Friday, August 12, 2011

Nonprofits And For-Profits: Can They Work Together?

Note: This is a summary of a story in the latest episode of The NonProfit Times TV

Nonprofits and for-profit corporations sometimes have an uncomfortable partnership of money and mission.  This hasn't been the case with Livestrong, the charity founded by champion cyclist Lance Arsmtrong.  The organization has had a long and successful history of positive relationships with corporate sponsors.  The NonProfit Times TV recently caught up with Chris Brewer, senior manager of development communications at Livestrong, and found out why they have been so successful in these sometimes challenging partnerships: (NOTE: These interview highlights have been paraphrased)

NPTtv: How does Livestrong go about finding corporate sponsorships?

Chris Brewer: Livestrong makes sure that the sponsors they are working with don't just want to slap their brand on something.  They want their partnerships to be more than just the corporation writing a check to them; They want them to be engaged.  Brewer cites their relationship with Nike as an example of their ideal corporate sponsor.  They have not only been able to create a successful line of merchandise using the Livestrong brand, but they have also delivered the organization's message across the globe.

NPTtv: What can the average nonprofit learn from the way Livestrong uses Lance Armstrong?

CB: Brewer reminds listeners that Lance was not that well known an athlete when the organization first started.  He also tells nonprofits that they have to make sure that if they do use a celebrity to promote their organization, they have to make sure it's the right fit.  You can't just assume because the person is a celebrity that they will help your cause.

Check out the full interview with Chris Brwer at The NonProfit Times TV.

Half Of Adults In Louisiana Are Volunteers

Note: This is a summary from a story in the latest episode of The NonProfit Times TV.

A new study by Louisiana State University revealed a fascinating statistic: More than half of the state's adult population volunteer their times to nonprofit or religious groups. In fact, LSU says that the rate is probably more than the 51% found in an April survey. The survey was commissioned by Volunteer Louisiana, and it interviewed 720 people 18 or older in 216 cities and towns. Most of the respondents also said that they considered the work they do to be helping, not volunteering.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Online Micro News Sites Showing Bias

Note: This is a summary of a story from the latest episode of The NonProfit Times TV

Micro news sites formed as nonprofits have been popping up all across the country, but they aren't exactly passing the sniff test when it comes to objective journalism.

According to a recently released study by the Pew Research Center's Project For Excellence in Journalism, more than half of these sites have an ideological bias in their reporting.  The study also found that the more ideological sites tended to be funded mostly or entirely by one organization.  Sites with a more balanced political perspective had multiple funders. 

The most liberal sites were nine, operating under the umbrella of the American Independent News Network.  This group is funded by a variety of organizations, including the Open Society Foundation.  The most conservative sites were 12.  They all shared the common name Watchdog (i.e. "Alaska Watchdog"), and were funded by the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. 

Microsoft Ups Its Production Donation Program

Note: This is a summary from a story in the latest episode of The NonProfit Times TV.

Microsoft has announced an update to its software donation program that is designed to give nonprofits easy access to technology.  The computer giant says its reaching more than 40,000 organizations around the world each year.  This has led to nearly $4 billion of donated software since the program started in 1998. 

As part of the update, Microsoft is increasing the amount of Microsoft Office products that can be requested from six to ten titles.  They are also adding three new categories of nonprofits eligible for software donations, including medical research organizations, private foundations, and amateur sports/recreational organizations.  For more information on these changes, go to

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New NPTtv Webcast Available

The newest episode of The NonProfit Times TV is out!  Here are the stories in the new webcast:

We will have summaries of some of these stories shortly.  In the mean time, view the latest webcast here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bernadine Healey Dead At 67

Cross-Posted from The NonProfit Times Website

Bernadine Healy, M.D., a controversial chief executive who ran the American Red Cross from 1999 through 2001, reportedly died Saturday from complications of a brain tumor. She was 67. Healy’s tenure at the Red Cross was delayed as she sought treatment for a brain tumor.

Healy was CEO when the September 11 attacks hit. The organization was criticized for its advertising for financial and blood donations and subsequently changed its advertising practices. She also clashed with board members and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies officials with regard to what she viewed as unequal treatment of chapters in Israel.

A New York City native, she was the first female director of the National Institutes of Health, appointed to the position in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. An internist and cardiologist by training, she also served as dean of the College of Medicine at Ohio State University from 1995 to 1999.

The American Red Cross released a statement on its website: “The American Red Cross is saddened by the death of Dr. Bernadine Healy, who led the Red Cross response in the hours after 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history. During her brief two-year tenure as President and CEO, Dr. Healy worked tirelessly to initiate reforms in key Red Cross programs. When she left the organization in October 2001, it had improved its ability to respond to domestic and international disasters and was better equipped to ensure the safety and adequate supply of the nation’s blood. Dr. Healy was known to all Red Crossers for her vision and her compassion under the most challenging circumstances, and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”

A funeral in Cleveland is slated for Wednesday. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Floyd Loop, a former chief executive officer of the Cleveland Clinic, and daughters Bartlett Healy Russell and Marie McGrath Loop. Burial will be in West Lafayette, Ind.

Foundations React To U.S. Debt Downgrade

You probably have heard that Standard and Poor's (S&P) downgraded the United State's long-term debt rating to AA+.  This has created enormous chaos in the market, with stocks plunging in the aftermath.  As much as the downgrade has affected the for-profit world, it also has the potential to impact the nonprofit sector.  The NonProfit Times just put a report explaining the possible scenarios:

According to Bradford Smith, president of The Foundation Center in New York City, there are two ways the downgrade can affect nonprofits. First, it could mean raising interest rates, which would put further pressure on state budgets and their ability to raise money. With states already in a tough situation, he said it if it gets tighter, many budget cuts could come at the expense of nonprofits.

Second, if this week’s volatility turns out to be more than just a market correction, foundation endowments could get a big hit, as they did in the 2008 recession. If endowments take a big enough hit, foundation giving could fall in response, just as giving was beginning to climb back to pre-recession levels, Smith said. “But it takes a crystal ball to predict that,” he said. “We’re only seeing the reaction of the markets on Friday and today.”

From an operational standpoint, the downgrade really has no impact on endowments and foundations, or their ultimate beneficiaries, said Rick Nelson, chief investment officer at Commonfund Institute in Wilton, Conn. “It’s been a non-event from that standpoint,” he said.

Another effect of the downgrade, however, might be that other entities are unable to maintain their rating if the U.S. is rated AA+. “You’re seeing that somewhat today, some insurance companies being downgraded. It could have effect on institutions, but really it’s on a case-by-case basis, not in lockstep,” Nelson said.

To learn more about how the downgrade might affect nonprofits, head on over to the NPT website.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Management Tip: Cause Marketing And Individual Giving

At first glance, cause marketing and individual giving don't seem like they have anything in common.  How would it ever be possible to combine them?  In the latest management tip from The NonProfit Times, Lynn Croneberger (VP of development at Reading Is Fundamental) and Laura Goodman (director of partnership at Share Our Strength) explain how these seemingly polar opposite functions can work together:

*Ask for it. Consumer data is a leveraged asset that a corporate partner might be able to provide.

*Ask for it. Make sure to ask for email addresses when building consumer/participation forms. An e-appeal might not be as effective as direct mail, but it’s a lot cheaper.

*Try it, Test, segment and test again. Design appeals that can be tested – control group, call to action and links.

*Personalize. Tailor to the individual, recognize their support, cultivate and connect.

You can read the full piece over at The NonProfit Times.  If you liked this, you can read more cause marketing advice on our Management Tips page.

More On The Erie Gives Day Fundraiser

Remember the Erie Gives Day fundraiser I wrote about last week?  Looks like it was an even bigger success than originally thought.

I wrote last week that the initial tally for the event was $690,513.  According to, the final number was $771,030.  This money was raised from about 3,000 individual donors who gave over 4,900 gifts.  Here are some more notes from the fundraiser that were released by the Erie Community Foundation (ECF):
  • The average gift was $233.
  • The money raised included $100,000 added through a $75,000 matching donation from ECF and $25,000 from GE Transportation via a corporate match.
  • Jefferson Educational Society received the most money of all the nonprofits that participated in Erie Gives Day: $618,618.  The Foundation for Free Enterprise came in second with $63,316.
  • The Kanzius Foundation got the most number of donations with 247.
All participating organizations will receive their donations on Aug. 12 in a presentation at the Erie Zoo.  When you get a chance, you should read the full article at  Besides all the statistics in the article, it's pretty cool to read the reactions of the people who work at the nonprofits that got the donations.

$14 Million Social Innovation Grants Awarded

Last week was the second round of the Corporation for National and Community Service's (CNCS) annual Social Innovation Fund (SIF) awards, and five lucky nonprofits received grants.  All told, the awards added up to $14 million.  SIF funds the initial two years of the grants, and the organizations that receive them must match each federal dollar.  Here are the five recipients:

  • United Way of Southern Michigan: $4 million over two years
  • Mile High United Way: $3.6 million over two years
  • Corporation for Supportive Housing: $2.3 million over two years
  • NCB Capital Impact: $2 million over two years
  • US Soccer Foundation: $2 million over two years
Want to learn more about the SIF grants and the organizations that received them?  Head on over to The NonProfit Times for the full scoop.