Thursday, August 28, 2014

Executive Q&A: Competition, technology forcing nonprofits to change

By Patricia Simms
The Wisconsin State Journal

The nonprofit world has changed in the last 10 years, with increased competition from for-profit companies in fields like hospice and home health care — services once dominated by nonprofits, says Melanie Ramey, CEO of The Hospice Organization and Palliative Experts (HOPE) of Wisconsin.
Ramey has spent much of her career heading a nonprofit.

“Slightly more than half of the hospices in the U.S. are for-profit,” she said. “Many of them are parts of national chains or are owned as a division of a national corporation. Their reimbursement is the same, but they have the advantage of centralized purchasing power, issuing stock, and the other opportunities of a for-profit business.”

Rapid technological change is also pressuring nonprofits, she said.  For example, hospices, regardless of size, have been forced to collect a lot of data in the last few years to file claims for reimbursement and to comply with other Medicare requirements.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nonprofits have a history of advocating for social change

By Kelly Otte
The Tallahassee Democrat (FL)

In the four years I've been writing this column I have talked mostly about nonprofit management and board governance. Having high-performing volunteer and professional leadership is the difference between organizations with good ideas and those actually making impactful strides towards accomplishing their mission.

I view effective and efficient management as strategies for achieving the greater good. For me, the greater good is in working to change the way our society views issues important to me. I'm proud of my work as a nonprofit manager, but I'm more proud of my work as a social change agent.

I came to nonprofit work because I had been volunteering in battered women's shelters in Nevada and Virginia. In 1986, I was completely outraged at the lack of institutional and legal concern for women being killed by their boyfriends and husbands. My first mentor, Dr. Alice Twining, in Norfolk, Va., told me I could earn a living while working to change the way society viewed battered women and their children. Then she hired me for my first paid position in a nonprofit.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Charlotte’s Gleaning Network gets food from fields to the hands of hungry people

By Kathleen Purvis

The Charlotte Observer

It started in a field of corn on a farm near Concord. It ended with a hungry family in Charlotte.

In between, a chain of volunteers gave time, sweat and gasoline to pick the corn, drive it where it was needed and hand it out.

“It’s the best job ever,” says Jean Siers, the Charlotte coordinator for the Gleaning Network, which matches volunteers with farms that have more food than they can pick. “At the end of the day, you know somebody ate something healthy and good because you picked up the phone.”

The Gleaning Network is one of a half-dozen groups in the Charlotte area that make up the system of food banks, emergency pantries and community gardens. It is also one of the few that focuses exclusively on fresh fruits and vegetables. Studies by the USDA have found that 17 percent of North Carolina households were in danger of not having enough nutritious food in 2012.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Scaling the Wall: 5 Ways to Get Unsolicited Proposals Heard

by Rick Cohen
Nonprofit Quarterly

Philanthropy is, increasingly, a world of insiders. How many foundation websites explain in no uncertain terms that they do not accept unsolicited proposals, or even unsolicited letters of interest? For nonprofits that aren’t already in the foundations’ circles or don’t socialize with the foundation leaders and staff, it looks and feels like an impenetrable, unscalable, concrete wall. And as government programs like the Social Innovation Fund put government dollars into grantmakers who bring their own predetermined lists of grantees, smaller and newer nonprofits—particularly nonprofits representing the interests and concerns of controversial constituencies—find foundation fundraising an impossible game that could even affect their prospects for some public sector funding. Imagine the sound of a metal gate closing just as you get to the door. That’s where foundations tend to be nowadays.

Does this mean that foundation grantmaking reaches an ever-narrowing range of nonprofits? To an extent, unfortunately, yes. The foundation grantmaking game—remember, we’re talking about some 100,000 foundations—depends a lot on who you know on the inside (or as an intermediary referral) who will bring your nonprofit’s proposal or letter of interest to the attention of someone within the hallowed halls of philanthropy. The barrier presented by foundations that won’t even entertain or read unsolicited letters is a real problem for nonprofits looking for the “risk capital” that foundations are known for. But nonprofits with good ideas, strong experience, and projects and programs worth funding are a hardy lot and sometimes find ways of vaulting over the barriers to present ideas to foundations that they might not otherwise hear or consider—but should.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Setting up a nonprofit organization requires passion, patience

By Wally Northway
Mississippi Business Journal

Jeffery Duplessis has a passion for nonprofits. After spending some 20 years in the media, he is now communications and training coordinator at the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits in Jackson helping others launch their charitable concerns.

 He said he finds his work immensely rewarding, but has seen too many individuals who have started working toward opening a nonprofit only to stumble. Duplessis’ advice to others looking to establish a non-profit organization is simple — stay true to the cause and be prepared to see the process through to the end.

 “I can’t tell you how many people have called me over the years and said they need a job and want to start a nonprofit,” Duplessis said. “That is not the right way to begin. You have to be passionate about your cause — to make a difference in your community. You are going to have challenges. If you are not committed, those challenges can become brick walls. You have to be passionate, persistent and patient.”

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Pro-bono/community service: Blackbaud Inc.

By andrew Ramonas
National Law Journal

As in-house lawyers for a company that supplies software to nonprofit organizations, Jon Olson and his team at Blackbaud Inc. are experts at giving back.

The four-lawyer legal department at the Charleston, S.C., company is ­"highly encouraged" to donate time helping members of the nonprofit community, said Olson, who has served as the publicly traded company's general counsel since 2008.

An "ethos of philanthropy" permeates Blackbaud, Olson said. "It connects with our customers in a way that is kind of unique in business."

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Horse rescue agencies need help themselves

By Katie West, Charleston, SC Post and Courier
Aug. 03--MEGGETT -A pony recently found a new home here at the Livestock Equine Awareness and Rescue Network after a father bought it for his daughter but it bit her twice.
The girl no longer wanted the horse, and neighbors found it wandering around with its ribs showing.
The pony's path to LEARN was not a particularly unusual one.
"He's the nicest man," said Elizabeth Steed, the nonprofit's director, said of the father. "Most of the people who do this, they're not monsters. They're just not educated. They don't understand that these horses need so much attention."
Steed has been rescuing horses for 30 years, and she's familiar with stories like this. But in the last few years, she has heard more and more.