Babcock Foundation chief quits

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — After just a year-and-a-half on the job, David Jackson has resigned as executive director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation in Winston-Salem.

Sandra Mikush, the foundation’s deputy director, has been named interim executive director.

Mikush says the resignation, which Jackson announced to the staff on April 24, was a surprise.

Jackson cited personal reasons for his departure, which was not the result of any differences with the board, staff or grant recipients, Mikush says.

Jackson did not respond to multiple requests for a phone interview.

The board likely will consider next steps for the transition at the foundation, and its ongoing work, at its scheduled meeting in June, says Mikush, who joined the foundation in 1992.

With 10 employees, the foundation has assets of roughly $180 million and makes about $7 million in annual grants.

For the past nine years, it has focused on moving people and places out of poverty across the Southeast, and helping them achieve greater social and economic justice.

That effort, including the investment of nearly $64 million since 2005, has built on the work the foundation launched 20 years ago to support organizations and networks that work across lines of race and class to address issues of poverty.

As part of a periodic review and planning process it conducts every 10 years, Mikush says, the foundation currently is looking at its program of work, and at how the world is changing and has changed over past 10 years.

“The clear message from the board is that we’re not anticipating any major shift,” Mikush says.

Jackson, who previously was president and CEO of the Center for Working Families in Atlanta, joined the foundation as executive director in November 2012, succeeding Gayle Williams, who retired after leading the foundation for 19 years.

Canadian charity, Part 3: Volunteer leadership key to fundraising

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This article was written for Blackbaud.]

Key to building the capacity of charities is volunteer leadership that can “ensure that the financial resources are there for the organization to deliver their programs,” said Derek Fraser, chair of the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Canadian Council and president of iDoPhilanthropy in Calgary.

“As at any company, you need sales people out there doing it for you,” he said. “But we don’t take that view in the nonprofit sector, and we expect it to happen as if by magic. There is no magic wand.”

The solution for smaller charities, he said, is to have “realistic expectations for the scope of your organization and continue to be consistent in growing and not be expected to be able to leap to the success of a large organization. Organizations can crash and burn if they try to grow too quickly or not stay true to core values and who they are and the core constituency that supports them.”

Collaboration, impact

“What Canadian Donors Want,” a study released in February by the AFP Foundation for Canada and market research firm Ipsos, found that three in four respondents want charities that address similar issues to look for ways to “work together and share plans and resources,” Fraser said.

And it underscored the fact that “Canadians have high standards for how charities operate,” he said.

A large majority of respondents, for example, believe charities should have a strategic plan, strive for rigorous standards to measure their performance, and invest in tools that show their impact on the community they serve or the cause they support, he said.

Integrated fund development

One effective strategy to address some of the fundraising challenges facing charities is to better connect fund development to programs, said Michael Johnston, founder and president of Hewitt and Johnston Consultants, a fundraising consulting firm in Toronto.

That requires charities taking the time needed to integrate their programmatic work with their fundraising strategies, he said.

An organization that counts on volunteers to mentor kids, for example, traditionally may

not have tied its work with volunteers to its work with donors.

To align those two activities and constituencies, Johnston said, an organization should pair staff who work with volunteers with staff who work with donors and show them the strategic connection between their respective jobs and clients, “because citizens don’t see themselves as a volunteer or donor, they see themselves as both.”

Among Canadian charities, he said, “best practices” in marketing and fund development involve “lifestyle planning for their constituents.” That means working with fundraising and volunteer staff to “plot out, from cradle to grave, how to take care” of donors and volunteers, he said.

“If we don’t do that in a more competitive and demanding environment, we don’t build deeper relationships, and we won’t move people up the donor pyramid from small gifts to ultimately larger gifts because we don’t met their demands,” Johnston said.

“It’s all about being an intimate friend,” he said. “All that gets wrapped up in investing in technology, change management, an integrated shop, and in human beings who know how to do these things.”

Digital fundraising

Canadian charities are on the leading edge of using digital technology in effective and innovative ways, experts say.

“The one place where the Canadian charitable sector punches above its weight is in peer-to-peer fundraising,” Johnston said.

An hjc and Blackbaud study last year, “The Next Generation of Canadian Giving,” found that the number of charity fundraising events, as well as per-capita giving and participation in fundraising events, is higher in Canada than in the U.S. or U.K., he said.

Canadian charities also are recognizing that smartphones offer a “rich multimedia experience,” compared to devices that simply offer a “text-to-give” option, Johnston said.

So charities are investing more in mobile technology (creating videos of client stories, for example) and in applications that let donors quickly give from their phones with a credit card or via PayPal using an application or browser, he said.

Response to postal changes

In the face of changes by Canada Post, the best practice for nonprofit marketing and fundraising is to integrate email in combination with direct mail and phone calls, Johnston said.

Fraser said “a lot of organizations are going to have to look at whether we can afford to do direct mail anymore, or replace it with online strategies.”

The postal changes are “likely to drive a shift to email or online or digital fundraising.”

Ted Garrard, president and CEO of the SickKids Foundation in Toronto, said he does not believe the change will have too significant an impact and that he is more concerned about the rise in postal rates.

“The mail is still getting delivered, just not to somebody’s door,” he said.

The good news, he said, is that the postal changes represent “a very good opportunity for charities to redirect their relationships with direct mail donors to one that is an online relationship.”

Cause marketing and events

Cause marketing is growing as a fundraising strategy, as charities work with corporate partners with “brands that are well known and partnerships that can help each organization,” Fraser said.

Helping to drive that strategy is “fatigue around direct mail,” which “continues to be an expensive methodology to acquire donors,” as well as the changes by Canada Post, he said.

And fundraising events, “even though they take a massive amount of time, are still very effective at getting new people in your door to find out about you,” Fraser said.

Calgary, for example, has been having more charity events than ever, he said.

And once they get people “in the tent” at events, he said, charities can maintain relationships with them through digital strategies.

Next: SickKids Foundation invests in fundraising capacity

The series:

Part 1: State of the sector.

Part 2: Sector faces challenges.

Part 3: Volunteer leadership key to fundraising.

Part 4: SickKids Foundation invests in fundraising capacity.

Charities working to make collective impact

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Facing increasingly complex social and environmental problems, a growing number of nonprofits and donors are finding they can make a greater impact by working together than on their own.

Consider Tom Gipson, CEO of Thomas Gipson Homes, a Raleigh custom homebuilder.

Modeled on Gipson’s effort to enlist local homebuilders who then recruited their subcontractors and suppliers to build houses for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County,  homebuilders throughout the U.S. now have built over 1,300 houses worth $65 million for local Habitat affiliates and will build 210 more and rehab another 50 in June.

 “By leveraging my acquaintances and friends, we were able to get a great deal,” Gipson told a work session at What Matters, an event at the Raleigh Convention Center on April 2 hosted by Triangle Community Foundation that focused on the role of innovation and collaboration in making a difference on critical community issues.

Strategic partnerships

The conference, attended by over 500 business, government and nonprofit leaders, highlighted the “collective impact” that nonprofits and donors can have on pressing community needs through strategic partnerships.

“Great nonprofits build movements, not just organizations,” said keynote speaker Leslie Crutchfield, a consultant who has co-authored books on “catalytic” donors and “high-impact” nonprofits.

What ultimately drives nonprofits “isn’t profits, it’s impact,” she said. “Great nonprofits find points of leverage around them so they can amplify their impact, and it’s all about how they work collaboratively.”

Time of change

It has been just over 100 years since the creation of the first organized philanthropic foundations by industrialists Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, Crutchfield said.

Today, she said, philanthropy looks much different and works much differently than it did then.

There are many more nonprofits in the U.S., an estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million, giving donors more choices in what to support, and creating more competition for nonprofits, she said.

And there are a lot more foundations, including 75,000 in the U.S. alone.

Donors can use digital technology to learn more about nonprofits before supporting them, and are making not just donations but also loans and equity investments. And nonprofits are using the power of technology to raise money and awareness through “crowdsourcing.”

Donors are demanding and expecting more accountability from nonprofits, and asking them to use metrics to show the outcome of their work.

Changes in the law have resulted in big changes in the way philanthropy and government are interrelated, and philanthropy and businesses are working together more closely, with “capitalism and market forces” driving innovation and collaboration.

“Because of these changes, opportunities for philanthropists and for nonprofit leaders also look very different,” Crutchfield said.

And the problems that nonprofits and philanthropy address have grown much more complex, she said.

Community conversation

In the two years leading up to its 30th anniversary this year, Triangle Community Foundation has studied community needs in partnership with donors, nonprofits and community leaders to find collaborative strategies to fix them, Foundation CEO Lori O’Keefe said at the conference.

“So what we’ve really been doing is having a community conversation,” she said.

As a result of that work, the Foundation has decided to focus on four key areas — community development, environmental conservation, regional cultural arts, and youth literacy.

Collaborative strategies

In partnership with 22 nonprofits that already have been collaborating with other organizations and with one another, and showing success in addressing pressing needs in the region, the Foundation has launched new initiatives in two of those areas — youth literacy and community development.

The Foundation’s investment in youth literacy aims to encourage youth success by improving early childhood reading proficiency, while the investment in community development aims to help expand access to opportunity through comprehensive housing, health and employment.

Later this year, O’Keefe said, the Foundation will be investing in two more new areas.

One will focus on building a regional identity by strengthening the capacity of artistic and cultural organizations through leadership and training, while finding ways to build the Triangle’s cultural offerings, she said.

The other will focus on the conservation of natural resources by investing in strategies that protect and develop land and green space in the Triangle.

Fund for the Triangle

The investment in those four initiatives, O’Keefe said, are being made with discretionary dollars that have been gifted by donors over the Foundation’s 30 years — the Foundation’s Fund for the Triangle.

With those dollars, she said, “we are working to strengthen the organizational capacity of our nonprofit partners so they can build on their success and in turn have a greater impact on our community.”


Crutchfield also said that, in addition to delivering services, many “great nonprofits” also move into advocacy work because they find that’s the only way they can make an impact.

Durham-based Self-Help, for example, was created to make “fair loans to low-income borrowers” to help “poor people bootstrap themselves out of poverty,” Crutchfield said.

But recognizing that many of its clients already were burdened with debt from “predatory lenders,” she said, Self-Help created the Center for Responsible Lending, which has built state and local coalitions and successfully pushed for laws protecting consumers.

Nonprofit networks

Effective nonprofits also build networks to make a greater impact than they could make by themselves, she said.

The CEO of the Heritage Foundation, for example, took the highly unusual step of sharing its donor list with like-minded think-tanks, Crutchfield said, because it would help advance their common goal of free markets.

Collective performance

In an interview, Gipson said he now is spearheading a new partnership involving Wake Habitat, Lutheran Services Carolinas and The Serving Cup, a ministry of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Raleigh.

With funds the groups are raising, Habitat will build three houses in Raleigh, each for three individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, or both, who will pay a monthly fee for housing and services Lutheran Services will provide.

Nonprofits have “moved from isolated impact to collective performance,” Crutchfield said at the conference.

“It means lifting up from worrying about the day to day at your organization,” she said, “while also driving toward larger goals, keeping in mind how you work with those around you.”

[Note: I am working as senior communications adviser for Triangle Community Foundation.]

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.25.14

Greensboro Salvation Army launches $7.64 million campaign

The Salvation Army of Greensboro kicked off a campaign to raise $7.64 million to build a new community center and Boys & Girls Club that will serve families in Warnersville and nearby communities in Greensboro.

The multi-purpose facility, to be built at the site of the former J.C. Price School property, off Freeman Mill Road, will double the capacity for the Boys & Girls Club, include a child care center to serve infants and children through age six, and offer activities for adults and seniors.

Co-chaired by Reggie and Hope Chapman, the campaign is expected to be completed this fall, with construction to begin in 2015 on the new facility, which will be named for Royce and Jane Reynolds, long-time Salvation Army and Boys & Girls Club supporters who are serving as honorary chairs of the campaign.

The campaign includes leadership gifts from Royce and Jane Reynolds, Phillips Foundation, Bryan Foundation, Cemala Foundation, Armfield Foundation and VF Corporation.

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club has served youth from the Warnersville and nearby communities since 1957. The Salvation Army’s current Corps Community Center and Boys & Girls Club are located in facilities that were sold to last year to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Public School Forum names policy and programs chief

Joe Ableidinger, a senior consultant Public Impact, has joined the Public School Forum of North Carolina as senior director of policy and programs.

Ableidinger, a graduate of Duke University, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and Harvard Law School, spent nearly five years at Public Impact, a Chapel Hill-based national education policy and management organization.

He previously taught high school English with the Fulbright Program in Korea and started a family resource center at an underperforming elementary school as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Communities In Schools of Durham.

At the Public School Forum, where he will lead all policy, research and program activities, Ableidinger now is leading the planning phase of an effort to launch new breakthrough school models in North Carolina focused on innovative teaching roles and strategic uses of time and technology.

The effort is supported by a planning grant from Next Generation Learning Challenges.

The Public School Forum works to shape world-class public schools that inspire and support all children and drive the state’s economy through research, policy work, advocacy and continuing education for educators and policymakers.

StepUp career-transitions program moves

The regular weekly meetings of Career Transitions – StepUp, a program of StepUp Ministry in Raleigh formerly known as WMPC Career Transitions Support Group, will move to St. Michael’s Episcopal Church starting May 8.

Marking a new partnership among StepUp Ministry, White Memorial Presbyterian Church and St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, the location for the weekly meetings will complement ongoing workshops and personal counseling sessions, which will remain at White Memorial.

Program pairing undergrads with rural clinics wins award

A partnership that pairs undergraduate students at Appalachian State University with Access Care of the Blue Ridge to help rural clinics improve primary care services has won the national Innovations in Rural Health Award from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Launched in 2013, the award recognizes innovative rural health work from throughout the U.S.

The Trust plans to explore possibilities to put the winning project into effect in the state in the coming year.

Greensboro Hospice raises $2.18 million

Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro has generated cash and pledges totaling $2.18 million from 35 individuals, families, foundations and businesses for its new caregiving education and administrative center that will be named after hospice pioneer John Alexander Lusk III.

Quintiles aims to raise 1 million airline miles for Make-A-Wish

Quintiles, the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services, has partnered with Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina to raise 1 million airline miles for the nonprofit.

Lawyers donate food

The Winston-Salem office of Spilman Thomas & Battle donated over 5,500 pounds of food, or the equivalent of roughly 4,624 meals, to the 2014 North Carolina Legal Feeding Frenzy food drive that collected over 347,000 pounds of food, nearly double the amount of last year’s collection, for food-insecure residents in the state.

Organized and led by the Young Lawyer’s Division of North Carolina Bar Association, the North Carolina Association of Food Banks and Attorney General Roy Cooper, the effort included lawyers, law departments, judges and law schools across the state.

Fresh Market event to benefit JDRF

The Fresh Market in Greensboro will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its annual “Hope Floats” Sidewalk Sale on May 16 to 18, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily to benefit JDRF, a global nonprofit that funds type 1 diabetes (T1D) research.

Fresh Market has raised nearly $4 million for JDRF through its annual Paper Sneaker and Sidewalk Sale, Wine Gala program, corporate donations, and other fundraising events.

Arts Council names VP of facilities and operations

Christine Jones, director of operations and finance at Arts United in Fort Wayne, Ind., since 1992, has been named vice president of facilities and operations at the Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County

Jones  will oversee the operations of The Arts Council Theater, Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, and Hanesbrands Theater.

Youth Grantmakers in Action give $2,010

Youth Grantmakers in Action, a program of The Winston-Salem Foundation that includes youth ages 15 to 18, awarded five grants totaling $2,010 to projects to help the youth of Forsyth County come together to make a difference in our community.

Since it was formed in 2005 with financial support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the group has granted over $16,000 to youth-led community projects.

Wake Forest, Arts Council launch lifelong learning program

Wake Forest University and The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County are launching a new Lifelong Learning program that offers an opportunity for adults to return to the classroom and explore topics of personal and global relevance.

The effort is modeled on programs at school such as Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and UNC-Asheville.

Benefit concert May 2

On May 2, RallyPoint Sport Grill at 837 Bass Pro Lane in Cary will host a free benefit concert to benefit Hope for Haiti Foundation and Dew4Him Ministries.

Band Together NC names 4 to advisory board

Band Together NC, a Triangle-based organization that uses live music as a platform for social change, added four advisory board members, including John Addeo, vice president of global business development at Dimension Data; Gregg Davis, chief operating officer at FLAG Therapeutics; Tracy Davis, community development for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina; and Peter Schmitt, vice president of finance at Nomacorc.

Event to benefit group fighting homelessness

Partners Ending Homelessness will host the 6th annual Home Run for Homelessness on May 2 at NewBridge Bank Park, with a share of group ticket orders benefiting the group.

The event will include a community resource fair featuring local homeless-service agencies, including Greensboro Urban Ministry and the Greensboro Housing Coalition.

Sponsors of the event are Lorillard Tobacco Company, Lincoln Financial Group, Westover Church, Certus Partners, Blue Ridge Companies, and Senn Dunn Insurance.

Eckerd to honor people who help kids in need

Eckerd, a national nonprofit based in Clearwater, Fla., will  host its “Unmasking Second Chances Ball 2014” on May 16 to honor individuals who have contributed to helping children in need. The black-tie event will be held at George K’s in Greensboro.

All proceeds will benefit at-risk youth that Eckerd serves in Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Durham, Guilford, Orange, Person, Randolph, and Rockingham counties.

Guilford teachers honored

Setoria Moore at Wiley Elementary School was named Rookie Teacher of the Year by the Guilford Education Association, with the award sponsored by High Point Bank, the Weaver Foundation and Lenovo, while Paula Williams at Pilot Elementary School was recognized as a mentor, with the award sponsored by The Rosalyn Tanner Orr Endowment for Excellence in Public Education Fund at the Greensboro Community Foundation, and by Lenovo.

National Christian Foundation affiliate gives $3.75 million

The Raleigh affiliate of the National Christian Foundation awarded $3.75 million in grants to local, national and international charities during the first quarter of 2014, up 20 percent from the first quarter of 2013. Grants given to charities in North Carolina grew by $770,000.

Eastern Music Festival to hold fundraising event

The Eastern Music Festival in Greensboro will host its inaugural 1 mile Fun Run and 5K on July 13 on the campus of Guilford College.

Lutz joins Triangle United Way board

Alice Lutz, CEO of Triangle Family Services in Raleigh, has been named to the board of directors of United Way of the Greater Triangle in Morrisville.

Make your cause a communications campaign

Raising awareness about social and global needs is critical to the work of the charitable world.

If they better understand those needs, people are more likely to want to get involved by giving money or other resources, lending expertise, serving on a board, volunteering, or working as a partner.

So make it part of your communications strategy to wage an ongoing campaign to help a broad audience better understand the complex issues your nonprofit addresses.

Whether in an appeal letter to donors, in fundraising materials, in your newsletter or annual report, or on your website, explain your issues clearly, simply and in a way that shows the challenges they create for people.

Help the news media understand those issues, too. Meet with reporters, editors and news producers at print, broadcast and online outlets to brief them on critical issues, and let them know they can turn to you as a resource when they are working on stories.

And offer to speak to civic, nonprofit and philanthropic groups at their weekly or monthly breakfast or lunch meetings, or at their conferences, seminars, workshops and other gatherings.

When you do communicate, keep the focus on the issues, why they matter, and how people can make a difference.

By helping people understand what matters, they should want to get involved with your nonprofit.

Want help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

Donor service critical for community foundations

In an increasingly competitive philanthropic marketplace, donors are more likely to give to community foundations that provide good customer service and make a meaningful impact on the community in ways that are clear to donors, a new research report says.

“Donor satisfaction is vital for community foundations,” says the report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

“Donors who are more satisfied with their community foundations are more likely to indicate that they plan to continue giving and more likely to recommend the foundation to others,” the report says. “The consequences of donors not being satisfied with their community foundation are simple — donors will walk away and won’t help bring new donors to the foundation.”

The report, What Donors Value: How Community  Foundations Can Increase Donor Satisfaction, Referrals and Future Giving, is based on surveys of over 6,000 donors from 47 community foundations that commissioned a donor perception report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy between 2009 and 2013.

Growing competition

Based on a model of philanthropy created 100 years ago with formation of the Cleveland  Foundation, community foundations serve as a partner for donors, who create funds at the foundations; a funder of nonprofits; and a resource for local issues.

But the past 10 years have been a period of “challenge and questioning” for community foundations, with growing competition and questions about whether their business model is sustainable or needs radical change, the report says.

Helping to drive that competition with local community foundations has been the rapid growth of donor-advised funds offered by big financial services companies like Fidelity and Vanguard in the face of research estimating that trillions of dollars in wealth will be transferred between generations over the next 50 years.

Donor satisfaction

Community foundations can take tangible steps to maintain or improve donor satisfaction, it says, “but it’s not a simple formula.”

The strongest predictors of donors satisfaction are “donors’ sense of the foundation’s level of responsiveness when they need assistance and donors’ perceptions of the foundation’s impact on the community,” the report says.

Donor communication

Communication with donors is critical, it says.

“Both the frequency of a foundation’s communications with its donors and the extent to which staff clearly communicate the foundation’s goals matter,” it says.

And donors who find staff to be more responsive tend to be more satisfied with the foundation overall, it says.

“Failing to be responsive can cost community foundations their donors,” it says.

If donors are not satisfied with their community foundation, they are “more likely to turn to one of many alternatives for their giving,” it says.

Capacity and impact

“To thrive,” it says, “community foundation boards and leaders must pay careful attention to the capacity of their organizations to deliver excellent customer service while positioning themselves to have an impact in their communities.”

The data also suggest that community foundations “may be best served by capitalizing on their strengths rather than changing to compete in areas, such as administrative fees, where they’ll be harder-pressed to do well against companies with massive economies of scale.”

Todd Cohen