Friday, August 19, 2011

NJ Will Not Pursue Disclosure Requirement

The NonProfit Times reported last month on a proposal by the state of New Jersey that would have required nonprofits to provide donors an opportunity to designate a specific program when they made their gifts.  After receiving a wave of negative comments from concerned nonprofits, the state no longer plans to pursue this proposal. 

In an article just posted on the NPT website, we learn that the comments garnered by the pre-proposal process made it clear to the state that nonprofits were not at all excited about the proposed rule.  They were able to successfully convince the state that the rule would have been very difficult to implement, and also proposed alternative ways to generate donor awareness about the right to designate. 

If you would like to read the full article, which includes a list of why nonprofits felt the proposed rule was unacceptable, head on over to The NonProfit Times.

Heifer CEO Suing Board For $5 Million

We just put an article up on our website in which we learn that Heifer International Foundation CEO Domingo Barrios is suing the organization's board for $5 million in damages.  Barrios was suspended for allegedly violating confidentiality rules.  He claims that the real reason stems from his questioning of their governance practices.  Here's an excerpt from the story:

In his lawsuit, Barrios alleges that Williams and Smith encouraged him to “violate his fiduciary responsibilities” to the foundation by directing him not to reveal “certain pertinent information which would be detrimental to the foundation.” In June, the board approved a resolution that would give Heifer’s CEO the power to decide on unrestricted bequests, permitting the organization “to control and participate in planned giving,” Barrios said, and essentially destroying a primary purpose of the foundation.

Barrios claims he was asked by Smith and Williams not to share the proposal with the foundation until Heifer met to approve the resolution, which he believes violated rules of governance. He informed the foundation’s board of the adverse effect the resolution could have and subsequently was suspended for allegedly violating confidentiality rules and claims by the board chairman that he was “ripping the organizations apart,” according to court documents.

Shannon Boshears, director of communications and research at the foundation, said the organization has not been served with legal papers and does not comment on pending or ongoing litigation.

These situations usually turn out pretty ugly; when bad blood builds up, you never know what can happen.  Get the full scoop on this story at The NonProfit Times.

Amy Winehouse Foundation Hits A Snag

Mitch Winehouse, father of the late Amy Winehouse, told the BBC Newsbeat blog that plans to create a foundation in his daughter's name have hit a snag.  The problem?  The proposed name, 'The Amy Winehouse Foundation,' has already been registered.  Winehouse insists the foundation will still be created, but he's going to hold off on his plans until this issue has been resolved.

Foundations created in celebrities' names are often meant to promote a cause that was important to that individual.  In this case, Mitch Winehouse had planned to have his foundation help those who were struggling with substance abuse.  Amy Winehouse, who died last month at the age of 27, had long struggled with addictions to drugs and alcohol.  Her father said that she had gotten past her drug addictions at the time of her death, but that she was having trouble with alcohol.  The cause of her death has yet to be determined.

If you would like to read more about The Amy Winehouse Foundation, head over to BBC Newsbeat.  If there is any update on the status of the foundation, we will be sure to post about it here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tim Nelson, CEO Of Hammer Residences, Dies

Tim Nelson, CEO of Hammer Residences, died yesterday while on vacation in Colorado, according to a report by KARE 11 NBC.  He was 58.  At this writing, the cause of death was not revealed.  Lisbeth Armstrong, who is currently Hammer's Director of Program Services, has been selected as interim CEO. 

Nelson worked at the Minnesota-based nonprofit for 34 years, and was well known for his work on disabilities.  He was appointed as CEO in 1998, and led Hammer to be selected for NPT's Top 50 Best Nonprofits To Work For in 2011.  You can read the full obituary over at the KARE 11 website.  Our thoughts go out to Nelson's family, friends, and colleagues.

NPT At The 2011 New York Nonprofit Conference

The 2011 New York Nonprofit Conference just ended today, and The NonProfit Times was there to cover all of the action.  One particular event took the interest of our staff writer Sam Fanburg.  It was a presentation by James Mapes designed to introduce a new way of thinking.  Mapes, who wrote the book "Quantum Leap Thinking: An Owners Guide to the Mind," said the skills he would teach the audience would help improve their abilities as fundraisers:

Mapes, a speaker, performance coach and imagination expert, began his speech by discussing the realm of the conscious and subconscious. By understanding the two separately, Mapes argued, we could help influence our subconscious, through visualization so that we can live out our goals in the conscious.

Mapes likened the struggle between our subconscious and conscious to that of an elephant and its rider. The rider is our conscious, you can rationally see what is coming ahead of them, yet cannot control the elephant, our subconscious. The elephant or “subconscious,” wants what is wants, “now” and does not give up a short-term sacrifice for a long-term payoff.

Mapes' methods might have been a bit unorthodox, but the 500-member audience took him very seriously by the end of the presentation.  What changed?  Mapes had the audience perform an exercise where they were told to move a metal washer attached to a string--with their minds.  Many in the audience were able to successfully do this by concentrating deeply on imagining the washer move in circles.  His presentation wasn't just gimmicks, though.  Mapes gave the audience five steps for living an exceptional life:

• Make friends with reality- Turn your fear into positive action and control what can be controlled.
• Adjust your attitude- Have a positive attitude with co-workers, your team and clients, your family and friends and social network.
• Create a solid support system- Build your support system by helping others achieve their goals. Surround yourself with people who have a positive attitude.
• Ask for help and express your gratitude- Set aside your ego and ask for help from your friends.
• Create a vision that will carry you on through crisis- Use the power of imagery to quiet stress and fear to create a positive expectation for the future. Visualization is a very this very tool that can help serve you, your family and team. Vision and clear communication of vision is the mark of a true leader.

Want to learn more about Mapes' presentation?  Head on over to the NPT website for the full scoop.

Purchase NPT Back Issues

Picture this: There was this great article on fundraising tips in The NonProfit Times a few months ago, and you wanted to show some of your colleagues.  There's only one problem: You lost the issue.  To make matters worse, it wasn't one of the articles featured in the online preview of that issue.  What a disaster.

Luckily for all of our subscribers, this scenario never has to play out.  That's because we offer back issues via our online store.  We currently sell all of our magazines from 2009-2011 at $6.95 per issue.  If you need an article from a much older issue, you can always contact us directly and request it.

Visit our online store today and get back your lost issues!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Online Game Helps Charity

Who said gaming has no real world value?, the online technology/entertainment news site, recently wrote a report on an online game called Funky Nurse.  It was developed by Miniclip and the UK-based charity Teenage Cancer Trust.  The player takes the role of a nurse in a cancer care unit and must do whatever possible to help keep the patients happy.  This includes everything from taking them to entertainment rooms to finding upgrades for the hospital.  The game is meant not just for entertainment purposes, but also for education: Both on the disease and the charity.

At the end of each level, players are given statistics about cancer amongst teens in the UK.  The Mashable story lists one of the statistics:  “Every day in the UK, six young people aged 13 to 24 are told they have cancer.  That's about 2,100 per year."  Players are then given the option of learning more about Teenage Cancer Trust before moving onto the next level.  The game is currently played by 65 million people on, giving the charity a lot of visibility. 

This is not the first time gaming has been use to advance a cause.  The annual Games For Change conference is devoted to giving developers a platform to showcase games that are meant to serve a purpose beyond simple entertainment.  NPT covers this conference every year, most recently when we covered Al Gore's keynote address at this year's event.

If you want to learn more about Funky Nurse, read the full article over at Mashable.

Retro Article Of The Week: Unique Items Drive Fundraising Auctions

It's all well and good to keep our readers up-to-date on the latest articles on our website, but we shouldn't forget about those articles from the past.  That's why I'm going to start posting excerpts from some of our older articles.  So let's go back to April 15th, 2008.  On this date, the then Bush White House gave $200 million in aid to help with the food shortages in Africa.  On our website, we had just put up a preview of the newest issue of The NonProfit Times.  One of the articles included in this issue focused on some pretty interesting items sold at an online fundraising auction:

An autographed copy of the speech by Barack Obama after his victory in the Iowa caucuses; two torn, plastic Wal-Mart bags; Stephen Hawking in zero gravity. Even "Carnac The Magnificent" might have been stumped by the answer: Name three items sold by nonprofits via online auctions.

With an estimated $16 billion a year being spent during online auctions, there is no shortage of wacky stuff you can find. But what items are nonprofits (or their supporters) using best to raise money for their charity?

Sports tickets and sports memorabilia have a proven track record when it comes to online auctions. The New England Aquarium in Boston got a hold of tickets to this year's Super Bowl three days before the big game. The tickets were posted on Thursday morning, with bidding reaching $4,200 by noon that day, before someone used the Buy Now feature and purchased them for $8,000. "You can't do that in a room, because the event might not be for another few months," said Jon Carson, CEO of cMarket, an online auction company in Cambridge, Mass.

Tickets to opening day at Fenway Park in Boston were going for about $900 on cMarket a month before the game. Boston Red Sox World Series tickets were also big last fall. Lance Armstrong's autographed yellow jersey from the 2003 Tour de France raked in $36,000 for the Pan Mass Challenge.

Sports memorabilia is a big seller, particularly among men, but items linked to a celebrity also bring in their fair share. Just ask Oxfam America, which is fortunate to have actress Scarlett Johansson as a supporter. With a little effort, she could be good for raising six figures for the charity by herself this year.

I'm not sure about the rest of you, but that sounds like it would have been an amazing auction to be a part of.  Interested in taking a trip further down memory lane?  Read the rest of this article on the NPTimes website.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Some California Nonprofits Denied Tax Exemption

Think your organization has it rough?  According to a recent report in The New York Times, a number of California nonprofits are being denied property tax exemptions because the state's chief tax collector says they aren't doing enough to help the state's residents specifically/directly.  It's not known how many nonprofits are being affected or why this is now an issue, though the report cites California's budget crisis as a possible reason.

Nonprofits clashing with government on tax exemptions is hardly breaking news.  The Times article brings up the case of Hawaii attempting to impose a 1 percent tax on nonprofit groups, or when Boston asked nonprofits to pay what amounted to a property tax.  There was also a report on our website about how most nonprofits paid some form of tax.

It is worth noting that the process to apply for tax-exemption in California is much different than other states.  The Times piece describes it as a "two-tiered system."  Applicants first have to apply to the Board of Equalization, which collects state-mandated fees and certifies whether you are eligible for an exemption.  The final decision, however, rests in the hands of assessors in the state's 58 counties.  They make their decision by determining whether the property in question will have a "primary benefit" to the state.  If that sounds vague, there is a reason for that.  The article quotes Anita Gore, spokesman for the Board of Equalization, as saying that some things nonprofits do can't be "quantified in that sort of easy way."

If you are interested in reading the full story, head on over to The New York Times.

Schumann To Leave Lutheran Services in America

Jill Schumann of Lutheran Services in America (LSA) announced yesterday she would leave the Baltimore, MD-based organization on December 31st.  She is leaving to pursue an opportunity at ParenteBeard, an accounting and consulting firm.  The company is developing a Mid-Atlantic nonprofit consulting practice, and Schumann will be heading it.  In announcing her decision to staff, she said:

“My work at LSA has brought together my faith, my passion for the church’s work in the world, my earnest desire that all people have the barriers removed that allow them to put their gifts in the world, and my real love for social ministry organizations and their leaders.  I am quite certain I will never have work I love as much.”
Prior to her work with LSA, Schumann launched Kairos Health Systems, a nonprofit post acute care alliance, and served in executive roles with nonprofit and for-profit organizations including on the senior team of Tressler Lutheran Services. She created programs in post acute healthcare, behavioral health and chemical dependency treatment. She has consulted with church organizations, healthcare, aging services and social service providers particularly around innovative programming for the future.  She was just selected to NPT's Power & Influence Top 50 for the ninth year in a row.

Nonprofit CEOs have seen a lot of changes in the past couple of months, both planned and unplanned.  We learned over the weekend of the tragic passing of Peter Goldberg of Families International, but there was also the death of former Red Cross CEO Bernadine Healey just a couple of weeks ago.  We also saw Steve Gunderson step down from the Council on Foundations, Carolyn Woo take over at Catholic Relief Services, and Gary Bass step down from OMB Watch. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Management Tip: 5 Trends In Individual Giving

This week's nonprofit management tip focuses on 5 recent trends in individual giving:

Giving is changing. That is, if it’s not staying the same. Or, maybe it’s changing and staying the same.

Trying to keep up with giving trends can be an endless exercise, but at 2011 Fundraising Day in New York, Margaret Holman said there are certain discernible trends in individual giving, and knowing them can be helpful.

Holman offered the following:

• Major donors continue to give, but they are narrowing their focus to fewer charities for bigger impact.

• People give when they have a sense of security and optimism about the future. Few Americans do right now.

• Some trends are still true. For example: Lower-income people tend to be more generous than higher-income individuals; The most generous donors are likely to give by mail and less likely than average to give online; More generous donors are more intentional about planning their support; and, Giving still happens because donors are involved with organizations; 42 percent of donors volunteer with their organizations.

• Demographics still matter. There will be a tsunami of Baby Boomers moving into planned giving territory. There is the challenge of feeding the donor pipeline of younger donors.

• People check out charities in the following ways: Talked to someone who supports it; Visited the website or searched the Internet for news; Checked with a watchdog organization; or, Visited the organization in person.

To read more tips like this, head to the Donors section of our management tips page.

Does Mexico Have A Charitable Giving Problem?

Mexico has all the trappings of a perfect tourist destination: Beaches, great weather, beautiful scenery, and plenty of fun activities.  This doesn't mean it's without problems.  Gruesome murders and violence have plagued the country in recent years, sparking policy makers and advocacy groups to try and find a reason for it.  There are plenty of theories out there, but The Washington Post has reported on one that I find very interesting: A lack of corporate and individual philanthropy.

The article cites a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that lists Mexico as having very weak charitable giving numbers.  This is despite the fact that the country has the lowest taxes and second-highest inequality of income of the 34 nations in the OECD.  Although philanthropy levels have improved since a 0.04 percent mark in 2003, they are still lower than they should be.

Much of the charitable giving that does go on in Mexico is very informal, according to the Post article.  Philanthropists don't want to take public credit for fear of extortion and kidnapping.  This has led to a population that is eager to donate because of the recent outbreak in violence, but one that is also weary of attracting too much attention to themselves.  There is also a serious corruption problem among Mexican officials, leaving potential donors skeptical of charities.  Mistrust is one of the core reasons behind Mexico's philanthropy problem.

It's anybody's guess as to how to increase Mexico's charitable giving.  Some will say that decreasing the violence is key, but that's a whole problem in and of itself.  The article ends with a suggestion from the executive director of the Mexican Center for Philanthropy, who says that Mexico needs tax reform.  This is a very fascinating issue, and I suggest heading over to The Washington Post to read the full article.

Peter Goldberg, CEO of Families International, Dies At 63

There was some sad news in the nonprofit sector over the weekend: Peter Goldberg, president and CEO of Families International, passed away after suffering a massive heart attack.  He was 63.  His death came weeks after he was named for the ninth time to NPT's Power & Influence Top 50.  Here is a brief excerpt from the article announcing his passing:

“This is a tragic loss for Peter’s family and the entire Families International network. We extend our deepest sympathies to Peter’s family,” said Richard J. Cohen, chairman of the Families International Board of Directors. Families International is the parent organization of the nonprofit Alliance for Children and Families, United Neighborhood Centers of America, Ways to Work, and the for-profit FEI Behavioral Health.

Cohen also said the Families International Board met to enact its executive succession plan, including appointing an interim CEO and launching a national search for a new CEO.

“We are guided by the key goals for 2011 that Peter articulated, and informed by his belief that we should strive for a better balance between outcomes and impact, and that a budget is a baseline of adequacy, not excellence,” said Cohen.

“Following the executive succession plan, the board decided that the best path forward includes naming Stephen Mack, current chair of the Alliance for Children and Families board, as interim CEO. The board wanted to ensure a steady hand at the helm and Steve’s role as chair of the Alliance for Children and Families Board will help ensure that happens,” said Cohen.

Cohen also said Mack will lead the board’s national search for a new CEO who can help build upon the successes of the five affiliated organizations.

Head on over to The NonProfit Times to read the full story.  Our condolences go out to Peter's family and friends.