Nonprofit news roundup, 03.29.13

Easter Seals’ Food Lion drive raises $3.7

Customers of Salisbury-based Food Lion raised $3.7 million to serve over 100,000 children and adults with disabilities through 11 Easter Seals affiliates in the Southeast.

The four-week Shop&Care campaign, which ran from Feb. 13 to March 12, offered Food Lion customers the chance buy over 200 specially-marked products in stores.

Customers also made donations in $1 increments at checkout, and store associates hosted community events.

Since it launched the Shop&Care program 22 years ago, Food Lion has raised over $36 million for Eastern Seals.

Two Charlotte agencies get $200,000 grants

Crisis Assistance Ministry and the Urban League of Central Carolinas, both in Charlotte, have been recognized by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation as part of its Neighborhood Builder program that provides leadership training and a $200,000 unrestricted grant.

The program recognizes high-performing nonprofits that have made a significant impact in the community working in the bank’s priority funding areas of housing, jobs and hunger relief.

Since 2004, Bank of America has invested over $165 million through the program, recognized over 730 nonprofits and trained nearly 1,500 nonprofit leaders.

Chronic homelessness plunges in Forsyth County

The population of chronically homeless people in Forsyth County has decreased 58 percent since 2005, the year before the city of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County adopted a Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.

A “Point-in-Time Count” taken on January 30 shows 82 chronically homeless individuals, down from 194 founded in a similar count taken on Jan. 26, 2005.

The count, an annual homeless assessment required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, also showed a 49 percent a drop in homelessness among military veterans since 2007, to 38 from 74, and a 40 percent decline in total homelessness since 2012, reversing four straight years of increases.

The total homeless count on January 30 was 407, the lowest since data first was collected in 1996.

An estimated 3,194 persons experienced homelessness in Forsyth County at some point in 2011, according to a new report from Forsyth Futures.

The number of individuals who are chronically homeless fell roughly 40 percent between January 2011 and January 2013, says the report, “Making Progress Report: Economic Self Sufficiency.”

For the study, Forsyth Futures analyzed data from the Carolina Homeless Information Network, which collects client data from participating shelters, and from the Point in Time Count, which is taken each January and July.

The Council on Services for the Homeless and United Way of Forsyth County partnered with Forsyth Futures in providing data for the study.

Johnston County special needs park project gets $100,000

A private donor has given $100,000 to the Partnership to Build a Miracle of Johnston County.

The Partnership is committed to raising $1.5 million dollars to build a Miracle League Baseball field and special needs park.

This complex will allow the more than 4,000 special needs children in Johnston County and surrounding areas to play without having to worry about accessibility.

The also will serve all children and seniors, who often also have mobility issues.

Legal Services, Legal Aid raise $60,000

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Legal Aid of North Carolina raised over $60,000 at the seventh annual Justice for All Luncheon March 19 at the Westin Hotel in Charlotte. Sponsors for the event, which attracted nearly 400 people and featured a keynote speech by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, were Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Duke Energy, Discover Ready, Defender Capital and Lexis Nexis.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle expands mobile program

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh has partnered with community centers Passage Home and Neighbor to Neighbor, and with St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, to expand its Mobile Markets program to Southeast Raleigh. Since 1990, the Mobile Markets program has served low-income neighborhoods to ensure that families in need have monthly access to fresh produce and other food items.  Plans are to open more new Mobile Markets throughout the year.

Triangle Community Foundation funds camp partners

Triangle Community Foundation selected 16 partners to receive funding to provide camp tuition assistance to children ages 5 to 17 through its Send A Kid To Camp program. Launched in 1984, the program has donated over $2.3 million, benefiting over 8,000 children in Orange, Durham, Wake and Chatham counties who otherwise could not attend camp.

Lowes Foods, Acosta award $53,000

Lowes Foods and Acosta Sales & Marketing awarded $53,000 to The Wounded Warrior Project through a partnership to honor fallen U.S. military and their families.

Winston-Salem Foundation gives $276,000

The Winston-Salem Foundation made 14 community grants totaling $276,100 to organizations serving people living in Forsyth County in the areas of animal welfare, arts and culture, environment, health, human services, public interest, and recreation.

Local community foundations accepting online grant applications

The Columbus County Community Foundation, Duplin County Community Foundation and Robeson County Community Foundation all will accept online applications for their 2013 grant application cycle through May 7. Applications are available on the website of the North Carolina Community Foundation.

The Columbus County, Duplin County and Robeson County community foundations have awarded over $72,000, over $25,000 and over $19,000 to local nonprofits since 2000, 2005 and 2007, respectively.

HopeLine hosting 3d Annual Skate4Life event

HopeLine in Raleigh will hold its 3rd Annual “Skate4Life” Event on May 11 from 11 a.m. to dusk at Marsh Creek Skate Park at 3016 North New Hope Road.

Walk MS at NC Zoo raises $42,000

The Central North Carolina chapter of the National MS Society raised over $42,000 from its annual Walk MS: NC Zoo event, which was held March 23 at the North Carolina Zoo, sponsored by Modern Automative, and attracted over 500 walkers and volunteers. Funds raised at the event are included in a campaign that aims to raise $238,000. Additional walks will be held at The Penn House in Reidsville on April 13 and at Fourth of July Park in Kernersville on April 20.

High Point Regional completes merger with UNC Health Care

High Point Regional Health System has completed its merger with UNC Health Care, which will become the sole member of High Point Regional and provide $150 million in capital improvements and $50 million to establish a newly formed community health fund.

Greensboro United Way awards $277,000 in grants

United Way of Greater Greensboro has awarded nearly $277,000 in grants through funds created by the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation.

Eight organizations received a total of $126,832 from the Kathleen and Joseph M. Bryan Community Enrichment Venture Grant program, while eight organizations received a total of $150,000 from the Joseph M. Bryan Human Services Grants program.

Launched in 1967, the Enrichment and Venture Grant program to promote the improvement of human services through innovative programs.

Grants, which can total up to $15,000 each, are awarded for seed money to provide short-term support for startup, development and stabilization of new and innovative programs, as well as system-building grants that strengthen the capacity of existing agencies’ impact on the human services delivery system, or to redirect agencies to more effectively address areas of need.

Established in 1996 by the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, the Venture Grant program provides stabilization grants to human services programs.

Grants, which can total up to $30,000, can be used for a program that has been operating and showing success for a limited number of years and needs strengthening.

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Girl Scouts raising funds for new campus

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In 2001, donations to the Girls Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council, from individuals, corporations and foundations accounted for 3 percent of the organization’s $2.8 million annual budget, with only 3 percent to 4 percent of families of member girls giving a total of about $8,000.

Today, private giving represents 10 percent of the Council’s $4 million annual budget, with 13 percent of families contributing a total of $90,000.

Those changes are the result of an effort the Council launched in 2001 to create a “culture of philanthropy” rooted in the belief that everyone in an organization should understand and be involved in helping to develop the resources it needs to advance its mission, says Katherine Lambert, the Council’s executive vice president.

Building that culture also has set the foundation for the Council’s current effort to raise money for development of a 700-acre site it has acquired in Iredell County near Statesville to replace and expand three sites it had used for camping and outdoor activities for girls, and to meet rising demand for services.

“We were not serving the girls of today, much less tomorrow,” says Sally Daley, the Council’s CEO.

The Council is in the “semi-quiet phase” of a capital campaign, its first since it began in 1935, to raise money for developing the new site, a project that will cost $12 million in addition to the $5 million it paid to buy three connected pieces of land in Iredell County.

The Council expects to cover the cost of those purchases through the sale of Camp Occoneechee, a site of nearly 200 acres near Lake Lure it sold in three pieces in 2011 for a total of roughly $3 million; and from the sale of Camp Catawba, a 25-acre site near Lake Wylie in South Carolina, and of a 75-acre site near Albermarle in Stanly County, both of which are on the market.

The Council has worked with the Catawba Land Conservancy to provide a conservation easement to permanently protect about half the acreage of its new site, which will be an “environmental leadership campus” and feature perennial streams and two miles of riverfront access to the South Yadkin River.

On the site, which all was raw land, the Council plans to develop housing and a dining hall for 500 people; build a dam to create a 25-acre lake; create trails and an environmental center; facilities for traditional activities such as archery; and seven “adventure zones” such as a 60-foot climbing tower, and a “low challenge course” and “group initiative course” for leadership development.

Programs at the new facility will focus on environmental leadership and on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Operating with 43 employees and 6,000 adult volunteers, the Council serves 16,500 girls in kindergarten through 12th grade in eight counties.

It generates roughly 70 percent of its annual budget from the sale of cookies, 10 percent from fundraising, 8 percent from United Way, 6 percent from its retail store, and the remainder from program fees and miscellaneous revenue.

And with girls and adult volunteers finding themselves increasingly busy, the Council is working to provide them with more flexible options to participate.

“We’re always focused on leadership development,” Daley says. “The real mission of our organization is helping today’s girls become today’s leaders and tomorrow’s leaders in these critical times.”

Giving grows at private foundations

Private U.S. foundations with less than $50 million in assets gave 9.1 percent more in grants in 2012 than in 2011, preliminary findings from a new report show.

Giving by foundations with $1 million to $10 million in assets grew 21.5 percent, while giving fell 0.4 percent for foundations with under $1 million in assets, and was down 1.5 percent for those with $10 million to $50 million in assets.

The preliminary findings are based on grantmaking by 732 clients of Foundation Source, which in May plans to release its 2013 Annual Report on Private Foundations.

Foundations with endowments of less than $50 million represent 98 percent of roughly 80,000 private foundations in the U.S., Foundation Source says.

Grants and charitable expenses combined, known as “qualifying distributions,” grew to 11.7 percent of assets for private foundations, up from 11.2 percent in 2011.

Qualifying distributions fell to 22.2 percent of assets from 22.6 percent among foundations with assets under $1 million, grew to 13.5 percent of assets from 12.3 percent among foundations with assets of $1 million to $10 million, and were flat at 8.7 percent among foundations with assets from $10 million to $50 million,.

The share of giving to international causes, arts and culture, and human services all grew, while giving to other causes fell or was flat.

Education received the biggest share, 25.7 percent, down from 27.1 percent in 2011, followed by public affairs and society benefit, which received 16.8 percent, down from 18.7 percent in 2011.

Grants of less than $1,000 grew 16.8 percent in value, compared to increases of 16.2 percent for grants between $100,000 to $1 million, and 4.9 percent for grants between $1,000 and $10,000.

— Todd Cohen

Conservation Network stepping up advocacy role

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Last year, The Colbert Report on Comedy Central lampooned a bill introduced by a North Carolina state lawmaker to bar the state Coastal Resources Commission from defining rates of sea-level changes for regulatory purposes.

“The bill as originally introduced was written in a way that seemed to indicate the legislature was mandating that the oceans not rise,” says Brian Buzby, executive director of the North Carolina Conservation Network. “They scaled back the bill, but they essentially put their heads in the sand.”

The bill, and the national publicity, helped drive a surge in the number of citizens who subscribe to a weekly email public alert from Conservation Network to 25,000 from 14,000, and in the number of its Facebook friends to 10,000 from 4,000.

Now, seeing serious threats to the environment and to environmental policy in the areas of air quality and energy, water quality and quantity, and land conservation and open space, the Conservation Network is expanding its staff to strengthen its community organizing and communications.

A growing number of policy decisions “are taking the last three to four decades of a very balanced approach of environmental protection and economic development,” Buzby says, “and throwing that out the window.”

Formed in 1998 and operating with an annual budget of $800,000 and a staff of eight people, the Conservation Network serves nearly 100 affiliate environmental groups throughout the state.

It communicates with its member groups every day by email, phone or in person, distributes a weekly email message to its 25,000 activist subscribers on a current topic they can act on, and posts daily Facebook updates on campaigns it is waging on issues, inviting people to get involved.

The Network’s use of social media includes raising awareness about new studies and breaking news about the environment, as well as celebrating North Carolina’s environment.

The organization generates 40 percent of its revenue through contributions, 31 percent from grants, 12 percent from contracts, 9 percent from affiliate dues, 6 percent from an online auction, and 2 percent from investment interest and miscellaneous sources.

The auction, which raised $20,000 last fall, has grown by inviting affiliates and activists to donate items, such as the use of their beach houses or their business services, an approach that Buzby says not only generates more revenue but helps the Network better engage and know its supporters.

And with the environment facing critical challenges, Buzby says, the role of advocacy has becoming increasingly important.

A report last year by the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association estimated, conservatively, that the state is home to over 15,200 clean energy jobs at 1,100 companies in 86 of the state’s 100 counties and that those companies generate over $3.7 billion in annual revenues, he says.

“North Carolina has had a long history of working hard and working together to balance environmental protection with a strong economy, and creating a state where businesses want to come and people want to move, because it has a reputation of a strong education system, good jobs and a clean environment,” he says.

“But what we’re seeing in the past few years, and it seems to be accelerating, is that we are moving back to the old paradigm of jobs versus the environment,” he says. “And that’s really not how the world works.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 03.22.13

Chicago United Way creates neighborhood-services hub

Integrating education, income and health resources for children and families through neighborhood hubs is the focus of a new effort launched by United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.

The initial hub will be located in Brighton Park, the fastest growing neighborhood in Chicago and one with a large Latino population.

Lead partner for the effort will be the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, which will operate social service hubs at three middle schools, providing after-school academic programs, tax assistance, health services and other programs.

United Way, which plans to replicate the strategy in other neighborhoods, will provide management oversight and, to build local “capacity,” also will provide financial support, strategic guidance, issue advocacy, a volunteer network, and access to corporate partners.

Darryl Lester takes interim post at N.C. State University

Darryl Lester, founder and president of Hindsight Consulting, and founder of the Community Investment Network, has been named interim assistant director at the African American Culture Center at North Carolina State University.

YWCA Central Carolinas raises over $220,000

YWCA Central Carolinas in Charlotte raised over $220,000 at its annual We Believe luncheon, which attracted more than 700 hosted community leaders, supporters and friends at the Westin, Uptown and featured a keynote speech by Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

Wells Fargo offers matching gift for Charlotte arts groups

Twenty-four Charlotte-Mecklenburg arts, science, history and heritage organizations are working to earn a share of a $200,000 matching grant from Wells Fargo for their projects on power2give.org, a platform that lets individuals directly support arts and culture projects. The grant will match, dollar-for-dollar, donations made to projects posted on power2give by the organizations that receive unrestricted operating support from the Arts & Science Council.

Forsyth United Way launches Mobile Prosperity Center

United Way of Forsyth County has launched its third Mobile Prosperity Center, this one at Mineral Springs Middle School at 4559 Ogburn Station Road. The Center, a community collaboration funded by Wells Fargo, will serve as a one-stop financial center offering a broad range of financial and job preparation and search services, including free tax preparation assistance. Increasing the financial stability of lower-income individuals and families is a primary focus for United Way, which opened Prosperity Centers in 2008 at 585 Waughtown Street and in 2010 at 1253 Liberty Street.

Volunteers stuff backpacks for Food Bank in Charlotte

Ten volunteers from the legal department at Piedmont Natural Gas and 10 attorney volunteers from Moore & Van Allen teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in Charlotte to stuff 1,000 backpacks with food to be delivered to local schools to be sent home on weekends and holidays with children teachers have identified as being at high risk for hunger.  Piedmont and Moore & Van Allen have funded an affiliate backpack program at Devonshire Elementary School, and a portion of the filled packs will be earmarked for delivery to Devonshire.

Two agencies hire Capstone Advancement Partners

Capstone Advancement Partners in Charlotte has been engaged by Alexander Youth Network to provide campaign counsel to help raise funds for capital needs, programmatic development, and endowment, and by Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont to complete a capital campaign planning study as the organization seeks to grow its operations and impact.

MS Walk set for March 23

The Central North Carolina Chapter of the National MS Society will hold its annual Walk MS event at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro on March 23. Modern Automotive will be title sponsor for the event.

Mother-daughter tea to be held March 24

NewBridge Bank, Kernersville Medical Center and The American Heart Association will hold a mother/daughter tea and fashion show on March 24 featuring fashions from Macy’s Department Store. The event, to be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre at 310 South Greene Street in downtown Greensboro, is part of the Heart Association’s Guilford County Go Red For Women Campaign to raise awareness of heart disease as the number one cause of death in women.

Peacehaven to hold inaugural ‘Barnyard Bash and Dash’

Peacehaven Community Farm in Whitsett, a place for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities to live affordably and independently, will hold its inaugural Barnyard Bash and Dash on April 13 and 14. Peacehaven also is partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Greensboro to begin construction soon on the first home in the community.

Salvation Army of Winston-Salem moves emergency assistance office

The Salvation Army of Winston-Salem has moved its Emergency Assistance Office to 130 Stratford Court in Winston-Salem from the Center of Hope at 1255 North Trade Street to better accommodate the increased demand for services. The program distributes funds to people in crisis situations. Services include rent and mortgage payments, utility assistance, food pantry, a Crisis Intervention Program, and a Low Income Energy Assistance Program. In the first four weeks in the new space, five case workers helped 3,234 people with their need for rent, mortgage, utility, or food assistance.

Bequests boost revenue at Zoo Society

By Todd Cohen

ASHEBORO, N.C. — In 1981 and 1982, the North  Carolina Zoo Society in Asheboro received a total of nearly $400,000 from its first estate gift ever.

In 1987, having raised over $7 million in a capital campaign to support the North America exhibit at the North Carolina Zoo and exceeded by $1 million the total it needed to raise to match $24 million in state funding, the Zoo Society launched a program to secure planned gifts through wills and other estate planning.

That effort has generated a total of nearly $20 million in “realized” gifts from 88 estates, and the Zoo Society is aware of planned gifts from 290 other estates that are expected to result, “very conservatively,” in at least $35 million in gifts, says Russ Williams, director of planned and major giving for the Zoo  Society.

In 2012, the Zoo Society raised over $8.9 million, excluding investment income, up from over $4.7 million a year earlier.

Of the total raised, 33 distributions from 18 estates totaled over $6.2 million, while membership dues from the Zoo Society’s 30,000 member households totaling roughly 100,000 people generated $1.7 million, up from $1.65 million a year earlier.

Planned giving is a strategy that requires patience, Williams says.

Since 1987, when the Zoo Society launched its Lions Pride program to recognize donors who have told the organization they have provided for it in their wills and estates plans, he says, he has found it takes roughly seven years for those gifts to begin to be realized.

After its initial estate gift in 1981 and 1982, for example, the Zoo Society did not receive additional estate gifts until 1990 and 1991, and they totaled $31,000 combined and even may have been set up before the organization launched its planned giving program, Williams says.

The value of estate gifts also can show big swings from year to year, he says, ranging from under $100,000 some years to several hundred thousand dollars or even several million dollars.

To be successful, Williams says, planned giving programs also require treating all donors and members as if they were major and planned givers.

That includes answering the phone before it rings three times; getting back to people the same day with answers to their questions; making sure donors receive a receipt for a gift a day or two after it is received; and sending hand-written thank-you notes for gifts of $150 or more.

“Our strategy,” Williams says, “is to be really customer oriented to members.”

Health care groups urged to diversify investments

Health care organizations should adopt a new endowment model that reduces their reliance on fixed income assets such as bonds and cash, and increases allocations to alternative investments and other illiquid assets, a new white paper says.

The new model was developed over three decades by educational institutions and increasingly adopted by other types of nonprofits, and shifting to it and reaping benefits from it could take decades, making that shift “all the more urgent,” says Assessing the State of Healthcare, the white paper from the Commonfund Institute.

“It is in the interest of health care organizations, rating agencies and donors that health care endowments evolve toward becoming more like those of other long-term nonprofit institutions,” the white paper says.

Nonprofit health care organizations typically operate with “razor thin margins, or even at a deficit, the paper says, and they get revenue from reimbursement from government, by far the biggest source, and from income from private insurers and self-pay patients, and through support from donations or transfers from endowments they may have.

Any excess of reimbursements and income from insurers and patients over costs represents the “operating margin” for these organizations.

A 2012 Commonfund study found that, among 86 nonprofit health care organizations surveyed, the median operating margin in fiscal 2011 was 4.1 percent, up from 2.9 percent in fiscal 2008.

The increase reflects cost cutting across the industry, with big health care organizations making the greatest progress but smaller organizations catching up.

Large organizations made early progress “because they realized they would have to reduce operating expenses and took steps to change their cost structures to capture greater economies of  scale.”

Smaller health care organizations followed the lead of those bigger organizations, taking “what actions they could to lift their previously low — and even negative — operating margins.”

But because bigger groups can spread cost reductions over a wider base of patients and constituents and weather reimbursement reductions the paper says, they will reap greater benefit than smaller and mid-sized groups with proportionately higher fixed costs.

Those smaller and mid-sized organizations will rely more heavily on endowments to “enhance surpluses and make up for losses,” the paper says.

Most health systems use bond issues to fund construction projects and improvements, it says, and successful bond offerings depends in large part on the bonds earning a high rating from bond rating agencies.

And bond agencies “look not only to the ability of the health care provider to generate cash flow but also to the liquidity of its endowment’s financial assets as a potential backstop source of repayment,” the paper says.

As a result, it says, assets allocations of health care endowments tend, on average, to be weighted more heavily toward cash and fixed income investments than those of other types of nonprofits.

And that bias away from traditional equity investments generally have returned less per year than other nonprofits, the paper says.

“This practice seems increasingly to resemble a luxury that will eventually become unsustainable as other sources of revenue for health care organizations continue to diminish,” it says.

While allocations to fixed income investments and cash total nearly 40 percent of the portfolio of the average nonprofit health care organization, the paper says, health care organizations are better off with more highly diversified portfolios, managed “with prudent regard to liquidity,” to support bond repayment.

For small and mid-sized health care organizations that “lack the ability to spread costs over a wider patient base,” the paper says, “a greater degree of reliance on endowment income appears inevitable, and there is little time to lose.”

— Todd Cohen