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"Concerned about Gaza? Write a check to us!” say dozens of fundraising campaigns from Jewish charities since the current crisis started.
There’s not really a handbook when you are the largest foundation to put yourself out of business.
More than a decade after The Atlantic Philanthropies decided it would give away every penny it had rather than operate in perpetuity, the foundation is moving closer to its end date and trying to develop best practices that other organizations can learn from or emulate.
“Harvest Time for The Atlantic Philanthropies,” by Tony Proscio, associate director for research at the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, was released today examining 2012-2013 at Atlantic. The 56-page report is the fourth in a series about the foundation’s wind-down.
The report outlines some of the shifts made by the board and changes to the original plans while also focusing on the human resources aspect of spending down the organization, balancing a shrinking grant budget with staffing and professional development.
“The final stage was to consist of three or four years spent winding down the detailed strategies that had dominated a ‘steady state’ of annual grant making,” before closing around 2017, according to the report. A new phase emerged with the board adopting a fourth stage – Global Opportunity and Leverage, or GOAL –“meant to be a final burst of activity and a new way of thinking about the foundations ultimately purpose and it would conclude.” The end date would remain the same but the method of ending would change, with a “crescendo of major grants and expansive ambitions,” rather than the gradual reduction originally envisioned.
As of the end of 2012, the most recent year available, Atlantic Philanthropies had net assets of approximately $1.4 billion – of which $764 million already has been committed to grantees. Since the organization decided in 2002 to commit all of its assets by approximately 2016, Atlantic has been on course to donate close to $9 billion by the time it closes.
Atlantic Philanthropies is aiming to wind down operations and conclude grantmaking by 2016 or 2017, with a lot of core programming winding down in the next year or two, according to Maria Pignataro Nielsen, human resources director for The Atlantic Philanthropies.
There are fewer than 70 employees now, with a headcount of about 55 expected by the end of the year, Nielsen said. Staff numbered closer to 140 about three years ago. Staff reductions occur twice a year – in June and December – in an effort to reduce anxiety or stress of employees regularly leaving various departments.
Senior management meets with employees to devise a roadmap and projected end date. At the end of their tenures, employees can apply for “fellowships,” in which the foundation will pay all or a portion of the employee’s salary and benefits at an outside organization for up to a year, provided that work is closely related to Atlantic’s program objectives. The position must be a new one and not displace an existing employee while also not paying more than other comparable positions at the same organization.
Nielsen said that the board has approved about five or six fellowships and over the next several months could get more as people leave the end of 2014 from Atlantic’s offices in Belfast, Dublin and New York City.
The post The Long Goodbye: Atlantic Philanthropies Approaching The End appeared first on The NonProfit Times.
The Google Grants program can be a proving ground for paid search campaigns. Project Hope wanted to maximize its Google Grant efficiency, so the organization launched a four-phase Google Grant campaign culminating in a paid campaign to put into practice what they’d learned with the free Google Grants program.
The campaign took started in 2009, before Google made substantial changes to the Grants program in 2013. Last year, Google raised the bidding limit from $1 to $2 per keyword for Google Grants users. Google Grants advertisers are no longer eligible for the top position in the search results. “They brought down one feature and brought up another,” said Erich Fasnacht, strategy lead at Project Hope’s agency Kosovo-Addis in Cherry Hill, N.J.
Google Grants also got rid of its Pro program, where nonprofits could get up to $40,000 per month in credit. The limit is now $10,000, but organizations like Project Hope were Pro members were grandfathered into the new system.
Fasnacht presented a session on Google Grants and search engine marketing at the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation’s 2014 Washington Nonprofit Conference.
Phase One for Project Hope was a pilot program, and the goal was growth. “One simple ad plus 10 keywords — with search terms that relate to Project Hope and its mission — equals results,” said Fasnacht. Project Hope received 1.2 million impressions, with 6,000 clicks, in nine months. The click through rate was 0.59 percent and its cost in real dollars would have been $3,660, so the cost per click was about 60 cents.
Phase Two focused on the consistent use, including using the AdWords keyword tool to develop effective keywords. For phase Three, Project Hope upgraded to Google Grants Pro, and phase four took the lessons learned in the first three phases and implemented them into a paid campaign.
“You learn a lot when managing and optimizing Google Grants,” said Fasnacht. “You learn which terms work best, what kind of landing pages work best, cost per click, branded ads. Google Grants is an amazing training ground.”
Fasnacht had some advice for the audience. Quality score is important, he said, though how important as to Google’s ranking algorithms he did not know. Ads with click through rates greater than 1 percent have high quality scores. According to Fasnacht, bidding the most for a search term doesn’t mean your ad will claim the top spot. “You get a high score for a good ad that people click on. That’s how you make it to the top, not buying your way there,” he said. “It’s pretty common for the highest bid amount to show up lower due to lower quality scores.”
Email capture is the most effective call to action for search engine marketing, Fasnacht found. But whatever your goal is, make it obvious. “If you have a landing page, people are moving through it so quickly,” he said. “Have a big, obvious goal like a ‘donate now’ button or an ‘enter email address’ field.”
For Project Hope, branded keywords worked better than more general keywords, and they’re usually cheaper to bid on as well. Branded keywords are “a key driver of new traffic because people are looking for them,” said Fasnacht. “They’re getting mail pieces and they recognize the organization.”
For smaller, unbranded organizations, follow an issue and create a branded campaign around it. Fasnacht another of his clients, a smaller, unbranded nonprofit about gay rights, was in the midst of a campaign leveraging the Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia and University of Missouri football player Michael Sam coming out as gay.
Online giving and recurring giving has lots of room to grow, particularly for small nonprofits, according to a recent survey.
The overall average gift hovered around $400 for organizations in the Individual Donor Benchmark Report but average online gifts were just less than $100 in 2013. Only organizations with annual budgets of less than $2 million were surveyed. Nonprofits are raising about 36 percent of their budget from individual donors but that number varies widely, especially for smaller organizations, according to the study by Third Space Studio, a fundraising and management consultant.
The 29 organizations surveyed saw a 79 percent increase in online revenue compared to 2012, but that only represents an average of 16 percent of overall revenue. An average of 204 donors gave an average of $94 online in 2013. Small organizations led the way with the highest average gift of $112, while super organizations had the most online donors, 396.
Recurring giving represented a substantial chunk of revenue, especially for the smallest nonprofits in the survey. “They’ve figured out how to reap the benefit of monthly (or quarterly) donations: bigger average gifts with a very high renewal rate,” wrote the study’s authors. On average, 4 percent of the organizations’ donors were monthly donors giving an average $625 per year. The smallest organizations had an average of six donors giving $1,335 per year, or about 18 percent of individual donations. Super organizations had an average 45 sustainers giving $162 per year.
The goal of the third annual survey was “to create a clear picture of realistic fundraising goals and results that organizations can share with their staff and board,” Heather Yandow of the Durham, N.C.-based firm said in a statement announcing the results. “It can be difficult to compare your organization to organizations with a much larger budget, and we are working to solve that issue by collecting our own data for smaller organizations.”
The average amount raised from individuals in 2013 was $168,042, with a big disparity between large organizations (revenue between $400,000 and $800,000) and super organizations (more than $800,000): $160,949 versus $431,497. The smallest organizations raised nearly $40,000 on average from individuals, while mid-sized organizations received an average of about $75,000.
Average number of donors and average gift varied widely by organization size, with super organizations predictably having the most donors on average (1,021) and the highest average gift ($697). Small organizations had the second-highest average gift at $336, large groups came next at $313, and mid-sized nonprofits brought up the rear, at $252. There were big jumps in the average number of donors between small, medium and large organizations: 148, 372 and 789, respectively.
About half of survey respondents were member organizations. These organizations had more than twice the number of donors than non-member organizations – 821 compared to 319 – but their $366 average gift trailed that of non-member organizations, which had $435. “This evens out so each organization is generating almost the same overall percentage of their revenue from individuals (37 percent versus 35 percent),” wrote the authors.
Dependence on foundations was either flat or declining for the majority of respondents between 2012 and 2013. Three nonprofits in the survey greatly reduced their dependence and 10 reduced it, while another 10 reported the same amount of dependence. None greatly increased their dependence, and only three reported an increase.
With all the talk about the need for “leaderful organizations,” few have set out to so clearly lay out a set of practices to create one. Leave it to MCN!
Congratulations! You just vanquished the competition and were offered your first nonprofit CEO position. If you believe that you’ll walk in to find a pristine environment, a culture that welcomes change, updated technology, absolute financial transparency and a board that will not compare you to your predecessor — resign now!
After the round of farewell galas and tributes for the departing CEO, the board has rekindled their love. They will assure you that everything has been left in perfect order and staff morale is great. The search committee will explain that internal candidates withdrew and look forward to your leadership. This is not a turnaround or a clean up, they will say. All you have to do is develop a vision for the future and fortify the foundation of success.
Nonprofit leaders live in a world of abundant passion and optimism. Board members become involved with a charity because they want to help people and communities, but often have scant knowledge of the subterranean layers of the nonprofit. They generally know what they have been told at board meetings or read in the consent agenda.
Let me share three first-year fundamentals for new CEOs: Food, Home, Money.
FOOD: Start personally scheduling breakfast or lunch with each board member on day one. Do not communicate with board members through your assistant. Personalize your relationships so each trustee will feel valued. Make these meetings priority number one.
Your conversations should be a relaxed opportunity to listen to your board members. Listen more than you talk. You do not have to dazzle them with your brilliance. They already hired you. Do not hand out charts or infographics. Pay rapt attention and learn why they joined the board, their vision for the future and which specific aspects of the mission resonate.
Talk with your board chair early and often. Communicate, share information and ask for advice. Consider your relationship with your board chair as an essential partnership. Work very hard to learn personality, style and your chair’s unspoken expectations. Are they modest, confident, thrilled to be the board chair or burdened by yet another obligation?
Take each of your direct reports to breakfast or lunch with the same plan. Communicate that your purpose is only to get to know each other better. Do not write anything down. Again, listen to them talk about their work and perspectives.
HOME: Work inside the sphere of existing organization networks during the first year.
Your board, staff, clients, members, affiliates, funders and coalition partners are your priority. It will take you at least a full year to meet, engage and cultivate relationships with each of them. Even if you are the most vivacious and swashbuckling personality in town, practice restraint. Focus on the current relationships that are integral to funding, operations and mission. You may be tempted to accept all speaking engagements, join boards or travel with a media road show. You might be attracted to influential names you can drop, but it is more important to become intimate with the names of your donors. Any urges to become a nonprofit celebrity in the first year should be suppressed.
Until you know whether your organization needs a vitamin or a defibrillator, stay home, do your homework and learn. Use your social media platforms creatively to reach broader constituencies and share news. Before you search for fresh connections or alliances, make sure you lavish attention on the people who have already given the organization their time, loyalty, money and dedication.
MONEY: “No money, no mission” should be your mantra.
You must immediately develop depth of knowledge regarding the organization’s finances. If there are financial, cash flow or contract issues, it is best to share them early and infrequently. Dribbling bits of awkward information in a constant flow at every board meeting or encounter will curtail your honeymoon. It makes you appear to be a fragile amateur.
When you are faced with bad news, it is best to share details with the board and then openly proceed with options and strategies to ameliorate the situation. If you castigate your predecessor, you are also implicating the board.
In the first year, you must demonstrate that you can bring money into the organization. Start by calling on your major donors. Reach out to long-term small donors and lapsed donors with a personal call, note or visit. Consider renegotiating contracts or changing vendors to find savings.
Your first year as a CEO will move swiftly. Nothing will be linear. Emergencies will erupt and people will leave, but remain focused on your fundamental strategy for success and survival. You will be lauded, judged and misunderstood. You will be astonished, humbled and grateful for the opportunity to work with the selfless, driven and dedicated board and staff. You will be resilient and successful if you stick to the basics … food, home and money.
Charitable giving is estimated to increase 5.7 percent during 2014, according to the latest report from the Atlas of Giving.
The 5.7 percent estimated increase in 2014 was revised from earlier predictions, which the company dubbed a “reduction.” The Dallas, Texas-based Atlas released its initial estimates for giving in 2013 and 2014 in January and estimated that giving increased 13 percent from 2012 and 8.3 percent compared to 2013. The company’s initial report pegged 2014’s increase at 4 percent but subsequent revisions could not be found on its site.
Overall, the firm estimated that $417.80 billion was raised in 2013, while it expects $441.58 billion to be raised in 2014.
“In 2013 we experienced a fantastic, record-setting year for charitable giving in the United States,” said Rob Mitchell, CEO of the Atlas of Giving. “Stock market growth fueled much of the giving but improving employment, growing real estate values, a lack of inflation, low interest rates, and acceleration in GDP also helped to make 2013 an especially strong giving year. Breaking the $400 billion mark is a historic event that bolsters U.S dominance of world philanthropy.”
Atlas’ estimates on giving in 2013 differ greatly from those of the benchmark Giving USA study, which estimated that $335.17 billion was raised, an increase of 3 percent when adjusted for inflation. Giving USA is released by the Giving USA Foundation with the research handled by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in Indianapolis, Ind. Various posts on Atlas’ website claim that Giving USA’s estimate was “flawed,” criticizing its reliance on what it calls outdated Internal Revenue Service (IRS) charitable deduction data. The site does not, however, reveal Atlas’ methodology. A call for comment to Mitchell for an explanation of the company’s methodology was not immediately returned.
According to Giving USA’s website, estimates “are based on econometric models using tax data, government estimates for economic indicators, and information from other research institutions.” It lists the Foundation Center, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the IRS among its sources.
Atlas’ report predicted that the reduction in overall giving for 2014 will largely be fueled by what the firm projected to be an underperforming November and December, when giving is predicted to be down by 0.8 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, when compared to last year.
The month that had the highest increase in giving in the Atlas report compared to from 2013 so far is February, when $36.58 billion a projected, a 9.8 percent increase.
Other highlights of Atlas’ 2013/2014 report include:
- Human needs (19 percent) and environmental causes (18.5 percent) showed the highest rate of giving last year.
- The lingering effects of high unemployment continue to hurt churches and organizations that rely on a large number of small gifts from many donors.
- Giving to churches and religious organizations is a shrinking proportional share of total giving (35 percent in 2013, down from 36 percent in 2012 and 37 percent in 2010), but it is still the largest giving sector in the U.S.
You can download Atlas’ full report by heading to http://www.atlasofgiving.com
The post Report: Charitable Giving Will Increase 5.7 Percent In 2014 appeared first on The NonProfit Times.
More than $91 million in commitments was announced during a town hall on My Brother’s Keeper, a White House initiative to at-risk minority boys and young men.
President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum in February establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, which released a report in May addressing several key issues. The interagency effort chaired by Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson will help determine public and private efforts and how to expand upon them.
The My Brother’s Keeper initiative focuses on six key milestones:
- Getting a health start and entering school ready to learn
- Reading at grade level by third grade/age 8
- Graduating high school ready for college and career
- Successfully entering the workforce
- Keeping kids on track and giving them second chances
“What is it that we can do to create structures that help them that give them support, that help them make better choices. And that when you do make a mistake, give you a hand up so you can recover, and move on to the next phase of your life,” President Barack Obama said during the town hall at Walker Jones Education Camp in Washington, D.C.
My Brother’s Keeper “isn’t t some big, new government program, it’s actually a team effort. It’s all about a whole bunch of folks – educators, business leaders, faith leaders, foundations, government – all working together to give boys and young men of color the tools they need to succeed and make sure every young person can reach their potential,” he said.
A group of some 30 grant makers pledged $200 million over five years to the effort and yesterday, another nearly $100 million was announced “to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential:”
- The National Basketball Association (NBA), its players union and retired players union will partner with Mentor: The National Mentoring Parntership, Team Turnaround and the Council of Great City Schools to recruit 25,000 new mentors over the next five years and work with educators in at-risk schools to provide incentive programs that increase attendance and improve overall school performance.
- AT&T announced an $18-million commitment to support mentoring and other education programs with a mentoring component.
- Becoming A Man (B.A.M.) and Match tutoring programs announced $10 million in new funding to expand to three to five new cities over the next three years and support a large-scale study on the programs’ long-term effects.
- The Emerson Collective will collaborate with districts and educators to launch a competition to find and develop the best designs for next generation high schools, with a combined contribution of $50 million for the effort.
- Citi Foundation is making a three-year, $10-milloin commitment to create ServiceWorks, a national program to help 25,000 young people in 10 cities across the U.S. develop skills they need to prepare for college and careers.
- The College Board is investing more than $1.5 million for “All In,” a national College Board program to ensure that 100 percent of African-American, Latino and Native American students with strong potential enroll in at least one matched Advanced Placement class before graduation.
Discovery Communications will invest more than $1 million to create an original, independent special programming event to educate the public about issues related to boys and men of color and address negative public perceptions.