Sunday, November 16, 2008

Charity Leaders Give Tips for Tough Times

Excerpt from CNN feature Charity leaders offer tips for tough economy, holiday season. For the full article, click here.

If people are short on cash this holiday season, what are some alternatives to monetary donations?

DOSOMETHING.ORG: You might not have money to spend this holiday, but you definitely have time and energy. Use it well. Search our action matrix for something to do with your family or at your church or with your basketball team. Make a difference ... and have fun doing it with people you love.

GOODWILL: This holiday season, people should think of Goodwill when cleaning out their closets. Goodwill accepts an array of gently used products including clothing, household goods, kitchenwares and furniture. Some Goodwill agencies even accept vehicles. Donors should check the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web site before donating to make sure they don't have any unsafe or recalled items.

UNITED WAY: Consider volunteering as a family. Community service is an effective way to teach children about social issues, to show them a different perspective of the world, to advance the common good and to understand that the world is a better place when we care for one another. While enjoying quality family time, you're also teaching positive values, creating a new generation of volunteers and increasing your family's commitment to community.

LIONS CLUB: Give your time. If you can't afford to buy a gift for a loved one, make a point to do something special for that person or persons in your life that doesn't involve spending money. If possible, encourage your children to spend an hour doing something special for their grandparents. Give your spouse an hour of your undivided attention. You can even print up your own "gift certificates" redeemable for one hour of your time. Be creative. Nothing dictates that a gift has to be of a material nature. It's important to remember that simple acts of kindness are heroic.

CARE: Instead of buying gifts, people can make a contribution to a charitable organization in a loved one's name. They can also volunteer -- alone or with family and friends -- with organizations that provide direct services. And they can host gatherings to share information with others through film and printed materials about the impact of poverty on half the world's population: people who live on less than $2 a day. Even small contributions can make a huge difference.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY: There are many possibilities. A family or group of friends could help build a Habitat house in their community or join their local Habitat affiliate to host a fundraiser I read of where a family sold their house, downsized into a smaller home and donated some of the proceeds to support Habitat's work in Ghana. Of course, many individual supporters give smaller gestures of support, but the spirit is the same. People can always reach out respectfully and compassionately to those near and far who need a hand up.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Nonprofit Articles Round Up

From the Minnesota Council on Foundations:

Signs That, Amid Tough Times, Americans Will Keep GivingChristian Science Monitor: Most donors plan to give to charity in coming months, an online survey finds. History bears that out.

The Quickest, Most Helpful Thing Foundations Can DoNational Committee for Responsive Philanthropy blog: One suggestion I haven’t seen is a call to release restrictions on grants, and proactively contact grantees and invite them to reprogram the use of restricted grant funds. This might be the quickest, most powerful way for foundations to help their grantees.

The Philanthropy 400Chronicle of Philanthropy: Donations to nonprofit groups on The Chronicle’s Philanthropy 400 list (the 400 charities that raise the most from private sources) grew 4.5 percent last year, but many of the most-successful charities say they are already feeling the pinch of the economic slowdown.

Club GenerosityForbes: Great wealth often inspires good works. Here’s a look at the philanthropy-adjusted fortunes of some of the more generous — and miserly — members of The Forbes 400.

Accountability Should Be a Two-Way StreetPhilanthropy Journal: The problems are twofold: We don’t know much about what we are talking about, and we don’t force any of this kind of thinking on ourselves. (Written by an anonymous veteran foundation officer.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nonprofit Policy Priorities from Listening Post Project

Excerpt from The Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project, Communiqué #11: Nonprofit Policy Priorities, linked here:
A just-completed poll finds the vast majority of nonprofit executives reporting little improvement in government policy toward their organizations over the recent past, and pinning high hopes on a new national administration to establish a more supportive policy environment for their work at this crucial juncture of our national life. Heading the list of priority measures identified by these executives were four specific measures:
• Restoration and/or growth of funds for their field in the federal budget
• Reinstatement and expansion of tax incentives for individual charitable giving
• Federal grant support for nonprofit training and capacitybuilding
• Reform of reimbursements under Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs

These results emerge from a new survey of over 1,000 U.S. nonprofit organizations conducted by the Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Listening Post Project. This survey sought the opinions of America’s crucially important nonprofit executives about what a new national administration could usefully do to equip nonprofits to help Americans cope with the economic crisis the country is facing.