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Weeeknd Link Roundup (March 8-9, 2014)

March 09, 2014

We forgot to set our clocks forward, but we didn't forget our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector. Enjoy....

Daylight_savings_timeCommunications/Marketing

On her Nonprofit Communications blog, Kivi Leroux Miller shares the checklist she uses when evaluating clients' email newsletters.

Data

In a post on the Markets for Good blog, Beth Kanter shares three of her favorite DIY data vizualization tools. (Hint: You probably have two of them on your computer.)

Education Reform

In his Straight Up blog on the Education Week site, Rick Hess, an Education "policy maven" at the American Enterprise Institute, shares some suggestions for the Measures of Effective Teaching team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from blogger and award-winning teacher John Thompson.

Impact/Effectiveness

On Friday, New York State governor Andrew Cuomo announced the names of four finalists for the next round of the state's "Pay for Success" program, which aims to connect private and philanthropic investors with nonprofit organizations that provide direct services for vulnerable New Yorkers in the child welfare and early childhood, healthcare, and public safety sectors. For more information on the program and the finalists, click here.

As impact investment continues to gain traction — and favorable press coverage — an important piece of the story is being neglected: the role of government, Indeed, write Ben Thornley, Cathy Clark and Jed Emerson on the Huffington Post's Impact blog, "impact investing would barely exist — certainly not at its modest, current scale — but for the support and partnership of government."

If foundation leaders really want to "make a difference" — for their missions, their grantees, and the individuals and communities they serve — they would be wise, writes Tim Delaney, president an CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, in the Nonprofit Quarterly, to focus their efforts at the state level. With so little being accomplished at the federal level these days, "the arc of history is being written in the states....[And unless] more attention is devoted to the state policy level, the stealth shift of burdens onto nonprofits and foundations will reach a disastrous tipping point."

Continue reading »

[Data Viz] How Does Foreign Aid Work?

March 08, 2014

Today's infographic isn't one, per se; it's a Web-based "visual explainer" created by Newsbound, a San Francisco-based design and software company, for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that "debunks several prominent myths about foreign aid, including the argument that it is a waste of taxpayer dollars." Part photo essay, part data vizualization, the "stack" (which was included in the foundation's 2014 annual letter) comprises twenty slides easily navigated with a mouse or the arrow keys on your keyboard.

(Click here to view)

Foreignaid_explainer

What do you think? Is the less than 1 percent of the federal budget spent on foreign aid a waste of taxpayer dollars? Does foreign aid work? Or, as some argue, does it do more harm than good? And on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the Newsbound approach to a complex issue like foreign aid? Share your thoughts in the comments section below...

Venture Philanthropy and Development

March 06, 2014

(Heather Grady most recently was vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation and currently is serving as an advisor to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. As a member of the Rockefeller Foundation executive team, she provided vision, leadership, and direction to help the foundation achieve its goals of building resilience and promoting equitable growth and also managed a diverse group of professionals in the U.S., Asia, and Africa working in a a range of areas, from climate change, agriculture, and health to transportation, impact investing, and employment. This is her first post for PhilanTopic.)

Heather_grady1Venture Philanthropy in Development (90 pages, PDF), a new report from the OECD's NetFWD, charts the directions that many foundations and individual philanthropists are taking to tackle today's social, environmental, and economic challenges. While the term venture philanthropy has been around for almost half a century (credited in the report to John D. Rockefeller III, who said it was "the imaginative pursuit of less conventional charitable purposes"), it is seen as an emergent field, and there is little enough agreement on the term itself that the originators of the report gave scant attention to precisely defining it.

At a panel I moderated on the occasion of the report's launch, common dimensions of venture philanthropy were easily identified: high engagement with the grantees supported within any particular portfolio; provision of non-financial as well as financial support with a targeted group of grantees (e.g., convenings); an entrepreneurial start-up approach; a blending or even blurring of the lines between grant contributions and investments for financial return; working at a systems level to influence a combination of practice, policy, markets and even public opinion; and focusing on a positive enabling environment to achieve success.

The report is based on research from which the authors conclude that those sharing in depth their venture philanthropy experiences (the Rockefeller, Lundin, Shell, and Emirates foundations) were on a transformational journey, one that was not a "from-to" path but a much more inclusive and – as I read it – meandering one. As an integrative approach, it provides new opportunities for foundations to work with their grantees differently, and also for coalitions of foundations, civil society organizations, governments, and businesses to enter differently into shared ventures, not unlike the collective impact approach.

I learned a new term when one of the main researchers, Alexandra Stubbings, told us that the approach may force foundations to do a "drain-up" review. While that sounds fairly unpleasant, philanthropic institutions do need a good shaking out now and again.

Continue reading »

The Re-Emerging Art of Funding Innovation

March 04, 2014

(Gabriel Kasper and Justin Marcoux are part of the Monitor Institute, a consultancy and think tank focused on philanthropy and social change that operates as part of Deloitte Consulting LLP.*)

As philanthropy has gotten more strategic over the last decade, many foundations have begun to lose their appetite for risk and experimentation. But a small number of funders have begun to intentionally seek out and support high-risk, high-reward innovations with the potential to truly transform our most intractable social challenges.

In our recent article, "The Re-Emerging Art of Funding Innovation," we explore the processes and practices used by these “innovation funders” and look at how funding breakthrough innovation differs from more traditional grantmaking approaches. The article is the cover story for the just-released Spring issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review and can be found here on their site.

In the article, we share a process for intentionally injecting two interrelated innovation principles — transformation and experimentation — into philanthropic processes and systems in order to bring a greater degree of risk-taking, openness, and flexibility into funders’ work.

Although these approaches often take a different shape within each institution, innovation can typically be introduced at five different stages of the funding process: sourcing, selecting, supporting, measuring, and scaling. The article shares a series of stories illustrating what these activities look like in practice.

Illustration_stages_of_funding

While a formal innovation strategy requires thoughtful choices around structures, processes, networks, culture, and many other considerations, there are some simple ways that funders can begin to embed innovation principles in their work. Here are a few steps that a foundation could take to get started:

1. Make deliberate out-of-strategy grants. Dedicate 10 percent of your grantmaking budget to support projects that seem promising but don’t fit neatly into your strategy. Each quarter, hold a meeting to discuss what has been learned from this "out-of-strategy" grantmaking and how it could influence the rest of your work.

2. Ask your grantees. Grant recipients bring a perspective on the field very different from foundation staff's. Solicit ideas from your grantees about emerging ideas and who is doing work that is pushing the envelope.

Continue reading »

Trust and Corruption

March 03, 2014

(Mark Rosenman is emeritus professor at Union Institute & University and a frequent contributor to PhilanTopic. He lives in Washington, D.C., from where he drew many of the examples of the national problems cited below.)

Rosenman_headshotSelf-serving and dishonest actions in both the public and private sectors are severely testing the trust and confidence of Americans. That's a problem for government, for courts and the criminal justice system, for corporations and business leaders, and, yes, for the nonprofit sector.

It's a much more significant problem, however, for the larger society. Are we destined to slide further toward the pernicious levels of corruption so prevalent in other parts of the world? Can the already strained fabric of American society hold as growing numbers of public, private, and charity officials scramble to profit, legally and otherwise, from their positions? What happens when the fundamental American belief in fairness is undermined by declining confidence in the institutions we all rely on?

Make no mistake, confidence in our institutions is declining. Since the early 1970s, those of us who have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in our institutions, including banks, newspapers, and the medical establishment, has fallen dramatically – in some cases by more than 50 percent. Confidence in religion, the Supreme Court, schools, organized labor, and the presidency has fallen by 25 percent or more, while fewer than 25 percent of us have a "great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in big business.

Charitable organizations don't fare so well, either. Following a precipitous drop more than ten years ago, a recent survey found that over a third of Americans have "not too much" or no confidence in nonprofits. Meanwhile, Congress's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 10 percent.

Interestingly, the few institutions that have shown gains in public confidence include the military and the police and criminal justice system. But while the military is the most respected of American institutions, a series of recent incidents is beginning to take a toll. They include a scandal involving two Navy officers and a senior agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and a series of misconduct charges leveled at senior military officers for abusing their positions and accepting illegal gifts. His confidence shaken, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has demanded a broader investigation.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (March 1-2, 2014)

March 02, 2014

Ukraine_protestorOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Big Data

In the Washington Post, Brian Fung reports that more than a dozen civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza, "are backing a set of principles targeting the widespread use of data in law enforcement, hiring and commerce."

With the advent of big data, are "we to assume that government and business will be 'upended', 'revolutionized', 'disrupted' or some other exciting verb but [that] nonprofits and civil society will remain unchanged?" asks Lucy Bernholz on her Philanthropy 2173 blog. Not likely, says Bernholz. "On the contrary, the implications of networked digital data for both addressing our shared social problems and changing how we voluntarily act, how we associate with each other as independent citizens, how we organize for change or protest, are profound. Isn't it time for a real discussion of privacy, association, and autonomy -- about civil society -- in a networked data age?"

Education

Guest blogging on Education Week's Living in Dialogue blog, Paul Horton, who teaches history at the University of Chicago Lab School, argues that "the lack of process is precisely why Common Core needs to be abandoned, especially by public service and teacher unions."

Health

In a post on the Forbes site, Geoffrey Kabat, an epidemiologist with an interest in lifestyle and environmental exposures as factors in chronic disease, suggests that reports that we may "finally be seeing the beginnings of a reversal in the upward trend in obesity" -- a conclusion based on one statistic from a study conducted by researchers at National Center for Health Statistics (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) -- belies a more sobering reality: there was no change in obesity either in children and adolescents or in adults over the ten-year study period.

Innovation

Innovation in social change works is great, writes Dr. Robert Ross in a special supplement to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, but it's not everything. "In fact," adds Ross, "when it comes to addressing today’s urgent social problems, from education and public health to civil and human rights, innovation is overrated."

Continue reading »

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (February 2014)

March 01, 2014

Tragedy in Syria. Civil strife in Ukraine and Venezuela. Not enough snow in Sochi and more than enough pretty much everywhere else. The Fab Four at fifty and other reminders of boomer mortality. Here at PND, February 2014 was best summed up by a colleague who dubbed it "the longest short month ever." It was also the busiest month ever for PhilanTopic, as readers flocked to Laura Callanan's four-part series on social sector leadership and found lots of other things to like as well. Here, then, are the six or seven most popular posts on PhilanTopic for the month that just wouldn't end....

What did you read/watch/listen to in February that made you think, surprised you, or caused you to scratch your head? Share your finds in the comments section....

PND Talk: Multiple Grant Proposal Submissions

February 28, 2014

Macauley_culkinIn the third installment of our PND Talk series (the first two are here and here), we re-visit a question that Enid asked in 2005 about a situation that, while not common, illustrates the critical importance of transparency and two-way communication in the grantee-funder relationship.

Enid asked: Let's say you are seeking funding for a program whose cost is budgeted at $100,000 and you submit three grant proposals to three different foundations for the same program and get funding from all three. Do you accept funding from all three for the same program? Just one? How is this handled?

As always, she got excellent advice from the PND Talk community, starting with Tony Poderis, who wrote:

Enid -- I simply would absolutely not submit multiple proposals to more than one foundation for funding of the same project in the first place.

I would not do it because I believe -- in general -- that such special project solicitations should be sequential. Only rarely, if ever, would I offer a specific project funding opportunity to two or more prospects at the same time. The danger is that more than one will accept. Yes, I said danger -- even when getting the money.

I would not make simultaneous solicitations seeking grants from each of the multiple foundations for one project's full funding. I would go to the best possible prospect first and wait for that decision. I would not submit the proposal to the other potential funding source or sources until the first said no, yes to to the full request, or yes to partial funding. Then on, or not, to the other.

Having more than one foundation accept the same proposal at the same time and having them make their respective awards is a possibility I would not treat lightly.... Having to go back to a program officer who is the process of pushing it through his or her foundation's channels for you and having to say you gave the project to someone else has the potential for damaging that relationship -- maybe permanently....

Julie chimed in with this:

Continue reading »

5 Questions for...Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director, Wallace Global Fund

February 27, 2014

In late January, Divest-Invest Philanthropy, a coalition of seventeen foundations with nearly $2 billion in assets, introduced itself to the world with the announcement that its members have agreed to divest their portfolios of investments in fossil-fuel companies and invest a portion of those resources in climate change solutions instead. Arguing that continued investment in the fossil fuel industry carries both ethical and financial risks, coalition members are calling on other foundations to realign their portfolios away from investments in coal, gas, and oil companies and to join them in supporting and sustaining the clean energy economy.

PND recently spoke with Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, a leading member of the coalition, about the genesis of the divestment movement and the need to act now.

Headshot_ellen_dorseyPhilanthropy News Digest: What was the catalyst for the creation of the Divest-Invest Philanthropy coalition? And what is at stake here?

Ellen Dorsey: The catalyst was the climate crisis itself — a serious threat that affects all of us — and the need to divest from fossil fuels and invest in climate change solutions. As a responsive philanthropy, we want to support that shift and encourage the philanthropic sector as a whole to take this movement seriously.

So the goal of the initiative is not just to announce the commitment by seventeen foundations to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy; it's also to call on the philanthropic sector more broadly to engage in the climate debate and encourage other institutions to both divest from coal, oil, and gas companies that are driving the problem and actually use their investments creatively to identify and fund climate solutions in ways that help move us toward the kind of new energy economy that the world needs.

PND: It's clear that members of the coalition see divestment from fossil fuels as a moral issue. The letter you released in January says, "Mission-based institutions whose goals and constituencies are threatened by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels should not also seek to profit from them." When did your foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, decide it has a moral obligation to address the threat posed by our continued reliance on fossil fuels?

ED: In 2009, we began analyzing our grantmaking and our investments. We quickly realized there were real inconsistencies. One striking example was investing in fossil fuels at the same time as we were working to combat climate change and all its environmental and human rights impacts. How could we be invested in the very industries driving the crisis we were asking our grantees to solve? Not only was our investment strategy potentially undercutting our grantmaking, we were foregoing the opportunity to use our investments as a tool to achieve our mission and goals. We could be helping create the clean energy economy the world requires.

Additionally, we don't believe there is only an ethical risk to investing in fossil fuels. We also believe there are serious financial risks. Prudent investors are listening to the warnings that fossil fuel stocks are overvalued, as we cannot possibly burn the reserves coal, oil, and gas companies currently hold without cooking the planet. It is clear that a tectonic shift is required in the way we produce and consume energy, and smart investors will put their assets in the energy sources of the future.

Continue reading »

Philanthropy, the Affordable Care Act, and Boys and Men of Color

February 26, 2014

(Jordan Medina is health policy fellow at the Greenlining Institute, where he co-authored the report Pathways Out of Poverty: Boys and Men of Color and Jobs in the Health Sector.)

Headshot_jordan_medinaThe United States faces a crisis. We have a staggering racial wealth gap — for every $1 a white family has in assets, the median Latino family has about 7 cents, while the median black family has less than 6 cents. One reason for that gap is that too many boys and men of color are uneducated, disengaged, and unemployed.

This isn't a new problem, but changing racial demographics mean that politicians and business leaders must start paying attention to boys and men of color if America is to remain economically competitive in the twenty-first century. Fortunately, as with every problem, there's a solution. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) presents stakeholders with an incredible opportunity to create a culturally competent health workforce while simultaneously lowering the unemployment rate for boys and men of color. The question is: Do we have the courage and political will to see it through?

The ACA expands healthcare coverage to millions of Americans, mainly those too cash-poor to afford it on their own and those suffering from pre-existing conditions. People of color are disproportionately represented in both groups, while the influx of newly eligible consumers puts pressure on the healthcare and health services industry to expand its workforce to meet the increased demand for care. Given the high levels of unemployment in communities of color, considerable time and money should be spent figuring out ways to better prepare boys and men of color for jobs in the health sector.

This may sound like a difficult task, but a lot of the groundwork already has been laid. A new report I co-authored for the Greenlining Institute highlights some of the ways in which California, the nation's most populous state and long an incubator of public policy experiments, is forging ahead with plans to better integrate boys and men of color into the health workforce.

Continue reading »

We’ve Seen the Future and It Is…Collaborative!

February 25, 2014

(The following post is the final in a series of four written by Laura Callanan, a senior fellow at the Foundation Center. Laura wishes to acknowledge colleagues who have contributed to this work. For more on the scope of the survey referenced in this post, click here.)

On the surface, a leader is a leader is a leader. Leaders need to innovate, mentor, use data, and be responsible with the checkbook. But beyond those basic capabilities, are there differences?

My colleagues and I set out to define the capabilities a social sector leader needs to be successful. We conducted interviews, surveyed two hundred social sector leaders, and reviewed ten years of literature on social sector leadership. Based on that research, here is the framework we developed:

LC_Presentation2

We suggest a social sector leader needs all six of these dimensions to be well-rounded and successful. At first look, it might seem like these are the same capabilities any leader needs. But the difference is in the details.

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‘Under Construction’: Center for Urban Families - Baltimore, Maryland

February 24, 2014

Under-construction-logoUnder Construction is a multimedia online exhibit showcasing some of the best and brightest organizations working with males of color. The UC team of filmmakers, photographers, writers, and nonprofit experts worked directly with each of these organizations for several weeks. The collaborations yielded comprehensive portraits of the services men of color receive. Each profile features a short video, a photography exhibit, a visual program model, and a narrative essay detailing the efforts of these organizations.

Under Construction is a project of Frontline Solutions and was made possible through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

To learn more about the Center for Urban Families, visit BMAfunders.org.

Joseph Thomas knows how deterioration works. It is the same process for the shuttered blocks of West Baltimore where he was a boy as it is for the man who has no one to talk to. The facades are the last thing to go.

"In prison you have a lot of time to think," says Thomas, who served two years. A quiet, gentle man, he thought about how he had drifted through life since an early age with no one to steer him. Most of all, he thought about his daughters, wondering if he still had a chance to give them what he didn't have, a positive role model. Today, you listen to him talk about his teenage girls, what it means to make it to one of their badminton games, and he almost blushes. He was always in their lives, but he has learned that there are different kinds of presence.

Thomas, 38, is one of more than twenty thousand people who have come through the doors of Baltimore's Center for Urban Families (CFUF), where fatherhood and employment courses re-order their ideas about what a man's life can mean to his family and to the neighborhoods they call home.

The center operates out of an angular, bastion-like building here in Sandtown, where Thomas was a boy. "It was wild," he says. "It was drugs on every corner. It was people getting killed." But in the center's halls, people carry themselves with a refined confidence. They show up on time and sit around boardroom tables, or in large, university-like classrooms. And Thomas, like everybody else, is wearing a suit and tie. "The training wasn't just about training for a job," he says. "It was about succeeding in life."

Founded in 1999 by a former drug addict, the Center for Urban Families has become a model for how to reach urban men, perhaps the country's most underserved demographic. Here in a community that many think of as a "city of neighborhoods," the center's work targets the hardest of these, the street corners that have found infamy as the backdrop of popular television crime shows like The Wire and Homicide: Life on the Streets.

Continue reading »

Weekend Link Roundup (February 22-23, 2014)

February 23, 2014

Whatsapp_logoOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Education

Writing in USA Today, Bill Gates, whose foundation is a strong supporter of the Common Core, tackles three myths that have grown up around the standards: that the framework was created without the involvement of parents, teachers, or state and local governments; that adoption of the standards means students will have to take even more high-stakes tests; and that the standards will limit teachers' creativity and flexibility.

Giving

Are the young and ultra-affluent turning their backs on Big Charity? It sure seems that way, writes psychologist turned investment advisor Phil DeMuth in Forbes. Is it because they're not interested in helping? "Far from it," writes DeMuth.

Forty-six percent are focused on doing good in their communities, and nineteen percent plan to become full-time philanthropists. Here's how they roll: they get involved in hands-on niche projects where they can make a difference. They want to see demonstrable results. Program evaluation is a must-have. They want to get in and they want to get out. They are not interested in providing an annuity to some tax-deductible charity organization. They will give them a fish and teach them to fish but they will not become the fish.

What are their causes? Two stand out: education and green. Well-educated themselves, they think school is cool. They want to plow the parking lot and put up paradise. In small-scale, targeted, active interventionist ways....

Harvard, which has a $32 billion endowment, announced a $150 million gift from hedge fund manager Ken Griffin earlier this week, its largest gift ever. And that has Matthew Yglesias, Slate's business and economic correspondent, thinking that almost anyone could come up with "a better use of $150 million than to give it to the richest university on the planet."

In the New Yorker, Barry Newman, a former feature writer and foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, profiles Pete Depuis, whose Vancouver-based World Housing organization aims "to shelter poor people in five thousand free houses that would cost fifteen million dollars to build," with the money coming from the luxury developers who sign up to participate.

Continue reading »

PND Talk: Burned Out and Don't Know What to Do?

February 21, 2014

Job_burnoutLong-time readers of Philanthropy News Digest may remember PND Talk, the message board we launched back in 2004 and maintained for the better part of a decade (until the launch of our new site in November).

During its heyday, PND Talk was a lively community frequented by a regular cast of generous, knowledgeable nonprofit professionals — people like Susan Lynn, Sheryl Kaplan, Rick Kosinski, Julie Rodda, Tony Poderis, and the late (and much missed) Carl Richardson and Linda Procopio.

Recently, we realized it would be a win-win if we shared some of their advice and wisdom with our readers here at PhilanTopic. To see the first installment in the series, which offered a compelling rationale for giving to the arts when so many people are in need, click here.

In the post below, a mid-career development professional by the name of Maddy sounds a familiar refrain -- and receives some terrific advice from three board participants.

_________

In her original post, Maddy wrote:

I have always worked in NPs (with a BS and MA in NP management) in the fundraising area. I have never really found a great fit (organizationally or position-wise) and have basically job-hopped (nine jobs in ten years). All hops were moves up in title/responsibility, but I've never been happy. I love nonprofit work, but feel totally burned out. I have absolutely no motivation and cringe at the thought of writing another solicitation letter/grant/etc. I have only been in my current job for seven months, but am depressed that once again I hate it. I just don't know how to get excitement, motivation, satisfaction [from my work]. Should I just leave the field completely? Am I the only one feeling like this out there? Thanks for listening to my ramblings....

To which long-time PND Talk community member Julie replied:

Maddy --

I think we all hit a wall from time to time. The important thing is to assess how much damage has occurred when that happens, and to make plans to avoid it again, if possible. Since I have no concept of your financial situation, I cannot blankly tell you to take a break from work altogether, but it does sound to me like you could use a well-deserved break from the fundraising challenges you face at present. Fundraising is a brutal challenge at best, but it sounds as if you are running a race without heart -- when you hit the finish line, there is no joy for having gone the distance.

If you re-read your post, the answer seems somewhat clear, at least from the outside looking in. We can't always be happy with our work, at times even disliking it, but there should be some modicum of joy for the investment of hours you spend. Fundraising is above all driven by a passion for a cause, and frankly, your remarks -- "I have absolutely no motivation and cringe at the thought of writing another solicitation letter/grant/etc." -- can't be fair to those who put their confidence in you when you were hired for the task.

In all your years of work, what did you REALLY enjoy? Pursue that! Sometimes it pays less than the upgraded positions and responsibilities, but pays off generously in other less tangible areas like job satisfaction, peace of mind, enthusiasm and self-respect.

And if you can afford to take a break, go for it....

While Karen, another longtime member of the PT community, had this to say:

Maddy --

Try answering these questions:

1. What attracted you to nonprofit management as a field of study? As you were completing the M.A., what did you envision would happen when you graduated? When you thought about pursuing a career, what sort of work did you see yourself doing?

2. When you began your first position, what were your expectations? Was fundraising your first choice for nonprofit work? At what point did you realize that you were not happy with your job? Think of specific causes for your dissatisfaction. Answer the last two questions for each position you have held.

3. What goals did you set for yourself as you began each job? Were the goals realistic? Did you feel that your education and training prepared you well to do the work? Did you feel that your co-workers, board, etc. supported your efforts? Answer these questions for each job.

4. What changes would need to occur to make your current position professionally satisfying? In looking back at the other positions you held, can you identify any common themes?

5. Finally, identify exactly what it is that you love about nonprofit work. Is there some area other than fundraising that interests you?

I hope you'll be able to find work that is rewarding.

And a fundraiser in Colorado added:

Although this post is a bit late, I've been thinking about your statement about the forced nature of building relationships with potential donors. And what I have come to realize/experience is this:

Not only does the mission and the organization of the nonprofit have to match my passion and style of fundraising, but the current and potential donors need to be the kind of people I would build relationships with in my personal life. To give you an example, I worked for a nonprofit whose mission and organization I was passionate about -- yet the majority donors were polar-opposite from me in lifestyle and politics. Therefore, when I was developing relationships, these donors were indeed fake friends.

On the other hand, I worked for a nonprofit whose donors are similar to me. I enjoyed building the relationships -- they became true friends. Once I did tell a donor to give to another organization --knowing that the other nonprofit fit the donor's motivations better. In the short run, I didn't meet my fundraising goal. In the long-term, I did because this donor respected my decision to put her needs first, and gave even larger (than the one "refused") and more frequent gifts.

Just another perspective when considering a fundraising position.

__________

How about you? Have you found yourself -- or known someone -- in Maddy's position? What advice did you get -- or give -- that was particularly helpful? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts and wisdom....

‘Fatal Assistance’: The Promise and Failure of Humanitarian Aid in Haiti

February 20, 2014

(Kathryn Pyle is a documentary filmmaker and a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. In her previous post, she wrote about the documentary Shored Up, winner of the 2014 Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Fund & Award.)

Fatal_assistance_posterThe magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, killed more than 200,000 Haitians, injured over 300,000 people, and left some 1.5 million Haitians homeless. It also devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince, destroying buildings and wiping out large swaths of the city's infrastructure. As in most natural disasters, it was the poor, living in the most vulnerable areas, who were most affected – and Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

The international response was immediate and unprecedented: ultimately, $14 billion was pledged for relief and recovery efforts by donor countries, bilateral and multilateral agencies, individuals, and foundations and corporations. The total amount actually disbursed was considerably less but still significant for a country with a population of only ten million.

Four years later, the clamor that arose almost immediately over how the aid was being disbursed, continues. In an editorial last month marking the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, the New York Times declared that despite the outpouring of support (and notwithstanding certain achievements), "Haiti is a fragile, largely forgotten country" where more than 170,000 people still live in temporary shelters.

A major criticism of the response has been the lack of direct support for, and meaningful consultation with, Haitians. According to the Guardian, of the $9 billion spent in Haiti by January 2013, 94 percent was funneled through donors' own entities, the United Nations, international NGOs, and private contractors. Reports since then confirm that only 5 percent of the money pledged for relief and recovery efforts in the country reached Haitian organizations.

Fatal Assistance, a new documentary by Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck, provides a personal account of what happened in the weeks and months after the quake struck and, at the same time, is a plea for a more effective approach to humanitarian assistance in developing countries. Completed in 2013, the film premiered last year at Berlinale, the Berlin international film festival, and has been shown as part of the 2014 Human Rights Film Festival screening in cities across the U.S.

When the earthquake struck, Peck, like many other Haitians living abroad, returned home to help. "Those first weeks were a time of solidarity and connection," he told me. "Everybody slept outside. The Haitians were organizing everything."

That changed when the international relief groups arrived.

"Suddenly all our organization was erased. We weren't wanted and we were overwhelmed by the megaproject that took over. The locals were swallowed by the aid machine. We were of no use. So I decided to do what I do best: make a film. Without having any specific idea in my head, I decided to observe the whole process for a full two years, filming what was going on, interviewing people, penetrating the power structures where decisions were being taken, tracking the progress of the humanitarian efforts."

Peck's despair and anger with the reconstruction process is evident throughout the film, as the initial outpouring of money and promises of help were overwhelmed by agency competition, duplication of effort, and corruption.

Peck was in Philadelphia recently to screen Fatal Assistance and a previous feature film he had made, Moloch Tropical (2009), a satirical look at the final days of an unpopular Aristede-like politician. Organized by the Scribe Video Center in collaboration with International House Philadelphia, the program included a conversation with Peck about the creative process that was moderated by Louis Massiah, director of the Scribe Center.

In the post-screening discussion, Peck elaborated on a theme that was woven through Fatal Assistance: that the interests of humanitarian agencies working in Haiti seemed connected more to profit than to the needs of the Haitian people.

Even though many had never been to Haiti before, "the foreign workers didn't consult or involve the Haitians. They were the experts," Peck told those in attendance. "So much money was spent, but almost all of it went to foreign NGOs that carried out the projects designed by those experts. That meant that the money went back to the donor countries, it didn't go to the Haitian people. It was a business, where, for instance, instead of bringing water from other parts of Haiti, donors bought bottled water from businesses in their own countries and distributed them in Haiti."

Similar criticisms of the humanitarian relief model have been heard before. In a recent Q&A with PND about humanitarian aid efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Jessica Alexander, author of Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid, made a plug for an alternative approach: humanitarian agencies should "recognize that the Philippines will always be vulnerable to natural disaster, and that the best thing they can do is to work with local communities to strengthen their capacity to prepare for and respond to the next disaster."

Oxfam International, a confederation of fourteen Oxfam organizations that was working in Haiti with about a dozen rural projects before the earthquake struck, is an example of this more sustainable model. The organization is highlighted in the film in an interview with one of its Haitian staffers.

"Many of those projects had roots in previous crises, so disaster risk prevention was part of our day-to-day program," says Michael Delaney, head of Oxfam America's humanitarian response efforts. "Our approach to disaster relief is closely linked to long-term development programs, focusing on the most vulnerable populations to create resilient communities.

"In this kind of situation, there's pressure on organizations to be seen doing something, such as housing construction," Delaney adds. "Consultation takes time, so it's often not included in a top-down relief program. It's easier to design the housing and get it done. But housing is the hardest piece of reconstruction: it's personal, it's cultural, there are related issues like getting land titles. You can't do that unilaterally. You get a lot of solutions that are rapid but not sustainable."

Oxfam America raised about $30 million from foundations and individuals for its relief and recovery efforts in Haiti. About $20 million has been spent on direct disaster relief such as emergency water, sanitation, and other public-health services that have reached more than a million Haitians. The organization also provided emergency shelter for more than 94,000 Haitians and food assistance to over 200,000 people. Other assistance included grants to small businesses and cash-for-work programs. The rest of the funds it raised will support ongoing programs to address local communities' economic and infrastructure needs – programs that are run by Oxfam America's Haitian staff working in collaboration with local Haitian partners.

Before the earthquake, Oxfam America had been building a "South-South" bridge between its partners in El Salvador and its local efforts in Haiti. The Oxfam America program in El Salvador helped create an effective emergency response and disaster risk prevention squad in that country, and it is now working to do the same in a number of Haitian communities. The focus is on preventing cholera and other sanitation-related diseases, building communication networks and infrastructure, and enhancing technical capacity within the local population. Local governments are also involved, preparing for the next disaster, including designing and coordinating the reconstruction projects they most need.

In the years since the earthquake, any number of reports have been highly critical of the way humanitarian assistance was delivered in Haiti. But critical analyses of the humanitarian aid model itself have been largely missing. Peck's powerful and very personal film provides such an analysis and argues for a different model, one that is inclusive, consultative, and, like Oxfam America's ongoing efforts in the country, guided by the goal of long-term sustainability.

Kathryn Smith Pyle

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