Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We TV, Goodwill partner for volunteer push

DMNews reported that We TV has launched its “Pledge 24 in 2010” campaign with Goodwill as a partner. The effort targets women and encourages them to pledge 24 hours of volunteer work in the coming year.

The initiative runs through January 31, 2010. Participants can visit WEVolunteer.tv to pledge. Users who enter are required to submit name, mailing and e-mail address, birthday, gender, phone number and the organization for which they plan on volunteering.

After submitting the personal data, users have the option to opt-in to any of four e-mail newsletters from We TV. The network distributes the We TV, We Love Pets, We Go Bridal and We Are Singles newsletters. We TV has more than 310,000 users in its e-mail database.

Kenetta Bailey, SVP of marketing for We TV, said that building the network's e-mail database is not a primary goal of the campaign. “But if people are interested in more information on We TV, we want to give it to them,” she said.

We TV's “We Treat” community newsletter goes out twice a week and has content including advice, recipes, TV show schedules, announcements and updates.

After users sign the pledge, they are automatically entered into We's “Chic in the City” sweepstakes, in which they can win a trip for two to New York to attend a movie premiere and after party, two nights in a boutique hotel, dinner and a $200 shopping spree at Saks Fifth Avenue.

There are also perks for the nonprofit partners. The organization that receives the most pledges will receive a PSA package from We TV, including 60 PSA spots to run on sister network Wedding Central during April 2010, national volunteer month. The winning nonprofit will get a one-month spotlight as “Charity of the Month” on WEVolunteer.tv with a banner that links to a full-page profile.

Actress Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City will appear in a series of We TV PSAs in 2010 encouraging consumers to volunteer with the tagline “What a difference a day makes.”

We TV is also reaching out to more than 150 nonprofits to urge their volunteers and members to pledge 24 in 2010. Read more here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nonprofits Portrayed in Popular Culture

A great article was offered by Blue Avocado earlier this year about examples of nonprofits in popular culture:

Queen Latifah in"Life Support" is a refreshing exception to how nonprofits are typically portrayed in popular culture. As Ana in this 2007 film, she works her butt off at Life Support, an AIDS education noprofit, but neglects her family and endangers her own health (sound just a little familiar?). Through Ana, we catch glimpses of what we know community nonprofits to be: fiercely committed, under-staffed, and essential life support to their clients and the community writ large.

In contrast, nonprofits are more usually invisible, stereoptyped, or off-camera employers of minor characters. For example, in "The West Wing," Mary Louise Parker played the director of a women's rights group deeply enmeshed in policy work. Several "Curb Your Enthusiasm" characters interact with NRDC, a nonprofit where producer Larry David’s ex-wife is active in real life. References to the real-life Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center as well as to the fictional California Arts Center pop up in "The L Word." Read more here. Share your own examples here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dutchess County YMCA files for bankruptcy

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that the Dutchess County YMCA has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, hoping to use proceeds from the sale of its shuttered facility to settle debts and once again offer programs to residents.

Whether that will happen depends on how much the agency can make from the sale of its 40-year-old Montgomery Street facility in the City of Poughkeepsie, which closed in January following financial problems caused in part by the struggling economy.
Thomas Genova of Wappingers Falls, the YMCA's bankruptcy attorney, said the sale could allow the agency to pay creditors and emerge from bankruptcy within two years.
"We're hoping for a successful case where all creditors are satisfied in full," Genova said.

The YMCA's 60,000-square-foot building has been on the market for more than a year at $1.95 million. Read more here.

Nonprofits reeling after the year of Madoff

Crain's New York reported that pne year after swindler Bernard Madoff was arrested for orchestrating a massive Ponzi scheme, many affected charities are still sifting through their financial rubble.

Nancy Falchuk will never forget the phone call. She was in Boston, it was raining and the news was bad. Hadassah, the century-old Jewish charity she had been elected to lead a year earlier, had just lost a big chunk of its endowment in a Ponzi scheme — maybe as much as $90 million.

The man responsible for this disaster, the world would soon know, was Bernard Madoff.

"I don't even say his name anymore," Ms. Falchuk said in a phone interview this week.

The leaders of scores of charities around the country, and the world, found themselves living a similar nightmare in the days after Mr. Madoff's Dec. 11, 2008, arrest on charges he orchestrated the multibillion-dollar fraud, which affected thousands of investors.

With the global financial crisis in full bloom, 2009 was already shaping up to be a grim year for charities, but few have had such rough going as the philanthropies that learned a year ago Friday that some or all of their finances had been wiped out in the Madoff scandal.

Some, like the $1 billion Picower Foundation, the $240 million Betty and Norman F. Levy Foundation and the $198 million Chais Family Foundation, lost everything and shuttered within days.

Others survived. They have spent the year cutting staff, curtailing grants and hoping, often in vain, that new donors would step in and help replenish what they lost.

"It has been a very difficult year," said Richard Gordon, president of the American Jewish Congress, which saw a $21 million trust left to it by philanthropists Lillian and Martin Steinberg vanish in the fraud. "Like anything else, you go through anger and outrage, and over the year, I think you work through some of the issues. But there is a tremendous sense of loss of what you could have done."

The damage caused to charities, especially Jewish nonprofits and those that aided Israel, is still being assessed.

Scores of foundations and charitable trusts appear to have lost enough money because of Mr. Madoff, who was active in the Jewish community and knew the heads of many of the organizations that invested with him, to hinder or cripple operations. Others lost nothing but suffered anyway.

Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey, a charity that didn't have a dime invested with Mr. Madoff, still had to slash operations after more than a dozen of its major donors, who had been giving $600,000 a year, were wiped out in the fraud.

Its chief executive, Max Kleinman, said it had to lay off 12 people, furlough staff and cut executive salaries.

Still, the work continued.

The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, founded by the writer and Holocaust survivor, said in a posting on its Web site that it still managed to have "a productive year," despite losing almost all of what it thought was a $15.2 million endowment.

"Thanks to generosity from around the country and world, with donations from $5 and up, we are pleased to let you know that we are able to honor all of our commitments and continue all of our projects," the message said.

American Society for Technion, which raises money for a technological institute in Israel, said that in 2009 it raised $77 million — slightly more than the book value of its vanished Madoff investments.

There were budget cuts and a small reduction in staff, spokesman Kevin Hattori said, but no programs were canceled.

But while several charity directors said they are optimistic about the future, a few are still wondering whether more bad news lies ahead.

Over the past 12 months, investigators unraveling Mr. Madoff's finances have learned that several charities that had invested with the swindler had withdrawn millions of dollars over the years that, unbeknownst to them, were false profits stolen from other investors.

Some of those groups face the possibility that they could be asked to give that money back. Read more here.

New Trends in the Arts?

A recent posted article from the Nonprofit Ventures blog offers news on a newly opened arts center that is a for profit enterprise. Is this a new trend? Share you thoughts. As the posted article relates:

The name is sure to grab the attention of would-be theatergoers. It’s catchy, it’s ambitious, it emphasizes a sense of place.

And yet, when the Rhode Island Center for Performing Arts at the Historic Park Theatre hosts its first stage production next weekend, the people who enter the state’s newest live entertainment venue will find more than just a theater.

In its new incarnation, the building that once housed the Park Cinema is also home to a café, a nightclub and a 200-seat all-purpose area that can serve as a restaurant for theatergoers, a comedy club and a room for receptions and business functions. Read more here.