Nonprofit news roundup, 05.31.13

Winston-Salem Symphony gets $1.6 million bequest

The Winston-Salem Symphony received a bequest gift of more than $1.6 million to its endowment from the estate of Jeanne “Jan” N. Hill, a Symphony patron who died on February 19, 2012, at age 52.

Hill’s bequest is the single largest gift to the Winston-Salem Symphony in its 66 year history and nearly doubles the size of its endowment.

The gift will be used to establish the Jeanne Hill Miss Liberty Fund and will support the Symphony’s mission to create an inspired community through live musical performances.

The Fund also will assist the Symphony in a period of growth by providing funding for expanding education programs that will reach thousands of local children in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Guilford County Heart Association group number 1 in U.S.

The Guilford County Red Tie Society, a group of men who have pledged support for Go Red for Women, a social initiative of the American Heart Association designed to help women take charge of their heart health, leads similar groups throughout the U.S. both in membership and funds raised.

Launched in 2012-13, the group has raised over $53,000 for heart disease education, awareness, research and legislation, and has enlisted over 50 men as members.

Members pledge a gift of at least $1,100, a total that includes the minimum donation to join plus full scholarships for two women to attend the Guilford Go Red for Women Educational Expo and Luncheon that was held earlier in May.

Launched by Robin S. Hager, campaign chair for for the 2012-13 Guilford Go Red For Women campaign and senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer for NewBridge Bank, the group will be featured in nationwide marketing materials for the American Heart Association.

Next year’s campaign will be co-chaired by Todd Rangel, senior vice president for NewBridge Bank, and Cory Newton, executive vice president of Senn Dunn Insurance.

NewBridge Bank and Novant Health Kernersville Medical Center are the primary sponsors of the 2012-13 Guilford Go Red For Women year-round effort that is focused on raising awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women.

Charlotte to host international symposium on Huntington disease

Charlotte has been selected as the site of the 7th Annual Huntington Study Group Clinical Research Symposium, which is expected to attract leading scientists and medical professionals from throughout the world.

Workshops preceding the symposium include networking for regional doctors and health care providers, continuing education for medical professionals, and training programs for service providers, caregivers and local practitioners.

The symposium will feature reports on the latest research on Huntington disease, an inherited brain disorder that affects control of movement, thought and behavior.

Following the symposium will be an interactive community workshop, including discussions between patients, their families and researchers.

Workshops and the symposium will be held November 7-9 at the Omni Hotel in Charlotte.

Over 30,000 Americans have been diagnosed with Huntington disease, or HD, and over 250,000 others are at risk of having inherited HD from a parent.

No treatment has been found to halt or slow the progressive loss of mental faculties and physical control from HD, which typically results in death 15 to 25 years after onset of motor signs of the disease. HD can strike at any age, typically beginning between age 35 and 45.

The symposium will be hosted by Huntington Study Group,  an international network of clinical researchers who study and care for Huntington disease patients and families.

HD Reach, a Raleigh-based nonprofit that works to help all patients and families gain access to knowledgeable health care and resources to manage the disease, is one of the event sponsors..

StepUp Ministry Greensboro serves over 517 adults

In its first 22 months of operation, StepUp Ministry Greensboro has served 517 adults and graduated 429 from its Jobs Readiness program, with over 200 participants finding jobs and several receiving job promotions.

StepUp Ministry Greensboro is supported financially and with volunteers by 11 founding faith community partners, eight supporting church partners, and many businesses and individuals. Over 200 volunteers work in the program.

Panel to study sustainable funding model for Charlotte’s cultural sector

A group representing local philanthropy, nonprofits, government and business will spend seven months studying the financial state of Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s cultural sector and make recommendations for how to create a sustainable funding model to secure it.
The group will examine the history and current state of the arts and cultural sector; identify the challenges it faces given changes in the region, including its population and economy; and set priorities to ensure a healthy cultural community.

The Cultural Life Task Force consists of 21 members appointed by the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, UNC Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Foundation For The Carolinas, Greater Charlotte Cultural Trust, the Charlotte Chamber and the Arts & Science Council.

Co-chairs are Valecia McDowell, an attorney with Moore & Van Allen, and Pat Riley, president of Allen Tate Company.

North Carolina Chapter of U.S. Green Building Council gets $20,000

The North Carolina Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council received $20,000 from The Caterpillar Foundation to expand the organization’s Green Schools Programs by engaging more schools across the state in sustainability activities as part of a Green Schools Environmental Stewardship Competition.

Nonprofits urged to be sure merging is right move

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This was written for Triangle Community Foundation. I am working with the Foundation as senior communications adviser.]

In the nearly five years since the economy fell apart, nonprofits have faced relentless strain on the operations, rising demand for services, and tougher scrutiny from individual donors and institutional funders.

Nonprofits also have faced growing pressure, particularly from donors and funders concerned about duplication of services in the community, to consider collaborating with other organizations, or even merging with them.

Partnership strategies have seen some early successes, but they also have sparked cautionary warnings from experts about the need to think carefully before collaborating or merging.

Nonprofits should make sure they are pursuing a partnership strategy for the right reasons and that, in developing a partnership, they are addressing critical issues that can mean the difference between success and failure.

“For the last few years, there’s been a lot of talk about mergers, with encouragement from the funding community,” says Sally Edwards, president and CEO at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, an organization that was created in September 2007 through the merger of Exploris museum and Playspace.

“People jump to a merger,” she says, “when they should be asking, do they need to collaborate?”

Thinking before merging

Last year, The Women’s Center and the Family Violence Prevention Center, which had been formed in 1978 and 2000, respectively, merged to form Compass Center for Women and Families in Chapel Hill.

The merger was the result of eight months of detailed talks, including meetings nearly every week of members of the two agencies’ staffs and boards.

And while it may generate some savings, the merger was designed to improve and expand services to clients and prospective clients.

Yet preparing for the merger consumed vast amounts of time and resources at both agencies, and has resulted in continuing costs and operating strain the two agencies did not fully anticipate, says Anne Gerhardt, who is executive director of Compass Center and was executive director of The Women’s Center.

Gerhardt, who estimates she spent at least half her time on the merger in the year leading up to it, says the two agencies went through a comprehensive and highly structured “due diligence” process that examined every aspect of their organizations, operations and programs.

Preparing for the merger already has cost $100,000 and likely will cost another $100,000, an investment that has been compounded by the fact that the two agencies suspended their fund development efforts for a year to prepare for the merger.

“We’ve lost some traction with donors,” Gerhardt says. “Other donors have been very supportive.”

Deepening that lost connection with donors, she says, is the fact that many donors can be reluctant to provide the operating support that mergers require, such as a new website and new brochures and the integration of information technology systems, phone systems, donor databases and client databases.

While some donors were willing to pay for consultants to help make the merger happen, she says, the merger generated real needs that required funding.

“We still have two offices and two phone systems,” she says. “We’re still on two computer systems. We need somebody who can help us there.”

The merged agency will post an operating deficit of roughly $20,000 on a budget of $666,000 for the fiscal year that ends June 30, and expects to post deficits in the next two fiscal years as well.

And the merger has placed continuing strain on the combined staff of 12 people.

In the past year, Gerhardt says, she has hired six people to replace staff members who left, and the organization still has two open positions.

“Our agencies were operating very efficiently prior to the merger,” she says. “We were not duplicating services.”

The merger and its continuing costs, she says, have placed “enormous strain on the staff.”

Combining cultures

Edwards at Marbles Kids Museum says Exploris and Playspace merged after community leaders and a consultant who conducted a feasibility study recommended the merger but advised against launching a possible capital campaign to raise $12 million to create new exhibits.

“Having the opportunity to create a new museum together was one of the things that made the merger successful,” Edwards says. “We were able to create a new culture rather than trying to blend the cultures of two organizations. It turned into a community project. We had a chance for a do-over in this space.”

In addition to technical details about programs, operations and finances, key issues the two organizations addressed in making the merger work focused on “people, emotions, cultures,” she says.

“You need to start thinking about the people just as soon as you start thinking about technical aspects,” she says.

Nonprofits considering a merger also should “be prepared for the unexpected” and build enough time into the planning process to avoid stress or rushing to decisions, Edwards says.

“Make sure you really are doing an assessment that will expose any kinds of risks, and build in contingencies for any risks that may be exposed,” she says. “Try to spend enough time and not be stressed. Eliminate surprises but try to figure out what they might be.”

Most important, she says, is the need to develop a clear statement of the long-term impact a proposed merger aspires to create, rather than merging simply to solve an immediate problem.

“You want a longitudinal vision for why you’re merging,” she says.

Staying objective

Trudy Smith, executive director of Executive Service Corps of the Triangle in Durham, says nonprofits considering a merger should get a third party involved in helping them assess the possible benefits and disadvantages, and navigate the process.

“It’s very hard to be objective because there’s so much emotion,” she says. “Your dealing with peoples’ babies.”

Key issues possible merger partners should address, she says, include who will lead the staff after the merger; how to combine boards; what to name the merged organization; how to blend the two organizations’ respective missions and organizational cultures; how to consolidate programs and operations; and whether there are any “secrets”.

“What are their finances,” she says. “What haven’t they told you.”

The value of a third party is to “bring up things people don’t necessarily think of when headed down the road to merge,” says Smith, whose organization has provided assistance for a handful of mergers in the Triangle.

Few funders make loans, equity investments

Despite their growing use of program-related investments, a tiny share of foundations are using that strategy to expand beyond their traditional grantmaking to support nonprofits, a new study says.

Total investment by foundations in program-related investments such as low-interest loans and equity investments grew to $701 million in 2009 from $139 million in 1990, while the average size of those investments grew steadily to more than $1.5 million in 2009 from just over $660,000 in 2000, says the study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which cited IRS data.

Yet over the past 20 years, only about 1 percent of U.S. foundations each year made program-related investments, or PRIs, the report, Leveraging the Power of Foundations, which was sponsored by Mission Throttle.

The number of foundations making PRIs peaked in 2004 at 137, according to Foundation Center data, then fell to 97 in 2007, while the number of PRIs made each year fell to 244 in 2009 from 421 in 2004, the study says.

Over half the PRIs the study tracks were loans, but foundations also increased their use of equity investments and debt other than loans, such as loan guarantees or loan funds, the study says.

Housing, community development and education were the program areas that received both the most dollars and highest number of PRIs that foundations made between 2000 and 2010, the study says.

Also likely to receive PRIs during the period were non-traditional program areas such as the environment, health, and arts and culture, it says.

Obstacles that continue to limit the use of PRIs, according to interviews with foundation leaders, include lack of information or knowledge about PRIs; lack of expertise in managing PRIs; potential transaction costs related to PRIs;p and lack of appropriate opportunities.

Measuring success with PRIs also is challenging, the study says.

Foundations generally define success as programmatic or social success, and as financial or investment success, the study says, and some consider a PRI successful even it it did not produce a positive financial return on investment but did produce the desired social outcome.

Achieving success, the study says, requires planning, new team structures, traditional financial investment skills, and social metrics.

Some foundations say dialogue among foundations and supporting professional networks have helped boost expansion of the number of PRI users.

Effective impact investment strategies and implementation plans should call on investment, financial and program professionals at foundations to work together, the report says.

‘There is growing perception in the foundation community that foundation resources are scarce relative to society’s needs and that PRIs could offer new strategies to aid in meeting these needs,” Una Osili, director of research at the School of Philanthropy, says in a statement.

“Currently, PRIs are an important tool used by a small segment of the grantmaking community,” she says. “More education and information sharing among grantmakers will be needed if PRIs are to gain more widespread use and achieve their full potential.”

Todd Cohen

Habitat Metrolina Partners focuses on collaboration

By Todd Cohen

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte saved $36,200 when it switched insurance vendors, and another $2,200 when it switched vendors to handle credit-card processing, thanks to vendor lists and prices it shares with eight other Habitat affiliates in the region.

Those nine affiliates each contributes 2 percent of net annual revenue from the 11 ReStores they operate, or a total of $75,000, to support joint marketing for all those stores.

And at least five of the affiliates will be partnering with Habitat for Humanity Michigan Fund, an entity that handles mortgage servicing and originating for 68 Habitat affiliates in Michigan and now is licensed to do business in North Carolina.

All those efforts are among a growing number of initiatives underway or in the works that have been developed by Habitat for Humanity Metrolina Partners, a network that local Habitat affiliates formed in 2010 to “collaborate and consolidate business processes whenever possible,” says Meg Robertson, executive director of the partnership.

“We want to serve more families by working smarter, not harder,”  says Robertson, who joined the partnership after working for 12 years at Habitat Charlotte, most recently as associate director.

Habitat Metrolina Partners was formed in the wake of a 2010 study by California consulting firm La Piana into whether eight local Habitats should merge.

The study, which was funded with a grant from the Catalyst Fund managed by Foundation for the Carolinas, recommended that the Habitat affiliates, which later were joined by the affiliate in York County, S.C., should not merge but should create a “shared services network.”

With a second grant from the Catalyst Fund, the newly formed partnership hired Robertson as executive director and contracted with Apparo, at the time known as NPower Charlotte Region, to study opportunities for the affiliates to collaborate on their mortgage servicing and their purchasing.

Operating with an annual budget of $90,000, the partnership hired Rachel Sutherland Communications to handle news releases, develop Facebook pages for member affiliates’ ReStores, develop a website at and a blog, and work with ad agencies to make marketing buys on television, radio and billboards.

The partnership contracted with the Habitat for Humanity Michigan Fund after a study it commissioned from Apparo to identify software the affiliates might use to handle mortgage servicing and found outsourcing the work would be more cost efficient.

The partnership also has held training sessions for its member affiliates on topics such as construction safety, ReStore safety and construction of Habitat houses abroad.

And the partnership recently received the 2013 Technology Innovation Award from Apparo, including $10,000 to create marketing videos the 11 ReStores will use to promote themselves, to buy iPads so they can shoot and load onto their websites and Facebook pages their own videos about their products, and receive training on how to use the iPads.

The partnership also is looking into the possibility of joint purchasing of construction materials for its member affiliates; purchasing a software system to consolidate member affiliates’ accounting and construction management functions; sharing a donor management software system; and coordinating donations for their ReStores.

Strategic partnerships represent a fundamental way of doing business, particularly in an increasingly competitive marketplace, Robertson says.

“For-profits do this to make more money,” she says. “Our profit is to serve more families.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 05.24.13

United Way of Greater Greensboro fundraising campaign falls short 

United Way of Greater Greensboro raised $10.2 million in its annual campaign that began last fall and ended April 30, short of its $11 million goal and the $10.7 million it raised a year ago.

“Our volunteers, donors and staff have worked tirelessly to achieve this great success for our community,” Michelle Gethers-Clark, interim CEO of United Way says in a statement. “Now, we’re focused on raising the bar for our 2013-13 campaign, which is already underway.”

The campaign coincided with a leadership and staff shakeup at United Way.

In October, after the campaign had begun, Gethers-Clark, a former executive at American Express, was hired by the United Way board as a consultant on the organization’s new “community impact” strategy.

In that same period, United Way lost its vice president of donor relations and hired a new chief financial officer.

“A lot of things have to be done differently” as a result of the new community impact model, Sue Cole, chair of United Way’s board and managing partner at Sage Leadership & Strategy, said at the time.

She said then that Gethers-Clark would be coaching and mentoring the entire United Way staff about processes and strategies related to the new model, while Keith Barsuhn, United Way’s president and CEO, would be focused on the campaign.

In January, Barsuhn resigned and Gethers-Clark was named interim CEO and president.

SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals names executive director

Janice McAdams, former director of advancement at Trinity School of Durham and Chapel Hill, has been named executive director of SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals, a hospital hospitality house in Chapel Hill providing housing, healing and hope to seriously ill adult patients, their family members, and caregivers.

Junior Achievement USA chief to visit Greensboro

Jack Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA, will attend the June 10 open house and reception of Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina to celebrate the preservation and recently completed renovation of its headquarters.

The event also will recognize donors to Junior Achievement’s $150,000 capital campaign.

In 1997, in memory of Blanche Sternberger Benjamin, the Benjamin family donated the historic Starmount Farmhouse, which dates back to the 1880s, to serve as Junior Achievement’s headquarters.

Founded in 1965, Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina serves roughly 10,000 students each year in Guilford, Alamance, Randolph, Rockingham, and Montgomery counties, working in the classroom through partnerships with teachers and volunteers to deliver age-appropriate programs for students in from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Junior Achievement USA reaches 4.2 million students a year in 122 markets across the U.S. plus another 5.8 million students served by operations in 120 other countries.

Walk raises $350,000 for heart and stroke research, prevention

The 2013 Greater Guilford Heart and Stroke Walk on May 18 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro attracted over 5,000 people and raised over $350,000 to support the work of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association for research and prevention education for heart disease and stroke. The event was chaired by David Weavil, CEO of Solstas Lab Partners. Including other already scheduled fundraising events through June 30, the chapter expects to raise a total of $375,000.

Dorsett new board chair at North Carolina Community Foundation

Stuart B. Dorsett, an estate attorney and leader of the Trusts and Estates Practice Group for Ward and Smith, has been appointed chairman of the statewide board of directors of the North Carolina Community Foundation.

Dorsett, who is the fifth board chairman in the Foundation’s 25-year history, has been a member of its statewide board since 2004 and is a past president of the boards of advisors of the Craven County Community Foundation and the Wake County Community Foundation, both affiliates of the Foundation.

Army’s Army raises $4,000

Army’s Army, a nonprofit in Fayetteville that raises money to support military families, veterans and children of fallen soldiers, attracted over 200 people and raised nearly $4,000 on May 18 at Ride to Honor, a cycling event it held in partnership with Cross Creek Cycling Club in Fayetteville.

Hime leaving Mission Increase Foundation

Justin Hime is stepping down as manager of chapter development in Raleigh for the Mission Increase Foundation to join local home builder American Homesmith, where he will handle new market research, product development and positioning, and the company’s philanthropic support of care for military families.

Benefit set for Staff of Hope

Staff of Hope, a nonprofit that works to provide clean water, education and health care to people in East Africa, will benefit from the “Southern Classics & NC BBQ” event, a car, truck and motorcycle show, to be hosted by Falcon Engineering and feature live music and a barbecue competition, on June 1 from noon to 4 p.m. at its offices at 1210 Trinity Road in Raleigh. Founded by a group of seminary students in 2001, Staff of Hope provides clean water to more than 20,000 people every year.

Golf event to benefit Greensboro Children’s Museum

The Greensboro Children’s Museum will benefit from the 6th annual golf tournament hosted by the Triad chapter of the Young Professionals of the Risk Management Association on June 3 at Starmount Forest Country Club.

Winston-Salem Foundation Committee endorses coliseum deal

The Winston-Salem Foundation Committee endorsed an agreement between the City of Winston-Salem and Wake Forest University over the potential sale of the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Pending final review, the Committee voted to release its reversionary interest in the Coliseum. The Foundation says the Committee’s previous concerns over protecting the intent of the Foundation’s 1969 deed restrictions, which ensured overall benefits to the public for sports, recreation, entertainment, or cultural purposes, are now satisfied.

Four members join board of North Carolina New Schools

Four Triangle business leaders have been named to newly created seats the 15-member board of directors of North Carolina New Schools, a public-private partnership in Raleigh that works to promote education innovation. New board members include Ed Auslander, president and CEO, LORD Corporation; David Pulman, former president, Global Manufacturing & Supply, GlaxoSmithKline; Richard Stevens, counsel, Smith Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan; and Matt West, founder and CEO, Intangibles.

Jenrette honored for contribution to southern decorative arts

Richard H. Jenrette, a founder and former chairman of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, and former chairman of The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States, received the first-ever Frank L. Horton Lifetime Achievement Award for Southern Decorative Arts from the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, or MESDA, at Old Salem Museums & Gardens. The award recognizes outstanding lifetime contribution to southern decorative arts.

Winston-Salem State junior receives scholarship

Whittney Work, a junior at Winston-Salem State University pursing a bachelor’s degree in nursing, is among 16 recipients of $2,500 Go Red Multicultural Scholarships from the American Heart Association and Macy’s to increase culturally-sensitive, patient-centered care.

The scholarship program, now in its second year, champions greater inclusion of multicultural women in medical, nursing and allied health studies to meet the need that racial minorities have of healthcare providers who understand important aspects of various cultures.

Work is working part-time, taking 13 credit hours, starting clinical nursing rotations at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and maintaining an overall grade point average of 3.8. She hopes to continue her education and one day pursue a career as a neonatal nurse practitioner.

High Point Historical Society announces officers, awards, events

Donna Kaiser was elected president and Bill Phillips was named president-elect of the board of trustees of the High Point Historical Society.

The Society also presented its Walsh Award to Jackie Carpenter, who works in the Museum Store and serves as a docent, and to Stanley Williams, who works in the artifact collections department; its Mary Lib Joyce Award to Jo Williamson, past president of the historical society who has been instrumental in the Society’s annual Evaluation Extravaganza; and its Trustees Award to Penn Wood, president of the Society who served as Museum Guild president in 2010-11.

The Society board also announced its four fundraising events for the year – History Rocks! on October 5, Ghost Stories in the Park on October 19, 2014, Valentine Tea on February 8, 2014, and Evaluation Extravaganza on April 12, 2014.

Online fundraising grows

Driven mainly by “recurring” donors and “repeat” donors, online fundraising grew steadily in 2012, a new study says.

Among roughly 500 organizations that sent 4.2 billion emails and raised $1.12 billion in 2012, online fundraising grew 27 percent from recurring donors and 20 percent from repeat donors, according to Blackbaud’s Online Marketing Benchmarking Study for Nonprofits.

A recurring donor regularly gives a specified amount over a set period of time, while a repeat donor is one that gives again after making an initial gift.

Open rates remained consistent with 2011, while click-through and response rates continued to drop, says the study, which included only organizations that had used Blackbaud’s Luminate platform for at least three years.

Response rates on appeals tell over 18 percent from 2011, a decline that reflects “a saturated channel with undifferentiated messaging and campaigns,” the study says. “This is present in direct mail, telemarketing and face-to-face solicitation.”

First-time gifts grew 3 percent while advocacy posted an increase of 8.7 percent in actions taken, and advocates who also made a contribution grew 11.9 percent.

Food Banks and organizations with smaller email files outperformed other “vertical” fields of interest on a median percentage basis, the study says.

Canadian organizations, higher education, hospitals, hospital foundations and Jewish organizations also posted strong performances, it says.

Those vertical performances”may be explained by the trend of donors becoming more cautious, and giving to charities to which they feel connected,” the study says. “There is a trend for this behavior, particularly with colleges, hospitals, and similar groups.”

Todd Cohen