PJ a resource portal for nonprofits

Building on our news coverage of nonprofits and charitable giving, the Philanthropy Journal has expanded to become an online hub for information, resources and job listings for nonprofit professionals.

Developed in partnership with experts on nonprofits and philanthropy, the “Resources” section of our redesigned website at www.philanthropyjournal.org includes how-to articles and information on the topics of fundraising and giving, management and leadership, and marketing and communications.

In addition to original articles our staff writes, the Resources section includes question-and-answer features with experts, articles written by experts, and summaries of articles published elsewhere on the web, with links to those articles.

The Resources section also includes a calendar of professional-development conferences and workshops throughout the U.S. and abroad, and a “Directory of Resources” that features products and services for nonprofits.

Six times a year, PJ publishes special reports that focus on topics such as technology, fundraising and planned giving, and you can find those special reports in our Resources section.

Our “Jobs” section includes job listings for nonprofit professionals, plus articles on human-resources issues.

PJ’s goal is to provide news and information that nonprofit professionals need to do their jobs effectively.

Please let us know about issues that are important to you, and please suggest topics we should write about, as well as experts who can help address those topics.

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Finding nonprofit news on PJ

The redesigned home page of the Philanthropy Journal at www.philanthropyjournal.org is a window into the broad range of content our redesigned website features.

The content on PJ focuses on nonprofit news, resources and jobs.

We also have pages for nonprofit news and information focusing on our home state of North Carolina, and for basic information about PJ.

News in PJ includes articles about developments and trends in the nonprofits world, plus short announcements about nonprofit organizations and people (“Nonprofit News: In Brief”) and charitable gifts and grants (“Giving News: In Brief”).

You can find news at the top of our home page, which you can find by clicking on the PJ logo on any page.

At the top of the home page, on the left, is the day’s main news story, and on the right are headlines for other top stories.

Each day, we also publish a “Nonprofit news roundup” that summarizes and links to top nonprofit stories reported elsewhere, and you can find the roundup among the “Top Stories” headlines at the top right of the home page.

By clicking on the “News” tab on the left-hand side of the navigation bar just below the PJ logo, you can visit our news page, where you will find even more news stories and announcements, as well as guest opinion columns, letters to the editor, and the Inside Philanthropy blog I write (and that you are reading now.)

For news and announcements about North Carolina nonprofits and giving, visit our North Carolina page.

The North Carolina page also includes calendars of fundraising and professional-development events throughout the state, and a separate section on Women & Giving that features news about giving by women, profiles about women givers and women’s giving circles, articles about effective giving, and stories about causes women support.

To submit news and announcements to PJ, send them to me at tcohen@ajf.org or to Ret Boney, PJ’s deputy editor, at rboney@ajf.org.

PJ expands website for nonprofits

Think of the Philanthropy Journal as the nonprofit world’s online newsstand and help-desk.

After months of work, PJ in February launched a redesigned website at www.philanthropyjournal.org that delivers more news and resources for the charitable marketplace.

We also have designed and organized the site to make the information we publish easier to find and use.

The new site offers expanded news coverage of nonprofits and charitable giving, along with more how-to articles and information about fundraising and giving, nonprofit management and leadership, and nonprofit marketing and communications.

In addition to news articles, the site features announcements about charitable gifts and grants, and about people and organizations in the nonprofit world, as well as calendars of fundraising events and professional-development conferences, workshops and networking sessions.

And we publish listings of jobs that nonprofits are trying to fill.

PJ is free to readers, who also can sign up for free email newsletters and email alerts about online webinars and Lunch ‘n’ Learn workshops that PJ offers.

For the next few weeks, this blog will walk readers through the new site, looking at ways we have expanded and reorganized the news and resources we deliver.

We want your feedback: Please use the “Post a Comment” feature at the end of this blog to let us know what you think about our new site.

Nonprofits need to bridge leadership gap

Nonprofits face a leadership crisis, and need to move quickly to address it.

A study two years ago found three in four nonprofit executive directors were likely to leave their jobs in three to five years, while another study at the time said the nonprofit sector needed to attract 640,000 new leaders over the next 10 years.

And now a new study says a new generation wants to lead nonprofits but could be turned off by low pay, lack of mentorship and the prospect that fundraising would consume too much of their time.

The charitable marketplace needs to do better.

People are nonprofits’ most valuable asset, and nonprofits and their supporters must do a better job investing in the development of their human capital, particularly the people who will lead and manage their organizations.

So nonprofit boards need to pay much more attention to creating the working conditions and culture that will attract the leaders and managers their organizations need to survive and thrive.

First, though, nonprofit boards must retool themselves.

Often weak, disengaged and clueless, boards pose what is arguably the biggest challenge nonprofits face.

So nonprofits must recruit new board members who will take an active role in making sure the board sets the strategic direction for the organization, and provides the oversight and leadership it needs to be effective in delivering services, raising money, communicating its message, advocating for change and making sure it has the staff leadership and management it needs.

Funders also can play a critical role in helping nonprofits address the leadership challenges they face.

Moving beyond their traditional preference for funding programs, funders must be willing to invest in helping nonprofits strengthen their operations.

Nonprofits need competitive pay and benefits, inspired and committed staff, competitive back-office systems, ongoing staff and leadership development, and smart strategies to secure revenue for the long-term.

Nonprofits face a seismic shift in leadership: An older generation, underpaid and burned out, is preparing to depart, and a younger generation, smart and inspired, waits in the wings.

But unless nonprofits and their boards and funders clean up their act and address the internal challenges they face, the leadership crisis only will deepen.

Restricted giving creates opportunity to engage

Battle lines are being drawn at a growing number U.S. colleges and universities over gifts to which donors want to attach strings.

On one side are donors who want to support specific academic endeavors and make sure the schools honor the intent of the gifts and use them effectively.

On the other side are faculty who claim gifts restricted to supporting the teaching of a particular subject, course or book threaten academic freedom.

Caught in the middle are fundraising professionals whose challenge is to match the needs and interests of their institutions and donors.

And while this philanthropic battle is playing out on higher-education campuses, often inflamed by culture wars and political correctness, it underscores a continuing struggle at all nonprofits to engage donors.

In the latest skirmish, reported by Inside Higher Ed, professors at Marshall University in West Virginia say the school took an ethical misstep in accepting a $1 million gift from the BB&T Foundation to its business school requiring it teach libertarian writer Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged.

And two years ago, Inside Higher Ed says, faculty at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., voted down a $500,000 gift from the BB&T Foundation that would have required the teaching of Atlas Shrugged.

As The Wall Street Journal reported last year, disputes over restricted gifts and donor intent had prompted a handful of conservative foundations to form the Center for Excellence in Higher Education.

Among its services, the Center says, it aims to “help serious donors and prospective donors structure gifts to achieve specific goals and obtain the best possible outcomes for their higher education investments.”

Because some funders abuse the power their wealth gives them, and because many nonprofits defer to that wealth and power, charitable giving does not always match charitable need.

In their continual chase for funds, rather than asking for the dollars they truly need, too many nonprofits instead design new initiatives that pander to donors’ giving priorities.

And in their continual pursuit of a legacy, rather than trying to understand the dollars nonprofits actually need, too many funders instead serve as enablers, using their dollars to lure nonprofits into designing new programs that stray from their core mission or program priorities.

The reality is that in a fiercely competitive and poorly regulated charitable marketplace, funders can do pretty much what they like, and nonprofits are free to play by individual funders’ rules or look for other sources of support.

Still, charitable organizations can take steps to better engage donors and ensure the ethical and effective use of their philanthropic investment.

On college campuses, that job can be particularly tough because some faculty members can be quick to cry wolf at the slightest whiff of a donor who fails to pass their test for political correctness.

But colleges and universities ultimately are free to accept or reject restricted gifts, whether for a new classroom building or sports arena, a curricular program or the teaching of a specific book, regardless of its focus or philosophy.

That is called academic freedom.

And critical to academic freedom, whether faculty even recognize or will acknowledge it, is the generosity of donors who are free to give or not give, and to restrict or not restrict their giving.

If faculty want their schools to reject restricted gifts from donors who may not share their social or political philosophy, that is their right, but they should be honest about it and not masquerade as defenders of academic freedom when their true role is to reduce the marketplace of ideas to a closed shop.

Regardless of the campus food fights that intolerant faculty members may wage, or in fact precisely because of those fights, it remains critical for colleges and universities, as it does for nonprofits, to set clear policies that spell out the basis on which they will accept or reject gifts.

The abiding challenge for fundraising professionals, on and off campus, is to find ways to engage donors, educate them about the needs of their organizations, and help develop charitable giving that advances the needs and interests of the organization and those who support it.

The survival of nonprofits, and their effectiveness in addressing the needs of their constituents, including donors, depend on clarity, fairness and openness in engaging and serving those constituents.