Make the most of a news interview

Many charities rightly an complain that they get too little news coverage, yet when they do get a chance to talk to a reporter, they often waste it. So be prepared.

Whether you request coverage, or reporters contact you unexpectedly or during a crisis, have a plan that spells out who speaks for the organization, and what to say.

Create talking points that focus on the needs you address, the people you serve, and your impact on their lives. And in a crisis, address all the issues you can.

Stick to what you want to say. If you get a question you do not know the answer to, or are not prepared to answer, say you will get back to the reporter, and make sure you find out the reporter’s deadline, cell phone number and email address.

If the reporter is recording the interview, remember that you can pause as often and for as long as you like until you figure out what you want to say. And if you stumble in the middle of a sentence or thought, pause, collect yourself, and start over again.

You also should invite the reporter to call you if he or she has more questions, or would like to check facts and quotes.

Once the story is published or broadcast, send a quick email message thanking the reporter for the opportunity to share your story.

If the story contains an error, be selective about whether to complain or ask for a correction. If it is a minor mistake, either let it pass or, in your thank-you note, simply mention it to the reporter for future reference. If it is a significant mistake, you might let the reporter know about it with a phone call.

Keep your eyes on the prize. If you get a chance to talk to a reporter, use it to tell your story, and to begin to cultivate a relationship, not burn bridges.

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

Government-funded nonprofits slammed; fixes seen

Government contracts and grants can create big problems for nonprofits, but proven solutions are readily available, two new reports say.

Among nearly 56,000 nonprofits with government contracts or grants, or both, in 2012, nearly three-fourths reported problems with the complexity of — or time required for — applications and reporting, according to the “National Study of Nonprofit-Government Contracts and Grants 2013: State Rankings” from the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute.

“Contracting with multiple agencies is a way for organizations to diversify their income and protect themselves from risk, but it also can complicate administration for nonprofits because different government agencies have different reporting application and reporting processes and requirements,” the report says.

A second report, by the National Council of Nonprofits, says that problems in government-nonprofit contracting systems throughout the U.S. are “profound, thoroughly documented and, most importantly, solvable.”

Solutions recommended in the report are “tested, free or relatively inexpensive,” and readily available,” says the report, “Toward Common Sense Contracting: What Taxpayers Deserve.”

Government partnerships diverse

Contracts and grants vary in structure and administration, the Urban Institute report says. Some require nonprofits to share the costs of programs or services the contracts and grants fund, while some limit the types of activities on which nonprofits can spend money.

Restricting spending for program administration or overhead costs is common, the report says, with 50 percent of nonprofits reporting limits on spending for program or overhead costs, and 53 percent reporting limits on spending for general administration or overhead costs.

“These limits can severely undermine an organization’s capacity and effectiveness by restricting its ability to adequately manage its programs or invest in staff and equipment,” the report says.

Previous reports

The new report follows a national survey in 2010 by the Urban Institute that found the recession had had “dire effects on nonprofits’ funding from government and private sources, in a time when the demand for services was higher than normal,” and a second national survey it conducted in 2012 that found that nonprofits still were dealing with many of the same problems as in 2009.

That second survey found nonprofit-government contracts and grants reached roughly 56,000 nonprofits and totaled $137 billion.

The new report provides data on government contracts and grants with nonprofits, problems encountered, and the current fiscal situation of nonprofits in each state, as well as state comparisons.

Problems not ‘anomaly’

The new data from the Urban Institute confirm that the government-nonprofit contracting problems documented in its 2010 study “were not an anomaly” of the recession, the National Council of Nonprofits says in its report.

“The serious problems persist nationwide,” it says. “Nonprofits performing work on behalf of governments still confront policies, laws and attitudes that deny reimbursement for the full costs of providing those services.”

Nonprofits continue to “encounter wasteful application processes and costly reporting regimes that defy logic, consistency or fairness,” it says. “Once contracts are signed and work is commenced, governments often unilaterally change contract terms and conditions mid-stream, regardless of written commitments or the added costs those changes impose on nonprofits.”

And governments “often pay nonprofits late — sometimes more than a year after the nonprofits incurred the costs on behalf of government,” it says.

All those problems “add billions of dollars in unnecessary costs to nonprofits and taxpayers alike,” it says.

Late payments

Forty-five percent of nonprofits responding to the Urban Institute survey reported that late payments by governments are both frequent and “debilitating,” the National Council of Nonprofits says in its report.

On average, it says, past-due amounts owed to each nonprofit totaled $200,548 from state governments, $108,500 from the federal government, and $84,899 from local governments.


Seventy-two percent of nonprofits surveyed by the Urban Institute reported the “complexification” of reporting requirements, says the report from the National Council of Nonprofits.

That problem takes a variety of forms, including “duplicative audits, overlapping and inconsistent compliance procedures, retroactive imposition of reporting requirements, incompatible and inconsistent data collection, and a lack of standardization that injects vagaries into an already complex process,” the report says.

“Rarely is it clear to nonprofits if and how the government even uses the information that often is expensive to collect and report,” it says.


The National Council of Nonprofits report includes 16 recommendations for policymakers, executive-branch officials, lawmakers, and governments at all levels take steps to spur collaborative solutions to problems with government-nonprofits contracts and grants; improve accountability for full and prompt payments; eliminate “unilateral mid-stream contract changes;” and simplify complex application and reporting requirements.

Todd Cohen

Nonprofit focuses on sustainability

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Based on an analysis of 25 homes, the city of Winston-Salem contracted with a handful of companies to do $250 worth of weatherization work at each of those homes, plus another 250 homes, all of them in low-income neighborhoods.

That work has helped reduce those households’ energy costs by 8 percent to 10 percent.The study of those savings was performed by three student interns at The Winston-Salem Sustainability Resource Center, a nonprofit that provides programs and educational services to raise awareness and foster sustainability.

Formed in March 2010, the organization operates with an annual budget of less than $100,000, a staff of one person and a contract worker, a core of 20 volunteers, and typically five summer interns who are college or graduate students. The agency works in space donated by the city of Winston-Salem in the Bryce A. Stuart Municipal Building.

The Resource Center has served a total of 2,000 to 3,000 businesses, schools, local cities and other clients, says Rita Gale Cruise, who joined the Center in October 2012 after working as energy efficiency program coordinator in the West Virginia office of the Natural Capital Investment Fund. The Fund, a community development financial institution certified by the U.S. Treasury, is an arm of The Conservation Fund.

In another pilot project, for example, the Resource Center worked with employees at the Caterpillar plant in Winston-Salem to develop a “sustainability action plan” they could use to get involved in sustainability work involving such issues as energy, water, air, waste, recycling and health.

Based on a recommendation from the Resource Center, Caterpillar is looking at teaming with Herbal Life, which this year will open a distribution center nearby, and Piedmont Area Regional Transportation, which will provide dedicated vans the two companies’ employees can use to get to work and save energy and money.

Instrumental in developing that plan, Cruise says, has been Matthew Johnson, chair of the Resource Center’s board and manager of the Caterpillar plant.

The Resource Center also has worked with Caterpillar employees to create a community garden at its manufacturing plant, located off I-40 in southeast Winston-Salem near the Level Cross neighborhood.

The employees want to grow fruits and vegetables for their own use and to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina.

The Resource Center also serves as fiscal agent for Forsyth County’s Community Food System Consortium, a collaborative effort spearheaded by Forsyth Futures to connect consumers, producers and distributors of local food, such as farmers, restaurants, groceries and schools in a five-county region.

In a partnership last year with the Forsyth County Health Department, an intern at the Resource Center conducted a survey to identify “food deserts,” or local communities that lack access to fresh food.

The Health Department, in turn, is using the information to try to find ways to get fresh food into communities.

In a pilot project in East Winston-Salem, for example, the Health Department is teaming with Rebecca’s Community Store to get fresh food from local farmers, as well as information about nutrition, to local residents.

The Resource Center, which last fall raised $5,000 through an annual appeal, also received a $25,000 grant from The Winston-Salem Foundation to support operations and to follow up a 2008 project that developed sustainability indicators for the community.

It also has received a $2,500 grant from Piedmont Natural Gas to support sustainability education.

And this fall it will host an event to present community awards for sustainability and raise money.

A key goal for the Resource Center, Cruise says, is to help people “learn about how they can become more sustainable.”

More fundraisers see higher pay; average salaries drop

More fundraising professionals in the U.S. and Canada got a boost in their average income in 2013, compared to 2012, but average salaries fell nearly eight percent, a new survey says.

And a longstanding and large gap persisted between pay for men and women in fundraising jobs, while the average turnover rate among fundraisers grew slightly, says the 2014 Compensation and Benefits Study from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Average income

Over 63 percent of fundraisers in the U.S. and Canada saw their average income grow from 2012 to 2013, down from 66 percent in 2012 but up from 58 percent in 2011.

Twenty-eight percent reported no change in 2013, while eight percent reported decreases, says the survey, which is based on responses from 3,378 AFP members, including 2,952 in the U.S. and 426 in Canada, reflecting response rates of 13.9 percent and 14.6 percent, respectively.

The average salary for fundraising professionals in the U.S. was $75,483, down nearly eight percent from 2012, while the median salary fell 8.5 percent to $65,000.

In Canada, the average fundraising salary fell over 10.7 percent to $78,862, while the median salary fell 5.3 percent to $73,000.

Highest-paid fundraising jobs

Among U.S. fundraising professionals, senior-level fundraisers working for consulting firms and CEOs at charities received the highest average salaries — $103,689 and $87,728, respectively.

Within the six regions of the U.S., average salaries for all survey respondents ranged from $70,115 in the South Central region to $81,747 in the Northwest.

In Canada, the highest paid fundraising professionals were CEOs, who received $92,245, on average, and chief development officers, who received $91,199, on average.

Within the three regions of Canada, average salaries for all respondents ranged from $66,441 in the Eastern provinces to $99,372 in the Central provinces.

Impact of certification

Fundraising professionals who have earned a certification credential tend to have higher salaries, on average, the survey says.

In the U.S., fundraisers with a CFRE certification, or Certified Fund Raising Executive, reported average salaries over $25,000 more than survey respondents with no certification, while those who hold the ACFRE certification, or Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive, reported average salaries $46,000 higher than those with no certification.

In Canada, those with a CFRE reported average salaries more than $17,250 higher than the average for those with no certification.

Canadian survey respondents with an ACFRE or FAHP — Fellow from the Association for Health Care Philanthropy — reported significantly higher salaries than those with no certification, although the survey sample was too small to make generalizations, AFP says.

Gender gap

In the U.S., the average fundraiser’s salary in 2013 was $94,497 for men and $70,145 for women, the survey says.

With the exception of 2005, when it narrowed slightly, the salary gap in the U.S. consistently has totaled $20,000 or more during the 13 years the survey has been conducted.

In Canada, the average fundraiser’s salary was $85,780 for men and $76,826 for women.

The gap in Canada, which was down slightly, has been roughly $12,000 to $16,000 each year of the survey except 2007, when it fell to $3,353.

Turnover rates

The average turnover rate — the number of years in fundraising, divided by the number of fundraising jobs held– was 4.4 years per job for respondents in the U.S. and 3.8 years per job in Canada.

Both rates were half a point higher than a year earlier.

Todd Cohen

Nonprofit news roundup, 05.16.14

North Carolina ranks low in charitable giving

North Carolina trails most U.S. states in charitable giving, with only 55 percent of residents reporting they donated money the previous month, only 36 percent reporting they volunteered, and only 28 percent reporting they donated money and volunteered, a new Gallup poll says.

Utah led the states, with 71 percent saying they donated money, 56 percent saying they volunteered, and 48 percent saying they did both, says the 50-state poll, which was conducted from June to December 2013 with at least 600 residents in each state.

Overall, residents in all states were more likely to donate their money than their time, with Utah and Minnesota the only states where majorities of residents said they had done both in the past month

North Carolina was one of 10 states in which the percentage of those donating money and volunteering time was below 30 percent. The others were Nevada, Kentucky, New York, Mississippi, Arizona, Arkansas, West Virginia, Rhode Island and Louisiana.

New York and Rhode Island residents ranked fairly high on donating their money, but fell behind in volunteering their time.

StepUp Greensboro names executive director

Ingrid Bullock, a business and leadership consultant, has been named executive director of StepUp Greensboro, succeeding Sheron K. Summer, who led the 2011 effort to bring the model of StepUp Raleigh to Greensboro and has served as interim executive director.

StepUp Greensboro, a faith-based nonprofit that provides job skills and life skills training to struggling individuals and families, is the first replication of a program founded at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh.

StepUp Greensboro is supported financially and with volunteers by 11 founding faith community partners, and eight supporting church partners, as well as businesses and individuals.

Over 300 volunteers work in the program, which in its first 30 months has served over 750 adults, with 650 graduating from its Jobs Readiness program and over 400 finding  jobs.

First Presbyterian Church, a founding and primary partner, has provided Paisley House at 707 N. Greene Street in Greensboro for the ministry’s offices, meeting space, computer lab and clothing closet.

Raleigh-based Builders of Hope buys 68 homes in Florida

Builders of Hope in Raleigh paid $1.6 million to buy 68 homes in poor neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, Fla., and aims to rehab the properties for affordable housing, the Tampa Bay Tribune reported.

Fishing tournament raises $429,000 for N.C. Children’s Promise

The 6th Annual Reelin’ for Research fishing tournament on May 3 in Morehead City raised $429,000 to benefit the N.C. Children’s Promise, the nonprofit arm of the N.C. Children’s Hospital in Chapel Hill,  and children’s cancer research.

The total raised was twice the amount raised last year.

N.C. Children’s Promise, which had a goal of raising $1 million in 10 years, now has met its goal in just six years.

Commercial real estate services firms CBRE|Triad and CBRE|Raleigh supported the tournament.

Charlotte women’s fund gives $377,500

The Women’s Impact Fund, a Charlotte-based, collective-giving organization with 400 female community leaders, granted a total of $377,500 to Charlotte Children’s Choir, Child Care Resources, TreesCharlotte, Barium Springs Home for Children and The Salvation Army.

Since 2003, the Women’s Impact Fund has awarded 49 grants totaling over $3.7 million.

Community leadership honored in Winston-Salem

Claudette Weston, president and CEO of Weston & Associates, a meeting and event management firm, has received The Winston-Salem Foundation Award from The Winston-Salem Foundation.

Weston has designated that the $10,000 grant that accompanies the award, which recognizes leadership in a community activity or on behalf of a community organization, particularly in the recent past, will go to Youth Opportunities and to the Joel A. Weston Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management.

At its annual community luncheon on May 7,  the Foundation and the ECHO Network also jointly presented the 2014 ECHO Awards to four recipients for building social capital by connecting people and building trust among people.

Recipients, each receiving $1,000 to grant to a nonprofit of their choice, were Interfaith Winston-Salem; A Priest and a Rabbi; Tyler Davis Sparks, founding president and of Sustainable Ardmore; and Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance.

Balfour Beatty Construction raises $23,000 for Make-A-Wish

Balfour Beatty Construction raised $23,000 to benefit Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina at its 2014 Golf Classic on April 21 at MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary.

Proceeds from the 64-team tournament will help grant wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Caterpillar gives $20,000 to Green Building Council

Caterpillar Foundation has given $20,000 to the U.S. Green Building Council – North Carolina Chapter to expand its Environmental Stewardship Challenge in K-12 schools.

Throughout the year, chapter mentors and Caterpillar employees in the Triad, Triangle and Charlotte areas worked with 21 different school groups as they selected projects to promote environmental stewardship on campus.

Projects vary from energy conservation campaigns to improving school grounds for sediment runoff prevention and subsequent water pollution.

Caterpillar employs over 2,000 employees at 10 facilities in North Carolina, including sites in Winston-Salem, Clayton, Sanford and Cary.

ArtsGreensboro online fundraising tool gets $10,000 matching gift, an online fundraising tool that ArtsGreensboro launched in May 2013, has received a $10,000 matching gift from Wells Fargo.

The site, designed to help local nonprofit arts groups raise money for specific projects, and to help donors connect with arts groups and the audiences they serve, has raised over $60,000 for local arts projects in the area.

The matching gift from Wells Fargo will match donations for projects on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

Helen Keller Foundation supports North Carolina surf camps

Helen Keller Foundation in Birmingham, Ala., has awarded a three-year, $20,000 grant to Indo Jax Surf Charities in Wilmington to support instructors and gear for North Carolina surf camps for visually and hearing impaired children.

Individuals, groups receive volunteer service awards 

Nine recipients from Forsyth County received 2014 Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards on May 14 from HandsOn Northwest North Carolina in partnership with United Way of Forsyth County, Salem College and The Winston-Salem Journal.

Recipients and the awards they received were: Cheryl Lindsay, Individual Adult Volunteer; Don Adamick, National Service Volunteer; Diana Heatwole, Senior Volunteer; Woodforest National Bank, Corporate Volunteer; Patricia Call, Lifetime Achievement Volunteer; Roger Lynn Jordan, Perseverance in Volunteerism; The Stanley Brothers, Family Volunteers; Chad Brown, Outstanding Mentor Volunteer; and VFW Memorial Honor Guard, Group or Team Volunteers.

Baker joins Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Foundation

Dick Baker, former executive director of the Education Foundation for Union County Public Schools, has joined Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Foundation in Asheville as executive director.

Hill named first executive director of GO FAR

Julie Samuels Hill, former major gifts officer for High Point Regional Health Foundation, has been named the first executive director of GO FAR, a youth exercise and running program founded in 2003 by Robin Lindsay, a High Point physician assistant.

Turlington now chief development officer for MudPies child centers

Neely (Kramer) Turlington, former marketing and communications manager for ASPIRE Communications and Marketing, has been named chief development officer for MudPies Northwest Child Development Centers in Winston-Salem.

Greensboro United Way grants available

United Way of Greater Greensboro is offering two grant opportunities, funded through the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, for new and existing programs that create positive community impact.

The Joseph M. Bryan Community Enrichment and Venture Grant awards up to $15,000, and the United Way of Greater Greensboro Joseph M. Bryan Human Services Grant offers awards of up to $30,000.

Letters of interest are due June 5.

Transitions LifeCare to dedicate veterans garden

Transitions LifeCare in Raleigh will dedicate its Veterans Garden on May 24 at 2 p.m.

Founded in 1979 as Hospice of Wake County, Transitions LifeCare serves Johnston, Franklin, Durham, Harnett, and Wake counties with services in the areas of hospice, palliative care, transitional home care, and bereavement.

Blue Cross executive joins Triangle United Way board

Maureen O’Connor, executive vice president and chief strategy and innovation officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, has been elected to the board of directors of United Way of the Greater Triangle.

Health Underwriters to hold benefit golf event

See Kristan Run, a local charity that is raising funds to help pay ongoing medical expenses, the cost of extended care, and prosthetics for assist Kristan Seaford and her family, will be the beneficiary of the annual golf tournament sponsored by three Triad Association of Health Underwriters on June12 at the Bryan Park Golf Course in Greensboro.

Seaford, an avid runner and mother of five young children, suffered a sudden and nearly fatal illness that resulted in the amputation of both her hands and left foot in late January.

NCShakes gets $5,000

The Lincoln Financial Foundation has awarded The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival a $5,000 grant to support workshops for teachers of English, drama and language arts in Guilford County and are designed to provide performance-based skills in the teaching of Shakespeare.

Consider outsourcing your communications

Telling your nonprofit’s story is one of the most critical jobs at your organization, but that does not mean your staff needs to provide all your communications expertise.

If your resources are limited, and you want to invest as much of them as possible in delivering services, consider farming out some or all of the communications function to an independent contractor who has that expertise.

A freelance writer and communications adviser can help you produce your communications materials and content, and help you develop your communications strategy, while saving you overhead costs such as insurance benefits, a computer, phone and office space.

As an outsider, a communications adviser also can provide much-needed perspective, help you avoid the technical jargon and short-hand your staff may be hooked on, and tell your story so anyone can understand it.

If you find a writer and adviser you like, you can try to build a long-term relationship. Working with a communications partner you know and trust, and who knows and trust you, can help your organization do a better job in the crucial task of telling your story to constituents, donors and other partners, and the public.

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