resolution, and are available to download using the library’s user-friendly visualization tool. It’s a nostalgist’s dream come true.”

Bigger Fixes Nothing in Churches

“CHURCH: Stop preaching downloaded sermons from other preachers. If you found it online, so can the congregation. People want to hear your take on God’s Word, not a re-heated sermon from someone else.”

Source: Bigger Fixes Nothing (7 Unexpected Steps Toward Church Health) | Pivot | A Blog by Karl Vaters

Saving these for later… and for clients.

So true.

Declining Average Church Attendance and Marketing Implications

RIP, average attendance | Faith and Leadership: “Church attendance was once a key indicator of a virtuous cycle. If the church could get a new person in the pew regularly, offerings would go up, involvement in small groups and missions would climb, and the church would be healthy. If attendance was declining then everything else would eventually decline. The growing lack of dependability on attendance is a sign that the virtuous cycles that have sustained congregations since the end of World War II are collapsing. In order to sustain congregations over the long haul, new cycles need to be developed. Once that begins to happen, new measures can be identified.”

Interesting article that ends with a decisive call to parish leaders to move ahead in attempting to understand the changing nature of church attendance rather than keeping the status quo or firmly placing heads in sand to avoid the uncomfortable conversations that arise as a result.

As Pew Research etc have pointed out, the religious landscape of the United States is decidedly different than it was just 10 years ago, but especially 20-30 years ago when many of the models church leaders use for analysis, budget predictions etc were being formulated.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Churches being smart, nimble, and open to hearing the voice of God in the silence, in the whirlwinds, and even in the spreadsheets can mean the difference between keeping a historic sanctuary lit and being able to provide missions monies or having to sell the building to the YMCA.

Social Fundraising and Boards

Good tips here on how to get your nonprofit’s board behind a “social fundraising” campaign. I’ve seen directors struggle with this same issue numerous times, and I offer up similar advice:

The Nonprofit Marketing Blog: “Of course, the idea behind social fundraising isn’t new, but combining the age-old structure of board support and your fundraising assets with technology that makes it much easier to ask for a gift can amplify your outreach, resulting in more donors and more donations for your mission.”