An online fund-raising expert offers advice on how to spur giving by cellphone, in Give and Take, The Chronicle’s roundup of the best blog posts about the nonprofit world.
- How much attention should donors pay to salaries of chief executives?
- Why technology deterred some giving to the Haiti telethon on Friday night.
- A plea for Americans to define themselves by what they give, not just what they own.
Many nonprofit organizations skimp on their overhead costs because of pressure from donors to prove they are spending a high percentage of their money on programs. And the bad economy has prompted many to cut back even further. But are charities undermining their effectiveness, or even their very existence, by catering to donor concerns about overhead?
Join us for a live discussion with Ann Goggins Gregory and Daniel Stid, a manager and a partner at the Bridgespan Group.
Ms. Gregory and Mr. Stid will be available Tuesday, January 26, at noon Eastern time to share their observations and take your questions about how to break what they call the nonprofit starvation cycle — a process that leaves groups with too little money for critical functions like information technology, skills training, or fund-raising systems.
The Chronicle’s online discussions are available free to everyone; questions asked in advance will get highest priority, and a transcript will be posted after the conversation.
Nine days after the massive earthquake struck Haiti, donors have contributed more than $355-million to 35 U.S. nonprofit groups, a Chronicle tally finds.
Plus other highlights of our Haiti coverage:
- A surge of Haiti donations could bolster some international groups, while others struggle financially to meet the needs of people around the world.
- Tonight’s television telethon for Haiti could bring another windfall for a handful of charities operating in the earthquake-devastated nation.
- The House and Senate have approved legislation designed to encourage Americans to contribute cash to charities that help with emergency aid and rebuilding efforts in Haiti.
- In a sign of the contentious debate about how to measure the work of charities, an effort to look at relief groups in Haiti has sparked some criticism.
- In an opinion article for The Chronicle, a fund raiser for an international relief charity urges donors and others to start focusing on big questions about Haiti’s future.
- Supporters of Mercy Corps, an international charity, have raised more than $500,000 for Haiti relief through their special Web pages.
- Very few donors who have made text-message gifts to the American Red Cross’s Haiti relief efforts have chosen to receive follow-up messages from the group.
- In the week since Doctors Without Borders asked donors to make contributions to its general emergency relief fund rather than earmarking them for Haiti, many contributors have done just that.
- Give and Take: Google’s co-founder raises questions about the lack of coordination among relief groups and a charity watchdog’s poll finds few donors would give by text message to charitable efforts unconnected to dealing with natural disasters.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Thursday to lift restrictions on corporate campaign spending has drawn sharp attacks from government watchdogs and other nonprofit groups that fear it will allow businesses to drown out the voices of individuals, charities, and smaller advocacy organizations, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.
But while much of the debate and news-media coverage has focused on how the ruling will affect corporations, legal experts say the decision will also make it easier for nonprofit advocacy groups to influence elections.
The breakdown of transport, banking, and other infrastructure in Haiti is frustrating the hundreds of small organizations that operate schools, clinics, and orphanages in the country, according to The Washington Post.
Lacking the resources of major aid organizations, such groups are struggling from their American offices to get money and other support to their workers in Haiti and continue providing services to clients who often depended on them for food and health care even before last week’s devastating earthquake.
The quake poses a crucial test for the American Red Cross, which has received by far the biggest share of the outpouring of Haiti donations but which was widely criticized for its responses to the September 11, 2001 attacks and Hurricane Katrina, reports the Associated Press.
- The well-intentioned volunteers making their way to the island independently to offer their services often do more to hinder than to help relief effort, MSNBC reports.
- Habitat for Humanity announced Thursday that it plans to erect thousands of expandable one-room shelters in Haiti for some of the more than one million people left homeless by the temblor, reports Reuters.
(Free registration is required to view the articles on the Washington Post’s Web site.)
New York State’s spending on cultural organizations would be reduced by $9.6-million under a budget for the next fiscal year proposed this week by Gov. David A. Paterson, reports The New York Times.
Most of the cut would be borne by the New York State Council on the Arts, which would lose $6.5-million in grant-making funds and $600,000 for administration. The 2010-11 budget is due to be enacted by April 1.
(Free registration is required to view the Times story.)
Reversing past Super Bowl practice, CBS has sold commercial time during the football championship to the Christian conservative organization Focus on the Family, the public-radio program Marketplace reports.
Broadcasters have traditionally shied away from selling time to controversial advocacy groups during big-ticket telecasts, and in previous years rejected ads from groups such as the animal-rights organization PETA and the liberal MoveOn.org. But Adam Hanft, a brand strategist, said CBS is scrambling to sell ads for the game amid the down economy.
The nonprofit Bay Area News Project named its chief executive and top editor Thursday and announced a deal to provide content to The New York Times, the Times reports.
The new journalism outfit supported by the financier Warren Hellman appointed Lisa Frazier, a partner at the consulting firm McKinsey and Company, as CEO and Jonathan Weber, a Los Angeles Times veteran, as editor in chief. The project will take over writing, editing, and photography for a Bay Area edition the Times began publishing last fall.
One of Florida’s biggest foundations has announced plans to start a nonprofit journalism organization to improve coverage of state government, reports the Sarasota Herald Tribune. The Gulf Coast Community Foundation, in Venice, secured $352,000 from the Knight Foundation to create the online news service, to be called the Florida Independent.
(Free registration is required to view the Times article.)
British community foundations more than doubled their donations take last year, reports Third Sector Online.
The country’s 57 community funds reaped about $90.9-million in 2008-9, an increase of more than $55-million.
(Free registration is required to view this article.)
Starting 17 years ago as an experiment that lifted 50 Houston fifth-graders’ academic performance through expanded school hours, the nonprofit Knowledge Is Power Program has grown into the country’s biggest charter-school provider, Bloomberg reports in a profile of the organization and its founders, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin.
KIPP, as it is known, now operates 82 schools in 19 states, primarily serving poor and minority students. The program has been cited by the Obama administration as a model for education improvement and won strong financial support from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which has been financing school-overhaul efforts.
Many nonprofit organizations skimp on their overhead costs because of pressure from donors to prove they are spending a high percentage of their money on programs. And the bad economy has prompted many to cut back even further.
But are charities undermining their effectiveness, or even their very existence, by catering to donor concerns about overhead?
Join Ann Goggins Gregory and Daniel Stid, a manager and a partner at the Bridgespan Group, on Tuesday, January 26, at noon Eastern time to discuss how nonprofit groups can start to educate their boards and their donors — whether foundations or government agencies — about what it costs to operate a strong, healthy organization.
Thanks to so many Philanthropy Today readers, we were able to present a quick tally of how charities fared at year end.
Now that you have had more time to count your results, we hope to do a more comprehensive job so that everyone in the nonprofit world will know how to benchmark their own fund-raising efforts.
You don’t have to identify your organization in our survey, which will be very quick for you to fill out.
If you have questions, please send an e-mail message to Chris Thompson, The Chronicle’s research director.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to share information about how your organization fared.
Other related articles:
Contributions continue to pour in for relief efforts in Haiti. Eight days after the massive earthquake struck, donors have contributed more than $305-million to 32 U.S. nonprofit groups, a Chronicle tally finds.
Plus: View from Haiti: The head of Save the Children talks about the relief effort.
A guide to The Chronicle’s coverage of the Haiti relief effort can be found here.
The University of Southern California has renamed its dental school for Herman Ostrow following the businessman and former dentist’s $35-million gift, reports the Associated Press.
The donation is believed to be the largest ever for a U.S. dental school.
Mr. Ostrow, a 1945 graduate of the USC dental school, practiced for 17 years before moving into the construction and property business.
Food and water distribution improved in Port-au-Prince Wednesday with help from a U.S. troop influx, but an international medical charity says a massive effort to staff operating rooms and deliver emergency gear is needed to prevent tens of thousands of disease-related deaths, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Partners in Health, which has been active in Haiti for two decades, warned on its Web site of up to 20,000 fatalities a day from infectious diseases, and a spokesman for the group said that at any given time more than 1,000 people are waiting at its hospital for treatment. Haitian government and United Nations officials said the charity’s estimate of deaths is far too high.
Three leaders of Haiti’s women’s movement are confirmed dead from last week’s earthquake, reports CNN. Myriam Marlet, Magalie Marcelin and Anne Marie Coriolan founded advocacy organizations that worked on combating sexual and domestic violence and provided shelter, microfinance, and other services to women and girls.
And two Massachusetts groups active in fighting AIDS in Haiti have quickly converted their supply networks to ferry bandages, antibiotics, and other basics to medical teams on the island, The Boston Globe reports.
Also: Relief groups still struggle to get the message out to Americans that money, not donated goods, is the best way to help after a disaster, reports The New York Times.
(A paid subscription is required to view the Journal story. Free registration is required to read the Globe and Times articles.)
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed suit Wednesday in a bid to shut down four fund-raising firms his office alleges used deceptive means to secure charitable donations, reports the Democrat and Chronicle, of Rochester, N.Y..
The companies — Caring People Enterprises, Marketing Squad, Stage Door Music Productions, and Suffolk Productions — are accused of violating state law by disguising their status as paid fund raisers and misleading call recipients about the names and programs of charities for which they were soliciting.
Mr. Cuomo said the case was built on evidence gathered by undercover investigators who went to work at the firms. He said the companies kept on average 76 percent of the money they raised.
Scott Dean, owner of Marketing Squad, denied wrongdoing, calling the allegations “bogus.” The other companies in the suit did not comment in the article.
International pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline announced it will make public all its data on chemical compounds with potential use in malaria treatments, upping the pressure on drug companies to increase their philanthropic research efforts, the Times reports.
The London company will distribute information on more than 13,000 compounds its scientists have identified as possible inhibitors of the malaria parasite in hopes of speeding efforts to find a cure. The disease kills at least one million children a year in Africa, and stamping it out has become a major priority of global philanthropies such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Capping a yearlong search, the Sierra Club on Wednesday named Michael Brune its new executive director, The Washington Post reports.
Mr. Brune, 38, began his career in environmental activism as a Greenpeace organizer and spent the last seven years leading the Rainforest Action Network. He succeeds Carl Pope at the helm of the 118-year-old Sierra Club, one of the country’s largest and most influential green groups.
(Free registration is required to view this article.)
A broad national study by Americans for the Arts finds the cultural sector’s health worsening as a growing number of arts groups see declines in audience members and donors, Variety and the Associated Press report.
The inaugural National Arts Index was compiled over the past decade using 76 indicators of vitality, including ticket sales, museum attendance, donor dollars, and the popularity of college art majors. Chief executive officer of Americans for the Arts, Robert Lynch, told a press conference the industry-wide score dropped from 4.2 percent from 2007 to 2008 and that a turnaround is not likely to begin before 2011.
The number of nonprofit arts groups has ballooned from 73,000 to 104,000 since 1998, but a third of groups are failing to break even and the share of philanthropy going to cultural organizations is dropping, the study found.
In other arts news, The New York Times reports on the trend in Europe toward U.S.-style fund raising by arts institutions as governments reduce cultural support.
(Free registration is required to view the Times article.)