Triangle Community Foundation targeting urgent needs

By Todd Cohen

[Note: I have been providing communications support for Triangle Community Foundation.]

DURHAM, N.C. — Triangle Community Foundation is working to sharpen the focus of its discretionary funding to help address some of the region’s most pressing needs.

A key goal of the effort is to use that funding to “create a ripple effect in our community,” says Easter Maynard, a member of the Foundation’s board of directors and chair of a task force that has been working to develop a blueprint for the Foundation’s grantmaking.

While the $145 million-asset Foundation makes grants totaling over $14 million a year, discretionary grants directed by its staff and board total less than $1 million.

Yet Chatham, Durham, Orange and Wake counties, the region the Foundation serves, are home to nearly 5,700 nonprofits.

Lori O’Keefe, the Foundation’s president, says that, based on work of the task force, the Foundation this spring may select “one or two focus areas where we can really do some thoughtful initiatives,” possibly including annual grants to build the capacity of nonprofits working in those focus areas.

Foundation resources

Created in 1983 by George Hitchings, winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize for Medicine, the Foundation focuses on “building a caring community through brokering solutions to local needs,” O’Keefe says.

In its first 30 years, the Foundation has invested over $185 million in nonprofits and community causes.

The Foundation holds 750 charitable funds, including giving circles, scholarship funds, designated funds, agency funds, “field of interest funds,” “donor advised funds,” and unrestricted funds.

Each year, the Foundation distributes over 10 percent of its assets to nonprofits, including $13.5 million last year.

Six years ago, the Foundation launched its Community Grantmaking Program.

Those grants, which have averaged $12,000 each, have focused the Foundation’s unrestricted funds on civic engagement, and on youth leadership and development.

Sharpening the focus

As part of its planning effort, the Foundation has turned to its donors, to nonprofits, and to community leaders and experts.

It has analyzed its donor advised funds and field of interest funds to better understand the impact they have on the causes donors care about.

Donor advised funds are created by donors who then recommend the grants they would like the Foundation to make from the funds.

Field of interest funds are created by donors who designate areas of interest to support, leaving it to the Foundation to use its discretion in making grants in those areas.

Taken together, field of interest funds and unrestricted funds, which are created by donors who count on the Foundation to use its expertise and knowledge of the community to decide how to invest the funds to support local causes, represent 13 percent of the Foundation’s assets.

The Foundation also has tracked community needs in five focus areas that receive most of its funding, including the arts, environment, health care, human services, and youth and education.

Among the 5,700 nonprofits in the region, 3,800 work in those five focus areas.

The Foundation also has surveyed nonprofits serving those five focus areas, and has assembled 65 community leaders and experts to serve on its task force, and asked them to recommend priorities for its community programs.

Big challenges nonprofits identified in the survey include collaboration, fundraising, and marketing and communication.

And key roles the Task Force has identified that the Foundation can play in working to address urgent needs in the region include leadership, convening, and fostering collaboration and capacity-building.

What’s next

Based on the work of the task force, which held three meetings in January and February, the Foundation this spring is expected to adopt and begin putting into practice a plan to distribute its discretionary resources and educate donors and other funders about how they can help address these priorities.

With donors and nonprofits alike wanting to have a greater impact on urgent issues in the community, O’Keefe says, the Foundation is looking for ways to expand its discretionary funds and grantmaking to help address those issues.

Over the years, she says, the Foundation has worked to balance the interests of donors with the needs of the community and the nonprofits that address community needs.

Now, in the face of an economic downturn that has deepened pressing needs in the Triangle over the past four-and-a-half years, she says, the Foundation will be working with donors and nonprofits to find ways to make a bigger impact on key issues in the region.

Based on the work of the task force, O’Keefe says, the Foundation likely will be asking donors to invest in strategies that have shown, through results that can be measured, that they are making a difference in the lives of people in and places in need in the region.

Fundraising, Part 4: Museums aim to diversify donor base

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This article is from a report written for Blackbaud, which asked me to look at fundraising strategies that nonprofits have found to be effective.]

Museums of all kinds are looking for ways to engage a broader mix of prospective donors, and to engage them in new ways, says Ford Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums.

“All strategies are very much in play,” including planned giving, annual fund giving, and gift categories “that allow you to have special access.”

An increasingly popular strategy, for example, is to provide social events designed to get young people to museums and turn them into “destinations,” he says.

“It raises a little money, connects you to new donors, gets them to begin to give, and reaches out to whole new sectors,” he says.

A growing number of museums also are adding younger members to their boards in an effort to “get people early in their careers to start giving now, so as they succeed, they will be the donors of the future.”

To attract more major donors, museums continue to offer opportunities to name a broad range of positions, programs and facilities, including the “loading dock and back stairwell,” Bell says.

Trips and tours also have grown increasingly popular, particularly overseas and to provide “access that most people don’t get,” such as to private homes and collections.

The economic climate has stimulated museums to be more creative in their fundraising, Bell says.

“Because more traditional sources of funding are getting tougher, with foundations and corporations looking at other social needs, and with government getting out of culture,” he says, “museums need to be resourceful about how they’re raising money.”

Next:  Major gifts a focus of environmental group

The series:

Fundraising, Part 1: Basics key as economy starts to recover

Fundraising, Part 2: Health care groups invest in development capacity

Fundraising, Part 3: Human services groups focus on direct response marketing

Fundraising, Part 4: Museums aim to diversify donor base

Fundraising, Part 5: Major gifts a focus of environmental group

Fundraising, Part 6: Direct marketing a key for public society benefit group

Fundraising, Part 7: International affairs group aims to show

Fundraising, Part 8: Faith-based groups count on direct mail

Fundraising, Part 9: Independent school partners with parent volunteers

Disabilities group adapts to health care changes

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Two years ago, The Arc of North Carolina provided case management for nearly 4,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, making sure they were linked to the proper funding, helping them find the right health-care provider, and monitoring the services to make sure they were delivered properly.

But in the face of sweeping changes in the way the state regulates health care, the agency is phasing out that brokering service, which generated $10 million a year in revenue from government reimbursements.

Under the new system, state government will contract with regional quasi-governmental agencies known as “managed care organizations” that will function as insurers that fund services for people with disabilities while also writing their treatment plans.

The new system, which took effect February 1, replaces so-called “fee-for-services” for which state government has been the main funder of services through federal Medicaid funding, contracting with agencies like The Arc.

Dave Richard, the agency’s executive director, says the new system will erode the role that nonprofit agencies have played as advocates for clients.

“That’s probably too much power in one place,” he says.

Formed in 1954 by families throughout the state whose children with disabilities had no options for where to go to school, The Arc provides direct services to 4,500 people and operates with eight offices, 500 staff members and an annual budget of $20 million.

And in collaboration with 33 chapters that grew out of the parent groups and operate separately, The Arc serves over 10,000 people.

An estimated 1 percent to 1.5 percent of the U.S. population, including 120,000 to 150,000 North Carolinians, have intellectual or developmental disabilities, ranging from cognitive deficits to cerebral palsy and autism, Richard says.

In comparison, he says, the state serves 35,000 to 45,000 people who seek services, a number that does not include school children with milder disabilities who do not ask for support for needs that may be more intense.

The Arc serves as an advocate, both on behalf of clients and with state lawmakers and policymakers, and provides a range of direct services.

It manages 400 properties that serve as long-term housing for over 1,200 people, for example, and provides in-home support for 250 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

It also works at any given time to help about 200 people with disabilities find and keep jobs, mainly in Wilmington and Asheville, and serves as corporate guardian for about 700 people, helping to make decisions on medical and other issues.

In the face of changes in the health care system, The Arc has been working, often in collaboration with other agencies, to help make sure long-term services are in sync with short-term care, Richard says.

In partnership with Easter Seals UCP of North Carolina & Virginia, along with several smaller groups, for example, The Arc last year applied, although unsuccessfully, for $2.5 million in federal funding to make sure clients receiving long-term care were connected to physicians offices and getting periodic checkups and support.

“We’re trying to create a stable system,” Richard says, “where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can have the support to live meaningful lives in the community.”

Fundraising, Part 3: Human services groups focus on direct response marketing

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This article is from a report written for Blackbaud, which asked me to look at fundraising strategies that nonprofits have found to be effective.]

Fundraising generally has been tough, particularly in the last five years, with the acquisition of new donors growing more competitive across all fields of interest in the nonprofit sector as a result of the weak economy, and fewer names of prospective donors being available, says Lynn Edmonds, president of L.W. Robbins, a fundraising consulting firm in Holliston, Mass.

A report in January by Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company, found that, for the most of the past five years, “declines in overall donor numbers have been driven primarily by declines in new donor acquisition.”

To address those declines, L.W. Robbins has encouraged its clients to put more emphasis on best practices, specifically by more testing of direct-response marketing strategies to acquire new donors and renew existing donors, Edmonds says.

That is important, she says, because seven of 10 first-time donors to nonprofits typically do not make a second gift.

Still, many nonprofits are reluctant to invest in testing direct-response marketing for acquisition and renewal of donors because testing is expensive, including the continually rising cost of postage, she says.

“It will probably take two-and-a-half years before new donors acquired actually will return net income, and that’s working with a professional firm that writes the copy, designs everything, and is the strategist behind it,” Edmonds says.

“What nonprofits really need to do,” she says, “is open their minds to the fact that it’s not going to get better unless you invest in testing and come up with additional ways of attracting new donors and renewing existing donors.”

The key, she says, is to “look carefully at what has worked in the past, and then test against elements of that.”

One sector that has shown success with testing direct-response marketing strategies is food banks, she says.

For 35 Feeding America food banks that are its clients, L.W. Robbins has tested variations of several direct-response “control packages” that have proved effective in acquiring new donors, she says.

Direct-response fundraising is important to food banks, she says, because it represents an important part of their fundraising revenue.

In one test, the bulk of the local prospects that the food banks were targeting in their mailings received a “control” package that included an envelope with a standard-size letter and a reply slip. A smaller test group received a mini-greeting card that was customized to each food bank’s local prospects.

That test proved more effect than the control package and now has replaced it, so future testing will try new approaches to see if they prove more effective than the new control package.

“We’re always continuing to test against the controls in all of our accounts,” Edmonds says.

Also key in direct-response fundraising is working with a list broker with experience with nonprofits, and mailing enough pieces so the test is statistically sound.

“The key is to get that first gift from acquisition,” she says. “The next challenge is making sure you’re using best practices in your renewal program to get the second gift by listening to your donors, checking comment mail, and making sure you acknowledge them immediately.”

Next: Arts and culture groups aim to diversify donor base

The series:

Fundraising, Part 1: Basics key as economy starts to recover

Fundraising, Part 2: Health care groups invest in development capacity

Fundraising, Part 3: Human services groups focus on direct response marketing

Fundraising, Part 4: Museums aim to diversify donor base

Fundraising, Part 5: Major gifts a focus of environmental group

Fundraising, Part 6: Direct marketing a key for public society benefit group

Fundraising, Part 7: International affairs group aims to show

Fundraising, Part 8: Faith-based groups count on direct mail

Fundraising, Part 9: Independent school partners with parent volunteers

Nonprofit news roundup, 02.22.13

Thompson Child & Family Focus merging with York Place

Thompson Child & Family Focus in Charlotte is set to merge with York Place in York, S.C., with the CEO of York Place tapped to succeed the retiring president of the merged agency.

The boards of trustees of the two agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding that calls for the merger to be completed in 60 days. Informal merger talks began last summer.

Marco Tomat, CEO of York Place, will succeed Ginny Amendum, who is retiring as president of Thompson.

The combined agency will operate as Thompson Child & Family Focus, with York Place serving as the agency’s South Carolina regional office for programming and operating as York Place, a division of Thompson.

York Place was established in 1850 as an orphanage of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, while Thompson was established in 1886 as an orphanage of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

Thompson, which has over 300 employees and operates with an annual budget of $17.7 million, served over 12,000 children and families across North Carolina last year from its three campuses specializing in clinical and behavioral treatment, developmental education, and proactive care.

York Place, which has 70 employees, operates with an annual budget of $5.2 million and is located on a 120-acre campus, served 300 children and families last year, focusing on healing young people with emotional and behavioral barriers, improving outcomes in residential care, and helping families succeed.

The agencies say they have complementary services in different markets, anticipate no layoffs and expect the number of children and families they serve to grow.

Blackbaud earnings fall in fourth quarter, year

Blackbaud, the Charleston, S.C., provider of software and services for nonprofits, reported declines in net income for the fourth quarter and year ended Dec. 31, 2012.

Net income in the fourth quarter fell to $3.3 million, or 7 cents a share, on total revenue of $120.1 million, down from $6.4 million, or 14 cents a share, on total revenue of $95 million in the same period a year earlier.

Net income for the year fell to $6.6 million, or 15 cents a share, on total revenue of $447.4 million, down from $33.2 million, or 75 cents a share, on total revenue of $370.9 million a year earlier.

Blackbaud’s board approved a first-quarter 2013 dividend of 12 cents a share payable on March 15, 2013, to stockholders of record on Feb. 28, 2013.

In January, Blackbaud announced Marc Chardon, after a seven-year tenure, will step down as president and CEO at the end of 2013, or earlier if a successor is named.

Fidelity Charitable posts record-high grants, contributions

Fidelity Charitable says outgoing grants grew for the third straight year in 2012, while incoming contributions grew for the fourth straight year, marking a record-high year for both measures.

Boston-based Fidelity Charitable, a public charity with a donor advised fund program, says donors in 2012 recommended over 428,000 grants totaling $1.6 billion and contributed $3.6 billion to Fidelity Charitable for their charitable accounts, with both dollar figures representing a 24 percent increase compared to 2011.

The number of new charitable accounts opened grew 32 percent.

In the fourth quarter, donors recommended over 172,000 grants totaling $657 million, or 66 percent of the annual total, compared to 60 percent that the fourth quarter typically attracts.

Schwab Charitable reports record-high new accounts, contributions

Schwab Charitable, a national donor advised fund organization, says charitable contributions and new accounts reached record-high levels during the 2012 giving season.

In the first half of the fiscal year that began July 1, 2012, contributions totaled $1.57 billion, up from $502 million in the same period a year earlier, while the number of new accounts totaled 2,315, up from 1,080 in the same period a year earlier.

Gift creates endowed chair in women’s philanthropy

The Indiana University School of Philanthropy will establish the Eileen Lamb O’Gara Chair in Women’s Philanthropy with an endowment gift from Maureen Hackett, chair of the School’s board of visitors, and her husband, Jim Hackett. The chair, the first endowed chair in the U.S. in women’s philanthropy, will focus on the role of women in giving, volunteering and leadership of philanthropic organizations.

Website focuses on nonprofit finance

The Wallace Foundation, a national philanthropy that supports education and enrichment for disadvantaged children, and Fiscal Management Associates, a national consulting firm building nonprofit fiscal strength, have launched strongnonprofits.org, a website featuring over 64 resources for people involved in nonprofit financial planning, monitoring, operations and oversight, particularly nonprofit after-school program providers.

Methodist University wins Ethics Bowl

Students from Methodist University in Fayetteville won 1st place at the 2nd Annual Ethics Bowl presented by North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities and hosted by the Campbell University School of Law in Raleigh. Students from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem won 2nd place at the competition, which was held February 8-9, focused on the theme of ethics in communications, and featured students from 18 of the state’s 36 nonprofit, private liberal arts, research and comprehensive colleges and universities. The winning team included Rica McDonald, Brian Weir, Jasmina Gobeljic, Kevin Zhang, David Meigs, and Derek Smith.

Forsyth United Way meets campaign goal

United Way of Forsyth County met the goal for its 2012 annual fund campaign, raising $17,325,000. Chairing the campaign was Leslie Hayes, vice president and regional president for Wells Fargo.

Eleven organizations received “Spirit of North Carolina” awards from United Way of North Carolina for campaign excellence, including Adele Knits/Twin City Warehouses/COR 365; B/E Aerospace; BB&T; First Tennessee Bank; Hanesbrands; Inmar; Pepsico; Reynolds American; RockTenn Merchandising Displays; US Airways; and Wake Forest University.

United Way honors Triangle companies

Seven Triangle companies received “Spirit of North Carolina” awards from United Way of North Carolina, recognizing companies and their employees that show United Way campaign excellence and community commitment, including Syngenta; The Redwoods Group; Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau; Rex Healthcare; Weatherby Healthcare; RTI International; and Nordstrom Rack Renaissance Center

John Avery Boys and Girls Club

Solomon Aronson, professor of anesthesiology and executive vice chairman of the department of anesthesiology at Duke University Medical Center, has joined the board of the John Avery Boys and Girls Club in Durham.

Alamance Regional Medical Center

Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington donated heart rate monitors and pedometers to the seven middle schools in the Alamance-Burlington School System to help educate students about the importance of physical activity and cardiovascular exercise. The hospital also recently provided 22 automated external defibrillators to help meet safety requirements at the schools.

RunRaleigh Relay to Wilmington

To help promote the Inaugural Wilmington Race for the Cure on March 2 to benefit the North Carolina Triangle to the Coast affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, four teams of runners will participate in the RunRaleigh Relay to Wilmington on February 28, running 132 miles from Raleigh to Wilmington.

Relay for Life

The American Cancer Society will present its Greensboro Relay For Life event at Page High School from 7 p.m. on May 17 through 7 a.m. on May 18.

Polar Plunge for Special Olympics North Carolina

Davenport, Marvin, Joyce & Co. plans for the 13th straight year to participate on February 23 in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics North Carolina, organized by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department. In 2012, Guilford County’s Polar Plunge raised over $40,000.

Duke getting $5 million

Former Duke University trustee Roy Bostock and his wife, Merilee, both Duke graduates, will give $5 million to the school’s athletics department.

Fundraising, Part 2: Healthcare groups invest in development capacity

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This article is from a report written for Blackbaud, which asked me to look at fundraising strategies that nonprofits have found to be effective.]

The continuing recovery of the economy has helped fuel strong growth in giving to the more than 5,000 members of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy since a slight drop in 2009, says Bill McGinly, the Association’s president.

Overall giving to nonprofit healthcare providers, including hospitals, medical centers, long-term care organizations, hospices and children’s facilities, grew to nearly $9 billion in 2011 from $8.3 billion in 2010, and that trend continued in 2012, he says.

While much of that growth has been tied to the economic recovery,  it also reflects “more stimulation and activity in planned and major gifts, and the commitments people are making,” he says,

Fundraising performance is the direct result of investment in fundraising capacity, McGinly says, including the size of the fundraising staff.

Organizations that had 10 or more full-time direct fundraising professionals and were among the highest performing organizations raised a median of $9.4 million, a median that was double that of organizations in all other performance levels based on total dollars raised.

High performers also had more “maturity” in their fundraising programs, and a bigger variety of programs or ways to give.

After health care giving fell roughly $1 billion in 2008, health care organizations also have seen expanded revenue from  special events and annual giving programs, while funds from major and planned gifts plunged in 2008 and 2009 because of a “lack of confidence related to the economy,” McGinly says.

Organizations that kept fundraising staff instead of cutting positions were able to work on maintaining relationships with major donors or those interested in planned giving, and giving in those programs has rebounded more quickly, he says.

Contributing to that recovery, in addition to the revival in the economy and donor confidence, McGinly says, has been greater awareness on the part of donors about the importance of health care philanthropy as a result of the national debate on health care reform.

Health care organizations that have been effective at fundraising also have provided ongoing training for fundraising staff; hosted activities that get donors to their facilities; engaged their volunteer and executive leaders; heightened the level of contact with donors through more meetings and appeals; and reignited capital campaigns.

More recently, annual campaigns often are involving three appeals, not just one.

High performing organizations had direct fundraising staff that outnumbered all their counterparts by three to one.

And organizations that relied on multiple activities, such as special events, annual campaigns and invitations to visit the facility, performed much better in their fundraising than organizations that had fewer activities.

The result was that high performing fundraising organizations raised nearly 11 times more in net fundraising production after costs, including cash and pledges, than all their counterparts.

Key to effective fundraising, McGinly says, is a strong culture of philanthropy within an organization.

“Fundraisers need to hold their bosses accountable and step up and take the lead in making sure that philanthropy is an integral part of the financial picture of their organization,” he says, “and that it can be depended upon, and that is it crucial in building what the future of their organization will be.”

Next: Human services groups focus on direct response marketing

The series:

Fundraising, Part 1: Basics key as economy starts to recover

Fundraising, Part 2: Health care groups invest in development capacity

Fundraising, Part 3: Human services groups focus on direct response marketing

Fundraising, Part 4: Museums aim to diversify donor base

Fundraising, Part 5: Major gifts a focus of environmental group

Fundraising, Part 6: Direct marketing a key for public society benefit group

Fundraising, Part 7: International affairs group aims to show

Fundraising, Part 8: Faith-based groups count on direct mail

Fundraising, Part 9: Independent school partners with parent volunteers

Arts For Life plugs seriously ill kids into art

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In 2001, Anna Littman spent a lot of time visiting her 11-year-old sister, at the time a cancer patient at Brenner Children’s Hospital in Winston-Salem.

Seeing her sister and other children with serious illnesses at the hospital inspired Littman to do something to try to lift their spirits and shift their focus to creative activities.

So she rounded up donations of cameras, film and journals that her sister and the other kids could use to document their experiences in the hospital.

That effort led Littman to form Arts For Life, a Weaverville-based nonprofit that in 2011 provided over 257 hours a week of art and music programs for over 5,000 children and their families in hospitals in Asheville, Charlotte, Durham and Winston-Salem.

“It provides the children, both in-patient and out-patient, the opportunity to be involved in either art or music activities that divert their mind from having to deal with serious health issues,” says Don Timmons, the nonprofit’s Clemmons-based director of development.

Operating with an annual budget of $400,000, Arts for Life also employs four program directors who are based at Brenner, at Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville, at Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Durham, and at Presbyterian Hemby Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.

The organization generates all its support through contributions, grants, sponsorships and special events, including support from the four hospitals.

Working with volunteers and paid arts fellows, those directors make art and music, including materials, instruments and lessons, available to seriously ill children and their families.

Breaking the gloom of a family visit to a sick child, for example, a music fellow may knock on the door of the child’s hospital room, and then walk in pushing a cart filled with guitars, drums and other percussion instruments.

“In 10 minutes, the dynamics of the room have transformed to the entire family singing a song together,” Timmons says.

To help generate more support and expand its programs, Arts For Life in 2012 held “Princess Balls” for girls that raised $5,000 and $2,000, respectively, for its programs in Winston-Salem and Asheville, and plans to hold similar events this year in Charlotte and Durham.

It also has launched “The Hope Mosaic,” a collaborative project to benefit its program at Presbyterian Hemby.

The event aims to raise $40,000 and involve up to 100 local artists, children and teens, each of whom will paint a 6-inch-by-6-inch canvas, all of which then will be stitched together to form a large mosaic that will be exhibited at two Charlotte locations before being unveiled this spring at the hospital.

Timmons, who joined Arts For Life in July after serving for 4-and-a-half years as regional director of the Central and Western North Carolina chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, says he also will be holding lunch ‘n’ learn workshops for any companies or other organizations that would like to know more about the organization and becoming sponsors.