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July 2010

the latest from
Suite 603

 


July 29, 2010

Julie Mulvihill, executive director of the Kansas Humanities Council
Kansas Humanities Council's Julie Mulvihill tells her Kansas story on the new website and asks "what's yours?" At www.kansashumanities.org, see KHC's Network for Good donation page. Julie is featured in the July/August issue of Humanities.

A must-read: Mass Humanities assesses ten years of grantmaking

EDSITEment blends summertime reading with learning

Pliny the Younger, words, and successful fundraising letters

10th annual National Book Festival, Sept 25
2010-2011 general liability policies
The Chairman's Civility Tour takes him to Denver and Greeley, CO, August 4 & 5, and to Anchorage, AK, August 17-19
Chairman Leach talks about civility in Seattle
so much there: www.neh.gov/partnership (login fedstate password partnership)

A must-read: Mass Humanities assesses ten years of grantmaking



The regions of Massachusetts. Mass Humanities' assessment of its grantmaking looks at how grants have been dispersed around the Commonwealth.

The regions of Massachusetts. Mass Humanities' assessment of its grantmaking looks at how grants have been dispersed around the Commonwealth.

In what may be one of the first studies of its kind, Mass Humanities has carried out a longitudinal analysis of the grants it has made since 2000, what kinds of institutions they have gone to, the humanities disciplines they have supported, and where in the state they were made. This must-read study, led by program officer Hayley Wood, also looks at the impact of these grants.

Outcomes-Based Assessment of the Mass Humanities Grant Program, 2000-2009, now on file in the council activities section of the Federal/State Partnership website (login fedstate password partnership), draws on the records and reports Mass Humanities maintains about its grants as well as the institutional memory of key staff members. These records include data on applications received but not funded as well as information about awards made. Outcomes-Based Assessment analyzes how Mass Humanities' grantmaking has met the council's goals, the ways repeat applications have led to partnerships, grantmaking failures, and the limitations of the data.

Mass Humanities also has in progress a longitudinal study of the impact of its Clemente course. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the impact of this program is much broader-reaching than even hoped for. We look forward to seeing the results of this study when it is completed.

EDSITEment blends summertime reading with learning

This summer EDSITEment highlights classic good reads and how to learn more about them. The list runs the gamut from Aesop and Alice in Wonderland to Jack London and To Kill a Mockingbird. The lesson plans on EDSITEment are categorized by grade level, but are of interest to learners of all ages. The site's catalogue of topics is categorized by art and culture, literature and language arts, foreign language, and history and social studies.

This award-winning NEH website has an e-newsletter that will help you and the teachers you work with stay up to date with the materials available. EDSITEment was selected by the American Association of School Librarians as one of 2010's top 25 resource websites for teaching and learning.

All websites featured by EDSITEment "have been reviewed for content, design, and educational impact in the classroom. They cover a wide range of humanities subjects, from American history to literature, world history and culture, language, art, and archaeology, and have been judged by humanities specialists to be of high intellectual quality."

Pliny the Younger, words, and successful fundraising letters

Bust of a Roman official, age of Trajan and Pliny the Younger (Koninklijke musea voor kunst en geschiedenis, Brussels)
Bust of a Roman official, age of Trajan and Pliny the Younger (Koninklijke musea voor kunst en geschiedenis, Brussels)

Humanities people are people of the written word. But does that mean that we can construct our messages in ways that compel others to join our work and support us?

Yet another characteristic we may share with other nonprofits is the inability to write engagingly about our work. The spring issue of Nonprofit Quarterly lays this all out in an article about the language and rhetoric of fundraising letters: "The Way We Write Is All Wrong: Fixing the Broken Discourse of Fundraising" by Frank C. Dickerson, Ph.D.

Dickerson did a computer analysis of the language used in nonprofit fundraising letters and discovered that, "Fundraising texts were cold and detached, like doctoral dissertations rather than like friendly, personal conversations. Rather than gaining reader attention with emotionally rich human-interest stories, they contained less narrative than academic prose; in fact, they contained less narrative than official documents."

The great Roman letter-writer and politician Pliny the Younger, who lived in the late 1st century A.D., provides Dickerson with a model fundraising letter. Here's what makes it work: "a definite setting (his villa in Como), sympathetic protagonists (the children and parents), a noble quest (founding a school), and two barriers to fulfilling that quest (lack of funds and teachers). The overarching narrative superstructure is supported by a linguistic substructure of features common to narrative (past-tense verbs, third-person pronouns, public verbs, and reported speech)."

The full article, including Pliny's letter, is available in the resources section of the Federal/State Partnership website (login fedstate password partnership).


FEDERAL/STATE PARTNERSHIP
National Endowment for the Humanities
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 603
Washington, DC 20506
202.606.8254, main number
202.606.8365, fax

Edie Manza, director [ about ]
202.606.8257
Kathleen Mitchell, senior program officer [ about ]
202.606.8302
Shirley Newman, program assistant [ about ]
202.606.8254

directions to the Federal/State Partnership office

visit www.neh.gov to keep up with the
National Endowment for the Humanities

Federal/State Partnership is the liaison between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the nonprofit network of 56 state and jurisdictional humanities councils