Philanthropy's Under-Investment in Holding High Finance Accountable: A Gamble We Can’t Afford

October 17, 2018

Monopoly_top_hatTen years ago, President George W. Bush signed into law the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, authorizing $700 billion in federal funding to buy troubled assets from banks deemed to be in danger of failing as a result of the subprime foreclosure crisis.

A lot has changed since then, but one thing has remained the same: progressive philanthropy continues to under-prioritize efforts to hold the financial industry accountable.

It's a choice that risks undermining the headway progressive foundations are making on issues of inequality and wealth building. Placing big bets on policies designed to lift up low- and moderate-income communities while failing to address the accountability of financial institutions is a gamble we cannot afford to take — not least because it puts at risk the very people we are trying to serve.

American households lost $16 trillion in wealth in the years after the 2007-08 financial crisis. And while some experts estimate that Americans have regained $14.6 trillion, or 91 percent, of those losses in the decade since, the collapse affected different segments of society unequally, with the gains just as unequally distributed. In other words, both the crash and the recovery increased inequality in America.

The impact on African Americans was especially profound. Nearly 8 percent of African-American homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in the years after the crisis, compared with only 4.5 percent of white homeowners, and between 2007 and 2010 African Americans saw their retirement accounts lose 35 percent of their value. Indeed, according to the National Association of Realtors, African Americans lost fully half their wealth as a result of the financial crisis.

It's not just the likelihood of future financial crises that should give philanthropic leaders pause; it's also the fact that an under-regulated and unaccountable financial industry will continue to target communities of color and low-income communities with sketchy products and put vulnerable households at risk.

The payday lending industry is one example: the average payday loan, $300, costs the borrower $450 in fines and fees. And if it's not the payday industry preying on low-income individuals, it's car title loan companies, usurious overdraft fees, or predatory mortgage lending.

Philanthropic funding in support of efforts to hold the financial sector accountable is most helpful in advance of a crisis, not in the midst of or after one. Progressive grantmakers and grantees should be working to prevent the next crisis and gaming out what they can do when and if it happens. We need to move faster and more effectively to mitigate the effects of the next crisis, and acknowledge that it could happen sooner than we expect.

With adequate philanthropic investment, we could shape a financial sector that works to help low- and moderate-income households build and protect their wealth. That we have not isn't for lack of ideas: there are efforts already underway to create affordable small dollar loan programs, new and smart affordable mortgage models, and state banks like the one currently being debated in New Jersey.

When the last financial crisis hit, there wasn't a lot of nonprofit infrastructure in place focused on mortgage and financial sector issues. People's Action, the nonprofit I direct, organized the largest street mobilizations during the crisis with the aim of demanding accountability, from the financial sector and its regulators, and some measure of restitution for homeowners, workers, and retirees. Initially, we subsidized this work through general operating funds. Similarly, the campaign to win the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (more commonly known as Dodd-Frank), which was led by Americans for Financial Reform, had a budget of $1.3 million. That's the same amount the financial sector was spending every day to defeat the bill.

A handful of philanthropic organizations answered the call, including the Arca Foundation, the Panta Rhea Foundation, and Atlantic Philanthropies. But once the worst of the crisis had passed (and the financial reform bill had been signed), consistent funding in support of stricter regulation of the financial industry largely dried up (with the important exception of the Arca Foundation).

Unfortunately, the work we need has barely begun. Experts have predicted that housing bubbles in many U.S. cities will cause mass displacement as the wage-to-housing cost gap reaches unsustainable levels. New lending schemes that sound eerily similar to many of the subprime lending scams are being widely advertised. Non-bank lenders, who now comprise the bulk of the mortgage market, are not subject to the same oversight as traditional banks and are growing like kudzu.

Now is the time for progressive philanthropy to engage in a serious conversation about how it can support efforts to strengthen financial regulation. With all three branches of government controlled by the GOP, Wall Street and Republicans are free to mischaracterize and roll back the protections that are keeping the titans of Wall Street from crashing the economy again, including an attempt to exempt 80 percent of banks from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (which requires banks to disclose who they are making and denying loans to) and to erase common-sense tax rules for corporations and billionaires.

Because we in the nonprofit sector don't have their resources, we must combat the regulatory rollbacks and irresponsible policy making with good organizing and strategic communications. With the ten-year anniversary of the big bank bailout upon us, it's a good time to question why this work continues to be under-supported, and what we can do to change that.

George_goehl_for_PhilanTopic George Goehl is a community organizer and executive director of People's Action, whose work in the lead-up to the Occupy Wall Street movement played a critical role in the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform package and a $26 billion mortgage relief settlement for communities and homeowners.

Weekend Link Roundup (October 13-14, 2018)

October 14, 2018

105499618-4ED5-BL-HurricaneMichaelV2-101018.600x337A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

As the global climate continues to warm, there's a "material difference" between 1.5 degrees C of warming and 2 C degrees. Kelly Levin, a senior associate with the World Resources Institute's global climate program, looks at some of them. And Adele Peters, a staff writer at Fast Company, suggests that holding warming to the former, while difficult, might not be impossible.

According to a poll conducted by researchers from Yale, George Mason University, and Climate Nexus, a majority of voters in North Carolina post-Hurricane Florence are worried about climate change (60 percent) and think it's appropriate to talk about the issue when disaster strikes (55 percent). HuffPost's Jeremy Deaton reports.  

Disaster Relief

Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to strike the continental U.S., hammered the Florida Panhandle before carving a path of destruction across Georgia and North Carolina. We're tracking institutional pledges and commitments to relief and recovery efforts here. And Fast Company has put together a list of fifteen things you can do to help the storm's victims.

Education

On her Answer Sheet blog, Kevin Welner, a co-director of the Schools of Opportunity project and director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, and Linda Molner Kelley, a co-director of Schools of Opportunity and director for outreach and engagement at the University of Colorado, look at how William C. Hinckley High School in Aurora, Colorado, used a restorative justice approach to change its culture.

Giving

As we head into the holiday season, families and friends should think about allocating some of the money they planned to spend on gifts to a commonly determined cause, writes philanthropy consultant Bill DeBoskey. "Imagine the result," adds DeBoskey, "if each of us pledged to donate to a worthy cause just 10 percent of what we would otherwise spend on holiday gifts, food and candy."

Impact Investing

Forbes contributor Aislinn Murphy has a good Q&A witf LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who reveals that he has put $1.5 billion of his considerable fortune into impact investments.

Nonprofits

Nonprofit AF's Vu Le is another leader in the social sector for whom the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was a kind of come-to-Jesus moment.

Over at Forbes, the site's panel of nonprofit experts weighs in on the things that the best nonprofit blogs have in common. 

Is your organization one of the best nonprofits to work for. If the answer is yes, the NonProfit Times would like to hear from you.

Giving Tuesday is just around the corner, and Beth Kanter and Allison Fine have collected fifteen #GivingTuesday myths nonprofits should be aware of.

Philanthropy

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, CEP president Phil Buchanan applauds the announcement of Kathleen Enright, longtime CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, as the new president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. But in a philanthropic infrastructure landscape that has "changed dramatically" since the early days of GEO and CEP, what role should the council play? asks Buchanan. Check out his post to learn what he thinks that role should be.

And in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Alison Corwin, senior program officer for sustainable environments at the Surdna Foundation, argues that when it  comes to building the capacity of frontline and grassroots leaders, funders first need to "build [their] own individual and institutional skills to receive and incorporate the insight these leaders and communities provide."

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Tracking Hurricane Michael Disaster Relief

October 12, 2018

Updated: October 17, 2018 - 4:45 PM ET

Hurricane Michael first showed up in early October as a low-pressure area in the western Caribbean. After meandering for a few days, it began to organize itself and then intensified rapidly as it moved past Cuba into the Gulf of Mexico, becoming a tropical depression on October 7 and a Category 1 hurricane just twenty-four hours later. By Tuesday, October 9, it had strengthened into a Cat 3 with winds of more than 120 mph, and by the time it smashed into the Florida Panhandle near Mexico Beach on Wednesday, October 10, it was a Cat 4 with sustained winds of 155 mph.

For many, the unprecedented nature of the storm — the most intense tropical cyclone to strike the U.S. since Andrew in 1992, the third most intense storm in terms of barometric pressure ever to make landfall in the U.S., and the strongest hurricane to strike the Florida Panhandle on record — was disturbing, its rapid intensification and the path of destruction it carved across four states cause for alarm, coming as it did just days after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report warning of dire consequences if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut dramatically over the next decade. As of Wednesday afternoon, a week after the storm made landfall, the death toll had risen to thirty-two, including fifteen in Florida, and estimates of the damage were holding steady at between $8 billion and $30 billion.

As we did with Florence, Foundation Center will be tracking institutional pledges and commitments for relief and recovery efforts here on PhilanTopic. To make sure your company or organization's pledge have been included in the total, or for questions about methodology or sources, please contact Andrew Grabois, manager of corporate philanthropy at Foundation Center.

Mexico Beach destruction

(Photo credit: Reuters)

TOTAL: $20,910,000

Organization Type (pledges and commitments)

Corporate Direct Giving/
Company-Sponsored Foundations
$17,710,000 29 orgs.
Private Foundations $0 0 orgs.
Public Charities $3,200,000 5 orgs.

Top Recipients (Total Received to Date)

1. Unknown Recipient(s) $12,550,000
2. American Red Cross
(national)
$4,755,000
3. Florida Disaster Fund $1,600,000
4. Multiple Recipients $1,100,000
5. United Way Worldwide $375,000
6. Samaritan's Purse $250,000
7. Volunteer Florida $250,000
8. American Red Cross, North Florida Region $50,000

Source: Foundation Center & Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Download the Data

For the latest coverage of the philanthropic sector's response to
Hurricane Florence, check out Philanthropy News Digest.

Nonprofit Boards and Risk

October 11, 2018

RiskWhile most nonprofits know they need to be forward thinking in order to create change, many are (understandably) focused on the day-to-day delivery of programs and services and don't know how to proceed. It's a challenge to strategize about future plans or consider taking on new activities and programs with broader impact when resources are limited and the organization's staff and leadership already have their hands full. Which is why it is especially important for nonprofit boards to weigh and be willing to recommend taking calculated risks. Is yours?

What follows are some commonsense tips for nonprofit board members who are ready to help take their nonprofits to the next level.

Think data. A good strategic planning process should focus resources on the programs likely to have the greatest impact on the groups served by an organization, and data needs to be at the heart of that process. Every program (as well as every internal department) generates data. Making time to identify trends and patterns in that data in order to be more strategic and identify risk is the first step on the road to creating impact.

Assess current risks. In Green Hasson Janks' most recent nonprofit report, Board Governance: The Path to Nonprofit Success, one of the firm's principals, Mark Kawauchi, notes that "a significant percentage of nonprofits are not incorporating and addressing risks in their strategic plans." Mark goes on to suggest that nonprofits with sufficient resources should conduct a comprehensive risk management assessment that incorporates both the organization's operations and its programs.

Collect best practices. The last thing a nonprofit organization should do is reinvent the wheel. Nonprofits of every size and stripe have published their success stories and shared lessons they learned along the way, so surfacing useful strategies for an organization to consider should be no more complicated than conducting an online search. Even better is talking directly with leaders and board members at other organizations engaged in similar work. What practices have they adopted, and how might your organization leverage those ideas to strengthen its performance? Don't be afraid to reach out to competitors: you'll be surprised how many people in the nonprofit world are happy to share what they've learned.

Align plans with resources. It may sound obvious, but given the limited resources available to most nonprofits, an important element of any planning process is understanding what an organization should stop doing in order to free up resources for a promising new program or activity. Similarly, launching a new program without fully understanding the demands it will make on existing resources can lead to disastrous consequences. Take the time to figure out which of the organization's programs are having an impact and which are underperforming. It's not always easy — or fun — but it's imperative that, on a periodic basis, boards, working with leadership, do so.

As a member of the board of the Downtown Women's Center, an organization focused exclusively on serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness, I've learned that our interim CEO, Lisa Watson, has a set of questions she uses when considering whether to develop a new program:

  • Does it align with our mission?
  • Does it align with our current priorities?
  • Are there other agencies engaged in this work? If so, who? If yes, are we duplicating services or can we collaborate with them?
  • How long will the project last?
  • If we make this decision, how will it look six months from now? A year? Five years?
  • What is the budget for this project and what impact will it have on our budget?
  • Is it financially sustainable?
  • Are there any legal, permitting or zoning issues that need to be considered?
  • Is there a better decision that would be more aligned with our mission moving forward?

In fact, the center's board recently used Lisa's framework to help her make an important programmatic decision. The center has long believed that permanent supportive housing is the solution to ending homelessness, and it has focused its resources on providing trauma-informed services to homeless women and on keeping them housed. In response to the high demand for short-term shelters, however, the board recently decided to recommend that the organization expand its work to include the provision of shelter services in its building after business hours. We used Lisa's questions as a guide to help us think through all the implications of that decision, and we ultimately agreed it was an important step to take in response to the needs of the community we serve.

Diversity, diversity, diversity. Embedding a tolerance for risk into an organization's culture is not easy for any organization, let alone a nonprofit. In the current environment, however, it's not enough for boards to sit back and govern passively; they need to be fully engaged. They should also be diverse in terms of age, race, religion, gender, expertise, and experience. If an organization expects its risk-taking to pay dividends, its needs to consider a wide variety of perspectives 

Measure success. Another important, if often overlooked, part of strategic planning is defining what success looks like and how it will be measured. Measuring outcomes against goals and evaluating programs as they are being delivered will go a long way to keeping things on track and will allow an organization to make course corrections in a timely fashion if needed.  

Final thoughts. When considering a new program or initiative, evaluate the opportunity at the executive committee level first before bringing it to the entire board. Another best practice is using board subcommittees to take a deeper dive with individual board members on key issues.  Lastly, emphasizing clear and transparent communications between the board and leadership and across the organization is critical. After all, any calculated risks an organization takes are likely to be more successful when everyone is on the same page, right?

Headshot_donella_wilsonDonella Wilson is a partner at Green Hasson Janks, where she leads the Green Hasson Janks Nonprofit Practice. She also is immediate past president of the board of directors of the Downtown Women’s Center and a member of Southern California Grantmakers.

 

The Importance of Listening for and Sharing Stories

October 10, 2018

Share_your_story­When leaders of today's most vibrant social movements gather in a ballroom for a day to share advice and lessons learned, we ought to listen — and not just because as leaders of nonprofits competing for people's attention, dollars, and time, we should welcome opportunities to learn as much as we can about how best to apply our efforts to bring about change.

In September, leaders from the Ad Council, the Born This Way Foundation, Young Invincibles, the Transgender Law Center, the MBK Alliance, the National Geographic Society, and other organizations and causes gathered in Washington, D.C., at the Influence Nation Summit to talk about the tactics they've used in the past to move large numbers of people to take action.

Running through their remarks were two critical points that many nonprofits struggle to operationalize: 1) Listening is more important than talking; and 2) Sharing authentic stories with a compelling message is at the heart of every successful movement.

Listening is more important than talking

If you're a professional fundraiser, you've heard the admonition to focus on your donors and establish them as the "hero" of the narratives you share with supporters and stakeholders. You've been told to use "you" in your messaging instead of "we," to evoke donors' empathy by appealing to their emotions, and to assure them that whatever your organization has accomplished is due to their generosity and passion for the cause.

Imogen Napper, one of the speakers at the Influence Nation Summit, is a marine biologist and a National Geographic Sky Ocean Rescue Scholar who is focused on ridding the oceans of plastic, including plastic fibers found in clothing. Without listening to the online conversation around the topic, however, you might think Napper supports a ban on synthetic fibers in apparel. Not so. As she told attendees at the summit, "Plastic is a fantastic material as it is so versatile....Seventy percent of clothes are made of plastic. Therefore, it would be difficult and often expensive to completely avoid it." What people want instead, she said, is access to information that allows them to make informed decisions about the clothing they buy.

In other words, before you go out to recruit new donors to your cause, it's imperative that someone on your staff spends some time finding and listening in on the conversations that are already happening around your issue.

Telling authentic stories with a compelling message

The second component of a successful movement naturally follows the first. Careful listening should give you a good idea of the language, concerns, and passion points surrounding your issue so you can then use that information to create stories that don't overpower the conversation but instead dramatize the issue in an unforgettable way.

Conservation International's Anastasia Khoo, another summit speaker, said those of us who work for causes have to make sure we are inspired by the messages we create. "We have to be bold and fearless," she added. Michael Skolnik of the Soze Agency agrees, stressing the need for authenticity and passion. "I have to believe that you believe it," says Skolnik. "Tell a story from your heart."

So while you're recruiting new donors and working to retain the ones you already have, try to gather information you can use to create compelling stories for and with your supporters. How? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Look for ways to create common ground. How is your issue personally relevant to the lives of those you want to engage? How can you make that connection? Your goal is to help potential supporters "see" themselves in your organization or cause, which will make them much more willing to give their time, money, and attention.

Invite people to share. Most people won't talk about themselves unless they're asked. So ask — on social media, on your website, in your email communications, and at your events. Charge your staff with collecting stories that might be good for sharing. (And if someone asks that their name or story not be used, be sure to honor their request.)

Learn how to tell stories via Facebook Ads. Facebook may not be the best place to make a cold pitch, but it's an excellent platform for telling stories. Pay attention to organizations, causes, and campaigns on the platform that seem to work and try to emulate them. Using Facebook Ads, you can post a video, tell a story in a single ad or sequence of ads, or start a story in a post and the provide a link to the rest of it. Facebook has kept the cost of the service low, so it's easy to test to see what is and isn't working. And remember: the key to a story well told is eye-catching imagery.

Social movements that achieve success often seem to have done so spontaneously, but that's rarely the case. Behind every successful movement are people and organizations that have taken the time to listen first and then find and craft stories that pack an emotional punch. It isn't a new idea: nonprofits have been telling stories and talking about their causes for decades. What's changed is the environment in which stories are told and shared, including the speed and reach of digital communication, the greater awareness of social issues across a wider swath of the population, and the way young adults view their personal capital (dollars, time, attention). We live in an increasingly "noisy" world and breaking through the noise with a well-crafted message isn't getting any easier. But if you listen first and then dig in and create stories that appeal to others with a passion for your cause, your chances of success will improve dramatically. 

Headshot_derrick_feldmann_2015Derrick Feldmann (@derrickfeldmann) is the author of Social Movements for Good: How Companies and Causes Create Viral Change and the founder and lead researcher for the Millennial Impact Project.

Philanthropy Delivers an Outcome — and Its Name Is Brett Kavanaugh

October 07, 2018

Kavanaugh_swearing_inWhen the U.S. Senate voted 50-48 on Saturday to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, it was a significant victory for the Federalist Society, and for the foundations that support the organization. It also represented something — an outcome and real impact — that philanthropists of all persuasions crave, and it was achieved through, that’s right, general support grants.

Widely credited for writing the playbook that has guided the Trump administration's judicial nominations strategy, the Federalist Society, by any measure, has been wildly successful. Since Donald Trump's inauguration in January 2017, the U.S. Senate has approved two of his picks for the Supreme Court and some fifty lower court judges. With an additional hundred and fifty appellate and district court seats to be filled, the administration, with the help of the Federalist Society, is on track to have put in place nearly a quarter of all active judges by the end of 2019.

The organization describes itself as a

group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order. [The Society] is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be….This entails reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law. In working to achieve these goals, the Society has created a conservative and libertarian intellectual network that extends to all levels of the legal community....

As a 501(c)(3) organization, the society receives tax-deductible donations from individuals, but foundations contribute roughly one-quarter of its annual funding. Since 2006, 127 foundations have made $39 million in grants to the organization, 53 percent of which has come from five foundations: the Lynde and Harry Bradley, Templeton, Mercer Family, and Sarah Scaife foundations, in addition to the Searle Freedom Trust. Nearly half of those grants have provided general operating support to the organization, giving it the freedom to use those resources to further its goals without donor-imposed restrictions.

As social investing and effective altruism — with their focus on outcomes, impact, and results — increasingly challenge so-called traditional philanthropy, general operating support has become somewhat passé among those who see themselves leading the charge. Unlike the Federalist Society, most nonprofit organizations receive little, if any, general support. Overall, 80 percent of the resources granted by U.S.-based foundations are restricted, requiring grantee organizations to spend valuable time on creating theories of change, strategic plans, and elaborate output and outcomes measurement systems in order to prove their impact to funders.

But who would disagree that shaping the philosophical orientation of the highest court in the land, not to mention the rest of the federal judiciary, is anything but hugely impactful. Scale? Check. Significance? Check. Sustainability? Check. From where I sit, the foundation supporters of the Federalist Society seem to have achieved something monumental by going back to basics: find an effective organization that shares your goals and provide it with steady, unrestricted, long-term support so it can do its work.

How I feel about the Kavanaugh confirmation, the polarization it represents, and what it means for the country is beside the point, and not something Foundation Center has a position on. For our information to be trusted, we believe we need to avoid taking positions on matters of public policy. But we are fascinated by the what data, research, and analysis can tell us about what works, and does not, in philanthropy. Today, it’s telling me that traditional philanthropy is alive and well and changing the world.

(Photo credit: AP)

Bradford K. Smith is president of Foundation Center. In his previous post, he looked at philanthropy in the war zone.

Weekend Link Roundup (October 6-7, 2018)

0930-bks-kabaservice-superJumboA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Advocacy

"[W]e are in a season when the electorate has the obligation to choose our future," writes Richard Marker on his Wise Philanthropy blog. "And the philanthropy world has an obligation to weigh in on many of these matters. We have everything at stake in re-asserting a stable and civil society, eliminating poverty, rejecting racism and xenophobia, and urging systemic equity. The challenge for us is to not be intimidated by those who would limit our outspokenness under the guise of accusing us of partisanship. Of course, there are legal limitations to what we can lobby for and what lobbying we can support. But our rights, I would say even our obligations as funders, to advocate for constitutional rights, civil society, and equity for all are virtually unlimited."

Children/Youth

On the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog, Martha Davis, a senior program officer at the foundation, shares six recommendations for communities that are developing collaborative, place-based approaches aimed at ensuring that all children have a solid foundation of safety.

In a Q&A on the Case Foundation blog, Justin Cunningham, the millennial co-founder of Social Works, discusses what he and his colleagues are doing to empower youth in Chicago.

Giving

The team at GiveWell has made a number of changes to the organization's cost-effectiveness model.

Grantmaking

In a post on the GrantCraft blog, Jen Bokoff, director of stakeholder engagement, announces the release of the latest GrantCraft guide, Deciding Together: Shifting Power and Resources through Participatory Grantmaking, which was created in partnership with researcher/writer extraordinaire Cynthia Gibson.

Nonprofits

On the GuideStar blog, Lisa Keitges and Ryan Grosso of Orr Associates, Inc. share some good advice with respect to board transitions.

In his latest, Vu Le has some advice for nonprofit professionals who have become jaded and cynical about "the Nonprofit Industrial Complex."

Philanthropy

The Stanford Social Innovation Review, in partnership with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, has launched a new series focused on "power in philanthropy" with posts by Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations ("Power, Privilege, and Effectiveness: Are Funders Connecting the Dots?"), and Luz Vega-Marquis, president and CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation ("The Power of Family: From Poverty to Agency to Unity").

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Jennifer Wei, organizational effectiveness officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, argues that a "handful of foundations offering general operating support to nonprofits is not even close to being enough" and that the field needs "many more funders — a critical mass — to provide general operating support grants and recognize the full cost of running an organization. Only then," she adds, "[will] nonprofits have enough unrestricted dollars to truly use those funds flexibly, prioritize organizational capacity needs, and strengthen organizational health."

Here on PhilanTopic, Foundation Center president Brad Smith argues that general operating support provided to the Federalist Society over the years by conservative-leaning foundations played was a significant factor in the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

The team at HistPhil winds down its forum on Paul Brest and Hal Harvey's Money Well Spent with a post by Erica Kohl-Arenas (The Self-Help Myth: How Philanthropy Fails to Alleviate Poverty) that offers a brief history of strategic donor behavior. And in the forum's final post, Brest and Harvey respond to the comments of forum contribtutors.

And after two years of work, the renovation of the Ford Foundation's landmarked building on Manhattan's East Side is almost complete. Darren Walker, the foundation's president, explains how the building, newly renamed the Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice, "will be a unique asset for champions of social justice across sectors and geographies...in the U.S. and globally."

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

How to Recruit, Engage, and Retain Millennial Board Members

October 03, 2018

Millenials_on_boardHere's a well-documented fact: in the nonprofit sector, most boards are lacking in diversity, especially when it comes to people of color and women. (We wrote about the former, and how to change it, a couple of months ago.) We also know that more diversity on a board tends to bring positive, lasting results to the organizations governed by those boards. There's another population that is often overlooked for board service, however, one that is well positioned to bring new and different perspectives to nonprofit board deliberations. I'm talking about millennials.

According to BoardSource, 57 percent of nonprofit board members are over the age of 50, while only 17 percent are under 40 (about the age of the oldest millennial). While work experience and years of service often translate to effective board service, so, too, can the fresh perspective and ground-level experience that younger professionals often possess. In our work at Community Resource Exchange, we see the value that young people bring to nonprofit boards. For example, one of our clients recently was looking to re-engage and strengthen its board, and it did so by recruiting a group of twenty- and thirty-something program participants to join the board. In no time, the new board members were able to provide their (significantly older) colleagues with first-hand knowledge of the organization's programs and share their deep understanding of social media and cultural trends. In this and many other ways, the fresh perspective of the younger board members reinvigorated the older board members and energized them to engage with new ideas, emerging technologies, and the increasingly important role of social networks.

This is precisely the kind of value-add nonprofits should seek out in board members. All too often, though, boards are seen solely as a source of funding for the nonprofits they serve. The proper role of a board of directors is much more than that. Boards are tasked with setting the direction of the organization, ensuring that it has adequate resources, and providing fiduciary oversight. They support the strategic direction of the organization by helping to set that strategy, making connections to ensure its successful implementation, and monitoring activities, outcomes, and goals. When we move beyond the narrow conception of board service as fundraising and see it for the important governance role it is, then the value of having millennials on a board is even easier to see. By introducing younger perspectives and experiences into board deliberations, governance tends to become more creative, flexible, and plugged into our rapidly changing world. And who wouldn't want that? Ready to get started? Read on!

1. Identify your slice of the issue-area pie. There are many nonprofits out there working to effect the same outcomes and applying for the same grants as your nonprofit. And you know that differentiating your organization's work from the work of other organizations is important to its success. But when it comes to recruiting young board members, you need to understand that millennials are more interested in getting behind a cause than an institution, and they prefer to do so in interesting and innovative ways. Clarifying your organization's unique value-add as it applies to creating change is essential before you start to recruit young people to your board. Ask yourself: What do we do that represents a different approach or solution to our issue? What is it about our mission that brings people together around our cause? Highlighting the compelling work your organization does is not enough. You need to explain how your approach is unique and why your organization is the one all millennials should want to support.

2. Take it back to show-and-tell. Remember back in the day, sitting in your third-grade classroom and listening to a friend's description of her new toy, and her going on and on and on… The moment, however, she showed the rest of you her show-and-tell item, you and your classmates would emit a collective “Ohhhh” and lean forward, as if enthralled by the power of seeing and experiencing. Let's bring back show-and-tell! Prospective millennial board members eager to make a difference can listen to explanations of your organization's value proposition all day long, but the real hook for most of them will be when you follow up the telling with some showing. That means taking them on site visits to meet program participants or giving them an opportunity to deliver a much-needed service for a day. Show them the impact your organization is having every day and connect that impact to how their service on your board will contribute to and amplify that work. Young people are eager to give back — but they also want to feel and see their own impact. By showing the impact of your programs and how it relates to your board's work, prospective millennial board members will have a much clearer idea of the connection between your organization and the community it serves and how they can contribute.

3. Build in accountability and camaraderie. The world that young professionals have to navigate is fast-paced and rapidly changing, and service on a nonprofit board is another commitment they  need to balance. What can you do to hold them accountable and committed to their board duties? One great tool for bringing millennials on to a board is the cohort onboarding model, in which a group of new board members all begin their service at the same time. Such an approach helps to establish a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose among new members and make them more likely to hold each other accountable in terms of their service. I experienced this first-hand in my service on the alumni board of City Year New York, which brings on a new cohort of young board members every year and assigns them to various committees where they work closely with five to seven peers. The number of times I chose not to skip a board meeting because I knew my peers would hold me accountable is a testament to the effectiveness of the model. (Buddy systems and accountability partners are other options if the cohort onboarding model isn't right for your organization.) Another advantage of building accountability and camaraderie into board service? Critical mass. Power in numbers means increased commitment among members of the group and will also increase the amount of creative ideas it tends to generate.

4. Be open to all types of contributions. Board service is typically thought of as giving your time, connections, and financially (through your own gifts — the "give" — and/or your fundraising efforts — the "get"). When it comes to younger professionals who may be less able to give financially, you need to be open to other kinds of giving — for example, resources they may have access to through their place of work, their personal and school networks, and/or their creative fundraising ideas. Younger board members should be encouraged to share their time and talents beyond the "give," and to facilitate that sharing, your board chair and executive team should set clear yet flexible expectations around their giving. Valuing and recognizing the different kinds of contributions millennials can make will contribute to greater diversity of thought on your board (as well as more outside-the-box thinking), and add to the range of assets and skills on which your organization can draw.

5. Establish a culture of inclusivity, open-mindedness, and communication. Before it can be open to the possibility of millennial board members, your current board and executive team should be open to contributions from professionals of all ages and backgrounds. Which means your organizations should take the steps needed to create both an organizational and board culture that values different perspectives, ideas, and contributions. To reinforce that kind of openness, the processes for board ideation, planning, and decision-making should be transparent (i.e., clearly defined and communicated) and inclusive of all voices.

Of course, none of these practices will get much traction if your organization is not actively committed to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion — and that means age and experience as well as race, gender identity, abilities, and sexual orientation. We cannot emphasize this enough: It's important to always value your board members for who they are and how they can contribute — not just for what they can contribute.

Headshot_erin_m_connellRemember, the fresh perspectives, creativity, and new ideas that millennials bring to your nonprofit board will only serve to strengthen your organization!

Erin M. Connell is an associate consultant at CRE, a nonprofit consulting firm that provides the strategies and tools needed to build sustainable, high-performing organizations.

Philanthropy and Cyber-Security  

October 01, 2018

CyberSecurity-796x532With more than a trillion dollars flowing last year from donors and government agencies to grantees in the United States alone, online thieves have discovered fertile hunting ground. In the three years since hackers stole usernames, passwords, IP addresses, and other account data from some 700,000 nonprofits that used the Urban Institute’s online tax filing system, cyberattacks have only gotten more clever, and the stakes higher.

To thwart hackers, organizations in the philanthropy space need to focus on both common security practices and their special vulnerabilities, from the bottom to the top of the organization.

Foundations and nonprofits have the same security concerns as any business, but they also have particular needs based on their mission-driven orientation compared to, say, a retailer or bank. "You often have part-time or volunteer employees, and they like to be helpful," says Mark Walker, knowledge management and technology officer at the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. "And many philanthropic workers wear multiple hats, which means the person responsible for watching over security may not have time to be as thorough as they'd like."

Philanthropy often involves large transfers of money between organizations or people who don't interact daily. That gives hackers an opportunity to trick inexperienced employees who are unfamiliar with how cyber-crooks operate. "They'll contact you with a sense of urgency to act," says John Mohr, chief information officer at the MacArthur Foundation. "If the president of your foundation asks you to wire money quickly, you might not stop to wonder if it's really her."

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (September 29-30, 2018)

September 30, 2018

KavanaughAndBlaseyFordA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Corporate Social Responsibility

As we've seen after other natural disasters recently, U.S. corporations and companies are stepping up to help the folks in the Carolinas who've been affected by flooding caused by Hurricane Florence. On a related note, Business Insider's Chelsea Greenwood has compiled a list of the ten companies that gave the most to charity in 2017.

The Forbes Business Development Council shares some good advice for small business looking to be charitable. 

Economy

Sso-called gig work promises a measure of flexiblity and independence that traditional jobs don't. But the pay is lousy, and people are starting to figure that out. A new report from the JPMorgan Chase Institute offers three sobering conclusions about the gig economy. Christopher Rugaber reports for the AP.

Health

How can we reverse the obesity epidemic? Washington Post contributor Tamar Haspel shares six commonsense suggestions.

International Affairs/Development

The world has made excellent progress in reducing poverty over the last twenty-five years, write Bill and Melinda Gates in an opinion piece for the New York Times. But thanks to "the unfortunate intersection of two demographic trends," that progress could stall, or even be reversed, if appropriate action is not taken.

Nonprofits

In Forbes, Ben Paynter shares findings from a new report issued by Fidelity Charitable which suggest that nonprofits should be doing more to court entrepreneurs as donors.

On the Guidestar blog, Becca Bennett and Jordan Ritchie offer some guidelines designed to help nonprofits get the most from their boards.

It's a crazy world we live in, and sometimes the best way to respond to it is to give ourselves a break. Social Velocity's Nell Edgington explains why it's important and what you can do to defeat that voice in your head which keeps whispering, "Don't even think about."

Continue reading »

[Review] 'You Can't Be What You Can't See: The Power of Opportunity to Change Young Lives'

September 26, 2018

Concrete, practicable solutions to society's urgent challenges are rare, in part because the debate around such issues too often is driven by philosophical differences and partisan political calculation. What is needed instead are compelling stories that explain those challenges through the eyes of the people affected and suggest possible solutions based on their lived reality. You Cant Be What You Can't See, by Milbrey W. McLaughlin, tells one such story.

Book_you_cant_be_what_you_cant_seeIn the book, McLaughlin, the David Jack Professor Emeritus of Education and Public Policy at Stanford University and founding director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities, documents what happened to more than seven hundred young people from Chicago's Cabrini-Green public housing project who participated in CYCLE, an out-of-school-time tutoring program started in 1978 in the basement of Cabrini-Green's LaSalle Street Church. Over the next decade and a half the program evolved into a comprehensive afterschool and summer support program for neighborhood youth, the history of which McLaughlin traces through the lives of the young people who participated. Along the way, we learn, through the kids' own voices, how the program altered the trajectory of their lives for the better.

For much of its existence, Cabrini-Green — which comprised the Frances Cabrini Row-houses and the William Green Homes — was portrayed by the national media as a sort of urban version of the Wild West, a place where crime, drugs, and guns were all-too-common and lawlessness prevailed. Like many narratives, this one was overly simplistic. McLaughlin starts her story at the beginning, in the early 1940s, when the Chicago Housing Project built Cabrini-Green "to replace the crime-ridden slum widely known as Little Hell with clean, family-friendly, affordable housing" for (mostly) white families. As those families grew more prosperous in the post-WWII boom and began moving to suburbs, low-income black families, many on public assistance, moved in.

The 1950s and 1960s were "a time of hope and relative racial calm" in Cabrini-Green. The two-story row houses were a great option for low-income families with children, and major high-rise expansions of the complex in 1958 and 1962 meant that more low-income families could afford to live there. "It was paradise compared to what you had before," remembers Craig Nash, a CYCLE alum who became coordinator of CYCLE's I Have Dream scholarship program. "When the high-rises first went up, they were beautiful. There were trees, there were families — mother, father, children, working families."

But over time, the effects of the "redlining" practices that were common at the Chicago Housing Authority during the period began to shift "the make-up of Cabrini-Green from the 1960s-era community of two-parent, working families to, by the late 1970s, "an economically, racially, and socially segregated" series of projects comprising thousands of units, mostly occupied by struggling black single mothers. "Neighborhoods are not accidents," Tim Huizenga, an early CYCLE board member, told McLaughlin. "They are the products of systematic sorting processes….For a while, the high-rises were decent places to live. But, for a variety of reasons, eventually they became the place where people that just had no options were living." As the condition of the buildings and in the neighborhood declined along with expectations, gang violence, teenage pregnancy rates, and social and institutional isolation increased, creating a toxic dynamic that fed on itself.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (September 22-23, 2018)

September 23, 2018

Grassley_feinsteinA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Communications/Marketing

"Anyone with a desire to manipulate opinions...knows that our digital dependencies make it easier than ever to do so through supposedly trustworthy institutions," writes Lucy Bernholz on her Philanthropy 2173 blog. What does that mean for nonprofits? "If your communications strategy still assumes that 'hey, they'll trust us — we're a nonprofit' or 'hey, this is what the data say,' " then it's time for your organization to "reconsider both what you say, how you say it, how you protect what you say, and your expectations and responses to how what you say gets heard and gets used."

Democracy/Public Affairs

In a new post on its website, the Community Foundation Boulder County looks at the work of Common Cause to ensure an accurate, representative census count in 2020.

On the Glasspockets blog, Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Foundation Center, chats with Jennifer Humke, senior program officer for journalism and media at the John D. and Catherine T.  MacArthur Foundation, about how foundation support for participatory media can strengthen American democracy.

Disaster Relief

Roughly 70 percent of the money and resources donated after a disaster like Herricane Florence goes to immediate response efforts, but recovery from such a disaster requires long-term investment. (Just as the folks in Puerto Rico.) Is there a better way to do disaster relief? asks Eillie Anzilotti in Fast Company. And while you're at it, check out our Hurricane Florence dashboard, which is tracking the private institutional response to the storm.

International Affairs/Development

The latest edition of the Commitment to Development Index, which ranks twenty-seven of the world's richest countries by how well their policies help improve lives in the developing world, has Sweden edging out Denmark (which led the index last year) as the top performer. The Center for Global Development has the details

In his latest, Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther piggybacks on ongoing assessments of a Catholic Relief Services direct-cash-transfer program in Rwanda to remind people that scale does not always equal impact.

In advance of this year's meeting of the UN General Assembly, the Rockefeller Foundation is asking folks to weigh in on what they think is the most solvable of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Continue reading »

What's New at Foundation Center Update (September)

September 22, 2018

FC_logoHurricane season is upon us, and we'll be regularly sharing data here on PND with you about where funding for rebuilding is going. Grace Sato from our knowledge services team will also be speaking about disaster funding along with special guests from philanthropy on Tony Martignetti's radio show later this month. We've been working on sharing data and knowledge about other timely topics as well:

Projects Launched

  • We released a new report, The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations: 2011-2015. The report is the latest in a decades-long collaboration between Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations focused on analyzing trends in international grantmaking by U.S. foundations and is the tenth jointly published report since the collaboration began in 1997. In addition to a detailed look at trends by issue area, geographic region, population group, and donor strategy, the analysis also relates these trends to key events and developments, including the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals campaign, the emergence of Ebola in West Africa, repeal of the global gag rule, and the increasing legal restrictions faced by civil society organizations in countries around the world. Check out features in FastCompany and Alliance magazine, and this Slate Money podcast!)
  • Just in time for the midterms, our Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy site has a new look, making it easier to navigate from the funding tool to the IssueLab research collection to a collection of infographics. Check it out at foundationcenter.org.
  • It's Nonprofit Radio Month! The third episode of Nonprofit Radio Month at Foundation Center aired September 21 and was focused on building relationships with family foundations. The episode features Tony Martignetti in conversation with our most popular fundraising expert, Senior Social Sector Librarian Susan Shiroma; Stuart Post, executive director of the Meringoff Family Foundation; and a Meringoff Foundation grantee, Read Alliance executive director Danielle Guindo. Check it out, and join us every Friday in September from 1:00-2:00 pm ET for more Nonprofit Radio.
  • Foundation Center Northeast (NY) will host Arts Month in October, featuring a variety of panels, programs, and networking opportunities for artists and arts organizations.

Content Published

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Our president, Brad Smith, was named to the 2018 NPT Power & Influence Top 50.
  • CF Insights has launched a new publication on CEO professional development.
  • Foundation Center has a robust portfolio of custom training for organizations (and/or grantees of foundations). Now is the time to invest in building the capacity of your staff/grantees. Email us at fctraining@foundationcenter.org for more info.
  • On September 25, in partnership with GlobalGiving and GuideStar, Foundation Center will launch BRIDGE (Basic Registry of Identified Global Entities) information as open data, making it easier to identify and share information on social sector entities around the world.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 158,719 new grants added to Foundation Maps in August, of which 17,063 grants were made to 2,059 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Update Central is back in Foundation Directory Online Professional! Register for monthly alerts to ensure you're up-to-date on grantmaker leadership changes and new foundations.
  • New data-sharing partners: Bennelong Foundation; Buhl Regional Health Foundation; Community Foundation for Monterey County; Connecticut Health Foundation, Inc.; English Family Foundation; LA84 Foundation; Light a Single Candle Foundation; Perpetual Trustees; SumOfUs; Woodward Hines Education Foundation; and Wyoming Community Foundation. Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.
  • Eighteen new organizations have joined our Funding Information Network in 2018, including the Puerto Rico Science Technology and Research Trust, First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, and the Roswell Public Library in Georgia.

Data Spotlight

  • As the country gears up for the midterms, we're looking at who's funding U.S. democracy. Did you know that more than 3,000 funders have made grants totaling $1.7 billion in support of civic participation? Learn more at foundationcenter.org.
  • Funders have granted nearly $400,000 in 2018 to organizations working in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. Learn more about funding for this region at equal-footing.org.
  • We completed custom data searches for the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership and the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email. (And I'm curious: Did you read through to the end? If you did, tweet your favorite Foundation Center resource to @fdncenter with the hashtag #FCLove and you’ll be entered to win some swag!) I'll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

Achieving Racial Equity Through Cross-Sector Partnerships

September 20, 2018

Peopleincircle600Mitch Landrieu, the former Mayor of New Orleans and recipient of the 2018 JFK Profiles in Courage Award for his decision to remove four Confederate monuments from that city, noted on accepting the award that "[c]enturies-old wounds are still raw because they were not healed right in the first place. Here is the essential truth. We are better together than we are apart."

Historically, the failure to increase fairness and equity in America through cross- sector collaboration and public-private partnerships represents a complete failure at the "systems level." Fifty years of effort by government, educational and advocacy groups, corporate diversity programs, and consultants, not to mention intense media focus on the issue, have failed to make a substantial impact.

The fact is, tackling racial equity is hard, the structural and policy issues complex. As an African American, the issues of income inequality and progress on the corporate diversity front are of keen interest to me. Seeking to answer the question "What does good enough look like?", I recently spoke with more than two dozen leaders from the nonprofit, government, and business sectors and discovered that there is broad consensus that much more needs to be done to address racial inequity in America.

Public-private partnerships that pool resources and expertise and facilitate broad community support are one way to do that. The decision by Congress to include, as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, $1.6 billion in tax incentives over the next ten years to create Opportunity Zones for private investment in distressed communities is the latest attempt. While the social sector is slowly coming around to the idea that the private sector can be a force good, however, new "playbooks" are required if we hope to see meaningful change.

Unfortunately, the racial inequality debate too often resembles the debate over climate change. Most people concede that the long-term consequences of leaving the problem unaddressed would be devastating, but getting people to agree on the root causes of the problem is impossible. Despite overwhelming evidence of continued discriminatory practices in education, health care, housing, hiring, and the criminal justice system, not to mention the emergence of a field of study focused on the psychology of racial bias, many Americans remain in denial. In fact, in some areas, the data suggest that the problems of discrimination and racial bias are getting worse.

Economic Impacts

In a joint study entitled "The Competitive Advantages of Racial Equity" (32 pages, PDF), FSG and PolicyLink estimated that the elimination of racial wage gaps in the U.S. economy would boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $2 trillion, or 14 percent. In other words, sticking with the status quo represents a huge cost to society.

Similarly, the 2018 edition of the National Urban League’s "State of Black America" report includes an "Equality Index" that measures the status of blacks compared to whites. On a scale of 1 to 100, the 2018 index finds that blacks on average capture 72.5 percent of the American economic pie (compared to 100 percent for whites), earn 58 percent of what whites earn, and have 4 percent of the wealth that whites have.

Continue reading »

A Conversation With Dee Baecher-Brown, President, Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

September 18, 2018

Scenes of catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Florence are a painful reminder of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, one of the deadliest and most destructive on record. After an earlier-than-usual start, the season took a turn for the worst in August when Harvey became the first major hurricane since 2005 to make landfall in the U.S., submerging large swaths of the Houston metro area and southeastern Texas. Then, in September, Irma became the first Category 5 hurricane to impact the northern Leeward Islands, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Barbuda, which was flattened, before making landfall in the Florida keys with sustained winds of 130 mph. A few weeks later, Maria became the first Category 5 hurricane on record to strike the island of Dominica, causing catastrophic damage there, before striking Puerto Rico and leaving that U.S. territory a shambles.

Recently, PND spoke with Dee Baecher-Brown, president of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, about the progress made in the year since Irma and Maria pummeled the islands and what donors in a disaster situation can do to balance the urgency of immediate needs with longer-term recovery goals and objectives. A full accounting of the donors who stepped up to help the Virgin Islands in the wake of the hurricanes will be included in CFVI's year-end report.

Headshot_dee_beacher-brownPhilanthropy News Digest: It's been a year since Hurricanes Irma and Maria pummeled the Virgin Islands. Now we’re watching as Florence, another powerful Atlantic hurricane, brings catastrophic flooding to the Carolinas. What are your thoughts as you watch footage of the destruction and displacement caused by Florence?

Dee Baecher-Brown: My first thought is concern. Many of our friends and family are in harm's way, and we're hoping for the best. We don't want anyone to have to experience what the Virgin Islands experienced with Irma and Maria. As the extent of the damage caused by the storm becomes clearer, we just want the folks in the Carolinas to know that we are there for them, because we know firsthand what a difference the outpouring of concern and support in the days immediately following those storms meant to us.

PND: Take us back to weeks just before Irma and Maria hit the Virgin Islands. Was your community as prepared as it could have been?

DBB: You know, that's something we've discussed many times over the course of the last twelve months. Obviously, two category 5 storms in a two-week period was unprecedented, and even though we got a little tired of that word, it does capture something people sometimes forget — namely, that it's hard to prepare for something that hasn't happened before. And the fact that we are small, fairly remote islands in the Caribbean didn't help matters.

That said, I felt CFVI was as prepared as we could have been. We had spent the last twenty-five years supporting the thoughtful, gradual growth of our community, and in terms of our own capacity we had arrived at a point where we had solid financial systems in place and were working with an amazing network of community organizations — organizations that, in my opinion, were key to our being able to help after the storms hit. In September, for example, just days after Maria hit, we were already making grants to our partners, and we were able to do that because we knew who was out there, we knew the kind of work they would be doing, and we knew they needed our support. So, yes, I felt we were as ready as we could be for something that had never happened before.

Continue reading »

Tracking Hurricane Florence Disaster Relief

September 15, 2018

Updated: October 12, 2018 - 4:30 PM ET

After churning across the mid-Atlantic as a major Category 3/4 hurricane, Florence weakened as it neared the U.S. mainland, finally making landfall early Friday morning as a Cat 1, with sustained winds of 100 mph, near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. With a storm surge of more then ten feet reported in some areas of the state, the still-powerful, slow-moving storm was expected to drop biblical amounts of rain and cause extensive flooding across the Carolinas over the weekend. As of Saturday afternoon, Bloomberg was reporting that the storm had already dropped two feet of rain across southeastern North Carolina, "submerging cities...and threatening the large and environmentally precarious hog industry," while knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of people in both North and South Carolina. As of Saturday, the death toll from the storm had risen to forty-three.

Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy will be tracking the private institutional response to Florence over the coming days and will post updated totals, dashboard style, here on PhilanTopic. To make sure your company or organization's pledge has been included in the total, or for questions about methodology or sources, please contact Andrew Grabois, manager of corporate philanthropy at Foundation Center.

Florence-from-space

(Photo credit: Reuters)

TOTAL: $53,657,000

Organization Type (pledges and commitments)

Corporate Direct Giving/
Company-Sponsored Foundations
$41,101,000 76 orgs.
Private Foundations $5,250,000 4 orgs.
Public Charities $5,306,000 8 orgs.

Top Recipients (Total Received to Date)

1. Unknown Recipient(s) $15,976,000
2. American Red Cross (national) $10,640,000
3. Hurricane Florence Response Fund
(Foundation for the Carolinas)
$5,100,000
4. WE Care Fund
(Wells Fargo employee assistance fund)
$3,000,000
5. Delivering Good $3,000,000
6. North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund $1,425,000
7. Feeding the Carolinas $1,000,000
8. Good360 $1,000,000
9. United Way Hurricane Florence Recovery Fund $625,000
10. Salvation Army $600,000

Source: Foundation Center & Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Download the Data

For the latest coverage of the philanthropic sector's response to
Hurricane Florence, check out Philanthropy News Digest.

'The House on Henry Street' Exhibition (Part 2)

September 13, 2018

Yesterday, in the first installment of a two-part series, Kathryn Pyle explained how the new "House on Henry Street" exhibition came about. In part two, she talks to the people behind the project about the unique challenges they faced in trying to distill a hundred years of social work and history into a cohesive experience.

HSS_Intro panel"Given our limited resources and the small space, we realized that any attempt to describe the significance of Henry Street Settlement in the late nineteenth century and show its relevance to our time meant that it had to be a multi-platform project," historian and curator Ellen Snyder-Grenier told me when I met with her earlier this summer. "On-site displays of artifacts and text could only tell a limited story. We decided that short films could round out the history and a website could expand the exhibit, breaking down temporal and space limitations."

Keith Ragone, the exhibit designer, recommended creating a 450-square-foot gallery from two smaller rooms on the first floor of the agency’s original townhouse and then "extending" that physical space through the clever device of having two windows looking out onto a late-nineteenth-century streetscape.

Ragone and his collaborators were familiar with the extensive trove of still photographs from that era and selected a number for the exhibit and website, but they also wanted to incorporate moving images into the display. Snyder-Grenier's research led her to the Edison Company films collection at the Library of Congress.

"I was flabbergasted by the extent and scope of the collection," she told me. When she discovered the three-minute film New York City 'ghetto’ fish market, she knew she had found the key element for their "view from the windows."

Another surprise was the Visiting Nurse Service of New York Film Collection, a digitized archive housed at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. The collection includes two hundred VNS promotional films, the earliest made in 1924. Lillian Wald herself appears in one from 1927; it’s in the exhibit and is embedded in a graphic timeline on the website that takes the visitor from the 1910s into the twenty-first century.

Cantos/ New Dances (1957) is a short film featuring the work of choreographer Alwin Nikolais, who established his dance company at the Henry Street Playhouse, later named the Abrons Art Center. Nikolais served for two decades as the artistic director of the center.

"Culture and the arts have been important from the beginning, and the Abrons Art Center has presented some of the most influential artists of our times," said Susan LaRosa, a marketing and communications officer at Henry Street for the past eleven years. "It was important that we acknowledge that, and the Nikolais film highlights one of our pivotal figures."

Continue reading »

'The House on Henry Street' Exhibition (Part 1)

September 12, 2018

HHS_entrance signThe first time, eleven years ago, Susan LaRosa, then a new marketing officer, pulled opened a cabinet drawer in her office at Henry Street Settlement, she discovered some forgotten letters written by the agency's founder, Lillian Wald, and early twentieth-century New York City civic leaders Louis Abrons, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Jane Addams. The existence of the letters wasn't the surprise — LaRosa knew Wald had attracted many influential New Yorkers to her project. But the discovery made her wonder whether Henry Street's remarkable history was adequately preserved and what lessons that history might have for the present.

The questions her discovery sparked eventually proved to be the catalyst for a new exhibition, opening September 17, that explores the legacy of community through the story of a remarkable institution.

When I learned earlier this year about the upcoming exhibition and its designers' plans to include documentary films, a particular interest of mine, I decided to reach out to LaRosa to learn more about how the exhibition came to be.

Founded in 1893 by Lillian Wald, Henry Street Settlement, located on the Lower East Side of New York City, was one of hundreds of settlement houses that sprang up around the country in the late 1800s, primarily in cities with large, impoverished immigrant populations drawn by the huge demand for labor in a rapidly industrializing United States.

Settlement houses soon became a feature of the Progressive Era, a period of widespread social reform that understood poverty as primarily a social phenomenon rather than a failure of individual character — a distinction that continues to generate debate in our time. Settlement houses typically offered some combination of social services, recreation, education, job training, health care, and arts and culture, all geared toward helping lower-income working people, particularly immigrants, improve their living conditions and economic opportunities. There were once more than four hundred such houses around the country, and many still operate as community resource centers.

With its roots in Wald's original mission to provide visiting nurse services to the indigent on the Lower East Side, today's "Henry Street" serves sixty thousand people at seventeen neighborhood sites and thirty public schools with social services, education, and health care programs, and operates the Abrons Arts Center. A century ago, Wald mobilized support for the agency from wealthy supporters such as Abrons, whose family was among its first clients and whose descendants have continued their involvement with Henry Street up to the present.

Continue reading »

Impact Investing and Donor-Advised Funds

September 11, 2018

Inv.env.650pixAs interest in (and assets dedicated to) impact investing grows, institutional investors, foundations, and philanthropists alike are looking for an entry point into the rapidly growing field. At the same time, growing numbers of social entrepreneurs are looking to savvy investors and high-net-worth individuals as a potential source of funding.

Both groups have identified a compelling intersection of interests in the form of donor-advised funds (DAFs) that specialize in impact investment management and distribution. Charitable assets in donor-advised funds totaled $85 billion in 2017, and awareness of DAFs has grown significantly over the last five or six years. In fact, today there are three times as many donor-advised funds in the U.S. as there are private foundations.

While still just a fraction of the total, a handful of impact-focused donor-advised funds are seeking to bridge what Ayesha Khanna of the Points of Light Foundation calls "the pioneer gap" — by which she means a lack of funding for early-stage impact ventures, supply and distribution constraints, growing demand for expertise and new talent, and the role of partnerships as a lever for scale.

Thanks to the still-nascent but growing philanthropic impact infrastructure built by organizations such as RSF Social Finance, Tides Foundation, ImpactAssets, and others, savvy donors are finding it easier than ever to make impact investments in social enterprises and early-stage social entrepreneurs. Here are six things they are learning along the way:

DAFs can multiply the impact of their philanthropic dollars: Grants are a critical tool for social change, but once grant dollars are deployed, they are gone. Capital that is deployed to an impact investment — either as a loan, equity, or debt — has the potential to be redeployed to meet changing needs.

Donors appreciate that as investment gains are returned to a donor-advised fund, those gains can be recycled into future investments or deployed as grants.

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Weekend Link Roundup (September 8-9, 2018)

September 09, 2018

6-500x500A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Economy

It's coming — whether we like it or not. Automation is likely to force a third of American workers  to switch occupational categories by 2030, write James Manyika, Manisha Shetty Gulati, and Emma Dorn in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, with the largest disruption occurring among middle-income workers without a college degree. "[U]nhampered by quarterly earnings calls or the voting cycle," philanthropy can — and will need — to step up. Mantika, Gulati, and Dorn suggest four areas where it can do so.

Education

In The New York Times Magazine, Sarah Mosle reports at length about the many challenges public school administrators face in "finding effective teachers, retaining them and helping those who need to get better."

In a photo essay in the same issue of the magazine, Brian Ulrich looks at the kinds of second jobs that teachers across the country are taking to make ends meet.

Why are many teachers forced to work second jobs? Could it be their wages are lower than ever? Sarah Holder reports for CityLab.

Global Health

On the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists blog, Steven Buchsbaum, deputy director of discovery and translational sciences in the foundation's Global Health Program, reflects on the launch, nearly fifteen years ago, and subsequent progress of the foundation's Grand Challenges initiative. 

Nonprofits

With summer a fading memory, Beth Kanter has a timely reminder about the causes and costs of lost productivity in nonprofit workplaces.

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An Update From the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands

September 08, 2018

Irma_USVI_940x627After a quiet start, the 2018 hurricane season is heating up, with Florence drawing a bead on the Carolinas and two other systems farther out in the Atlantic gaining strength. A year after Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought devastation to the Caribbean, it seems like a good time to ask (again): What kind of role should philanthropy play in post-disaster recovery?

Dee Baecher-Brown and George H.T. Dudley, president and chair, respectively, of the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, have been thinking about that question. In an update (below) to donors and the USVI community, Baecher-Brown and Dudley share highlights of the foundation's post-disaster grantmaking and announce the launch of a new fund aimed at sustaining that progress into the future.

________

To our fellow Virgin Islanders, and all who hold our islands in their hearts:

Waking up on September 6, 2018, greeted by sun, a slight breeze, and surrounded by beautiful blue waters, we were mindful that just a year ago Hurricanes Irma and then Maria were about to make landfall in the Virgin Islands, ravaging our homes, displacing our families, and destroying our businesses in two of the costliest, most destructive hurricanes in American history. In hours, the winds of destruction wiped away what so many had spent their entire lives building.

The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) knows firsthand just how significant a challenge we all faced then and continue to face today. In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, CFVI established a number of special funds to support both immediate and long-term relief and jump-start community renewal efforts. The Fund for the Virgin Islands was created the day after Hurricane Irma to respond to donors' asking "How can we help?" Before Hurricane Maria made landfall, the CFVI board of directors had already established the Friends and Families Fund for USVI Renewal. More than fifteen additional funds and fiscal sponsorships have since been established by generous donors to CFVI for the purpose of helping the Virgin Islands and Virgin Islanders to recover.

Over the past year, more than 10,000 individual donors and institutions provided over $15 million in donations and grants. People who wanted to make a difference but didn't know how or where to start were able to pool their resources with like-minded stakeholders and target help where it was most needed.

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5 Questions for...Craig Newmark, Founder, Craig Newmark Philanthropies

September 06, 2018

Back in the mid-1990s, Craig Newmark started an email distribution list for friends that in time would revolutionize the classified ad business. As craigslist evolved into a website serving tens of millions of people globally every month, it also became a sizeable source of revenue for its creator. With his windfall, Newmark in 2016 created Craig Newmark Philanthropies, a private foundation that works to advance people and organizations in the areas of ‎trustworthy journalism, voter protection, ‎women in technology, and veterans and military families.

Earlier this month, Craig Newmark Philanthropies awarded $1 million to DonorsChoose.org to help fund STEM classroom projects in schools where more than half of the students are from low-income households. The commitment also included #STEMStories, a social media challenge designed to bring more attention and resources to STEM teachers and their projects.

PND spoke with Newmark about his philanthropy, the #STEMStories campaign, and the future of journalism.

Headshot_craig_newmark_400x400Philanthropy News Digest: Since you created Craig Newmark Philanthropies in 2016, you've provided support to a variety of different causes, including veterans, journalism, voter registration, women in technology, and education. How would you characterize the focus of your philanthropy?

Craig Newmark: Growing up in New Jersey — in high school, U.S. history class in particular — I learned that in America we aspire to stuff like fairness and opportunity and respect for all. With respect to my philanthropy, we try to advance those values. That may sound simplistic, but from my point of view, everything I'm doing is connected to promoting and defending those values.

PND: How does your recent matching gift to DonorsChoose.org fit in with that ambition?

CN: My connection to DonorsChoose goes back about ten years or so when I met Charles Best, who runs the organization. He explained his organization to me as a form of crowdfunding, which I understood even then. He also helped me understand that teachers don't get the respect and support they deserve and have earned.

The matching gift is designed to make it easier for every American to pitch in. I think it makes sense because a lot of people have a few extra dollars they'd be happy to donate to help fund teachers. Something like 94 percent of classroom teachers have to buy some school supplies out of their own pockets. That's not right. This is a way to show them some respect.

PND: What's the significance of the #STEMStories hashtag?

CN: The #STEMStories hashtag is something we hope will connect all of the social media activity going on in support of STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education] and STEM teachers. The idea is for teachers and their supporters to help each other through social media by flagging and sharing content around that theme.

I'm an old-school '60s nerd. In fact, I was born a few years after Dr. Seuss invented the word in one of his books [Ed note: If I Ran the Zoo]. And I'm biased toward STEM. That's always been my strength. It's what I'm good at, and I feel there needs to be a lot more emphasis on it in our schools.

One obvious reason is because there are a lot of job opportunities in STEM for everyone, including underserved youth. It's a good source of jobs today and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. For example, right now, there are a lot of opportunities for cybersecurity professionals. So, I'd say that STEM is a good career opportunity area for anyone who's good with computers. And #STEMStories is a way to make more people aware of those opportunities.

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[Review] Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits: Creating an Effective PR Strategy for Today's World

September 04, 2018

Imagine you're on the train and the person in the seat next to you starts rubbing his arm and looking like he might faint. Then he says, "I think I'm having a heart attack!"

How would you handle the situation? Would you panic? Would you sit there and hope someone else stepped forward to help? Would you know what to do even if you wanted to help?

Whether it's a car accident or a sudden illness, the unexpected often throws people for a loop — especially if they're not prepared.

Book_modern_media_relationsThe same holds true for nonprofits: in an age of always-on digital media, a nonprofit's ability to respond effectively in a crisis situation hinges on having someone on staff who's been trained in communications. But, of course, most nonprofits don't have an in-house communications team, or even a full-time communications professional on staff. Typically, what they have is someone who has been tasked with handling the occasional call from a reporter. Often that person is the executive director, and she almost always has lots of other irons in the fire and very little time to devote to media relations.

Enter Modern Media Relations for Nonprofits: Creating an Effective PR Strategy for Today's World, by Peter Panepento and Antoinette G. Kerr (with a Foreword by Kivi Leroux Miller). In it, Panepento, a former Chronicle of Philanthropy reporter and editor, and Kerr, who wrote for the Lexington Dispatch, go beyond the basic press release and grip-and-grin photograph and provide a comprehensive set of tools with which every nonprofit operating in today's media landscape should be familiar. As they caution readers in the first few pages of the book, "effective media relations is no longer about generating press releases and making pitches to a handful of trusted outlets. It requires nuance and a willingness to try new approaches."

Not surprisingly, Panepento and Kerr take a journalist's approach to their subject, leading off with a survey of modern media (both digital and print) and getting down to brass tacks with a chapter on "Understanding Journalism" that includes a "true/false" test featuring statements such as: "We advertise in your newspaper; we should expect positive stories"; "I should expect to review a story about my organization before it is published"; and "I can offer a reporter free admission to our annual dinner."

From there, the book moves on to the basic tools of modern media relations, both old (press releases, op-eds, canned statements) and new (online pitch services, RSS feeds, video). Throughout, Panepento and Kerr advocate for the judicious use of the many tools available — avoiding, for example, the "spray and pray" method of press release dissemination and making sure, whenever one responds to a journalist, to provide them with something useful.

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Weekend Link Roundup (September 1-2, 2018)

September 02, 2018

Labor-dayAnd...we're back with our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Advocacy

Does farm-animal advocacy work? And what does its relative lack of success tell us about advocacy more generally? Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther shares some thoughts.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

In a post on his Nonprofit AF blog, Vu Le shares twenty ways majority-white nonprofits can build authentic partnerships with organizations led by communities of color.

Economy

In honor of Labor Day and to celebrate workers across the country, the team at Charity Navigator has put together a list of five charities that are fighting for workers' rights.

Fundraising

On the GuideStar blog, Kay Sprinkel Grace shares four counterintuitive fundraising "truths." 

Giving Pledge

New York Times reporter David Gelles checks in with an inspirational Q&A with Turkish immigrant, Chobani founder, and billionaire Giving Pledger Hamdi Ulukaya. 

Health

Does the kind of data we collect and report ensure everyone has a fair and just opportunity to live their healthiest life possible? Absolutely. And as Tiny Kauh explains on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Culture of Health blog, a new report from PolicyLink (with support from the foundation) is "a first step toward identifying solutions for improving data and, ultimately, better health equity in our nation."

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5 Questions for...Timothy P. Silard, President, Rosenberg Foundation

August 30, 2018

Since taking the helm at the Rosenberg Foundation in 2008 — after having served as chief of policy in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office — Timothy P. Silard has worked to deepen the advancement of statewide and national criminal justice reform, immigrants' rights, and racial justice as areas of focus for the foundation. The foundation has joined other funders, for example, to create two affinity groups focused on criminal justice reform, Funders for Safety and Justice in California and the national Criminal Justice Funders Forum; supported efforts to end mass incarceration and dismantle barriers to opportunity and restore the rights of formerly incarcerated people; and is supporting reform at the intersection of criminal justice and immigrants' rights.

In 2016, in partnership with the Hellman Foundation, Rosenberg launched the $2 million Leading Edge Fund to seed, incubate, and accelerate bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California. Eight fellows working to address inequity and injustice in the areas of criminal justice, immigrant rights, and racial justice were selected to receive $247,500 each over three years, as well as technical assistance in the areas of strategy, program design, fundraising, and communications.

As the grant period for the first group of Leading Edge fellows nears its close and the foundation prepares for the next group, which will start in January 2019, PND spoke with Silard about how Rosenberg and its partners plan to support progressive leaders who are shaping the future of criminal and racial justice reform in California and across the United States.

Philanthropy News Digest: The Leading Edge Fund was launched in early 2016, which seems almost prescient in hindsight. What was the impetus for creating a fund specifically designed to support "bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California"?

Timothy_silard_250Tim Silard: Lateefah Simon was program director at Rosenberg at the time and the genius behind the Leading Edge Fund. She and I were talking about how there was tremendous "movement energy" going on. There was the #BlackLivesMatter movement that had been sparked specifically around the killings of unarmed mostly black young men and broadened from there; new leadership around gender and gender identity; and, certainly here in California, an increasingly muscular immigrant rights movement. And our sense was that unrestricted support for movement leaders — because movements depend upon leaders — could have enormous value. Not in any way to replace the important grantmaking that philanthropy does for organizations and coalitions, but on top of that, unrestricted support to give movement leaders the space to innovate, dream, and play the long game.

Philanthropy is one of the few sectors with the ability to fund work that may take decades, but as a field we need to do that much more. Our feeling was that there was a need to invest in ideas that the world may not be ready for and may never be ready for. We thought about who funded the handful of lawyers in the 1980s who were fighting for marriage equality before even most people in the LGBT community thought that was an achievable goal. Those kinds of ideas, those kinds of innovative approaches to social justice and equity that may take a long time to come to fruition, ought to be funded.

And in California, while our population has changed so dramatically, the policies and the vision don't yet reflect the values of a non-white-majority state, a fundamentally progressive state, a state with an incredible richness of communities of color, so we also have the opportunity to go far. Playing that long game made sense here in California.

PND: What was the most important criteria in selecting the first cohort of fellows, and what are some of the highlights in their accomplishments over the last two and a half years?

TS: We have three primary criteria. One is what we call leadership skills but has to do with the depth of their engagement and connection with the community they're serving — some refer to that as "servant-leadership." A second is whether they have a compelling, innovative idea for change. Many wonderful leaders are, understandably, very focused on the nuts and bolts of running an organization and may not have the space yet to articulate such an idea for change. And a third is whether they're deeply personally committed to focusing on trying to advance that idea, or set of ideas, over the next few years — whether they have that space to really focus on their dream.

We're most of the way through the selection process for the next "formation" of fellows — we stopped calling them "cohorts" because it sounds like a scientific study — and it's definitely more art than science. This time we started with a large group of about a hundred and fifty nominees and we asked each of them for a one-pager describing their work and their "big ideas." After we've narrowed it down to about twenty semi-finalists, we ask for a five- to seven-page description of their vision for the broader work, their connection with the community, and the longer-term goals they want to achieve. We do a lot of calls and site visits, and we also talk with folks in their community and their colleagues in the field to learn more about the nominees.

As for highlights, all the fellows are doing important work, and I'll just mention a few. Raj Jayadev, who founded an organization called Silicon Valley De-Bug, is thinking very creatively about how to upend and change the courtroom process and bring organizing and activism and community voice into criminal courtrooms. He spearheaded something called "participatory defense" — which enables families and communities to impact the outcome of cases — in Santa Clara County, where we first funded him. He's now built nine other participatory defense hubs in major jurisdictions in California and fifteen outside the state, with other major cities like Las Vegas and Chicago coming online in September. So that's been amazing to watch — the rapid growth and replication of Raj's vision. And now he's bringing the participatory defense model into bail reform, engaging and bringing community members into the courtroom to push back against and provide alternatives to money bail and pretrial detention in jail.

Raha Jorjani, who is with the public defender's office in Alameda County, launched the first immigration practice at the county level, which has been incredible during this time of federal hostility toward immigrants. So many folks are caught up in both the immigration deportation system and the criminal justice system at the same time, with all the complicated legal implications of that. And of course, you have no right to an attorney in the immigration system, so her work is really bringing, in real time, the right to an attorney into that system — and an attorney who is coordinating with your defense attorney in your criminal case. That model has now been replicated in eight other California jurisdictions. So that's really catching fire. Also, last year she organized the first-ever major legal symposium on prosecutorial misconduct across both of those systems.

Patrisse Cullors, who co-founded #BlackLivesMatter, has written a best-selling book, created rapid-response networks in Los Angeles and other counties across California to eliminate state violence against people of color, and also launched a new initiative called JusticeLA. That group is organizing and advocating in L.A., which is an enormous county — almost a third of the population of the state lives in and around L.A. County — to divest from incarceration and corrections spending and instead invest that money on long-term safety solutions for communities most impacted by incarceration and violence.

Another example is Sam Sinyangwe, who co-founded an organization called WeTheProtesters with DeRay Mckesson and others. He's built an online platform for advocating and organizing against police violence and for police reform; he's built an incredible database; he's done extensive research on the hundred largest cities and their policing policies and practices and published tons of reports; and he's helped other advocates engage directly in a number of cities to get new policies and practices adopted.

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Congress Introduces Bill to Revolutionize Philanthropy

August 27, 2018

When Americans picture a "philanthropist," they typically imagine a very wealthy individual — someone who gives billions of dollars away or establishes their own foundation.

Unfortunately, our tax code reinforces this stereotype by providing only the wealthiest Americans with tax benefits for giving back. Only taxpayers who itemize their deductions — those typically in the highest tax brackets — can lower their income taxes by giving to charity. Currently, about 30 percent of taxpayers fall into this category, but with the recent tax reform this number could drop to as low as 5 percent.

That would leave 95 percent of Americans who are denied the opportunity to lower their taxes by giving to charity. A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives has set out to prevent that.

FGA_image_0

On July 26, 2018, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) introduced a bill along with five co-sponsors that would help redefine the way America gives back by empowering a new class of Everyday Philanthropist.

The Everyday Philanthropist Act (H.R. 6616) seeks to empower working Americans to give back through a Flexible Giving Account (FGA). An FGA is a pre-tax payroll deduction for employee giving. Non-itemizers and itemizers alike would be able to set up an FGA through their employer, set aside a portion of their paycheck pre-tax to be donated to the charity of their choice, and immediately see their taxable income reduced. The employer would benefit as well from a reduction in its payroll taxes.

By empowering millions more Americans to give back, the legislation would dramatically increase charitable giving in the U.S. But the Everyday Philanthropist Act offers more than that.

The legislation represents a chance to initiate a major shift in the way America gives back. The FGA would encourage a culture of shared responsibility in the workplace, one in which employers assume a more impactful role in empowering their employees and the workplace is transformed into a community where employees at every income level feel inspired to give and engage.

With an FGA, tax-deductible giving would no longer be a privilege reserved for a select few. Instead, it would be an opportunity, attainable by all working Americans, to come together and create a positive impact in the communities they care about.

As a champion of the Everyday Philanthropist Act, The Greater Give will continue to work with members of Congress to encourage them to join Representative Paulsen in supporting this legislation and the millions of charities, businesses, and Americans who would benefit from it. The legislation has already garnered public support from many in the charitable sector, including Community Health Charities, America's Charities, and the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network.

To learn more about the Everyday Philanthropist Act and what you can do to support it, visit thegreatergive.org or follow The Greater Give on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Headshot_dan_rashke2_for_philantopicDan Rashke is the Founder of The Greater Give, a 501(c)(6) formed to increase charitable giving by cultivating a movement of shared responsibility between employers and their employees. Rashke also is the CEO of TASC, a third-party benefits administrator based in Madison, Wisconsin.

What's New at Foundation Center Update (August)

August 21, 2018

Fc_logo_stackedAs teachers prepare their course outlines and program leaders pause to reflect on insights from the first two quarters, we also have been getting ready for an exciting back half of our year. And, as you'll see below, our Annual Report has been released, which offers our team a great reminder of what our collective work looks like. Here's our July roundup:

Projects Launched

  • Our 2017 Annual Report is now available! This was a personal labor of love, so do give it a look to learn how we're strengthening the social sector inside/out. We highlight work we did in sharing knowledge, strengthening the global philanthropic sector, servicing the needs of community foundations, and much more. You can even take a look "under the hood" of our staff here at Foundation Center in our highlight reel.
  • Thanks to generous funding from Borealis Philanthropy's Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund, we recently launched a new monthly webinar series to further a variety of conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the social sector. This specific webinar series is free and open to the public. Webinar recordings can be found here and upcoming webinars can be found here.

Content Published

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Foundation Center and the Council on Foundations launched a report with trends about US foundations working globally on August 14. (More to come in next month's update!) Watch this free webinar recording to learn more about how U.S. foundations are engaging globally and what these trends mean for our sector!
  • Foundation Center West (in San Francisco) will host an interactive live discussion with unicorn professionals (foundation and nonprofit leaders), in conversation with two of Unicorns Unite's authors — Jane Leu and Jessamyn Shams-Lau. This event will be livestreamed.
  • What might our communities look like if we didn't have to struggle for justice? What does liberation/freedom look like for our communities? Foundation Center South (in Atlanta) is creating space for the visualization of communities on the other side of oppression. Join our community conversation on August 29 to identify the role of art and artists in the reflection of the times as well as its ability to point to a future that dares to see the world differently than now.
  • We'll be launching a new GrantCraft guide on participatory grantmaking next month! Check out these videos from funders already engaged in the practice answering commonly asked questions about shifting the power in decision-making.
  • The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has awarded Foundation Center an 18-month grant to develop and launch a nonprofit startup assessment tool. Scheduled for a formal unveiling in Q2 of 2019, this diagnostic tool will help individuals assess their readiness, capacity, and capability for starting a nonprofit prior to taking the leap.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 212,203 new grants added to Foundation Maps in July, of which 20,162 grants were made to 3,122 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Did you know that in 2017, we reached a record of 9.5 million grants coded in Foundation Directory Online? Check out 2017 By the Numbers to learn more about what Foundation Center was up to last year!
  • Earlier this summer, we posted a survey to our GrantSpace community to gather feedback on how the re-launch of our website was received. Nearly 600 people responded. When asked about the greatest challenge they face, respondents said "finding grants for my nonprofit" (42 percent), "diversifying my funding sources" (15 percent), and "writing compelling proposals and fundraising pitches" (15 percent).
  • New data sharing partners: Australian Communities Foundation; Jack Brockhoff Foundation; Tim Fairfax Family Foundation; Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal; John Villiers Trust; Myer Foundation; NAB Foundation; Grace S. and W. Linton Nelson Foundation; Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation; James & Diana Ramsay Foundation; The Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, Inc.; Trustee for the Bryan Foundation; and Wyatt Benevolent Institution (AKA Wyatt Trust). Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.

Data Spotlight

  • Total reported gifts received by the largest 100 community foundations have reached a new high for the third year in a row. Learn more at columbussurvey.cfinsights.org.
  • Recent research shows only 5 percent of foundation funding went to supporting the financial sustainability of civil society organizations in 6 researched countries.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email! (And, I'm curious: did you read through to the end? If you did, tweet your favorite Foundation Center resource to @fdncenter with the hashtag #FCLove and you'll be entered to win some swag!) I'll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

It's Time to Invest in Youth Power

August 16, 2018

Youth_power_summitRecent opinion polls show that young people across the country are deeply dissatisfied with the nation's elected leaders and eager to see government pursue progressive policies on issues ranging from gun violence, to sexual assault prevention, to immigration. Young people also are registering to vote in record numbers, creating new hope that change may be at hand.

But whether this surge in interest and engagement among the nation's young people turns into a surge in advocacy and activism — and actual voting — is far from a slam dunk. There is an urgent need and opportunity for philanthropy to invest in efforts to organize and inspire young people, including young people of color, so they can become the transformational force we need in our communities and our country. 

The California Funders for Boys and Men of Color, a group of foundation CEOs dedicated to improving outcomes for boys and men of color through systems change, are supporting one such effort. This August, hundreds of youth advocates of color from across California gathered in Sacramento for four days of learning and advocacy during the Youth Power Summit, where participants had the opportunity to speak directly with candidates for California's superintendent of public instruction, among others. 

The young people who gathered at the summit are leading campaigns for racial and economic justice across the state — fighting for quality schools, an end to youth incarceration, immigrant rights, a healthy environment, healthier communities, and more. Organized by the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color and PolicyLink, the summit gave them an opportunity to bring their diverse movements together and build their power, leadership, and voice. One of the highlights was a rally on the steps of the state Capitol, where participants shared their vision for a more just and equitable future — a future that includes police accountability, sentencing reform, workforce opportunities, and trauma recovery services.

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Small Charities Are Being Left Behind by Big Data for Social Good Initiatives

August 10, 2018

Big-Data-webData has the potential to help nonprofit organizations work at a scale larger than ever before and to solve problems more efficiently and effectively. Data can help organizations improve their monitoring and evaluation, determine where the biggest problems lie and where the most value can be added, influence policy through evidence, increase their reach, and enhance their fundraising capabilities.

But big data analytics and artificial intelligence have mainly been developed for and by the private sector. The good news is that third sector organizations increasingly are using data for social good, from predicting child welfare needs and monitoring climate change to working toward new cancer treatments.

Large nonprofits can use their brand power to leverage data-sharing partnerships with private companies, pay for expensive data-analytics services, or hire in-house data scientists. But for smaller charities, working with new data methods and analytics requires capacity, funding, and partnerships they typically don't have and can't easily secure.

That was underscored by Lloyd's Bank UK Digital Business Index 2016, which found that almost half of UK charities lack basic digital skills and that 80 percent are not investing in digital technology at all, let alone in big data. It's not difficult to see why: if comes down to a choice between hiring a program officer or a data officer, or between acquiring data analytics capabilities and additional project funding, most charities will choose to spend their limited resources in ways most likely to impact their constituents and communities.

Here at the Social Innovation Exchange (SIX), we recently conducted a global scan highlighting how data is being used in different ways for social good, emerging challenges in the field, and how philanthropy can be and is engaged in this work.

For starters, philanthropy can help level the playing field by addressing some of the biggest obstacles facing small charities in using data for good, including often-prohibitive costs, a lack of human capital, insufficient leverage to form data philanthropy partnerships, and a difficult regulatory environment.

But there is hope.

Below, we highlight four examples of how philanthropy is supporting smaller charities to better engage in this work:

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Baltimore Children and Youth Fund: Community-Based Grantmaking Comes to Baltimore

August 08, 2018

BCYF-logoThe Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Riots are the cry of the unheard." If that maxim is true, Baltimore children, youth, and young adults were crying out long before the 2015 killing of Freddie Gray, Jr. sparked demonstrations and unrest in the city.

Gray’s death was the tipping point, but it was not the cause of the unrest, which was driven by a decades-long pattern in Baltimore of divestment in education, affordable housing, employment, and recreational outlets for children and youth. Whether by intent or impact, young people were not being heard.

Fortunately, while a broad-based coalition of young people, youth-centered organizations, and community leaders had been working to address the vacuum in opportunities for children, youth, and young adults, Baltimore City Council president Bernard "Jack" Young, a longtime advocate for children and youth, was focused on increasing investments in future leaders. His vision eventually spawned the creation of the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund, which distributes grants ranging from $5,000 to $500,000 to persons and groups with a passion for, or a track record of, authentic engagement with young people.

BCYF was a long time coming. Young twice wrote legislation intended to create such a fund, and his dream was finally realized when voters approved a 2016 ballot referendum to create the fund. That it was established by referendum is key; politicians don't necessarily get what they want absent public support. And everything from the inception of the fund to its day-to-day management is a testament to end-user demand and public support. In this case, the support isn't just for getting resources to the community but doing so in the most inclusive and transparent way possible.

To achieve that goal, several individuals and groups have agreed to partner with BCYF. My organization, Associated Black Charities, is the fiscal agent charged with managing the fund. Frontline Solutions International and UPD Consultants are technical assistance partners, with the former covering everything from consultant collaboration to community engagement, and the latter charged with providing strategic thought-partnership throughout the design, planning, and proposal review and grantee administration processes. Kinetics is the strategic communications partner covering everything from social media engagement to online marketing to media relations.

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Quote of the Week

  • "One of the great attractions of patriotism — it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat, what's more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous...."

    — Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

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