Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Give and Take: Dispatches From Urban America

I had a great conversation with Peter Panapento last week that resulted in this blog from the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Give and Take: Dispatches From Urban America

Charity leaders looking for an effective way to blog about their organizations might look to Larry James’s Urban Daily for tips.

Mr. James, chief executive officer of Central Dallas Ministries, writes daily on issues that face low-income people in urban settings. His blog has helped increase traffic to the charity’s Web site by 800 percent since February 2005, according to Jeremy Gregg, the head of the charity’s development office.

Mr. Gregg says the blog is written mostly on evenings and weekends and has been influential in helping to explain the charity’s mission — which focuses on economic and social-justice work in inner-city Dallas.

Today’s post is emblematic of Mr. James’s approach. He writes about a recent three-hour drive through some of Dallas’s poorest neighborhoods. It includes a series of pictures of sights he saw during that drive.

“The scale of the negative environment overwhelms the soul,” Mr. James writes. “As you view the images, imagine being 8 years old and living here.”

He ends the post with a call to action: “Dallas doesn’t need a new vision, though vision is important. Dallas needs a new courage. Dallas needs a new heart, not for charity, but for fairness.”

For more on how charities are using blogs, check out this recent report by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

— Peter Panepento