Troubled Waters at Several United Ways

“A … woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi got together….” “It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke,” according to the United Way on its website, “but they didn’t walk into a bar; what they did do was recognize the need to work together in new ways [in 1887] to make Denver a better place.” More than 130 years later, in 2018, the organization is the largest privately funded nonprofit in the world with Read More

Sting Against Charity Fraudsters Allegedly Helping Veterans

Back in 2015, the Federal Trade Commission and all 50 state attorneys general joined in a coordinated lawsuit to take down a group of four sham charities and the people running them. These scam artists collected some $187 million over a four-year-period from unsuspecting donors around the U.S. who thought they were giving money to help cancer patients.  Instead, the “overwhelming majority of” the money was spent Read More

Donor Secrecy at Public Universities

George Mason University (GMU) is a “young university that, in just a short time” [since 1972] “has made impressive strides in size, stature and influence.” Now, “Virginia’s largest public research university” serves some 34,000 students; its main, “beautiful wooded” campus is in Fairfax, Virginia, only 15 miles from the nation’s capital. But in late April 2018, a simmering controversy erupted. It shattered the Read More

Possible Rate Hike for Some Nonprofits’ Mail

It’s a perk for nonprofits that doesn’t get as much attention or fanfare as the tax deduction for charitable contributions, but reduced postal charges are an important aid to the success of the mission of many organizations. 501(c)(3)s use the established “preferred postal rate” schedules to make important budgetary decisions for current and upcoming fiscal periods. From time to time, the United States Postal Read More

Rage Giving: What’s the Formula For Success?

There’s been nothing “business-as-usual” in the United States since Election Day 2016. That seismic event - although political in nature - has had a profound effect nationwide, including on sectors that are, ordinarily, non-political. It spawned a phenomenon dubbed “rage giving” (also sometimes referred to as  “rage donations” or “rage philanthropy”): a visceral reaction in the general public that unleashes a Read More

How Big is “Too Big” For a Community Foundation?

In this fourth part of a series arising out of the recently exposed travails of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, we consider the argument raised by a number of expert observers that, for a nonprofit organization, bigger is not always better. And, in the case of a community foundation, an unrelenting push to expand beyond the community from which the foundation takes its name, may be a particularly troublesome Read More

Observations About Silicon Valley Community Foundation From Outside Its Bubble

In Secrets and Lies at Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Scandal Erupts at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, we began a multi-part series on the spectacular implosion of the nation’s largest community foundation. The scandal that blew open the problems at this charity was a #MeToo tale of a toxic workplace that continued for over a decade. We continue now with a look at the findings of the independent law Read More

Thanks, but No Thanks (For the Donation)

Long gone are the days when a nonprofit couldn’t imagine turning down a donation - particularly a large one. In recent years, though, more and more organizations are rejecting contributions for a wide variety of legitimate reasons. Two of the most frequently cited rationales for rejecting a charitable gift are: (1) too many restrictions on how the money is to be spent; and (2) ethical issues about how the donor Read More

Harassment of Fundraisers: A New Report

What was only whispered about last year at this time is now out in the open and finally receiving the attention it deserves: sexual harassment and assault in the nonprofit sector and - particularly - the plight of vulnerable fundraisers at the hands of powerful donors and board members.     Fundraisers’ Vulnerability For many groups, the fundraising or development professional is vital to the organization’s Read More