Friday, November 30, 2012

Mini Horse A Hit With Wisc. Salvation Army

Holiday season in the United States brings a lot of familiar sights, though none may be as iconic as the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign. Volunteers from the charity stand outside shops ringing bells and soliciting donations. This practice is the same all across the country except in a town in Wisconsin, where an unexpected volunteer is leading the way: A miniature horse.

Named Tinker, the horse and other more traditional volunteers set up shop in West Bend, Wisc., according to an article in The Associated Press. He uses his mouth to hold and ring the standard red bell and holds a sign that says "Thank You Merry Christmas." He can also bow, give kisses and, most importantly of all to the Salvation Army, he raises 10 times the amount of money than a normal bell ringer.

Salvation Army commander Major Roger Ross told The Post that Tinker, who is 13-years old, has been known to bring in around $2,500 in a day, while a human ringer typically raises $250 in the same time period.

Carol Takacs, one of Tinker's owners, bought the horse 12 years ago with her husband while looking at a property. She fell in love with the mini horse and asked the owner that he be a part of the deal. She got the idea to use Tinker as a bell ringer after seeing one of the Salvation Army volunteers a few years ago, and she thought the horse could help make the standard Red Kettle campaign more interesting.

Before a typical appearance, Takacs spends a half-hour vacuuming Tinker's mane and fur and puts glitter on his hooves, a bell on his tail, and a Santa hat on his head. A pin with the horse's likeness is also given to donors who contribute at least $5.

You can read the full story in The Associated Press.

5 Ways Nonprofit Advocacy Can Succeed

All eyes right now are on the so-called fiscal cliff and while most of the arguments echoing in the congressional halls are about whether there should tax hikes on the wealthiest 2 percent, there are some issues that will directly impact the nonprofit sector. For example, there are still talks about capping the charitable deduction to generate revenue for the government, to which most in the sector are adamantly opposed.

This is where effective advocacy can come into play.

While nonprofits are forbidden to directly influence lawmakers, they can use their supporters to rally for causes like the charitable deduction. In the book "Five Good Ideas," Sean Moore wrote about how organizations should scrap the focus on the nuts and bolts of advocacy in favor of a reliance on concepts, approaches, and mindsets that can help them become a constructive player in public policy.

Moore laid out five ways to avoid the common pitfalls organizations face while lobbying:
  • Understand how the government thinks. Key to successful persuasion is understanding those who you are trying to convince: Their values, objectives, needs, and way of looking at the world.
  • Undertake do-it-yourself public policy. One of the most important things you can do is provide public officials with material they can use in a format with which they are familiar.
  • Build political capital. Whether its leadership realizes it or not, every organization has political capital. This includes the reputation and accomplishments of your nonprofit and its leaders.
  • Be strategically opportunistic. Aim for a balance between being reliable and avoiding being taken for granted. Be prepared to be active, but wait for the opportunity where you can have the greatest influence.
  • Find your champions. Having a champion is a litmus test for your work: If you can’t get someone to play this role, that may be an early warning about the practicality of what you are asking.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

5 Grant Opportunity Questions To Ask

Nonprofits are constantly searching for new grant opportunities around the web, whether they are private or public sources. While the temptation is strong to pursue a grant without asking any questions, that is an approach that could lead to big problems.

In his book "How to Win Grants," Alan Silver wrote that before applying for a grant, nonprofit managers should answer "yes" to the following five questions:

  • Are you eligible? First of all, your agency should clearly meet the funder's legal status requirements. If your agency is not eligible for direct funding, you might be able to partner with an appropriate organization and subcontract a significant portion of the project.
  • Is the grant aligned with your agency mission and goals? Once you’re sure your organization is eligible for funding, consider how closely the grant matches your purpose and plans.
  • What are your chances? You’ll want to be well positioned to win based on your agency’s qualifications, the problem or need you've defined, and the project you've designed.
  • Is it worth the trouble? Consider the amount of work you will need to win the grant. If it’s too much effort for your organization, you should consider other opportunities.
  • What happens when the grant ends? Funders want to know your game plan for sustaining the project when the grant funding ends. If the grant pays for new equipment, can you support the ongoing maintenance expenses?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NY AG Requests Sandy Aid Info From Nonprofits

Nonprofits across the country have been busy raising money in support of relief efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman now wants to know the exact details of those fundraising efforts.

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, Schneiderman's office sent letters to at least 75 nonprofits on Tuesday requesting disclosure of their fundraising efforts for Sandy. The information will be compiled online by the attorney general's office Charities Bureau in an effort to improve transparency and donor confidence.

"In the coming weeks and months, we expect to reach out to you for additional information, including more detailed information about how donations have been expended and the steps taken to prevent fraud and/or misuse of resources," Jason Lilien, chief of the Charities Bureau, wrote in the letter.

Lilien goes on to write that he expects to get responses from the organizations by Dec. 11. The information that is being requested includes amounts raised and spent so far and whether the donations received will be used solely for storm relief. In addition, information regarding services provided to victims, funds forwarded to other groups, and plans for any surplus or direct grants to individuals, families or businesses.

The nearly 75 organizations contacted by the the Charities Bureau include the American Red Cross and the AARP Foundation. Letters to more nonprofits are expected to be sent in the coming weeks.

As of  this writing, the agency has only received a small number of complaints about Sandy-related relief efforts by charities, reports which are currently being investigated.

You can read the full story in The Wall Street Journal.

New Grant Opportunities From NPT

We are continuing to post new opportunities to our grant page, with three more being added today from the IEEE Foundation. Two of those three grants fall under newly added categories: Technology and Human Services.

While both categories are important, we're going to feature the Human Services posting here. Take a look:

Type of Grant: Human Services
Grant Name: Applying Technology for Humanitarian Causes
Agency(s): IEEE Foundation
Closing Date for Applications: Two deadlines – March 15, 2013 or August 6, 2013


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Foundation is offering grant opportunities for organizations seeking ways to improve the lives of others using technology. The IEEE Foundation supports projects that implement or disseminate replicable, sustainable, technology-based solutions for humanitarian issues in underserved and underprivileged areas.

Eligible Organizations:

All nonprofits are eligible to apply for a grant as long as they meet the following requirements:
Grant payments depend on the length of the project. For example, programs that are 12 months or less in duration will receive 50 percent of the initial award payment after the Grantee has completed an IRS Form W-9. The remaining 50 percent will be paid after the final Grant Report has been submitted along with a financial statement.

You can find out more information at

You can take a look at the other opportunities by visiting the NPT Grant Finder.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Former Salvation Army Director Charged With Theft

The former executive director of a Salvation Army facility has been charged in the alleged theft of toys and donations from the organization's Toronto warehouse.

David Rennie was fired after the charity announced last week that 100,000 items worth about $2 million went missing from the facility over a period of two years, according to a report in The Huffington Post. Rennie is charged with theft, possession of stolen goods, and breach of trust. He will appear in court on Jan. 4.

According to an article in The Toronto Star, the alleged theft first came to light after an anonymous whistleblower, who is believed to be an employee at the warehouse, informed the Salvation Army that there were irregularities at the facility. After a month-long internal audit, it was discovered that toys and donations had gone missing, and Rennie was fired shortly after.

Police found the missing items in a warehouse northwest of Toronto, were 146 wooden platforms were stacked with toys, cribs, strollers, and other items.

You can read the full story in The Huffington Post.

Giving Tuesday Launches Holiday Donations, Community Building

Head to The NonProfit Times' website for the full version of this article on Giving Tuesday

DoSomething in New York City sent an email to its mostly youthful members and supporters asking that they get their parents or anyone older than age 25 to take a five-question test. The penalty for each wrong answer is a $10 donation to DoSomething or a nonprofit of the test-takers choice.

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” the charitable sector’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Approximately 2,200 organizations – both nonprofits and their for-profit supporters – are pushing Americans to kick-off the holiday season with a donation of cash or time. Much like store having promotions tied to their brands on Black Friday, it is up to each participating organization to determine how they’ll promote the event.

The event’s Twitter hashtag, #GivingTuesday, was already trending before the close of the business day on Monday. “We know this is going to be the first day of the giving season, and we’re excited to see what happens,” said Sol Adler, executive director of the 92nd Street Y (92Y) in New York City, where the idea for the day was hatched. “There are two days for spending (Black Friday and Cyber Monday), so the whole idea is, why not have a day of giving,” said Melanie Mathos of Charleston, S.C., software firm Blackbaud, one of the founding partners. “It’s a way to kick off the giving season, and the timing is great to raise awareness. It embodies the spirit of the holiday season and will bring greater awareness to nonprofits.”
Blackbaud will begin tracking giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving year-over-year, starting with this year compared to last year. Mathos said Blackbaud’s results should be ready tomorrow.

Though no one organization controls Giving Tuesday, a mass message of support from about 800,000 people will go out on Twitter via the Thunderclap platform at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Thunderclap allows for a large number of social media users to write a message and share it at the same time.

“One of the interesting things about Giving Tuesday is it’s an opportunity for experimenting,” said Henry Timms, 92Y’s deputy executive director of innovation, content and strategy. “Thunderclap is a chance for people to come together to share one message.” The 92Y experimented with Google Hangouts, and enlisted about 800 social media ambassadors to help spread the word between September and Giving Tuesday.

The 92Y is also driving donations and volunteering opportunities to itself, according to Adler. “We secured $150,000 worth of matching grants (for Giving Tuesday donations) from our board of directors and the general community,” he said. “We’re also doing a lot of opportunities for volunteering. We’ll have young kids doing greeting cards for soldiers and homebound elderly, and if you come down to the 92nd Street Y, a lot of it will be happening in front of you.”

No one is quite sure how Giving Tuesday will shake out, since this is the first event and there are a large number of variables. “This is the first year that a group of retailers and nonprofits and other folks in social media have pulled together to encourage the public to give,” said Anne Marie Borrego, director of media relations for the American Red Cross (ARC), another founding partner of Giving Tuesday. “We have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and now Giving Tuesday. It will shine a light on the importance of giving in the holiday season.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Youth Grant Opportunities

Nonprofits are constantly trying to help groups that are in need, yet the money isn't always there. That's where grants come in handy. With The NonProfit Times' new grant opportunities page, organizations will have another source to find out the latest opportunities from around the web.

The page has many different categories that are updated often. One of our newer categories, Youth, was updated just this morning with an opportunity from the American Honda Foundation. Take a look:

Type of Grant: Youth
Grant Name: American Honda Foundation Grants
Agency(s): American Honda Foundation
Closing Date for Applications: Applications accepted on rolling basis


The American Honda Foundation (AHF) seeking to fund organizations that are starting projects focused on youth education, specifically in the areas of science, technology, engineering, math, environment, job training, and literacy.

Eligible Organizations:

Only nonprofits that are 501(c)(3) are eligible to receive grants from AHF. In addition, your organization must have two years of audited financial statements examined by an independent CPA for the purpose of expressing an opinion if gross revenue is $500,000 or more. If gross revenue is less than $500,000, and the organization does not have audits, it may submit two years of financial statements accompanied by an independent CPA’s review report instead.

Grant requests may only be for a 12-month period. Awards range from $20,000 to $75,000. You can find out more information at