Rethinking Nonprofits’ Disaster Planning

Recently, Bryan McQueenly raised a provocative issue to his neighbors in an op-ed in the Ventura County Star. In The Real Costs of Disasters for Nonprofits, this Southern California-based CEO of a 501(c)(3) asserts that the reality of recurring - and, indeed escalating - natural disasters poses a serious threat to the short- and long-term viability of most Golden State nonprofits. Like other residents of Ventura Read More

Hot Issues for Nonprofits in 2019

In the philanthropy sector - as in every other - the start of a new year marks an avalanche of fortune-telling: which issues that were big in the past year will continue to dominate news and commentary and which sleeper topics will erupt onto center stage. As part of our dedication to the sector, we've dug into them all. Some of the prognotiscating appears in published articles and blog posts. Some of it also Read More

Cause-Related Marketing: New Aggressive Enforcement

In the 1980’s, the American Express company tried out an advertising technique that had not been done before. The financial services giant joined with the nonprofit organization that was leading the fundraising campaign to pay for restoring the Statue of Liberty.  This experiment was a huge success for both sides. Here’s how it worked: American Express launched an advertising campaign to sign up new Read More

New Bills in CA Legislature on Crowdfunding, Other Hot Issues

In order to meet a deadline in the California legislature for introducing new bills to be considered in the current session, lawmakers hurried to file three items in late February 2019 of significant interest to nonprofit organizations. They cover three of the hottest topics in the philanthropy sector: crowdfunding, donor-advised funds, and community foundations. The bills on donor-advised funds (AB 1712) and Read More

Top-Heavy Philanthropy Creates Risks for Democracy

An important report released in November 2018 by the Washington-D.C.-based Institute for Policy Studies raises the alarm about a troubling trend in philanthropy and charitable giving in the United States. Traditionally, American charities have been broadly supported by “low-dollar and mid-level donors.” In recent years, though - and particularly as the nation emerged from the 2008 economic crisis - there has been Read More

Gorillas, Guerrillas, and 501(c)(3)s

Several months ago, we posted Monkey Gets Day in Court, the years-long tale about “a crested macaque monkey called Naruto [who] lived peaceably, minding his own business, among others of his endangered species” in Indonesia, when he encountered a camera on a tripod set up by a British wildlife photographer. A selfie was taken. [We use the passive voice here in one of the few officially sanctioned ways: when the Read More

Ford Foundation, Others, Move to General Operating Support

In Are Funders Read to Throw The Overhead Myth Overboard? we explained that in the past decade or so, the nonprofit world has moved away from a pervasive allegiance to the entirely misguided concept that overhead is taboo. Now, we see the beginnings of a more enlightened era: Thought leaders, nonprofit organizations, and funders and donors recognize that adequate spending on general operating expenses - including Read More

Shutdown: Fallout for Nonprofits

The recent federal government closure was the longest in U.S. history, causing incalculable pain, financial and otherwise, most directly to the workers and contractors who went without paychecks. There were serious ripple effects, too, through the economy as a whole. And the important work of government stopped for almost a month, creating backlogs for the foreseeable future which may never be fully remedied The Read More

MacArthur Foundation Launches New $100 Million Competition

In 2016, the world-renowned MacArthur Foundation took a huge leap of faith when it announced its bold 100&Change contest. The challenge for applicants: present a proposal to “solve one of the world’s most critical social challenges.” Who was eligible: any organization or collaboration “working in any field, anywhere in the world.” The prize: a $100-million grant. The project was more successful than even Read More

Donor Data: The New Hostage?

In the immortal words of Saturday Night Live’s Roseane Roseannadanna aka Gilda Radner:     “It’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another….” Now you may have to worry about paying a ransom for your nonprofit’s data. The New Data Scam Imagine an organization that has worked hard - for months and even years - to attract and retain donors. It’s signed up 20,000 people who have Read More