Friday, February 10, 2012

State Department Bans Nonprofit Over Guest-Worker Probe

The U.S. State Department has taken steps to ban a nonprofit group for two years from a cultural-exchange program.  The announcement comes after the organization sent 400 foreign students to work at a Hershey Co. candy packaging plant last year.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, California-based CETUSA brought students, mostly from Ukraine and Turkey, to the U.S. on J-1 visas, which are used for cultural and educational exchange opportunities.  In addition to their summer work, the students were to practice English and learn more about America.  It turned out they had little time for either.

In August of last year, the students protested on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, Pa., claiming they were forced to work long hours for low pay at the packaging plant, which left them with little time or resources to travel the country and interact with Americans.  The State Department quickly began an investigation of the working conditions in Hershey.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also backed a top-down review of the J-1 program, which determined that CETUSA should be barred from participating further for the next two years.

The nonprofit is also involved in other J-1 exchange programs, and their eligibility for those are currently under review.

The J-1 program is meant to expose foreign students to the American lifestyle, and the State Department is likely to announce new regulations in the coming months to make sure this goal is realized.  They want students to be working at jobs that allow them to interact with other Americans, not in hazardous or hard-labor occupations.

You can read the full story in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nonprofits Face Licensed Worker Problem

There are thousands of nonprofits in New York that employ licensed social workers.  But now, thanks to a recently passed law, all of these groups are committing a crime.

NY1 reported yesterday on a law passed by the state last week that makes it illegal for nonprofits to hire licensed professionals, from social workers to acupuncture specialists.  The state decided to make this move because it believed that these workers should not be supervised by unlicensed professionals.  As a result, they will not be unable to work for corporations or nonprofits.  Hospitals, as well as specialty stores like Lens Crafters, will be exempt from this rule.  Social services groups had until last week to apply for a waiver.

While this is now the law of the land, it's unclear how it will be enforced.  It seems unlikely that organizations, such as Coalition for the Homeless, which employs a half-dozen licensed social workers and a nurse, will be prosecuted for violating this new rule.  Even so, it will create problems for nonprofits wishing to apply for city funding.  This is because a group is required to be complying with all local and state laws. 

There have been some calls from legislators to change the law.  State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, for instance, told NY1 that it makes more sense to adjust the law than to sit through countless waiver claims.  But as of this writing, no legislation is being considered to adjust the current law.  You can read the full story in NY1.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Linking Special Events To A Mission

Many nonprofit leaders like to hold special events because they can raise money without talking about raising money.  But according to Jeff Shuck, president and CEO of Event 360, that's exactly the wrong approach to take.

At a recent DMA Nonprofit Federation New York Nonprofit Conference, Shuck said nonprofits should use events as an opportunity to spark fundraising conversations, not to avoid them.  He went on to say that these conversations can get the best results when nonprofits understand how to evaluate each part of an event with the correct metrics.  These include the following:
  • Event: Number of events, participant satisfaction, repeat attendance.
  • Participants: Number of participants, registration time, team participation.
  • Donors: Number of donors, donors per participant, percentage of participants with zero donors, percentage of self-donations and goal, number of emails sent per participant.
  • Gifts: Number of gifts, amount per gift.
  • Revenue: Return on investment (ROI), compound annual growth rate, growth against the national benchmark.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bay Citizen Close To Merger With Nonprofit News Group

The Bay Citizen, a San Francisco, Ca.-based news organization, has announced plans to merge with Berkley's Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), a nonprofit investigative news group.

The agreement between the two news groups has been rumored for weeks, but The San Francisco Chronicle reported that The Bay Citizen officially announced the plan on their website Tuesday.  Under the agreement, CIR would run the day-to-day operations of The Bay Citizen within 30 days.  The merger is pending approval from both organizations' boards.

If the merger does go through as planned, former San Francisco Chronicle Executive Editor and Hearst Editor at Large Phil Bronstein will become executive chairman of the combined groups.  Bronstein is currently the chairman of CIR's board of directors and was the first choice of The Bay Citizen's late founder Warren Hellman.  It was also confirmed that Robert Rosenthal would remain CIR's executive director, and would also direct the editorial operations of the combined organization.

Plans for a merger had been in the works for quite sometime, but started to gain steam recently.  Just last month, Bronstein made a presentation to the board of The Bay Citizen, in which he outlined the advantages of a merger between the two groups.  He told them that they would be able to use each other's strengths by forming one group, and he identified economies of at least $1 million in operating expenseses.

You can read the full story on this potential merger in The San Francisco Chronicle.

eBay Founder Dedicated To Philanthropy

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably have at least heard of the online auction site eBay.  Maybe you've even won a few collectable items from it.  But if you were asked how the name Pierre Omidyar connected to the site, would you have an answer?

Pierre Omidyar is the founder of the successful auction site and he has lived a fairly quiet life.  Prior to a big profile recently published in USA Today Omidyar, 44, avoided the spotlight.  He gave an occasional interview now and then, but he spent the majority of time working with his wife Pam on his real passion: Philanthropy.

Pierre and Pam have given over $1 billion to hundreds of causes both through individual giving and four organizations they created: Omidyar Network, Humanity United, HopeLab, and Ulupono (which is Hawaiian for "doing the right thing") Initiative.

Yet the Omidyars don't just throw their money around without a plan.  More often than not, their donations go to charities that have solid business plans that allow them to produce the needed funds to keep its programs running.  Think of it as a venture-capitalists' approach to philanthropy: They want their money to go to organizations that have the best chance to create social change.  And that all starts with having a solid business strategy.

What do you think about the Omidyar's approach to philanthropy?  Do you think we will start seeing more philanthropists take this venture-capital-like approach?

Make sure to read the full story in USA Today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Picking Your Next Major Gifts Officer

Cross-Posted From Nonprofit Jobs

Earlier today, job seekers learned about the qualities they need to become a Major Gifts Officer.  Now let's take a look at what types of people employers should look at when they are hiring one.

Let's face it: If you don't hire the right person, all of your organization's fundraising efforts will be for naught.  When picking a candidate to be your next Major Gifts Officer, the temptation will be to go for someone who already has a strong background in fundraising.  That is definitely an important characteristic, but you will be well-served to go after individuals with more diverse backgrounds.

At a recent Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) International Conference, Holly Duncan, president and CEO of the Morton Plant Mease Health Care Foundation in Clearwater, Fla., outlined the qualities she looks for in a Major Gifts Officer.  Consider using her tips the next time you have an opening for this important position.
  • Techies: People who have a lot of experience with technology will be able to use this knowledge to better connect with major gift prospects.  They might also have qualifications to research, schedule, communicate, and document gifts efficiently.
  • Intellectual Capacity: You don't just want someone with traditional book smarts.  Seek out a candidate who is a problem solver and can think quickly on their feet.
  • Communication: A Major Gifts Officer will have to talk to many different people frequently.  Therefore, it is essential that the individual can express themselves clearly.  This includes both written and verbal communications.  The ability to ask open-ended questions will be key to performing their tasks.
  • Team Player: A lot of the work in this position is independent, but you still want someone who can work effectively with all different types of people.  There needs to be transparency and an attempt to engage co-workers.  Remember: No one owns a donor.

Komen-Planned Parenthood Links

UPDATE: We have learned that Susan G. Komen For the Cure is reversing their decision on Planned Parenthood.  Stay tuned for more details.

UPDATE 2: Added a link to our new story on Komen.

UPDATE 3: Karen Handel, Susan G. Komen's senior vice president, has announced her resignation.  Added link to NPT's developing story.

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The NonProfit Times has been working tirelessly to bring readers the latest news on the spat between Susan G. Komen For the Cure and Planned Parenthood.  We recently published two articles on the story, one covering the initial news, and another detailing the fundraising that has resulted from the controversy.

Given the nature of this story, new news can break at any moment.  Pay close to attention to our website to see if there is any new information on it, or sign up for our newsletters for additional information.  In the mean time, we would like to direct readers to other articles on this developing story.  So without any further ado, here are some recent articles on the Komen-Planned Parenthood controversy:

Getting Your Board To Fundraise

Getting nonprofit boards to fundraise is about as easy as pulling teeth.  You're going to get a lot of resistance and, frankly, it's going to be painful.  But there are some ways to make it a little bit easier.

One of the most common complaints from board members is that fundraising is not a part of their job description, so they shouldn't have to partake in it.  The reality is that raising money is a huge part of a board's responsibility.  If you're ready to start a board-bashing party, hold on just a second.  Although it's easy to lay all the blame on the board itself, a lot of it should actually fall on the organizational culture.

In "Nonprofit Management 101," Bob Zimmerman writes that a nonprofit should create an environment that encourages fundraising.  He lists three examples of bad organizational culture:
  • Nonprofits that don't let board members know that fundraising is one of their responsibilities;
  • Nonprofits that don't train the board in successful fundraising techniques; and,
  • Nonprofits that don't recruit new members that have experience with giving and fundraising
If you are to get your nonprofit board on the right track, it is imperative that you make sure your organizational culture doesn't resemble the traits above.

You can learn more fundraising tips like this by subscribing to NPT Instant Fundraising.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nonprofit Bookkeeper Arrested

Theft has been a bit of an issue at some nonprofits recently.  You can add another incident to the list after a bookkeeper organization was arrested for stealing thousands of dollars from a Houston, Tex.-based organization.

Dawn House, 31, was arrested and charged for allegedly stealing more than $200,000 in checks to the Houston chapter of The Muslim American Society.  She surrendered to authorities without incident at her home in the Houston suburb of Hallettsville.  According to police, House deposited the money into her personal bank account.  She was released from jail after posting the $20,000 bond and now awaits trial.

Theft has been a real problem for nonprofits in recent months.  A former finance director of the Girl Scouts of America's Greater New York affiliate pleaded guilty to stealing more than $300,000 over two years.  She spent the money on various personal expenses such as jewelry and food.  In addition, a volunteer at California-based Empty Cradle was accused of embezzling $25,000.  The volunteer maintains her innocence and made her first court appearance on Jan. 21.

You can read more about this story, which appeared in the most recent edition of NPT Weekly, on our website.

Featured Nonprofit Job: Vice President For Business Development

Cross-Posted from Nonprofit Jobs

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We have a lot of prestigious nonprofit organizations that post their jobs to our career center.  You can now add IREX to that list.

IREX is an international nonprofit organization that provides thought leadership and innovative programs to promote positive change globally.  The organization is currently seeking an individual to be its new Vice President for business development.  This position reports to the President and is a great opportunity for anybody looking for a high level job in development.

So what does this position entail?  The VP for business development will be responsible for a number of different important tasks:
  • Develop and implement an annual strategic plan for public and private new business development.
  • Leverage internal and external data to lead the process of priority-setting and strategic decision-making.
  • Build a professional and trusting relationship with key IREX clients.  This kind of networking is crucial to advance the goals of the organization.
  • Tap strategic high-level contacts to gather business intelligence, identify partnering opportunities, and strengthen international recruitment.
  • •Personally reach down and across the organization to gather information that would support marketing and facilitate strategic conversations (e.g., about client systems, regions, countries, and programs).
  • Provide guidance and set expectations for field staff support in the new business development process.
Here are qualifications for the position:
  • 15+ years of progressive leadership experience in new business development for an international development organization.
  • Significant personal contacts globally within USAID, State Department, and other USG agencies.  Non-USG and private sector sources are also a plus.
  • Excellent leadership skills in the areas of communication, decision making, facilitation, supervision, and planning.
  • International development experience in one or more of the following technical areas preferred: basic education, civil society strengthening, media development, youth development, conflict resolution, and gender.
Apply for this job today at the Nonprofit Job Seeker.

E-Newsletter Design Tips

Nonprofits are always looking for new ways to enhance communications with its supporters.  Creating an e-newsletter is a great way to accomplish this goal, but is your design up to snuff?

Most, if not all, nonprofits have weekly or monthly e-newsletters that are sent to its followers.  These will often contain the latest news about the organization, special offers, and other unique items.  But you can't just throw a bunch of code together and expect your newsletter to be a smashing success.  It all comes down to this: Design matters.

When designing your nonprofit's newsletter, make sure the web team keeps the following information in mind:
  • Decide which e-mail clients are a priority.  According to CampaignMonitor, Microsoft Outlook was one of the most popular clients as of June 2011.  Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Apple Mail were also near the top of the list.
  • Use tables for your layout, not cascading style sheets (CSS).  There are a lot of e-mail clients that are not able to read CSS.
  • Since you won't be relying on CSS, your team can use the old-school style of formatting: Putting tags for color, font, decoration, margins, etc., directly on links, paragraphs and images.  You can put styles into the header, but leave them out of the e-mail body.
  • Avoid using Javascript, Flash, video, or anything a 1999 web browser couldn't handle.  The message here: Code like it's 1999.