Nonprofit teams with schools on service learning

By Todd Cohen

JAMESTOWN, N.C. — The Guilford Public Schools awarded 531 service-learning diplomas in the school year that ended in June to students who had performed at least 175 hours of volunteering, with all students involved in service-learning last year contributing over 167,000 hours worth an estimated $3.5 million.

Now, the school system is partnering with a Jamestown nonprofit to pilot service-learning clubs in six high schools that will work with students to raise money to finance a three-week trip abroad that will expose them to international service they can use to inform their volunteering at  home.

Brenda Elliott, executive director of student services and character development for the Guilford Public Schools, says the partnership will provide a global perspective for service-learning students who otherwise might never have the opportunity to travel abroad.

The schools’ partner in the global initiative is Dustin’s GreenHouse, a nonprofit created in 2002 by the family of Dustin Green, a graduate of Ragsdale High School who had begun his freshman year at N.C. State University but died after the driver of a Jeep in which he was a passenger ran a red light on campus and was hit by another car.

After he graduated from high School, his parents, Martin and Lou Green, both sales representatives for Oracle Software, treated their son to a three-week backpacking trip in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, an experience that changed the way he looked at life.

So they created the nonprofit to try to provide similar experiences for underserved and under-recognized high school students in Guilford County.

Operating with an annual budget of roughly $60,000, all of it from fundraising and private donations, the all-volunteer organization has hosted students on trips to Central America, South America, South Africa and Eastern Europe.

Now, Dustin’s GreenHouse has applied for grants from the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, High Point Community Foundation, and State Farm Youth Advisory Board to support the new pilot program in the Guilford Public Schools, says Martin Green, who serves as volunteer executive director of the nonprofit.

Modeled on a service-learning club it created last year at Grimsley High School in Greensboro that has 35 student members, the nonprofit is talking with other high schools about creating clubs.

The Grimsley club has provided food for homeless people, helped with a house-cleaning for a halfway house for people who are HIV-positive, and volunteered for an autism agency.

And Green took a class at the Center for Creative Leadership that provided training in how to teach leadership skills to students.

To set the stage for creating service-learning clubs, Green is talking to principals about their possible interest in having clubs at their high schools.

At each of the six high schools that participate, Dustin’s GreenHouse will enlist a team of two students and a teacher who then will recruit other students for the clubs, which will begin operating next spring and raising money for a trip abroad next summer.

The clubs also will be developing campaigns for their schools to promote service learning and global awareness, which also is a priority of the public schools.

And they will be learning how to raise money to support service-learning trips abroad.

“It’s a global society and students need to be globally aware,” Green says. “And we need to give students a vehicle to get there.”

Philanthropy can work better by working smarter

By Lori O’Keefe and Jennifer Tolle Whiteside

The Triangle, like much of America, has a lot to be grateful for in this season of giving thanks, but we also face huge challenges.

In addressing them, we are fortunate to be able to work through the philanthropic sector to pool resources and find shared solutions to problems that affect our entire community.

To do that, philanthropy itself needs to do a better job in putting its resources to work.

Our community attracts smart people and innovative employers, and our schools, colleges and universities produce smart graduates and workers, but the region is also home to nagging poverty, poor health, illiteracy and other social ills.

And as this month’s national election showed, our society is divided and in flux regarding who we are, where we come from, and the role we believe government and other institutions should play.

With a damaged economy and elected leaders looking for ways to cut spending, the job of fixing our most urgent social problems will increasingly fall to the social sector.

That sector consists of over 1 million nonprofits throughout the U.S., including thousands that call the Triangle home.

Nationally, nonprofit organizations account for 5 percent of economic output and 10 percent of the workforce.  Charitable giving in the U.S. totals nearly $300 billion a year, with nearly 90 percent coming from individuals who give during their lifetimes and through their family foundations and estates.

Increasingly, however, the work of improving our communities is moving beyond traditional philanthropy.

A small but growing number of companies are building into their business underlying strategies to address social problems that represent an obstacle to their bottom line.

Individuals who want to build a better world, particularly young people and young adults, are looking for social enterprises, whether nonprofit, for-profit or governmental, that are dedicated to improving social and global problems, and that can show, with evidence and data, that their strategies for change actually work.

So today, as we celebrate National Philanthropy Day and prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we have a perfect opportunity to think about how to best tap into the Triangle’s human, social and financial capital and apply it most effectively to fix our most urgent problems.

Our region enjoys a rich mix of nonprofits, philanthropic foundations, corporate giving programs, donors and volunteers, women’s funds and “giving circles,” a rapidly growing form of collective giving that makes it easy for individuals to pool their funds and know-how and contribute it to charities.

The Triangle is also home to a broad range of professional advisers and other groups that work with nonprofits and individuals to help them be more strategic and effective in their charitable work.

Sadly, however, too many charities and other groups working for social good in our region overlap, duplicate one another, or work in isolation as they try to fix these problems that affect all of us.

We have an opportunity now to do a better job thinking and working together to put our knowledge, our time and our money to more effective use and find coordinated strategies to make sure we are making a difference.

How can we better coordinate our abundant resources and put them to work to help ensure that families can lift themselves from poverty, for example, or that kids and adults get the schooling and training they need to find good jobs, or that people in need have access to basic health care, or that women can free themselves and their children from abusive relationships, to name just a few of the huge challenges we face?

Our two organizations are known as community foundations, a hybrid breed of charity that was established in Cleveland nearly a century ago.

Community foundations work with individuals and institutions to create and manage charitable funds that support a broad range of local needs, including specific needs the donors and funders care about.

We function as a kind of philanthropic matchmaker, connecting resources with charities that serve people and places in need.

And we know, based on the work of our own organizations, and of the individuals and groups we serve, that philanthropy in the Triangle can be more effective and make a bigger impact on our biggest problems if we work together in cooperative and strategic ways that will make our community a better place to live and work.

Lori O’Keefe is vice president for philanthropic services and chief operating officer of the Triangle Community Foundation, and Jennifer Tolle Whiteside is president and CEO of the North Carolina Community Foundation.

Nonprofit news roundup, 11.16.12

Habitat teams with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte is partnering with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to engage all 26  high schools in building a new Habitat home for low-income families in each zone in the school system.

The program, known as Senior BuildUp, will enlist high school seniors to raise funds and build the homes, including nearly 9,000 seniors this school year alone, plus mentors to consult and work with the students in their fundraising efforts.

The goal for the class of 2013 is to build three new homes during the program’s pilot year, with each senior class the following two years building five homes.

And in an existing program, students in Olympic High’s Math, Engineering, Technology and Science school will continue to build Habitat houses, adding to the Senior BuildUp total.

Olympic students have built four Habitat homes since 2006 and a fifth is under construction on the school’s campus.

Funding for one new Habitat home is $75,000.

Year-one building will start in March, 2013 and wrap up in mid-May before graduation.

Charlotte United Way drive behind last year’s pace

United Way of Central Carolinas has raised $12.6 million in its fundraising campaign, or 60 percent of its $21.2 million goal, but still is $1 million short of the pace of last year’s campaign. The goal is 1.5 percent more than the $20.9 million donated last year, a target United Way says is above the 1 percent increase forecast by United Ways throughout the U.S.

Cape Fear AFP chapter honors fundraisers, donors

The Cape Fear Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored donors and fundraisers with its annual Philanthropy Day celebration. Winners include:

* Philanthropist of the Year — Reid and Linda Murchison, who made financial contributions to local charities such as Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, Good Friends of Wilmington, Good Shepherd Center, United Way, YWCA of the Lower Cape Fear, Full Belly Project, Lower Cape Fear Hospice, and Cameron Art Museum.

* Philanthropic Organization of the Year — State Employees Credit Union for its support of the Lower Cape Fear Hospice center in Brunswick County.

* Professional Fundraising Executive of the Year — Melissa Reabold, vice president of resource development at United Way of the Cape Fear Area.

* Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year — Ronald Watson for his work to build the Pender Memorial Park.

* Student Fundraiser of the Year — Michael Castoro for his work raising funds for the Topsail High Performing Arts.

* Fundraising Board of the Year — Carousel Center Board for its work organizing and holding the Making Legends Local Gala.

Wake County Women’s Giving Network awards $150,000

The Women’s Giving Network of Wake County awarded a total of $150,000 to six area nonprofits that support women or children, or both, including $25,000 each to Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County, Community Music School, Healing Place of Wake County, Literacy Council of Wake County, StepUp Ministry, and Triangle Family Services. The grants bring to $682,000 the total the Women’s Giving Network has awarded in the six years since it was formed.

Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem

The Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem, which focuses on improving the lives of women and girls in Forsyth County, will celebrate its seventh anniversary at its annual luncheon on November 28 at the Benton Convention Center in downtown Winston-Salem. The keynote speaker will be Michele Ozumba, president and CEO of The Women’s Funding Network. At the event, The Women’s Fund this year also will announce over $140,000 in grants and will release a report that provides provides an overview of the impact of the organization’s early grantmaking.

Women’s Leadership Council

The Women’s Leadership Council of United Way of Forsyth County has grown to over 1,000 members since it was formed in 2007, and has raised over $2.8 million to meet pressing needs in Forsyth County.

Truliant partners with Red Cross

Truliant Federal Credit Union is teaming with the American Red Cross to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. Canisters have been placed at 11 Truliant member financial centers in Forsyth, Guilford, Alamance and Randolph counties to collect donations to help storm victims in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. Canisters will be available at Truliant member financial centers until November 20.

American Heart Association

The 2012 Tanglewood Heart and Stroke Walk, sponsored by Wake Forest Baptist Health and TE Connectivity on October 20, attracted over 4,500 Forsyth County residents and raised $550,000 for attended the American Heart Association for heart disease and stroke research and prevention education programs.

Frankie Lemmon School

Dan Bruer, former deputy director of strategic partnerships for the League of Conservation Voters in Washington, D.C., and a former capital campaign manager for Triangle Land Conservancy, has been named the first president of The Frankie Lemmon School and Developmental Center in Raleigh. His job will be to work with the School’s board, foundation and staff to boost its philanthropic support. Janet Sellers remains as executive director of the School.

John Rex Endowment

Sherry Worth has been elected chair of the board of directors of the John Rex Endowment in Raleigh, and Jill Wright of Wake Health Services New Bern Ridge Pediatrics has been vice chair.  State Treasurer Janet Cowell and Jill Wells Heath, president and CEO of Mulkey Engineers & Consultants, have joined the board.

Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce

The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce has received a $5,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to support and maintain the Chamber’s Senior Academy mentoring program.

Symphony Guild of Charlotte

The Symphony Guild of Charlotte will host its second annual Festival of Trees fundraiser Nov. 16 through Dec. 2 to benefit the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestras and music education.

Brady associates volunteer

Brady, a provider of  HVAC systems and building solutions for commercial and industrial facilities, has challenged its 328 associates to volunteer 50 hours each with charities of their choice, an hour each for each year the Greensboro-based family company has been in business. Associates who cannot make the volunteering commitment, a committee of associates has also arranged a Red Cross Blood Drive and an annual food drive. From January through September, 70 associates have logged over 4,100 hours in volunteer time.

Komen for the Cure

Quality Oil Company in Winston-Salem has partnered with the NC Triad Affiliate of Susan G Komen for the Cure by repainting one of its propane delivery trucks.  The customized truck was painted at no charge by Maaco Auto Body Shop, and decaling was done by Speedpro Imaging.

Urban Ministries of Durham

Urban Ministries of Durham held its biannual Hope-Believe Recovery Program graduation ceremony Nov. 14, recognizing 10 men and women for successful completion of recovery programs that included six months of drug-free living.


The Pitchin’ for Wishes Cornhole Tourney, co-sponsored by Andrew Roby and Harris Teeter, raised $120,000 for Make-A-Wish Central & Western North Carolina.

Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina will be working in 350 classrooms, with its curriculum reaching roughly 10,000 elementary, middle and high school students in Alamance, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph and Rockingham schools by the end of the 2012-13 school year, through a partnership with local school districts and the community.

High Point University

Over 400 students, faculty and staff at High Point University raised roughly $35,000 through the annual March of Dimes “March for Babies Walk.”

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh will distribute food for over 500 family-sized Thanksgiving meals to selected recipient agencies, who then will distribute it to families in need.  In 2011, Ford’s Produce and U.S. Foods provided 2,350 pounds of cabbage and green beans, and the  Food Shuttle’s field gleaning provided 8,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and collards, to pair with 500 turkeys, pies, and bread provided by the Food Shuttle’s other food donors.

Reynolds American Foundation

The Reynolds American Foundation in Winston-Salem will donate $140,000 to the American Red Cross to help provide relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy.


Kathleen McDonald, vice president and creative director at Contrast Creative in Cary, has been named to the board of directors of TROSA in Durham. Contrast Creative recently produced a fundraising video for TROSA, donating over half the production cost.

Fundraising growth tied to communication, stewardship

Fundraising in the first six months of 2012 generally was flat compared to the same period last year, and those that were most successful improved the rate at which they retain donors, particularly through better communications to recognize donors and report results and through the use of multiple channels to distribute information, a new study says.

Nonprofits generally are sticking with the same fundraising methods they have been using, says the latest Nonprofit Fundraising Study from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative.

The study, which is based on data from over 781 organizations responding to an online survey in August and September, focuses on donor retention, a problem that consultant Penelope Burk found in 2003 was “the most serious problem” in fundraising, the Nonprofit Research Collaborative says.

“In the nearly 10 years since, the problem remains,” the study says.

It cites, for example, a report in August from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, which reported for 2011 that organizations lost 107 donors for every 100 they gained.

The new study from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative says 46 percent of nonprofits responding to the survey saw increases in their charitable receipts, about the same as the previous year.

In contrast, 60 percent of those that actively recognized donors, reported results, and used multi-channel communication saw gains.

One-fourth of nonprofits surveyed reported giving was flat, and 29 percent said it fell,

Among nonprofits that track retention, 73 percent said over half the donors who gave in 2010 made at least one more gift at some point in 2011.

Sixty-nine percent of those employing retention tactics used donor recognition, which was the most popular method, and 61 percent reported results to donors, the second most popular method.

While more organizations raised roughly the same amount in the first six months of 2012 as they did in the same period last year using 13 fundraising methods, such as giving by text messaging or board contributions, major gifts other than from boards grew 40 percent of responding nonprofits, was flat at 33 percent, and fell at 23 percent.

And fundraising from special events grew at 45 percent of nonprofits, held steady at 27 percent, and fell at 27 percent.

While the study found no statistically significant differences in the share of respondents seeing growth when analyzed by region of the U.S., it says it echoed earlier studies in finding that charities with annual operating budgets below $1 million reported increases in charitable receipts less often than larger charities.

Partners in the Nonprofit  Research Collaborative are the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Blackbaud, Campbell Rinker, Giving USA Foundation, and the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.

Todd Cohen

Latin American Coalition grows to meet demand

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In 2011, a group of six high school students from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools interrupted a speech by President Obama at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza, the leading Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group in the U.S.

The students, volunteers with the Charlotte-based Latin American Coalition, were protesting the deportation and the resulting separation of immigrant families.

In June, Obama announced federal action to grant temporary status for some undocumented young immigrants, effective August 15.

“The new deferral is a step in the right direction for a permanent solution,” says Jess George, executive director of the Latino American Coalition.

Formed in 1990 to provide direct services to Latinos, the Coalition has grown dramatically, expanding the services it provides to meet rising demand, and also emerging in recent years as a leading statewide advocate for Latinos.

Operating with an annual budget of $1.1 million and a staff of 17 people, the Coalition provides direct serves to 8,000 people a year through its Immigrant Welcome Center, an effort launched in 2011 that provides crisis and support services for immigrant families, regardless of their documentation status.

In August, recognizing the work it does through the Welcome Center, the National Council of La Raza honored the Coalition with its 2012 Family Strengthening Award.

Creation of the Center reflected a strategy at the Coalition to integrate the direct services it provides to Latinos, George says.

Charlotte’s Latino population, currently 150,000, has grown at least 1,500 percent in the two decades since the Coalition was formed, she says.

And in the eight years since she joined the Coalition, she says, its budget and staff have more than quadrupled.

The Coalition’s one-year-old Immigrant Welcome Center includes a crisis intervention network that represents formal partnerships with a broad range of crisis agencies such as Loaves and Fishes, and Crisis Assistance Ministry.

The Center handles the intake of families that need food, clothing and rental assistance, and then connects them with the agencies that can provide the services they need.

The Center also provides a desk once a week in the Coalition’s lobby for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Department of Social Services, which schedules appointments there for anyone eligible for any social service benefits.

The Center also provides a victims assistance program that serves mainly victims of domestic violence, of wage theft by employers who deny payment to immigrant workers, of consumer fraud and identity theft, and of human trafficking and hate crimes.

And it provides a neighbor-to-neighbor resource center, staffed by volunteers, that includes computers, phone books and maps that clients can use to learn more about the community and services that are available.

The work of the center is closely tied to two other Coalition programs, including support services for workers, and an immigration law clinic.

In addition to direct services, the Coalition has lobbied actively in the state legislature, helping to stop 19 of 20 pieces of legislation in 2011 that were “explicitly anti-immigrant,” George says.

It also employs a full-time electoral organizer and a full-time youth organizer, and is working this year to register 5,000 new Latino voters in the state.

And it held its annual Latin American Festival in October.

The Coalition, George says, is working to meet “the most critical and urgent challenges of immigrant integration in North Carolina.”

Wealthy keep giving in downturn, plan to give more

Wealthy households in the U.S. continue to give and volunteer, despite the ailing economy, and they are giving strategically and plan to give as much or more in coming years than they have in recent years, a new study says.

They also say tax breaks are not the main reason they give, and they plan to keep giving even if those breaks are eliminated.

Averaging giving as a percentage of household income among 700 wealthy households held steady at 9 percent between 2009 and 2011, says the 2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy.

The study, prepared through an ongoing partnership with the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, is based on surveys with households with net worth of $1 million or more, excluding the value of their home, or with annual household income $200,000 or more, or both.

In 2011, 95 percent of high net worth households donated to at least one charity, compared to 65 percent of the general population of U.S. households that donate to charity, says the study.

Also in 2011, 89 percent of wealthy individuals volunteered at nonprofits, up 10 percentage points from 2009.

And 76 percent of wealthy donors plan to give as much or more through 2016 than they have in the past, while only 9 percent plan to give less.

The wealthiest 3 percent of U.S. households give roughly half of all giving by individuals, who account for over 70 percent of the nearly $300 billion donated to charity last year.

Taxes and donor expectations

Only 32 percent of wealthy donors cited tax advantages among the chief motivations for giving, compared to 50 percent who said they would keep giving at current levels even if income tax deductions for donations were eliminated, and 95 who said they would keep or increase their bequest giving even if tax deductions for estate giving were permanently eliminated.

Eighty-two percent of wealthy donors expect nonprofits they support to spend an appropriate amount of their donation on general administration and fundraising, 76 percent expect them to demonstrate sound business and operating practices, 75 percent expect them to honor their request for privacy and anonymity, and 78 percent expect them to not distribute their name to others.

Loss of donors

In 2011, 30 percent of wealthy donors stopped giving to at least one nonprofit they previously supported.

Asked why they stopped giving, 38 percent said they were solicited too often or the nonprofit asked for an inappropriate amount, 29 percent said the nonprofit they supported changed leadership or activities, 27 percent said they personally changed their philanthropic focus or decided to support other causes, 22 percent said their household circumstances had changed in terms of their finances, relocation or employment, and 12 percent said they no longer were personally involved with the nonprofits.

“Nonprofit organizations that understand what matters most to donors, that have a clearly articulated mission, and are transparent in the reporting of both their financials and the sustainability and efficiency of their operations, have a significant advantage in attracting and maintaining relationships with wealthy donors,” Claire Costello, philanthropic practice executive for U.S. Trust, Bank of America Wealth Management, says in a statement.

Giving and volunteering

Fifty-four percent of wealthy individuals volunteered over 100 hours, and 35 percent volunteered over 200 hours, with high net worth individuals who volunteered more generally giving more.

Wealthy individuals who volunteered over 100  hours last year gave more than $78,000 on average, for example, compared to $39,000 given by those who volunteered fewer than 100 hours.

Sixty-one percent of wealthy individuals who volunteered served on a nonprofit board of directors, the most common volunteer activity in 2011,  compared to 48 percent each who volunteered for event planning and fundraising activities, and 40 percent who provided professional services, such as business and marketing support, to nonprofits they support.

High net work individuals increasingly contribute to nonprofits where they both volunteer and believe their gift will have the biggest impact, with the average gift to those organizations growing 40 percent to $102,642 in 2011 from $73,301 in 2009.

Giving strategies

Seventy-one percent of wealthy donors have a specific strategy in place to guide their charitable giving, the study says, and 81 percent target specific organizations based on geography or a specific cause or issue, compared to 16 percent who give with no specific focus to a large number of groups.

Forty-three percent have charitable provisions in their will, which remains the most common giving vehicle, although others are increasing, with 19 percent of wealthy households giving through a private foundation or donor advised fund in 2011, up from 16 percent in 2009.

Twenty-six percent of wealthy donors say they have a private foundation or donor advised fund, and another 5 percent plan to create one in the next few years.

Todd Cohen