Friday, March 1, 2013

The March 1 Issue: Mobile Applications

"There's an app for that."

It wasn't too long ago that the above phrase was used jokingly to describe how many mobile applications were available on smartphones. Now, it's hard to think of something for which there actually isn't an app.

As smartphones continue to grow in popularity, more and more nonprofits are realizing that they need to make their website more mobile friendly for donors. That's one of the focuses of the March 1 issue of The NonProfit Times, which was just released today. Here's a quick look at some of the main features of the new issue:

Special Report:

  • There's An App for ThatAs hinted at above, this special report focuses on the growing popularity of mobile-optimized sites, and how they can be used to increase revenue for organizations via text donations and other fundraising tools.
  • Gulf Coast Nonprofits Can File Claims For BP's Cash: Nonprofits were among the first to be directly affected by the 2010 explosion of a BP oil rig, and some organizations are now looking to file legal claims against the gas giant.
  • Results Weren't Invisible: The San Diego, Calif.-based nonprofit behind the viral hit "Kony 2012" might be more well known now for the eccentric behavior of its founder, but Invisible Children bought in an impressive amount of revenue.
  • The Race for RevenueRace For the Cure revenue for Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s largest affiliates declined almost 7 percent last year, while the charity reported a 9-percent dip in overall revenues.
  • Your 403(b)The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has modified and expanded its Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS) with the release of Revenue Procedure 2013-12. While the new revenue procedure made many changes to EPCRS, one of the most significant changes was the long-promised inclusion of expanded corrections for 403(b) plan failures.
  • Federal MoneyWhen it comes to applying for federal grants, the most common complaint is the quick turnaround time. The federal agency releases the Request for Proposal (RFP) only shortly before the submission deadline and you’re sent scrambling.
If you are interested in seeing all of the articles in the March 1 edition of NPT, visit our subscription page to receive a print or digital edition of the magazine.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Major Donor Traits

What makes a major donor? The obvious answer is a substantial amount of money, but these individuals also have different belief systems. Fundraisers must learn to understand these beliefs if they are to be successful at cultivating these types of donors.

As Kent E. Dove, Alan M. Spears, and Thomas W. Herbert wrote in their book “Conducting a Successful Major Gifts & Planned Giving Program,” major gifts aren't just going to appear to an organization; they have to be cultivated from major donors by fundraisers. In order to achieve the proper success, it's important to understand what makes these individuals tick.

Dove, Spears, and Herbert explained that while major donors have many characteristics, understanding the following three will lead to the best results in procuring a major gift:
  • Major donors typically have strong values and deep beliefs. They believe in people and have great respect for knowledge.
  • They know someone in or something about the nonprofit organization they are supporting.
  • They view giving as an investment, and through such investments they desire to solve a problem or issue and to express themselves (to attain self-actualization).

The NonProfit Times Is Hiring: Digital Marketing Coordinator

Good news: The NonProfit Times is hiring! If you are a digital marketing expert with a vast knowledge of the Internet, NPT wants to hire you as a Digital Marketing Coordinator.

The Digital Marketing Coordinator will work with our team to create promotions for internet marketing and supporting sales staff for targeted advertising promotions. The candidate must have an advanced knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO), and understand third-party marketing tools such as Google AdWords.

You can find more details about this job by taking a look at our recent LinkedIn post. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Obama Nonprofit Says Donors Can't Buy Access

Donors to the nonprofit version of President Barack Obama's successful campaign apparatus will not be able to buy their way to special access to the president, according a spokeswoman for the organization.

It was announced weeks ago that Obama's campaign organization would be re-launched as a nonprofit, called Organizing For Action (OFA), and that the group would advocate for the president's second-term agenda by connecting with supporters. Since then, there have been whispers that donors who raised or gave more than $500,000 to the group would be invited to have face-to-face meetings with President Obama.

Those reports were strongly pushed back by both the White House and OFA. In an article in The Washington Post, OFA spokeswoman Katie Hogan is quoted as saying "No one has been promised access to the president." In addition, White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a press briefing Monday that there was not a "price tag" for meeting the president. He did not, however, directly address whether high-priced donors would be invited to quarterly meetings with Obama.

“Administration officials routinely interact with outside advocacy organizations,” Carney said. “This has been true in prior administrations and it is true in this one.” In both presidential campaigns, Obama has spoken out against the influence of money in politics.

Sources with knowledge of OFA's plans told The Post that the organization has plans to raise millions of dollars. Those same sources said that OFA officials have reached out to 50 top Obama donors who intend to raise $500,000 or more this year to support the president's agenda. Many of these donors previously served on the Obama campaign's National Finance Committee, and they will undoubtedly expect some perks for shelling out huge sums of cash. Yet, according to the report, an explicit menu of benefits were not given to the donors.

During the 2012 campaign, high-value donors were offered perks such as a chance to talk politics with Obama for 25 donors who bought a $35,800 ticket to a luncheon in San Francisco.

Two top OFA officials, Jim Messina and Jon Carson, have been meeting with top Obama fundraisers in recent weeks to discuss the group's agenda and to get financial support. Top donors who are willing to raise $50,000 have already been invited to attend a March 13 "founder's summit" in Washington, D.C.

You can read the full article in The Washington Post.

Nonprofits Falling Short In Leadership Development

Most nonprofit managers would agree that developing new leaders is one of the most important ways to ensure the success of the mission. Yet, according to a recent survey, many of these same leaders admit that they are falling short when it comes to taking a systematic approach to leadership development.

The findings from a Bridgespan Group leadership development diagnostic survey of more than 225 nonprofit leaders indicated that many organizations are still lagging behind when it comes to developing new leaders. Some of the results from the study include:

  • Leaders are engaged but struggle to act. Only 36 percent say leaders are held accountable for leadership development and only 38 percent engage their boards in the process.
  • Future needs are not well understood. Fewer than 30 percent say they have plans to address leadership gaps and only 37 percent have successions plans.
  • Development of future leaders is not being linked to organizational needs. Only 50 percent evaluate employee potential as well as performance, and fewer than 29 percent say they have development plans for individuals.
  • Leadership vacancies tend to be filled by external candidates. Only 25 percent are filled by internal candidates.
  • Efforts to monitor and improve are relatively weak. Fewer than 30 percent have organization-wide goals for leadership development and only 23 percent are tracking progress.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Gates-Backed Charity Targeted In Embezzlement Probe

Twenty doctors with ties to a charity backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation were arrested over the weekend in Niger for suspected embezzlement of funds.

According to an article on The Huffington Post, the arrests are part of an investigation of some $1.5 million in funds donated by the GAVI Alliance between 2007 and 2010. The arrested doctors were charged with allegedly embezzling these funds from the organization, which has reportedly suspended the financing of health programs in Niger until the money is reimbursed.

The Washington, D.C.-based GAVI Alliance, which was founded in 2000 with help from a $750 million grant from the Gates Foundation, aims to improve access to immunization in the world's poorest countries. The organization also receives support from the World Bank, UNICEF, and donor governments.

The landlocked West African country has made fighting corruption a priority in recent years. In 2011, President Mahamadou Issoufou fired two ministers who allegedly awarded illegal state contracts.

This is not the first time the Alliance has faced financial controversy. In December, the nonprofit suspended $6 million in funding to another African country, Sierra Leone, after an audit revealed misuse of $1.1 million in previously disbursed funds. The report showed undocumented expenses, cash handouts, and overcharged procurement costs between 2008 and 2011.

You can read the full story on The Huffington Post.

How To Build A Great Board

Unless your nonprofit's board has no term limits, chances are you will see many board members come and go. If there is one thing that is invaluable for boards, it's consistency, and it's up to the governance committee to take the lead in identifying the skills the board needs to continue to effectively do its job.

There are thankfully many resources available to help ensure that new members have the same skills and expertise as their predecessors. In “Nonprofit Management 101,” Vernetta Walker and Emily Heard of BoardSource list six of these resources:

  • Personal networks of business and community leaders;
  • Media articles;
  • Volunteers and non-board member committee members;
  • Participants in leadership programs;
  • Current MBA students; or,
  • Online sites that specialize in board matching or that list board opportunities.
Walker and Heard wrote that, once you have a group of candidates to choose from, it's time to make sure they are truly right for the job. You can do this by making sure applicants are:
  • Passionate about and committed to supporting the mission of the organization;
  • Clear about their potential role and the time commitment required -- share the board job description and board member agreement and answer questions about the work of the board; and,
  • Able to fulfill the expectations you have of them.