Nonprofit use of data mixed

Nonprofits are tracking data on their operations and programs but face hurdles in gathering and building data into their business, a new survey says.

“Too often, barriers keep nonprofits from collecting and integrating important data into their daily work,” says the 2012 State of Nonprofit Data Report from NTEN and Idealware.

Ninety-nine percent of 398 people from nonprofits in 17 states responding to the survey in April 2012 are tracking some sort of metrics.

But many nonprofits also face significant barriers, including collecting and working with data, lack of expertise, issues of time and prioritization, and challenges with technology, the survey says.

Eighty-nine percent of nonprofits are tracking financial data and find it useful for making decisions, while 50 percent are tracking data about outcomes for clients and constituents, 41 percent are tracking external data about their issue area, 39 percent are using data to make budgeting decisions, and 26 percent are using donor data to make program decisions.

Based on six one-hour telephone focus groups with 38 people from nonprofits, consulting firms that work with nonprofits, and foundations, the survey also included recommendations on how nonprofits can become more data-driven.

Nonprofits, for example, should “start small” in using data, it says, picking a “discrete project with a beginning and end,” it says.

“Try defining one thing you’d like to improve or change, define one metric to measure it that would be useful and not too difficult to track, collect that data over time, and then use the data to help understand whether you’re making change in the organization,” a consultant told the survey. “If staff see that this data is useful, it can start the ball rolling on collecting more metrics to support a data-focused culture.”

Nonprofits also should connect their goals to their metrics, developing “quantifiable goals related to what you’re trying to do and determine the best way to measure whether or not you are meeting them,” the survey says.

They also should not begin by “obsessing about outcomes,” it says, because outcomes can be “some of the most difficult” data to track.

Instead, nonprofits should begin their data strategy with other metrics “that are easier to pin down, like financial, fundraising or program status,” it says.

And funders should “think critically about what you can expect nonprofits to be able to produce,” the survey says. “It’s reasonable to ask them to measure their own activities, but measuring their impact on a community might well be a research project that would run into the hundreds of thousands [of dollars] even for a trained evaluation firm.”

The survey also recommended that nonprofits learn from one another about using data, change their organizational culture to value data, beginning with board members, and train their staff to know how to use the organization’s database, understand what data the organization is collecting, and see that “data-based decision-making can help them do their jobs.”

Nonprofits also should evaluate the existing ability of staff for data collection and evaluation, and decide if training “can increase their comfort with data.”

Todd Cohen

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HandsNFeet Foundation a ‘pipeline’ to homeless

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Approached by a homeless man on a street in Charlotte on a winter’s day five years ago, Clay Peddycord rolled down his car window and, instead of cash, gave the man a pair of gloves he had on his seat.

“He didn’t really want the gloves at first,” says Peddycord, director of quality assurance at Flores & Associates, a Charlotte-based third-party administrator of flexible spending and COBRA accounts for employers that has over 600 clients in 33 states. “But the next day, I saw him wearing the gloves.”

A year later, Peddycord purchased half-a-dozen pairs of gloves, kept them in his car during cold weather, and handed them out to homeless people when they asked him for cash.

He also suggested to Renee Pennington, assistant to Mario Flores, managing partner and president of Flores & Associates, that providing gloves for homeless and needy people could become the focus of the company’s annual giving.

The result was the HandsNFeet Foundation, an all-volunteer charitable foundation the company launched in 2011.

With contributions from employees and their families and friends, and from companies that Flores & Associates does business with, as well as drives as schools, churches and other groups that have collected money and clothing items, the foundation donated 2,561 pairs of gloves and socks in 2011, more than five times its goal.

And this year, the foundation has enough gloves and socks to exceed its goal of 20,000 items.

Big boosts came from Thorlo, a Statesville manufacturer of socks that initially donated 1,200 pairs and then agreed to send 300 pairs a month, and from Renfro, a Mount Airy manufacturer that pledged 6,000 pairs of socks for 2012.

And Rack Room Shoes, another Flores client, donated 200 pairs of shoes.

“It’s gone much better and faster than we dreamed,” Peddycord says. “Our own network of good people we do business with has caused this to grow.”

Through partnerships, the foundation provides the items to six local agencies, which distribute or make them available to their homeless and needy clients.

Those agencies include Crisis Assistance Ministry, Charlotte Rescue Mission, Urban Ministry Center, A Child’s Place, Catherine’s House, and Serve Charlotte’s Homeless.

Crisis Assistance Ministry, for example, distributes gloves, socks and  shoes through its Free Store.

And on Thursday nights, the foundation takes 100 or more pairs of socks to the meal service that Serve Charlotte’s Homeless provides in the Hal Marshall Building at the entrance at 618 N. College St.

With $17,000 in cash donations it has received, the foundation has made bulk purchases of discounted gloves and socks, and also has made contributions of $500 each to Crisis Assistance Ministry and Charlotte Rescue Mission to buy mass transit passes for their clients so they can get to jobs or job interviews.

And it promoted Jeans Day on Nov. 9, encouraging employers to let their employees wear jeans or a special item to work in exchange for a donation of $5 or more to HandsNFeet, and has launched an initiative to produce and distribute holiday greeting cards on behalf of businesses to their clients and customers in return for a contribution to the foundation.

The foundation’s vision, Peddycord says, is to work with Flores’ client companies, engage its employees in the community, and partner with homeless agencies to serve their clients and families.

“We see ourselves as a pipeline,” he says.

Lori O’Keefe to head Triangle Community Foundation

DURHAM, N.C. — Lori O’Keefe, vice president and chief operating officer for Triangle Community Foundation, has been named its president, effective Jan. 1, 2013.

A 20-year nonprofit veteran who joined the Foundation’s philanthropic services team in 2005, O’Keefe succeeds Phail Wynn Jr., who has served twice in the last year-and-a-half as interim president and CEO on a pro-bono basis.

“Lori is a consummate professional who has embraced our community, and is respected by donors and nonprofits,” Rick Guirlinger, chair of the Foundation’s board of directors, says in a statement. “Her abilities and experience make her well suited to guide the Foundation as we build on our strong legacy of philanthropic leadership to bring the community together in working to help fix our most urgent problems.”

O’Keefe says the Foundation has had a strong financial year and soon will launch an effort to bring together community leaders and organizations to identify critical needs and develop partnerships and resources to address them.

“The Triangle is blessed, but it also faces serious challenges,” O’Keefe says. “A top priority for the Foundation is to connect our donors, deploy our assets and address causes to help make our community a better place to live and work.  I am excited to lead the Foundation as we work to better serve our donors and make more strategic use of our resources to support nonprofits, which play an indispensable role in our region.”

A life-long devotee of the arts with a master’s degree in business administration specializing in arts and nonprofit administration, O’Keefe previously held positions in development and events management with the Carolina Ballet, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and New York University. She lives in Wake Forest with her husband and two young daughters.

“Lori is highly respected and deeply engaged in the Triangle area,” says Wynn, who is vice president for Durham and regional affairs at Duke University. “She has demonstrated an engaging and collaborative leadership style, which has proven effective in working with the community at large, the high-performing Foundation staff, and the Foundation’s donors and volunteer leaders.”

In May 2011, when he was serving as chair of the Foundation’s board, Wynn first was named interim president and CEO after the organization announced that Andrea Bazan was taking a sabbatical of indefinite length after six years as CEO.

Six weeks later, the Foundation announced she would not return.

In June, after a national search conducted by  Jorgenson Consulting in Greensboro, the Foundation named Mark Bensen, then executive vice president of MDC, a Durham-based national research group that focuses on economic and workforce development, as its new president and CEO, effective Aug. 13.

And in October, the Foundation announced Bensen had quit after two months on the job, and that Wynn would return as interim president and CEO.

Officials of the Foundation have declined to comment on the departures of Bazan and Bensen, saying it signed non-disclosure agreements with each of the two former CEOs.

Guirlinger, in a letter distributed October 5 to Foundation donors and friends, said the board and Bensen had recognized “early on” that they had “widely divergent visions for the Foundation, both in terms of strategy and implementation,” and that the board had “determined that it was in the best interests of the Foundation to accept Mark’s resignation.”

Wynn says O’Keefe was a finalist in the search that led to hiring Bensen.

“The board realized after he left that it did not need to do another search because we already had the leader we wanted,” he says.

Guirlinger says in a letter distributed this week to Foundation supporters that, in a “time of rapid change and great opportunity for our region,” and with the social sector facing many challenges, the Foundation “is well positioned to continue partnering with our donors to provide the resources to help nonproifts build their capacity to better serve people and places in need.”

Formed in 1983, the Foundation works with individuals and institutions to create and manage charitable funds that support a broad range of people and places in need, including specific causes its donors and funders care about.

It manages nearly $150 million in over 750 funds established by families, businesses, individuals and organizations, mainly for the benefit of Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties. And it makes grants from those funds to nonprofits and administers a broad range of programs to benefit the community.

In the fiscal year ended June 30, the Foundation received over $16 million in gifts, and granted over $13 million to nonprofits, schools and community efforts.

Todd Cohen

Nonprofit news roundup, 12.14.12

Ballet chief to head Girl Scouts

Lisa M. K. Jones, executive director at Carolina Ballet in Raleigh, has been named CEO of Raleigh-based Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines, effective Jan. 14, 2013.

She will succeed Rusine Mitchell Sinclair, who is retiring at the end of January 2013.

A founding employee of Carolina Ballet, Jones has served as its marketing director, general manager and, since 2002, executive director.

Before joining Carolina Ballet, Jones served as managing director of the FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training, assistant manager of Foellinger Auditorium, and production manager for Q-productions.

Sinclair joined the Girl Scouts in 2007 and directed the merger of two councils to create Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines.

She previously spent 25 years with IBM, serving as a vice president, corporate officer and the first female senior state executive in North Carolina.

Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines is the largest girl-serving organization in the region, reaching over 35,000 girls and partnering with 10,000 adult members in 41 counties in central and eastern North Carolina.

North Carolina Community Foundation honors banker

Hugh Bingham, regional manager and senior vice president at First Bank, received the Lewis R. Holding Philanthropic Leadership Award for 2012 from the North Carolina Community Foundation for his leadership as a member of the board of advisors of Moore County Community Foundation, an affiliate of statewide Foundation.

Established to honor the late Lewis R. Holding, who founded the statewide Foundation in 1988, the award is presented to an affiliate foundation president or board member who has demonstrated exceptional leadership resulting in outstanding growth for the affiliate.

Bingham joined the Moore County Community Foundation in 2007 and became president of its board in 2009, when he established the goal to double the affiliate’s community grantmaking fund, a goal that was accomplished a year later.

Established in 1993, the affiliate last year awarded roughly $80,000 from its local grantmaking fund to the community.

Duke University getting $10 million

David Rubenstein, a Duke University trustee, co-chair of its $3.25 billion fundraising campaign, and co-founder and managing director of The Carlyle Group, a global alternative asset manager, will give $10 million to the Duke Athletics Department, matching the department’s largest gift.

Carolina HealthCare System donates lab

The International Medical Outreach program of Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte donated a cardiac catheterization laboratory to a hospital in Managua, Nicaragua, the second public cath lab to open in the country.

Disaster Relief Fund

The North Carolina Community Foundation granted $7,000 from its Disaster Relief Fund to support relief efforts related to Hurricane Sandy in the Currituck-Dare area. The grant was made to the Foundation’s affiliate, the Currituck-Dare Community Foundation, which allocated $6,000 to the Beach Food Pantry, a group that suffered extensive damage. The affiliate will hold the remaining $1,000 to meet future unmet needs related to the storm.

Partnership for Community Care

Partnership for Community Care in Greensboro will open a food pantry to provide low-income patients with healthier foods and nutrition education to help them to better manage their chronic diseases.

High Point University

Students at High Point University students nearly doubled their contribution to the Salvation Army’s Stuff a Stocking Campaign with 375 stockings this year, up from 200 last year.

The Winston-Salem Foundation

The Winston-Salem Foundation awarded nine grants totaling $156,799 to groups serving people living in Forsyth County.

Bookmarks

Philip Mulder, professor of history at High Point University, has been selected president of the board of directors for BookMarks, a Winston-Salem nonprofit that works to create a community of readers.

Support for breast cancer test

Motives by Loren Ridinger and ma Cares, the nonprofit foundation created by Greensboro-based Market America, gave over $13,400 to Friends for An Earlier Breast Cancer Test.

SECU Family House

SECU Family House in Winston-Salem has named six new members to its board of directors, including Mickey Boles, Sharon “Shari” Covitz, Santford Garner, Cecil Holland, Dee Smith and Leigh Cameron Atkins.

NCCJ of the Piedmont

NCCJ of the Piedmont received a 2012 “Top-Rated Award” by GreatNonprofits, a provider of user reviews about nonprofits.

Association works to boost private colleges, universities

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — At some of the private colleges and universities in North Carolina, up to 80 percent of students represent the first generation in their family to go to college.

And because only 27 percent of adult North Carolinians hold baccalaureate degrees, many of those first-generation college students often lack the family support systems that can be critical to help stay in college once they get there.

What’s more, with the cost of college rising, simply paying for it can be tough.

Working to address all those issues and others affecting private higher education in the state is North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities.

Formed in 1969, the Raleigh-based association serves as the statewide office for the state’s 36 private, nonprofit colleges and universities.

Enrollment totals 88,000 students at those schools, with North Carolinians accounting for 55 percent of their undergraduates, and they employ about 65,000 people, making private higher education overall one of the largest private-sector employers in the state, says Hope Williams, the organization’s president.

Operating with an annual budget of $1 million and a staff of 9 people, the association provides professional development for faculty and staff at its schools; group purchasing programs to encourage cost savings; projects to increase student retention; collaboration with the UNC system, state community college system, and state Department of Public Instruction; public policy work; and support for fundraising and academic programs.

The Independent College Fund of North Carolina, a fund formed in 1953 that became part of the statewide group in 1995, for example, raises financial support for scholarships and programs at its schools.

Directed by James E. Brown Jr., who joined the association in July after retiring as managing director for the public and institutional banking group at RBC, the fund raised a record-high $2.3 million in the fiscal year ended May 31.

Of that total, $988,000 was for named scholarships, including over $50,000 each from the Golden Leaf Foundation, UPS, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo and BB&T.

And with $852,000 this year from a $4 million federal grant to the state, the association is providing mini-grants and other support to increase retention of students.

Funded in part through support from the Cannon Foundation in Concord, collaboration also is a big focus of the organization, which is a founding member of the Coalition for College Cost Savings, a group that includes higher-education associations in 30 states.

A student identification card system recently made available through the statewide association, for example, meant a 25 percent discount on a $400,000 system for its first user, Chowan University in Murfreesboro.

And consulting services to recover state sales tax refunds that nonprofits can claim under state law helped recover over $1 million for four institutions, says Chuck Taylor, who joined the group a year ago as director of its collaboration initiative after retiring as vice president for business and chief financial officer at Wingate University in Wingate.

And thanks to advances in technology, he says, future collaborations even could include sharing professors.

“We’re just now scratching the surface of what can be done to save institutions cost and to add value for the students,” he says.

Williams says a possible effort by state lawmakers to rewrite the tax code could eliminate those refunds, a move that could mean the loss of over $200 million for all nonprofits in the state, including $60 million for private colleges and universities.

That could result in higher costs for students at those schools, where annual tuition and fees average just over $24,000, compared to a national average of $28,500 for private colleges and universities.

“The biggest challenge,” Williams says, “is affordability for students.”

Memorial to honor military veterans

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Jim Burgio was born at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where his father was a captain and flight instructor in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Raised in Astoria in the New York City borough of Queens, Burgio himself served as a captain in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, where he was stationed in 1968 and 1969 near Danang and oversaw motor transport operations for the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division.

Among the 540 graduates of his class at The Basic School, the officer training program at Quantico, 45 were killed in Vietnam, although no Marine died on his 13-month watch over transport operations in Vietnam.

Now, Burgio is working to help create a memorial for veterans on 8.5 acres that officials in Forsyth and Guilford counties have set aside in Triad Park, a 426-acre park the two counties jointly own.

“When I was in Vietnam, when we came home we were treated as second-class citizens,” says Burgio, chief operating officer of Advance Technology in Greensboro and fundraising co-chair for the War Memorial Foundation, which is developing the Carolina Field of Honor at Triad Park.

“They did what our government asked them to do and should be honored,” he says. “And our military now is being taken care of the way they should be taken care of.”

The dream of Bill Moss, another former Marine, the War Memorial Foundation must meet its $5 million fundraising goal before Forsyth and Guilford county officials will let it begin construction of a memorial, amphitheater, parade deck and other facilities, including an obelisk and water feature.

Including the land reserved by the two counties for its use and valued at $1.5 million, Burgio says, the Foundation has raised just over $2.5 million in gifts and pledges, with $945,000 still needed to meet its fundraising goal.

Commitments include a total of $250,000 from the cities of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem; $500,000 from Forsyth County; $50,000 from Guilford County; $100,000 from the corporate foundation at International Textile Group, formerly Burlington Industries; $25,000 from the foundation at Cone Mills; $50,000 from Marilyn and Dean Green, owner of Green Ford in Greensboro; and $100,000 each from Burgio, from Jim Bullock, CEO of Environmental Air, and from “Doc” Long, owner of Hilco Transport, for naming rights to the Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Army memorials, respectively.

Forsyth County officials expect the Carolina Field of Honor will increase attendance at Triad Park to over 350,000 visitors a year from 200,000, Burgio says.

And a new rehabilitation facility the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is building in Kernersville in Forsyth County should attract over 35,000 patients a year, a group that would be likely to want to visit the Field of Honor, he says.

To help meet its fundraising goal, the War Memorial Foundation is reaching out to industry leaders and has received a boost from Fox 8 News, which is running several stories a week about the effort, Burgio says.

The Foundation also is selling engraved bricks for the Memorial site.

“I believe very strongly in the military,” he says. “The Memorial means everything to me. I want it to be a legacy.”