Sunday, June 28, 2015

Free the 990! Why Searchable Tax Forms Are Way More Important Than They Sound

By Tate Williams
Inside Philanthropy

One rabble rouser has been trying to get the IRS to make individual nonprofit tax forms available in an electronic format anyone can easily search. What may seem to a casual observer like a minor battle would actually be revolutionary for the entire sector. 

Quick disclosure: I hate 990s. Not the concept of them, of course, as they are the chief method of accountability that nonprofits entities must file annually in exchange for tax exemption. But I hate just about everything else about them. 

Covering philanthropy and working with nonprofits, I’ve spent so many hours popping open PDF after PDF—old, grainy scans of these tax forms—squinting and Control-F-ing my way through past giving, foundation by foundation, year by year. So when I read about efforts to improve the accessibility of these forms, my heart races, and yours should too. 

I’d go so far as to say getting 990s to a universal state, easily searchable by computer, is central to the future success of philanthropy and nonprofits—and the shifting relationship between government and private wealth. Stay with me.

Briefly, in case you’re unfamiliar, 990s in various forms hold annual financial, leadership, and major staffing information on organizations (with some exceptions) that take the nonprofit tax exemption.  If any such organization doesn’t make this information available on its website or in annual reports, the 990 is the only way to scrutinize its activity.  

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Monday, June 22, 2015

5 Tips for Launching a Non-Profit Campaign on Kickstarter

By Laura Entis,

Kickstarter may be best known for launching flashy tech and home gadgets, but the platform can also be an effective place to raise money and awareness for nonprofits, says Isabel Sheinman.

She should know. In 2013, Sheinman was hired by Library for All, a cloud-based library accessed by students in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to run the nonprofit’s Kickstarter campaign. At the time, Library for All was still an idea; in order to progress beyond that, the small founding team needed funds for a research trip to Haiti that would inform the layout for the initial version of the digital library. At $100,000, the Kickstarter goal was ambitious, but crowdfunding allowed the nascent project “to build a community while also raising funding,” says Sheinman.

The work was hard and there was more of it than she had anticipated. Library for All exceeded its campaign goal by nearly $10,000, but getting to that final figure required non-stop perspiration. The effort paid off, though. Today, Library for All has raised more than $500,000 and its cloud-based library contains more than 1,700 titles.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

4 Reasons Why More Nonprofits Should Consolidate


Just recently, one of our customers contacted us about an upcoming merger with two other similar nonprofits in their part of the country and their desire to combine their databases.

During the discussion, they explained why this consolidation was happening. It made all of the sense in the world!

Why doesn’t this kind of thing happen more often in the nonprofit world?

Rarely does a single day go by in which your local business news or the national business news does not announce a corporate acquisition and/or merger.

Does the commercial sector know something the nonprofit sector has yet to discover?Perhaps there is a tendency to stick close to the status quo. It’s easy to just adjust the previous budget by a few percentage points and play it safe for another year.

Such “safe” practices seldom leads to breakthroughs in achieving the mission or worse yet in EXCITING any major donors.

Let’s explore a few reasons why more nonprofit consolidation can and should take place:

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Grant writing workshop at Charleston Southern July 9

"Grant Writing for Nonprofit Professionals and Educators" with Dr. Linda Karges-Bone will be held Thursday, July 9 at Charleston Southern University.

From noon to 1 pm there will be a Brown Bag Networking Lunch.  The workshop will be held from 1 pm - 4:30 pm. 

For more information and to register, visit Eventbrite (  and search for "Grant Writing for Nonprofit Professionals and Educators."   Deadline for registration is Monday, June 15.

No CAGP meeting Tuesday, June 16

The regular monthly meeting of the Charleston Association of Grant Professionals (CAGP) scheduled for Tuesday, June 16 from 5:45-7:30, has been cancelled.

The next meeting will be Tuesday, July 21 from 5:45-7:30 pm in the auditorium of the Main Charleston County Library, 68 Calhoun St. in Charleston.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

5 Ways To Increase Donations Through Your Nonprofit’s Website -


Your website is your portal to current and potential constituents, and often times, it is your one chance to entice donors. Additionally, it must appear inviting, but professional; it must be intuitive, but functional; and it must cater to those who may not be tech-savvy. If your website does not meet all of the criteria listed above, your nonprofit may be missing out on tons of donations just because your website is not up to snuff. Here is a list of elements your nonprofit’s website MUST have in order to maximize donations and interactions online according to npENGAGE. 

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Charleston area tech startup Bidr works fundraising arena

By Allison Prang
The Post and Courier

If success in business is measured in victories at startup pitch competitions, local software company Bidr is off to a good start.

 The budding Mount Pleasant-based software firm has earned more than $110,000 from two such contests this year, with most of the money coming from a $100,000 investment from Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and now a well-known venture capitalist.
Bidr also aced a pitch contest at Dig South, a tech conference held in Charleston earlier this spring.

 Raising money is also the premise of Bidr’s product – the more money its clients make, the more it can rake in.

Bidr has developed a mobile-based fundraising system for nonprofits that can use it to sell tickets to their events. It also enables donors to use text messages to submit offers on silent auction items even if they aren’t present and before an event starts. The online tool also relays back to bidders, also via text, information about their bids.

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