Canadian charity, Part 2: Sector faces challenges

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This article was written for Blackbaud.]

Canada’s charitable and nonprofit sector historically has “invested poorly in skills, human beings, and technology,” and charities now “need to step back and make longer-term investments to survive and thrive,” said Michael Johnston, founder and president of Hewitt and Johnston Consultants, a fundraising consulting firm in Toronto.

“There’s such short-termism in Canadian charities to go after money in single donations,” he said. “But the donor expects more.”

Studies like The Next Generation of Canadian Giving of younger generations of donors, for example, show that they want “more specificity, more impact,” Johnston said. “They want more from a charity when they give, and that demands better communication, better skills to show impact, and better technology to allow them to better direct their gifts, and for the charity to show transparency.”

Growing Gap

Despite the sector’ stability, the gap is growing between, on the one hand, large- and medium-sized nonprofits that can afford the technology and manage the change needed to keep pace with evolving needs, and, on the other hand, smaller nonprofits that find it “more difficult to afford that help,” Johnston said.

Derek Fraser, chair of the AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Canadian Council and president of iDoPhilanthropy in Calgary, agreed.

“The strong continue to be strong, and the weak try to compete within a very competitive marketplace,” he said. “We have small organizations that are not able to hire and resource their fund development activities to the level they need to be successful.”

Smaller nonprofits must compete with charity “Goliaths” such as hospitals, educational institutions, and churches that traditionally have received more donated dollars, he said.

Still, he said, volunteers can be a valuable resource for smaller nonprofits.

Transparency, accountability

Awareness about the need to be more transparent and accountable is growing among charities and nonprofits in Canada, Fraser said.

Spurring that growing awareness, he said, have been news reports of rule-breaking by an “extremely small percentage” of charities and nonprofits, by rankings from watchdog groups that track financial reports that charities submit to the Canadian Revenue Agency, and by expectations by donors for greater openness.

Postal changes

Canada Post, which is now losing more than $100 million per quarter and is looking at a billion-dollar-a-year loss by 2020 if it doesn’t change its business model, is ending delivery to home mailboxes and instead will deliver residential mail to “superboxes” in every community and city, Johnston said.

That change is the “canary in the cage” for charities, representing a “warning about the future of mail in conjunction with other channels” for marketing and fundraising, he said.

Next: Volunteer leadership key to fundraising

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.


Tomorrow Fund provides scholarships for Hispanics

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — Just a month before Cuban-born Diane Evia-Lanevi was set to begin her senior year at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla., the federal Pell Grant she counted on for her tuition was halved as a result of funding cuts by Congress.

So she told the director of admissions, who had employed her in a work-study job since her sophomore year, that she would need to take at least one semester off to earn enough money to return to school because her parents could not afford the tuition.

Instead, he persuaded the college president to make up the difference so she could stay in school.

Soon after they graduated, she and her future husband, Swedish-born Ingemar Lanevi, who also was studying at Flagler on a scholarship, promised each other that if they ever had the chance, they would create a fund to provide scholarships for low-income students.

In 2009, the Durham couple created The Tomorrow Fund at Triangle Community Foundation.

The Tomorrow Fund has raised a total of nearly $470,000 and typically awards 28 to 30 scholarships a year to low-income Hispanic students who live in North Carolina; graduated from a North Carolina high school; are the first generation in their family to continue their education beyond high school; attend a public or private college, university or community college in North Carolina; and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.

And the Fund has made a difference, says Evia-Lanevi, a former journalist who moved to the Triangle in 2003 with her husband, general manager for NetApp, a California-based data-storage firm.

Consider Alberto Negrellos-Aguilera, a Mexican native who before age 11 moved to Wilkesboro with his father, a Baptist preacher and cobbler, and his mother, a homemaker.After graduating from high school in 2008, Negrellos-Aguilera could not afford to go to college, and at the time was an undocumented resident of the U.S., so he went to work for a construction company.

One summer, while installing shingles on the roof of a bank building in Boone, he saw a student from Appalachian State University walk by carrying a calculus textbook for a course he himself  had completed while in high school.

“It made me kind of choke back,” he says. “I thought of the potential I could have possibly had if I had gone to college since I had already taken classes that students were just now taking while enrolled in college.”
Negrellos-Aguilera applied to Appalachian State, and was accepted, but he was able to attend only with a scholarship from The Tomorrow Fund, which awards scholarships only if the schools also provide financial support.

Now 24 and a junior majoring in chemistry, Negrellos-Aguilera wants to get a doctorate in chemistry and a medical degree so he can “not just make a physician’s impact” but also do research that “has a larger impact on many people.”

Except for a three-year $90,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, The Tomorrow Fund has raised nearly all its money from individuals, including an event in January at the Chapel Hill Country Club that raised $35,000.

Scholarships for Hispanic students “can completely change the trajectory of their lives, economically, and of their families’ lives,” says Evia-Lanevi, “and ultimately our community.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 04.18.14

Winston-Salem Foundation moving, creating philanthropy center

The Winston-Salem Foundation will move its offices in September to the new 751 West Fourth building, now under construction at Broad and Fourth Streets downtown.

The Foundation, which since 1997 has been housed in its own freestanding building at 860 West Fifth St. and will be a tenant in the new building, says the new location will provide more efficient office space, expanded parking access, and increased availability of community meeting spaces.

The second floor will include office and meeting space for the Foundation’s 24-member staff; office space for two nonprofit partners, the ECHO Network and HandsOn Northwest North Carolina; and room for the Foundation’s future growth and expansion.

A portion of the third floor will house the new Burress Family Center for Philanthropy. Sponsored  the family of John and Mary Louise Burress, the Center will include gathering and conference space for the Foundation and for community groups and nonprofits.

Triangle CEOs help build three houses

Top executives from 38 Triangle companies were scheduled on April 15 to be joined by Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, to help launch the third annual Triangle-wide CEO Build for Habitat for Humanity, a collaboration among local executives and Habitat affiliates in Durham, Orange, and Wake counties. This year’s effort is building three houses.

Greensboro Boys & Girls Clubs honors former executive, club member

At its annual Pratt Family Fundraising Gala on April 24, The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greensboro will honor a former executive and a former club member.

Inducted into its Alumni Hall of Fame at the fundraising event, which was sponsored by the Pratt Family Foundation, were Lorraine Orr, senior vice president of field operations for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and former executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greensboro, and Julius Lott, vice president of diversity and director of career development for Boys and Girls Clubs of America and a former club member.

Phillips named development director for Heart and Stroke Walk

Cory Phillips, former corporate account executive for the Proximity and O.Henry Hotels and founder of Chucked Wood, a company creating custom furniture out of recycled palettes, has been named director of development for the 2014 Greater Guilford Heart and Stroke Walk, which benefits the American Heart Association.

The goal for the 2014 Greater Guilford Heart and Stroke Walk, to be held May 17 at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is to raise $400,000 for heart disease and stroke research and prevention education.

Capital Area Soccer League names executive director

Gary Buete, executive director of Baton Rouge Soccer Club since 2000, will join Capital Area Soccer League on June 2 as executive director.

During his tenure, Baton Rouge Soccer Club grew to 5,000 players from 2,400, and has  won more than 40 Louisiana state titles among all age groups.

Buete also spearheaded creation of the US Club Soccer Gulf States Premier League and its 10 member clubs and has served as its first commissioner since 2011.

Founded in 1974, Capital Area Soccer League was the first youth soccer organization to serve youth soccer players in the greater Wake County area and serves nearly 9,000 youth soccer players and their families.

Pope Foundation gives $1.3 million to UNC Cancer Center

The John William Pope Foundation has made a $1.3 million gift to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to fund cancer research and treatment.

The gift includes $1 million to create the John William Pope Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Research, and $300,000 to fund the John Williams Pope Clinical Fellows Awards Program.

Heartstrings benefit May 1

Heartstrings, a nonprofit that provides grief support for Triad families suffering pregnancy, infant and child loss from conception to age 23, will holds its Raising Hope with Heartstrings Benefit on May 1 at the Empire Room in Greensboro.

Event to benefit Winston-Salem Arts Council

Employees of the City of Winston-Salem and the County of Forsyth  have teamed up with The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County to present a 5K and Fun Run that on May 17 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds to benefit The Arts Council’s 2014 Annual Campaign.

Golf event to benefit Greensboro Children’s Museum

The Greensboro Children’s Museum will benefit from the 7th annual golf  tournament hosted by the Triad chapter of the Young Professionals of the Risk Management Association on June 2 at Starmount Forest Country Club.

Web design firm looking for nonprofit for free tech makeover

TechTriad, a Greensboro web design firm, is looking for a local nonprofit for its 10th Annual Extreme Nonprofit Makeover. Nominations are due by May 15 for the free tech support, which will include a new website, logo, social media plan and computer equipment.

Benevolence Farm buys house in Graham

Benevolence Farm, which will offer services through a farm-based residential program to women return from prison, has secured funding and purchased a three-bedroom house on Thompson Mill Road in Graham.

The nonprofit, which plans to build housing for up to 12 women on part of an adjacent 11 acres of donated land, will use the three-bedroom house to begin serving a smaller group of women within the next several months.

Benevolence Farm purchased the home for $158,000 with support from the Snider Family Charitable Fund.

Mask joins John Rex Endowment board

Allen Mask, founder and medical director of Raleigh Urgent Care Center and a health reporter for WRAL-TV, has been elected to the board of directors for the John Rex Endowment in Raleigh.

Winston-Salem florist donates services to couple injured in Boston Marathon

Amy Dunlap, owner of florist Amy Lynne Originals in Winston-Salem, donated florist services for the Asheville wedding of a couple who were injured in the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, 2013.

Profile your nonprofit’s clients, donors, leaders

Your nonprofit’s work ultimately is about people and the difference you make in their lives.

They include your clients, donors, leaders and volunteers.

And the best way to tell your story is through their eyes.

So create profiles of members of your organization’s extended “family” to raise awareness about the need you address, and your work and impact.

Create a story or video about someone who has benefited from your services. What challenges do they face in their lives, and how did those services help them face those challenges?

Write about a donor, volunteer or board member. Why did they get involved, what role have they played, and how has their contribution served your clients while advancing their own values?

Then use the profiles on your website, social media, newsletter, annual report, and marketing and fundraising materials to raise awareness about community needs and your impact.

Making your story human will help draw people to 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

Canadian charity, Part 1: State of the sector

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This article was written for Blackbaud.]

Overall giving in Canada grew 2.7 percent in the three months ending February 2014, compared to the same period a year earlier, while online giving for the period grew 7.2 percent, according to The Blackbaud Index – Canada.

The new Index draws from actual data from about 250 organizations that raise a total of $600 million to $700 million a year – or roughly 6 percent to 7 percent of the Canadian market.

Canadian charities with effective fundraising programs benefited from growing investment in fundraising staff and capacity, greater attention to major donors and donor loyalty, and increasing sophistication in fundraising technology and best practices, experts said.

But they said many Canadian charities face big challenges in securing the investment they need in their fundraising capacity, particularly in developing board leadership and staff expertise.

Strong finish in 2013

After experiencing relatively flat growth during the first half of 2013, overall fundraising revenue among 276 Canadian nonprofits that together raise $692.5 million a year grew 6 percent during the second half of 2013, compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the new Blackbaud Index – Canada.

Online fundraising revenue for 219 Canadian nonprofits that together raise $154.3 million a year online grew 8.9 percent, 13.6 percent, and 10.1 percent, respectively, in each of the three-month periods ending in October, November, and December, compared to the same three-month periods a year earlier.

That surge in overall giving represented a strong finish for a year in which Canadian nonprofits generally posted lower overall results for much of the year, compared to the previous year, said Chuck Longfield, chief scientist at Blackbaud.

“It does look like things are looking up in the Canadian market,” he said.

Growth at year-end is especially good news, he said, because roughly a third of all charitable giving takes place in the final three months of the year, and roughly 25 percent of all giving takes place in December.

Overall giving for the three months ending in January and February grew 1 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, compared to the same periods in 2013, while online giving grew 6.8 percent and 7.2 percent, compared to the same periods in 2013.

Sector snapshot

Canada’s charitable and nonprofit sector is the second largest in the world after the U.S. and consists of roughly 170,000 organizations, split almost evenly between registered charities and nonprofits, according to Imagine Canada, an umbrella organization for Canada’s charities and nonprofits.

The charitable sector employs two million Canadians and contributes an average of 7.8 percent to total gross domestic product.

Revenues from the “core” nonprofit sector – charities and nonprofits other than hospitals and universities – account for about 2.4 percent of Canada’s GDP, or more than triple that of the motor vehicle industry, Imagine Canada said.

Sales of goods and services account for 45.6 percent of total income for that core nonprofit sector. In comparison, the larger nonprofit sector – including hospitals, universities, and colleges – counts on government funds for nearly 75 percent of its funding, with 72 percent of its overall funding provided by provincial governments, Imagine Canada said.

Hospitals, universities, and colleges represent only 1 percent of organizations but account for 66 percent of total revenues for the entire sector.

Sector ‘mature,’ ‘conservative’

“Canada’s charitable sector is the second-most mature in its professionalism, use of investment in technology, and best practices” after the U.S. nonprofit sector, said Michael Johnston, founder and president of Hewitt and Johnston Consultants, a fundraising consulting firm in Toronto.

From small shelters to big national charities, he said, nonprofits are “becoming more professional and leveraging technology and best practices,” he said. “The sector is trying to do a more professional job, and I think it means charities are raising a bit more money.”

Fundraising stability

Unlike the economies and charitable sectors in the U.S. and U.K., which slumped after the capital markets collapsed in 2008 and only recently have begun to rebound, the economy and charitable sector in Canada have held relatively steady, Johnston said.

That’s because, unlike the economies in the U.S. and U.K., the economy in Canada is based on commodities such as oil, gas, and diamonds that limited the damage of the recession, and because its banks are highly conservative, he said.

“That translates to the charitable sector,” he said. “It’s a very kind of stand-pat, very conservative, cautious sector, so we don’t see the kind of growth or rebound because everything is ticking along at a slow, conservative rate.”

Government cuts

With government in Canada getting smaller, Johnston said, nonprofits are looking to private support for a growing share of their funding.

“Canadian charities, a lot of them historically, have received large proportions of revenue from state sources, and that’s shrinking,” he said. “It means a competitive fundraising environment will become more intense with less government support as individuals become more and more important.”

What donors want

A study released in February by the AFP Foundation for Canada and market research firm Ipsos entitled “What Canadian Donors Want” finds a “high degree of confidence in charities.”

But it also said charities would be “well served” to make it clear they are “well managed and have the resources, competence and capacity to carry out their mission and plans.”

The study said arts groups may have “the longest road to travel to improve presence of mind and share of wallet;” that people increasingly give to fewer charities, with a plurality – the biggest single group – giving to two to three charities; and that charities should ask for bigger gifts and take a hard look at how frequently they ask for donations.

Next: Sector faces challenges

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.

North Carolina United Way chief retiring

By Todd Cohen

CARY, N.C. — Jim Morrison is retiring as president of United Way of North Carolina, effective October 1, after 17-and-a-half years in the job.

United Way of North Carolina, a Cary-based statewide group that provides services to 59 local United Ways in the state that serve 85 of the state’s 100 counties, has named a committee to conduct a search for a president and CEO to succeed Morrison.

Brad Risinger, immediate past chair of the organization’s board of directors and partner-in-charge of the Raleigh office of law firm Smith Moore, chairs the search committee.

United Way of North Carolina, which employs eight staff members and operates with an annual budget of $1.1 million, faces a critical time, says Morrison, who previously spent 10 years in leadership positions at United Way of America, now United Way International, and before that five years each at local United Ways in Buffalo and Chattanooga.

“We have to connect with our investors’ aspirations more, with need and opportunity,” he says. “We’ve got to measure ourselves with what we do, our impact and investment, not just that we’re trying to sustain ourselves. To move forward, we have to do a better job of framing our strategy as investment products.”

United Way of North Carolina provides services for local affiliates throughout the state, including protecting the United Way brand, creating opportunities for networking, sharing information and best practices, and handling public policy and advocacy work, Morrison says.

The statewide group also manages United Way’s partnership in 10 states, including North Carolina, with universities and colleges that are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, and it runs the State Employees Combined Campaign that last year raised nearly $3.9 million.

Overall, local United Way affiliates in the state raised $110 million last year.

Morrison says the biggest challenge for his successor will be to “keep all the United Ways in North Carolina fully engaged and participating in support of the United Way network” in the state and “show impact and value to their investors.”

In his tenure as president, he says, local United Ways in the state have had over 150 CEOs, and most of them have had no previous experience working as United Way staff.

A key part of his job has been “managing relationships with local United Ways,” he says. “They’re our primary customer — for public policy, training, networking and brand protection.”