78 posts categorized "Governance"

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.

 

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.

Weekend Link Roundup (July 14-15, 2018)

July 15, 2018

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

Education

In the twenty-first century, are private secondary schools antithetical to the public good? On the Aeon site, Jack Schneider, a scholar of education history and policy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, considers the arguments for and against.

Environment

Ireland has announced that it will completely divest itself of investments in fossil fuels over the next five years, becoming the first country to make such a commitment. Adele Peters reports for Fast Company.

Governance

According to a new report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, nonprofit boards "that include a higher percentage of women tend to have board members who participate more in fundraising and advocacy. [And members] of these boards also tend to be more involved in the board's work." You can view the full report (58 pages, PDF) here and the executive summary (8 pages, PDF) here.

Health

A little bit of good news. A report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association finds that the rate of opioid use disorder among its members declined last year to 5.9 per 1,000, compared to 6.2 per 1,000 the year before, while the decline in opioid prescriptions being filled by doctors has fallen 29 percent nationally since 2013. Christopher Zara reports for Fast Company.

Higher Education

Forbes contributor Josh Moody tries to answer the question: Why are there so few women at the top of the Ivory Tower?

Continue reading »

'Skin in the Game' and the Importance of Board Giving

June 19, 2018

Skin_in_the_gameWhen we engage with new clients, we always begin with the imperative — up front and with clarity — that in order for a campaign or fundraising project to be successful, 100 percent board participation is required. Board members, as the legal stewards of an organization, must lead by example. And the impact of their participation goes well beyond the individual gifts themselves.

Nonprofit organizations rely on their boards for many things: governance and budgeting, guidance, community involvement and, of course, fundraising. Though some boards downplay the fundraising aspect, we believe it's essential that each board member be an active participant in ensuring the financial health of the organization on whose board they serve. The boards that waffle on this target by not articulating a clear expectation upfront are the ones that most often fall short of their fundraising and leadership goals. In fact, the majority of successful organizations report high board giving rates, while studies have found that board giving is more positively correlated with overall fundraising success than any other single factor.

Many boards have mandatory giving policies. According to a recent BoardSource survey, 68 percent of nonprofit organizations have a policy requiring board members to make a personal contribution on an annual basis. Some boards have a "give or get" policy that allows board members to either give a personal gift or to raise funds from family and friends equal to the amount of the required gift. We prefer a "give and get" approach, obligating a board member to lead with a personal investment and inspiring others by saying "join me," rather than outsourcing that responsibility to others.

Not every board has a policy that requires board giving. For those that do, the process is straightforward and requires a simple call to remind board members of their obligation. The process of new board member recruitment and orientation should include an early and candid conversation about fundraising expectations and financial obligations. Board leadership must set a good example by giving first and publicly announcing their gift as a way to encourage others.

Of course, board members may feel unmotivated to give, for any number of reasons. They might not understand why their contribution is necessary. Compared to major gifts, annual gifts from individual board members might seem inconsequential. If board giving is not a precondition of board membership, some board members may feel uncomfortable broaching the topic and will avoid asking because they feel embarrassed; they don't want to feel like they're pressuring their fellow board members, or stretching them beyond what they are able to do. Others may feel that contributing their time is sufficient and a gift isn't necessary. (While time is valuable, the giving of actual dollars by board members is important to the financial health of nonprofits and creates a culture of giving that may not develop otherwise.) 

Continue reading »

Tips for Finding the ‘Perfect’ Board Member

April 25, 2018

Man-wearing-a-leather-jacket-holding-a-clapperboardOne of the questions we get a lot from our nonprofit clients is: How do we find passionate, engaged, committed board members? Putting together a high-functioning board isn't just about recruiting the "right" people. It's about having the proper mindset and a good plan. Here at Envision Consulting, we often describe the search for the perfect nonprofit board member as a bit like looking for romance, complete with angst-ridden courtships, elaborate proposals, occasional heartbreak, and, with a little luck, true love at the end of your search.

Still with me? Here are some tips to make your search a lot less Romeo and Juliet and a little more The Wedding Singer:

1. Have a "Wish List." You're more likely to find board members who add value to your organization if you understand (and can articulate) beforehand what it is you're looking for. Broaden your wish list beyond skills/expertise (yes, every board should have a CPA) and financial clout (believe it or not, wealthy board members don't always equate to well-resourced nonprofits). Think about the personal characteristics, perspectives, experiences, and networks a candidate is able to bring to your organization. When we have this conversation with our clients, they often tell us they want board members who are available to participate in board meetings and organizational events, have the ability to think strategically, and hold themselves (and others) accountable — the kind of intangible qualities that are difficult to quantify but can have a huge impact on the success and productivity of a board and the broader organization.

2. Fools Rush In. It takes two to tango, right? Too often, nonprofits are overly focused on finding the perfect new board member and neglect to properly "court" candidates by listening to their concerns and answering their questions — only to be shocked (shocked!) when the relationship doesn't pan out. Good board candidates will want to evaluate your organization as much as you want to evaluate them — and they're likely to be selective about which boards they agree to join. Beyond just making a good impression on the candidates you're interested in, you also may need to address how you plan to provide (in an authentic way, of course) the experience the candidate is hoping to gain by joining your board. We strongly encourage our clients to tell candidates in detail about the orientation process and other ways they support new board members.

Continue reading »

[Review] 'Engine of Impact: Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector'

November 28, 2017

The nonprofit sector has never faced more difficult challenges — or had the potential to create greater impact — than it does today, argue William F. Meehan III, director emeritus of McKinsey & Company, and Kim Starkey Jonker, president and CEO of King Philanthropies, in their new book, Engine of Impact: Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector. But for nonprofits — by 2025 projected to need up to $300 billion more annually beyond currently expected revenues in order to meet demand — to benefit from the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in U.S. history (an estimated $59 trillion expected to change hands between 2007 and 2061), they will have to "earn the right to expand [their] role and maximize [their] impact" in what Meehan and Jonker refer to as the coming "Impact Era."

Book_engine_of_impact_3dDrawing on a number of surveys, including the 2016 Stanford Survey on Leadership and Management in the Nonprofit Sector; a variety of Stanford Social Innovation Review articles, business and nonprofit management books, and Meehan's course on nonprofit leadership at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; and Jonker's experience overseeing the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Nonprofit LeadershipEngine of Impact outlines the challenges nonprofits currently face — lack of impact data, transparency, and sustainable operational support; donors' tendency to give impulsively to well-known organizations rather than high-impact ones; ineffective boards — and then explores a number of tools that nonprofits can use to address those challenges. They do not include venture philanthropy or impact investments, which Meehan and Jonker, somewhat "controversially," are skeptical of. Instead, they urge nonprofits to embrace the "essentials of strategic leadership" — mission, strategy, impact evaluation, insight and courage, funding, talent/organization, and board governance — which, when brought together thoughtfully and intentionally, create an engine of impact that drives organizational success.

Quoting liberally from business management expert Peter Drucker, Ashoka founder Bill Drayton (an early mentor of Meehan's), Good to Great author Jim Collins, and other luminaries, the authors illustrate each component of strategic leadership with concrete examples often drawn from the work of Kravis Prize winners such as the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), BRACLandesa, and Helen Keller International. And while they concede that some of them may be obvious, they are quick to note, based on survey results, that they are not all well understood or effectively implemented.

They emphasize, for example, the importance of a well-crafted mission statement, and caution organizations against mission creep, even if avoiding the latter means saying no to a new funding source. Indeed, saying "no" seems to be a critical part of strategic leadership, in that the urgent need to achieve maximum impact in a time of enormous challenges and limited resources is too important for nonprofit leaders to be distracted by non-mission-aligned activities — or by debates over semantics (e.g., "theory of change" vs. "logic model"): "if you ever find yourself caught in a debate about these terms' usage," Meehan and Jonkers write, "we suggest you leave the room immediately. We do."

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (June 10-11, 2017)

June 11, 2017

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

Children and Youth

On the Annie E. Casey Foundation blog, Tracey Feild, managing director of the foundation's Child Welfare Strategy Group, shares five lessons from the foundation's recent efforts to develop tools to measure and address racial disparities in child welfare systems.

Education

"If Facebook’s [Mark]. Zuckerberg has his way, children the world over will soon be teaching themselves — using software his company helped build." The New York Times' Natasha Singer considers the efforts of Zuckerberg, Salesforce founder Marc Benioff, Netflix chief Reed Hastings, and other Silicon Valley billionaires to remake America's public schools.

Giving

In an article for Nature, Caroline Fiennes, founder of Giving Evidence, an organization that promotes charitable giving based on sound evidence, argues that "[p]hilanthropists are flying blind because little is known about how to donate money well." The solution to the problem, she adds, "lies in more research on what makes for effective philanthropy [and donor effectiveness]."

And here, courtesy of the International Council for Science's Anne-Sophie Stevance and David McCollum, research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, is an SDG-related example of exactly the kind of approach and methodology Fiennes would like to see more of.

A recent column by New York Times columnist David Brooks in which Brooks asks, "What would I do if I had a billion bucks to use for good?" raises other interesting questions, writes John Tamny on the Real Clear Markets site, including: Why do the superrich think their skills in the commercial space render them experts at charity? And: Why should the supperrich be expected to do "good" after they have created wealth — and the jobs and social advances that usually come with it?

Reid Hoffman, a supperrich Silicon Valley entrepreneur and founder of networking site LinkedIn, tells The Atlantic's Alana Semuels that having people who know how to apply capital in the service of getting things done is a good thing for social causes, as long as those same people are careful about big-footing the politics of the issue.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (February 4-5, 2017)

February 05, 2017

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

African Americans

It's Black History Month. Here, courtesy of the Washington Post, are a few things you should know.

Arts and Culture

The Trump administration is rumored to be toying with the idea of eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts. Who stands to lose the most if rumor becomes reality and the Republican-controlled Congress pulls the plug on NEA funding? In an op-ed on the Artsy blog, Isaac Kaplan says it would be the American people.

Climate Change

With the Trump administration determined to pursue "a ‘control-alt-delete’ strategy — control the scientists in the federal agencies, alter science-based policies to fit their narrow ideological agenda, and delete scientific information from government websites," is philanthrocapitalism our best hope for finding solutions to a warming planet? Corinna Vali reports for the McGill International Review.

Can shareholder advocates really move the needle on the issue of climate change? Nonprofit Chronicles blogger Marc Gunther weighs in with a tough but balanced assessment.

Diversity

In a post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Alyse d'Amico and Leaha Wynn reflect on what the organization has done, and is doing, right in the area of diversity and inclusion.

Education

"Nearly sixty-three years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case kick-started racial integration in schools — and six decades after a group of African-American students had to be escorted by federal troops as they desegregated Little Rock’s Central High School — students nationwide are taught by an overwhelmingly white workforce," write Greg Toppo and Mark Nichols in USA Today. "And the racial mismatch, in many places, is getting worse."

Continue reading »

New Law Will Significantly Strengthen Nonprofit Sector in New York

December 06, 2016

Img_newyorkOn November 28, 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a Nonprofit Revitalization Reform Bill that will strengthen the regulation and operation of nonprofit organizations in New York State in many ways while also helping the communities they serve. The timing could not be better. In the current national political climate, nonprofits are likely to be called to provide new levels of support in multiple areas, including protection of civil rights, delivery of social services, immigration enforcement, family planning, and more. 

The new law will help by introducing major improvements in many areas of nonprofit governance. For example, it will help ensure that board members are more familiar with, and responsible for, their organization's policies and procedures around conflicts of interest and whistleblower complaints. It bars any person who is the subject of a whistleblower complaint from involvement in handling that complaint and creates new levels of legal liability for individuals who abuse nonprofit assets for personal gain, even when they do not serve as an officer, director, or employee of the organization.

The law creates an incentive for nonprofits to review and correct procedures related to conflicts of interest, particularly those that happen innocently. This will apply to a wide range of potential conflict situations, such as when a director is unaware that a relative has an interest in a transaction or when a board approves a transaction after considering alternatives but fails to document the basis for its approval. The law outlines both a mechanism for a board to ratify a procedurally defective transaction if it was in the organization's best interest and an incentive for the board to tighten up its procedures going forward.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (February 27-28, 2016)

February 28, 2016

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

African Americans

My Brother's Keeper, the White House initiative aimed at improving outcomes for young men of color -- and President Obama's "most personal project" -- just celebrated its second anniversary. But is it making a difference? The Root's Theodore R. Johnson III reports.

Climate Change

Now that Walmart, Google, Goldman Sachs and other multinational corporations have pledged to reduce their carbon footprints, how can the global community hold them to their commitments? TIME's Justin Worland reports on one UN official who has been tasked with building a system  that aims to measure corporate efforts to address climate change.

Corporate Philanthropy

On the Triple Pundit site, Abby Jarvis, a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Ogiv, an online fundraising service provider, offers some easy-to-implement CSR advice for businesses who are looking to do more to help nonprofits in their communities.

Data

In a post on the Benetech blog, Jim Fruchterman, the organization's foundation, uses the example of a small anti-poverty group in Uruguay to show how even basic attempts by nonprofits and NGOs to collect data as part of their program activities can lead to bigger and better things.

In the same vein, the folks at Tech Impact share four strategies designed to help your nonprofit deal with the "data deluge."

Governance

On the BoardSource blog,  Jermaine L. Smith, development director at Educare New Orleans, has some tips for nonprofit organizations that are looking to diversify their boards but may not know how to get started.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (February 20-21, 2016)

February 21, 2016

OFFICIAL-TRUMP-BALLOON700-622x900Our weekly round up of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Arts and Culture

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Robert Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, looks at five macro trends that nonprofit arts organizations need to watch.

Fundraising

You would think that finance and fundraising professionals at most nonprofits go out of their way to be collegial and collaborative. According to Andy Segedin, you would be wrong.

Governance

Good post by Eugene Fram on the role trustees and directors should play in overseeing nonprofit management/staff.

Higher Education

Is the traditional college education an endangered species? Of course it is, says MIT computer science professor and serial education entrepreneur Anant Agarwal. The Innovation@Wharton team reports.

Inequality

Nicky Goren, president and CEO of the D.C.-based Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation, suggests that "many of the barriers and challenges facing low-income communities are the product of generations of systemic inequity," and that business and nonprofit leaders need "to have an open and candid conversation about racism before we can move from treating the symptoms of inequality to tackling its causes."

What do entrepreneurs and tech visionaries in Silicon Valley understand about income inequality and the threat it poses to global prosperity? Not a whole lot, write Jess Rimington and Joanna Levitt Cea, visiting scholars at Stanford University's Global Projects Center, and Martin Kirk, head of strategy for activist website The Rules, on FastCoExist.

The practice of tipping is rooted in slavery -- and it continues to hurt American workers today. The Ford Foundation's Elizabeth Wann explains.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (January 23-24, 2016)

January 24, 2016

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

African Americans

Are the residents of Flint, the majority of whom are black and many of whom are poor, the victims of environmental racism? Would Michigan's state government have responded more quickly and aggressively to complaints about its lead-polluted water if the majority of the city's residents were white and affluent? The New York Times' John Eligon reports.

"Recent events have shone a light on the black experience in dozens of U.S. cities. Behind the riots and the rage, the statistics tell a simple, damning story," writes Richard V. Reeves on the Brookings Institute blog. "Progress toward equality for black Americans has essentially halted." 

In the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Tamara Copeland, president of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, writes that, despite the election and re-election of Barack Obama, America is not a post-racial society, and that until the public — and philanthropy — acknowledge that the "negative treatment of a group of people based solely on race is a major contributor to poverty and inequality,...we won't be able to take the steps needed to end racial inequities."

How can America narrow its racial wealth gap? the Annie E. Casey Foundations shares four policy recommendations designed to help low-income families boost their savings and assets, "the currency of the future."

Children and Youth

On First Focus' Voices for Kids blog, Karen Howard shares the five things every presidential candidate needs to know about poverty among America's youngest children.

On the Chronicle of Social Change site, Inside Philanthropy's Kiersten Marek takes a closer look at what new leadership at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation — Peter Laugharn is the first non-Hilton family member to lead the foundation — and a doubling of assets is likely to mean for the foundation's future support of child welfare initiatives.

Community Improvement/Development

Returning to the subject of the most popular post on his blog in 2015, "trickle-down" community engagement, Vu Le argues that communities of color and other marginalized communities too often are "infantalized" by funders, a dynamic that plays out in a number of ways: a lack of trust that communities have solutions to their own problems; unrealistic expectations for communities to "get along"; and demands for communities to prove themselves with little initial support. Instead, writes Le, "[w]hy don't we try the reverse for once, and invest significant amounts in organizations led by the people who know first-hand the inequity they are trying to address." We are tired, he adds,

[of] being asked to attend more forums, summits, focus groups, answer more surveys, rally our community members, only for our opinions to be dismissed. One funder told me, "Communities need to stop complaining and start proposing solutions."

We have been. We propose solutions all the time. But if there's no trust that we actually know what we're talking about, if there's no faith that the qualitative experiences and perspectives of people who have lived through decades of social injustice are just as valid as double-blind quantitative meta-studies written up in a glossy white paper or whatever, then what's the point? The investments will be token, oftentimes trickled-down, and then that will be used to say, "You know what, we invested in you, and it didn't lead to what we wanted," further perpetuating the cycle....

In his last blog post as president of the Vermont Community Foundation, Stuart Comstock-Gay, who is leaving VCF after seven years for the top job at the Delaware Community Foundation, reflects on four questions that all Vermonters — and many other Americans — should be asking themselves.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (November 21-22, 2015)

November 22, 2015

Rick-CohenOur weekly round up of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

Tax documents posted on Monday show that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation "has significantly scaled back its holdings in some of the world's biggest oil, coal and gas companies." The Seattle Times' Sandi Doughton has the story.

Giving

Forbes contributor Beth Braverman has some useful advice for your end-of-year giving. And you'll find more good year-end giving advice from Network for Good's Liz Ragland on NFG's Nonprofit Marketing Blog.

Governance

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has announced that it has amended its tax returns for the last four years "to more accurately account for revenue received from government sources." The Washington Post's Rosalind Helderman reports.

Homelessness

According to new figures released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness in the U.S. has declined some 2 percent on a year-over-year basis. The Department of Education disagrees. NPR's Pam Fessler reports.

Journalism/Media

On the Knight Foundation blog, Neha Singh Gohil, a senior media fellow at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, shares four lessons the foundation learned from the Knight-funded  Informed Communities Education Reporting Fellowship, a nine-month project to support ethnic media outlets in their education reporting.

Nonprofits

On the Giving in LA blog, John E. Kobara, executive vice president & COO of the California Community Foundation, reports on a resolution approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that will strengthen the county’s nonprofit sector through the implementation of "new federal rules that remove the long-held arbitrary 'ceiling' or limit on allowable overhead costs for nonprofits." 

After reminding her readers that the theme of November's Nonprofit Blog Carnival is how nonprofits can move from a scarcity mindset to a a mindset of abundance, Beth Kanter applies the same lens to the topic of self-care, or lack thereof, in the nonprofit sector.

Philanthropy

To mark its seventy-fifth anniversary (1940-2015), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has posted a nifty interactive timeline of its activities and work.

On the HistPhil blog, Ben Soskis checks in with a good synopsis of a recent Hudson Institute event featuring Linsey McGoey, author of the recently released No Such Thing as a Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (November 14-15, 2015)

November 15, 2015

Sydney-tricolorOur weekly round up of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

More bad news on the climate change front this week, as the World Meteorological Organization reported that average levels of carbon dioxide exceeded 400 parts per million in the early months of 2015, a rise of 43 percent over pre-industrial levels. The Washington Post's Joby Warrick has the details.

Will environmental limits, including limits on the climate system, slow or put an end to economic growth? Not necessarily. Cameron Hepburn, professor of environmental economics at the University of Oxford, explains.

Corporate Philanthropy

As part of its Tech Titans: Community Citizens?, Triple Pundit has a compelling, in-depth look at homelessness in Silicon Valley by Sherrell Dorsey, a  social entrepreneur and advocate for environmental, social, and economic equity in underserved communities.

Education

The path to college completion for low-income students is a marathon, not a sprint, writes Todd Penner, team lead for the College Preparation & Completion portfolio at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, and one of the most important things we can do to help them is to look at each student as a whole, understand the complexities of his/her life, and be thoughtful about the type of support we offer.

Giving

During this season of giving, Feeding America suggests that you think about making a donation to one of the hundred and ninety-nine foodbanks in its nationwide network.

"More than $50 billion in charitable assets now course through our country’s economy via donor-advised funds (DAFs) as a result of changes wrought by the [Tax Reform Act of 1969]," writes Lila Corwin Berman in Forward magazine. And in "no small part due to the acumen and persistence of a mid-century Jewish tax lawyer, those dollars function quite differently from other charitable resources...."

How much are baby boomers expected to give to charity over the next two decades? According to a new analysis conducted by Merrill Lynch, the answer to that question is $8 trillion — part of the $59 trillion that boomers are likely to transfer to younger generations over the same period. Gayle Nelson, a development consultant, attorney, and blogger, reports for NPQ.

Governance

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Crystal Hayling, a former CEO of the Blue Shield California Foundation and current member of the CEP board, argues that picking individual grantees is probably not the best use of foundation board members' time.

Continue reading »

[Review] Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library

September 17, 2015

Book_patience_and_fortitudeScott Sherman's Patience and Fortitude: Power, Real Estate, and the Fight to Save a Public Library is a nuanced, enlivening, and ultimately sobering account of the birth and death of a plan to renovate and reorganize the New York Public Library, whose iconic main branch on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan has welcomed millions of scholars, researchers, and readers since it opened in 1911. While the book is an impressive exercise in investigative journalism — providing, as it does, a meticulously researched account of the development of the "Central Library Plan" (CLP) — and the loud public rejection of said plan — it is also a paean to the NYPL and the power of citizen engagement.

Indeed, were it not for the impassioned voices of countless New Yorkers raised against the CPL, people like author Junot Diaz, who wrote, as part of a campaign protesting the plan, that "[t]o destroy the NY Public Library is to destroy our sixth and best borough; that beautiful corner of New York City where all are welcome and all are equals, and where many of us were first brought to the light," it is likely the institution's leaders would have succeeded in "repurposing" the library for the digital age while creating an enormously valuable parcel of land in the heart of one of the priciest real estate markets on the planet.

Taking its title from the two granite lions standing guard at the entrance to the library's landmarked building on Fifth Avenue, Patience and Fortitude examines in detail the plan's origins, as well as the objections to it, which focused on the proposal to transfer three million books from the library's basement stacks to a state-of-the-art storage facility in Princeton, New Jersey. In the process, Sherman, who first reported on the CLP in The Nation, reminds his readers that, throughout its storied history, the NYPL was funded by New York-based business and civic luminaries — Astor, Carnegie, and Rockefeller, among them — in the name of private philanthropy for the public good. The CLP, in contrast, was designed by consulting firms with an expertise in real estate and appears to have been driven by a handful of wealthy library donors, including some sitting trustees, with their own interests in mind.

Continue reading »

Contributors

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)

Subscribe to Philantopic

Contributors

Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Archives

Other Blogs

Tags