Friday, October 19, 2012

10 Details To Share When Seeking Grants

Foundations and other funders not only require a detailed description of the program for which you are seeking a grant but, as Alan Silver explained in "How to Win Grants," also other details of how your organization is run.

Silver refers to these details as "boilerplate items," and he recommended all nonprofits develop hard-copy and electronic versions of them so they can be easily inserted into your grant proposal. There are a number of things that can be on your boilerplate list, but Silver narrowed it down to 10 items he deemed most important:

  • Documentation of agency legal status;
  • Agency mission, vision, and values;
  • Description of services, programs, staffing, fees, eligibility, or admissions criteria;
  • Descriptive information on your geographic service area and target population (including state, regional, and national comparisons);
  • What makes your agency special (examples include unique mission, quality, and cost metrics);
  • Volunteers: Numbers, roles, hours, and the aggregate annual economic value of the time they contribute;
  • Key management and staff;
  • Summary statistics/utilization data; and,
  • Key performance indicators and trends (cost per client or per encounter, number of clients served per year, comparison to industry standards).

Microsoft Employees Raise $1 Billion For Nonprofits

Cross-Posted From The NonProfit Times


Microsoft Corporation employees have given $1 billion to nonprofits since the inception of the company’s Employee Giving Campaign in 1983. The software company, co-founded in 1975 by Bill Gates, made the announcement at a town hall event yesterday. Gates is also the head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer announced the news along with Gates and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire on the corporation’s campus in Redmond, Wash. The event was held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Employee Giving Campaign, which has benefited 31,000 organizations nationwide.

To mark the occasion, Microsoft announced that the four nonprofits that received the most money from the program would get a $25,000 grant. Those organizations were World Vision International, Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, the American National Red Cross, and United Way of King County.

“I'm incredibly proud of our employees, and this is truly a time to celebrate, not just because we've raised a record amount of funds, but also because together with our nonprofit partners, we have impacted and improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people,” said Balmer.

When the Employee Giving Campaign was first implemented by Microsoft in 1983, 200 employees raised $17,000 for nonprofits. The company now has 35,000 employees, and it predicts that over $100 million will be raised for organizations this year.

“The impact of all that giving is almost incalculable, and the statistics don't even begin to tell the whole story,” said Jon Fine, CEO, United Way of King County.

Gates proudly recapped the employees’ history of giving, saying they have been involved in their communities from the company’s earliest days.

“Thirty years and $1 billion later, that impact can be felt around the world,” Gates said. “The company and its employees have much to be proud of at this remarkable milestone and, I know, will continue to make a positive impact in the years ahead.”

Gates is no stranger to philanthropy as his foundation has worked to support programs that aim to enhance healthcare and end global poverty. He also partnered with Warren Buffet in the Giving Pledge, which urges billionaires to agree to donate half of their wealth to charity. Gates was once again selected to The NonProfit TimesPower and Influence Top 50, which honors the top nonprofit executives in the country.

The Employee Giving Campaign is a year-long effort, with the company matching employee volunteer time at $17 per hour and dollar-for-dollar charitable contributions to all eligible nonprofits up to $12,000 per employee. In addition to the $1 billion raised, employees have also volunteered more than 2 million hours of their time to causes since Microsoft began its volunteer match program in 2005.

The company places a special focus on the month of October both on its Redmond campus and in its offices across the U.S. Employees work together not only to volunteer their time and raise money through direct donations, but they also organize a month-long series of activities. These include a 5K run, an online auction, and an “underground” car show.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

5 Suggestions For A Modest Website Redesign

When you hear the words "website redesign," images of major overhauls and hours upon hours of work come to mind. This is often the case for sites that have serious problems but, thankfully, that doesn't necessarily describe your nonprofit's webpage.

This was exactly the point that Jono Young and Rahell Guba of Blackbaud made during their session, "Better Nonprofit Websites: 52 Tweaks in 52 Weeks," during the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in San Francisco. As the title of the session suggests, Young and Guba offered 52 tweaks that nonprofits can make to their websites without having to commit major resources.

Here are five of those suggestions that you can use immediately that will make a world of difference when it comes to your website design:

  • Use fifth grade language: Clean, simple, understandable external language. Making it relatable is better than making it likable.
  • I don’t just want your money: Provide alternate ways to support in addition to donations, such as social media, email, word of mouth, blog about us, templated messages.
  • Pictures speak louder: Visualize your achievements, goals, mission, appeals and campaigns. Use an infographic approach and make content digestible.
  • Content approval workflows: Have a second, or third or fourth, set of eyes review your content before it goes public.
  • Social your confirmation pages: These are your top supporters – help them brag about what they just did and market your organization for you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is Your Nonprofit's Data Safe?

Chances are your nonprofit's database has a plethora of files containing sensitive donor information. With hackers constantly in the headlines, it's important that you keep your data secure.

There is no foolproof way to completely secure your files from hackers, but there are ways to significantly reduce the risk of data breach. Jon Biedermann, vice president of Softerware Inc., recommended five practices that can be used when information is stored on an organization's own computers or with a hosted backup provider.

The five practices are:
  • Backup, backup, backup. The greatest risk is not because of hackers; it’s data loss from computer failure, fire or other accident. Complete backups should be performed every day.
  • User ID and password security. Some of the most stringent requirements are used by the healthcare industry under the Health Information and Patient Privacy Act (HIPPA). Included in this act: passwords are at least seven characters, with a nonalphabetical character; passwords are not displayed on screen; passwords should expire and be changed every 60 days; no more than three unsuccessful log-in attempts; access to data should be limited to certain subsets.
  • Audit trails. A database system should be able to provide a security audit trail of user login.
  • Physical security. This includes not only computers and servers but also access to printed records.
  • User security awareness training. Make users aware of “phishing” schemes.

Pittsburgh To Begin PILOT Dialogue With Nonprofits

The city of Pittsburgh on Tuesday began new dialogue with nonprofits to develop a system for payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs). The move was urged by state officials.

Pittsburgh becomes the latest city, following the example of Portland, Maine, to attempt to get payments from nonprofits. It comes after Pennsylvania's Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) approved the city's 2013 budget and five-year plan, according to a report in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The plan was approved on the condition that Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl form a task group on nonprofits by Dec. 31 and report on its findings by June 30.

In a letter to Mayor Ravenstahl, ICA chairman Dana Yealy wrote that the task force should examine how other cities handle PILOTs and make recommendations as to how much nonprofits should contribute in a similar program in Pittsburgh. In a statement, Ravenstahl thanked the ICA for "supporting the city's ongoing efforts to receive fair nonprofit payments."

The meetings of the task force must be public, wrote Yealy, and he added that the ICA reserved the right to rescind approval of the city's $469 million budget if Pittsburgh doesn't comply with the directive.

This is not Pittsburgh's first experience with PILOTs. The approval of the city's 2012 was briefly rescinded after there was concern that not enough was being done to get payments from nonprofits. The Tuesday directive by the state was motivated by the fact that the city's largest source of nonprofit contributions -- the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund -- is set to expire at the end of 2013. The city anticipates around $2.6 million from that fund this year, though the amount contributed by nonprofits is not disclosed, something Yealy wants changed with future PILOT agreements.

The fund is the largest source of funds from nonprofits, but the city also has some private contracts in place, including agreements with 10 to 20 nonprofits that were just renewed. Those agreements will net the city $450,000 to $500,000 this year.

You can read the full story in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Wyclef Jean Defends Charity Amid Financial Scandal

Haitian-born hip hop star Wyclef Jean is defending his charity, Yele, amid reports the now-defunct organization improperly used funds meant for relief efforts.

According to a report in The New York Times, Yele, which Jean founded in 2005 and was based in New York City, closed its doors last summer after a continuing investigation by the NY Attorney General's Office found the charity misappropriated funds meant for victims of the Haiti earthquake. Yet despite these woes, Jean still stands by his efforts.

In his new memoir, "Purpose: An Immigrant's Story," Jean denied that he used his charity for personal gain. He wrote that he had no need for more personal wealth, citing his watch collection worth $500,000 as an example of his well-being. He also wrote that, someday, people will understand that "Yele is Haiti's greatest ally and asset."

At the end of August, Derek Q. Johnson, Yele's former chief executive, announced his resignation in an e-mail to supporters.

"As the foundation’s sole remaining employee, my decision implies the closure of the organization as a whole," wrote Mr. Johnson, who replaced Jean as the head of the organization after he announced a failed candidacy for Haiti's president. Johnson's resignation came after Jean refused to accept a settlement proposed by NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman that would have required Jean and Yele's two other co-founders to pay $600,000 in restitution to cover the "waste" of the organization's assets.

A forensic audit of the organization from 2005 to 2009 found that, of the $3 million in expenses during that time period, there were $256,580 in illegitimate benefits to Jean and other staff and board members, including $24,000 for a chauffeur service, and $30,763 for a private jet to take actress Lindsay Lohan to a benefit in Chicago. That fundraiser netted only $66,000. In addition, The New York Post reported last November that, despite receiving $16 million in donations for the Haiti earthquake, Yele spent only $5.1 million on disaster relief.

Yele was hardly a mammoth entity before the Haiti earthquake, having only $37,000 in assets. After the quake struck, however, Jean was able to raise $1 million in 24 hours by urging his Twitter followers to donate via text. He also garnered attention for his organization when he co-hosted MTV's "Hope For Haiti" telethon with actor George Clooney.

You can read the full story in The New York Times.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Best Nonprofits To Work For 2013

UPDATE: With only three more days left to register your organization, I am bumping this post so those who haven't yet done so can begin the nominating process.

Do you think your nonprofit is the best for which to work? Now is your chance to prove it by nominating your organization for The NonProfit Times' Best Nonprofits To Work For study.

NPT, along with the Best Companies Group, releases a report of the 50 best nonprofits to work for in the United States every year. Last year's study was highlighted by the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), a Jacksonville, Fl.-based organization that helps veterans who were injured in combat. This was the second year in a row that WWP won the top honors; will it win again in 2013, or will a new organization take the crown?

Now is your chance to see if WWP will reign again, or if another nonprofit will dethrone it. Simply go to the Best Companies Group website and register to participate. There is no cost to complete the survey online, so all we require is your time. All applications must be submitted by October 19, so you only have a few weeks to complete the form.

Once registered, participants will receive the following information in their e-mail:
  • The Employer Benefits & Policies Questionnaire;
  • The Employee Engagement & Satisfaction Survey;
  • Survey distribution instructions; and,
  • Other supporting materials and instructions.
As an added benefit to completing the survey, all participants will have the opportunity to purchase the Employee Feedback Report, which details the results of their specific survey. These would normally cost thousands of dollars if initiated independently.

Register today to make sure your nonprofit is represented in the 2013 study!

8 Steps To Winning Grant Funding

Grabbing the closest available staffer and asking him to write a few sentences about your program is nowhere near the best way to win grant funding. If you want your organization to get the money you think it deserves, then you need a well-thought out strategy.

Barbara Floersch, director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, Calif., offered advice to nonprofits that are trying to win grant funding. She said that organizations need to follow eight steps to give themselves the best shot at winning those dollars:

  • Identify foundation and corporate grant-makers with interests and giving patterns that fit your organization. Don’t wait for government competitions to open. Figure out which grant programs are a good fit then track them.
  • Identify funding needs most likely to draw grant support. Innovation, equipment upgrades, program start-ups, efficiency investments, and the like. Consider these in the light of the opportunities you’ve identified.
  • Hammer out a proposal submission calendar for the year.
  • Find existing organizational relationships with the foundation and corporate funders you’ve targeted, or build those relationships.
  • Get copies of last year’s government application guidelines. Next, speak with program officers about expectations for the upcoming competition.
  • Establish a team for each proposal you’ll submit. Pull each team together, assign leaders, and set up work plans.
  • Work the plans. Don’t wait until the last couple of weeks. Lay-out the program design, and pull together the data, collaborations, letters of commitment, and other pieces you’ll need well ahead of the deadline. Take the time to do it right.
  • Monitor the work and keep it on track. Make sure you know what’s happening.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Home Depot Founder Wins Philanthropy Prize

Bernie Marcus, the co-founder of the popular home improvement retailer Home Depot, was awarded the 2012 William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership on October 11.

The William E. Simon Prize has been awarded every year since 2007 to business leaders who exemplify the principles of philanthropy. Recipients are given $25,000 which is donated to the charity of the winner's choice. Marcus, who co-founded the Home Depot in 1979, chose to give his earnings to the Marcus Autism Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

The award is given by the Philanthropy Roundtable, the country's leading network of charitable donors, at the request of the William E. Simon Foundation.

"William E. Simon Sr. was a legendary, caring philanthropist, and it is heartwarming that his family continues this great legacy," said Marcus in a statement. "I have never done philanthropy with the objective of qualifying for awards, and it was a surprising and humbling experience to find out I had won this prestigious honor."

Marcus's business accomplishments are impressive, as he helped grow the Home Depot from a single store in Atlanta to a successful enterprise across the country until his retirement in 2002. His philanthropic deeds are also lengthy, including being the main force behind the funding for the Georgia Aquarium, and providing major contributions to medical research in the areas of autism and brain surgery.

"Bernie is strategic, effective and has high expectations for his for-profit and nonprofit investments," said William E. Simon Jr., co-chairman of the William E. Simon Foundation, in a press release. "Like our father, Bernie sets high standards and settles for nothing less. We are thrilled Bernie is the recipient of the 2012 William E. Simon Prize."

Recipients of the William E. Simon Prize must possess the ideals and principles which guides the award's namesake, William E. Simon Sr., the late philanthropist and Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Those ideals include personal responsibility, resourcefulness, volunteerism, faith, and helping people to help themselves.

Previous winners of the Prize are Philip and Nancy Anschutz, Ben Carson, S. Truett Cathy, Raymond G. Chambers, Richard and Helen DeVos, Frank J. Hanna III, Roger Hertog, Charles G. Koch, David Robinson, the late John M. Templeton, and the late John T. Walton.

Featured Nonprofit Job: Chief Operating Officer

Space: The final frontier. People around the globe have been fascinated by the photos sent back from Mars by NASA's Curiosity Rover, so it's no surprise that there are many who want to get into a profession that has to do with space.

Not everybody can be a rocket scientist but, thanks to the Nonprofit Job Seeker's latest featured position, you can get a space-related job.

The Space Foundation is Colorado Springs, Colo., is looking to hire a Chief Operating Officer to help lead the organization and develop a culture of performance. The COO must be a leader who is able to help others at the Space Foundation deliver measurable, cost-effective results that make the vision a reality. Most importantly, the successful candidate will have the skills, sensitivity, and personal confidence to tap into the power that each member of the team brings to this mission.

The major responsibilities of the COO include:

  • Working in partnership with the CEO, continuously improve the strategic plan and implement new processes and approaches to achieving it;
  • Collaborating with senior leadership, refine the operational aspects of all Foundation events, including scope, features, logistics and pricing, and provide on-side leadership during said events to ensure optimum performance, quality and customer satisfaction;
  • Partnering with the Chief Financial Officer to manage the creation of the company’s operating plan, and manage the company’s performance to plan and budget;
  • Leading the performance management process that measures and evaluates progress against goals for the organization;
  • Providing for all team members a strong day-to-day leadership presence; bridge national and regional operations and support an open-door policy; and,
  • Communicating the foundation's branded message internally and externally.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? If you think you have the necessary skills to be a successful COO, you should waste no time to apply. Head over to our career center to read more about this job, including the qualifications you must meet to be considered.

The October 15 Issue Of The NonProfit Times

It's that time again: Time for another issue of The NonProfit Times to be released to the world.


  • Fundraisers' Relationship Helps Derail $3B CampaignPlanning for a $3 billion comprehensive campaign at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), an effort that had been expected to begin its quiet phase next summer, likely will be put on hold, for the third time in four years. Fueling the new delay is UNC’s chancellor announcing he would step down at the end of the school year and the school’s vice chancellor for university advancement quitting under pressure.
  • Common Ground Customers Petition For More TimeAfter Blackbaud announced in August that it would be terminating support for Common Ground after March 2014, customers created a petition to get more time for a smoother transition.
  • United Way Fundraising Up, But Trails InflationUnited Way affiliates raised roughly 1.8 percent more public support last year or $3.927 billion -- an increase of $69 million compared to 2010. It’s the second consecutive year public support is up after two years of declines, though it trails the rate of inflation in 2011 (3 percent) and early estimates of U.S. charitable giving last year (4 percent, 0.9 percent inflation-adjusted).
  • Unsocial Media: In the latest NPT Executive Session, Dane Grams, the attendees discuss fundraising and social media. Participating in the discussion were Dane Grams, director of nonprofit services for Care2 in New York City; Carie Lewis, director of emerging media, The Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C.; and, Heather McLean, senior manager, Integrated Fund Development at the Ontario SPCA, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. The roundtable was facilitated by Paul Clolery, editorial director of The NonProfit Times and Rick Christ, vice president of online fundraising at Amergent in Peabody, Mass.
  • Taxing DonorsJohn H. Graham IV, CAE, president and CEO of ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership in Washington, D.C., argues that charitable deduction is not a loophole that deserves to be closed by politicians.
You can read these articles in their entirety on our website. If you want to read the full October 15 issue, which includes stories not listed here, you should subscribe to receive either digital or print editions of NPT.