Greensboro United Way targets poverty

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In Greensboro, 20 percent of adults and 25 percent of children live in poverty.

To address the challenges they face, which typically compound one another and are rooted in interconnected problems, United Way of Greater Greensboro this fall will begin working with local nonprofits, public schools, government agencies and other partners to develop a collaborative effort that next year will begin to offer a “continuum of services” on a pilot basis to individuals and families in need.

“People who live in poverty don’t have one issue,” says Michelle Gethers-Clark, president and CEO of United Way. “It’s generally speaking a host of challenges and adversities that need to be addressed.”

The new poverty initiative, and the partnerships and community support it will count on, underscore the message that United Way aims to deliver during its annual fundraising campaign that kicks off September 25 at Festival Park.

While the campaign will not set a goal in a repeat of last year’s approach, United Way aims to raise more than the $11 million it raised last year, when it exceeded the previous year’s total by $800,000 and posted its first year-over-year increase in five years.

United Way also aims in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2015, to invest more in the community than the $9 million it is investing this fiscal year, Gethers-Clark says.

“The need is growing in the community,” she says. “If we really want to make a meaningful difference, we have to give agencies at least the same money or more money year over year.”

Chaired by Jason Bohrer, principal at Newbold Advisers, the campaign will continue strategies it used last year.

Those include visits by Gethers-Clark to speak to employees and executives of corporations and other organizations holding workplace drives; connecting more personally with individual donors; tailoring volunteer programs for companies geared to their corporate social responsibility priorities; and providing opportunities for community service, professional development and networking for women, African Americans and young leaders who make larger gifts.

United Way has developed customized programs for 10 to 12 companies, including Syngenta, where a new women’s leadership initiative has enlisted 75 to 100 women who each volunteer for United Way and want to learn more about philanthropy and how to contribute more of their time and money.

In an effort chaired by Sue Cole, managing partner at SAGE Leadership and Strategy, United Way aims to increase by 10 percent the number of “Tocqueville” donors, or those who give $10,000 or more each, from the 130 who gave a total of $1.1 million last year, Gethers-Clark says.

United Way has relationships with 16,000 donors and volunteers, helps change the lives of 101,000 people a year and, because its 29 partner agencies can “leverage” the United Way dollars they receive to secure support from other sources, has a net impact on the community of over $15 million a year, Gethers-Clark says.

By investing in strategies that focus on collaborative solutions to urgent community problems, she says, United Way provides a “helping hand and not a handout” that makes a difference.

Nonprofit news roundup, 08.15.14

Aylor gets new role at Triangle Community Foundation

Jessica Aylor, director of development and community partnerships at Triangle Community Foundation in Durham, has been named director of community investment, a new position.

Heading the Foundation’s new community engagement department that includes community programs, and marketing and communication, she now oversees programs, research and partnerships that address immediate needs and complex issues facing the region.

She also is responsible for strategy, evaluation and communications for the Foundation.

Rachel Aiken, former communications assistant at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, has joined the foundation as nonprofit services associate, a new position in the new community engagement department.

She will serve as the initial contact for nonprofits seeking information and services from the Foundation, and as staff liaison for agency and designated funds, and will provide support for the Foundation’s community programs.

The Foundation has hired Raleigh consulting firm Armstrong McGuire to assist in the search for a new director of fund development.

Bartley, Heyd promoted at American Heart Association

Abby Bartley, vice president of development for the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the American Heart Association, serving Western Virginia, the Triad and Eastern North Carolina, has been promoted to senior vice president of development for the Triad, Eastern North Carolina, Richmond, Hampton Roads and Western Virginia.

She also will be responsible for national corporate relations and workplace giving strategies for the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate, which serves the Carolinas, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Ruth Heyd, senior director of development for the Triad, has been promoted to the new position of executive director for the Triad, expanding her role to a full-time management position working with key leaders, partners and volunteers throughout the Triad and surrounding counties.

Her new role will include supervision of seven Triad-based American Heart Association staff and an annual fundraising goal of nearly $2.3 million through six different fundraising events.

Fain named interim exec at Center for International Understanding

Jim Fain, principal at Reid Street Consulting and former North Carolina secretary of Commerce and Triangle regional president for First Union National Bank, has been named interim executive director for the UNC Center for International Understanding.

Fain, who was scheduled to become the Center’s board chair on July 1, agreed to serve as interim executive director after Adam Hartzell resigned in June, effective August 8, after more than two-and-a-half years as executive director.

Moise Khayrallah, CEO of Aerial BioPharma, agreed to serve as chair, and Fain asked not to be considered as a candidate for the permanent job.

Hood joins Urban Ministries of Wake County

Traci Hood, former executive director of Miracle League of the Triangle who in April was named executive director of Read and Feed, both in Cary, has been named major gifts coordinator at Urban Ministries of Wake County in Raleigh.

Smith gets new job at Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation

Lora Smith, communications officer at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation in Winston-Salem, has been named the Foundation’s Appalachian network officer.

Duke raises $441.8 million

Duke University $441.8 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, up 7.5 percent from fiscal 2013 and a record-high total for the second straight year.

The number of donors to Duke grew to 110,962 from 109,013.

All gifts count toward Duke Forward, a seven-year fundraising campaign that supports Duke’s 10 schools and units, university programs and Duke Medicine.

The campaign, which has raised $2.17 billion of its $3.25 billion goal, runs through June 30, 2017.

Giving grows overall, online

Overall charitable giving to nonprofits grew 1.6 percent in the first half of 2014, compared to the same period a year earlier, while online giving grew 8 percent, The Blackbaud Index says.

In the three months ended in June 2014, overall charitable giving grew 1.5 percent, compared to the same period a year earlier, while online giving grew 8.7 percent.

The Adam Foundation invests $50,000 in LGBT community

The Adam Foundation in Winston-Salem awarded $50,000 in grants and sponsorships for 17 organizations that support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, or LGBT, on issues ranging from healthcare and research to arts and culture.

Since 1990, the Foundation has provided over $500,000 in community support.

Grants and sponsorships from the Foundation are made possible by charitable gifts and benefit events. It will hold its signature annual fundraising event, The Adam Festival, November 8 at Wake Forest Biotech Place in Innovation Quarter.

Grant applications for The Adam Foundation’s next funding cycle will be accepted for consideration in spring 2015. Sponsorship applications are considered throughout the year.

Family Promise to benefit from wine gala

Programs at Family Promise of Greater Guilford County serving homeless families will benefit from a wine gala that Fresh Market will host on September 25 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at its store at 1560 Highwoods Blvd. in Greensboro.

Autism Society to hold run/walk events

The Autism Society of North Carolina has scheduled its Western North Carolina Run/Walk for Autism on September 13 at the University of North Carolina at Asheville; its Greensboro Run/Walk for Autism on September 27 at UNC-Greensboro; and its Triangle Run/Walk for Autism on October 11 in downtown Raleigh.

Lunch series focuses on philanthropy and business

The Salvation Army of Greater Winston-Salem on August 22 will launch a lunch series focusing on philanthropy and business. Sponsored by the firm of Bell, Davis & Pitt, the inaugural event will feature Robbie Bach, former president of the entertainment and devices division of Microsoft.

The luncheon, be held at the downtown Embassy Suites/Garden Terrace, starts at 11:30 a.m. and is free and limited to 100 people. RSVP by calling 336.723.6366.

BackPack Beginnings collecting shoes

BackPack Beginnings is conducting a shoe collection drive through October 1 to raise funds to support students in Guilford County. Funds2Orgs will pay BackPack Beginnings for the used shoes, and BackPack Beginnings will use the money to buy “standard mode of dress” clothing for children in Guilford County.

Public School Forum gets $619,000

The Public School Forum of North Carolina received $555,000 in new grant funding, plus $64,000 of in-kind support, for its education research and policy work aimed at shaping world-class public schools in North Carolina.

New grants include $450,000 from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund , $80,000 from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, $64,000 in in-kind support from IBM, and $25,000 from GSK Corporation.

The Public School Forum also has formed a new initiative to support local business-education partnerships across the state.

The new effort, NC Education Partners, will provide a platform for information and best-practice sharing, while creating opportunities for collaboration and joint capacity-building initiatives to strengthen community organizations. 

Wake SmartStart gets $675,000

Wake County SmartStart has been awarded $675,639 by the John Rex Endowment for a Farm to Child Care project to help over 160 child care facilities make changes so it becomes the norm to prepare and serve fresh, local produce for snacks and meals throughout growing seasons.

Wake SmartStart will focus on child care facilities in Wake County that serve low-income families and children who need improved access to healthy, nutritious food.

Raleigh chapter of National Christian Foundation disburses $1.2 million

The Raleigh chapter of the National Christian Foundation  disbursed nearly $1.2 million in grants to local and national charities in July 2014, bringing its year-to-date giving to $7.7 million.

Winston-Salem Foundation gives $195,000

The Winston-Salem Foundation awarded 13 community grants totaling $194,901 to organizations that will serve people in Forsyth County in the areas of arts and culture, community and economic development, education, health, human services, and recreation.

Event to benefit Make-A-Wish

The Triangle’s inaugural Pitchin’ for Wishes cornhole tournament benefiting Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina will be held September 13 at Midtown Park in North Hills and is being planned by Andrew Roby Inc. and The Select Group.

Health Underwriters Association honored

The North Carolina Association of Health Underwriters has qualified to receive the Blue Ribbon of Excellence Award from the National Association of Health Underwriters. The recognition means the state chapter and all its locals are Silver or Gold Certified.

Write a newspaper column about your cause

Contrary to reports that may be overblown, newspapers are not dead yet, and their print and online versions continue to offer a great vehicle for raising awareness in your community about the issues your nonprofit cares about.

So write a guest opinion column for the newspaper’s op-ed page — the page “opposite” the editorial page.

Focus on an issue in the news, not on your organization. The editor who decides which columns to run will be more likely to choose one that is pegged to a timely issue, rather than one that is little more than an advertisement for your nonprofit..

Focus on a need in the community, its causes and how it how it affects people. Explain strategies and groups that are working to address the need. And tell readers how fixing the problem will improve the lives of the people it affects and make the community a better place to live and work.

Give your CEO or board chair, or both, the byline, and in a line of italics at the end of the column, give the author’s title and the name of your nonprofit.

By writing a guest opinion column that focuses on your cause, you will help raise awareness about it, and help readers see that your organization is an important community resource.

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

Investment returns grow for private foundations

Investment returns for private foundations grew to an average of 15.6 percent in 2013, net of fees, marking the second straight year of double-digit average returns, a new study says.

That growth compares to average returns of 12 percent in 2012 and average losses of 0.7 percent in 2011, says the 2013 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Investments for Private Foundations.

The study, based on data from 153 private foundations with combined assets of $94.1 billion,  says foundations with assets over $500 million posted the highest returns net of fees, 16.5 percent, compared to 15.5 percent for foundations with assets from $101 million to $500 million, and 15.2 percent for those with assets under $101 million.

Three-year returns averaged 8.7 percent, up from 7.9 percent in 2012, while five-year returns surged to 12 percent from 1.7 percent, reflecting the fact the the loss of 25.9 percent in 2008 no longer is included in the calculation.

Ten-year returns averaged 6.8 percent, down from 7.9 percent in 2012.

As markets have recovered, foundations are increasing their return targets again, cautiously, as they continue to rebound from the financial pain of the collapse of the economy in 2008, the report says.

“With double-digit returns for the second year in a row, private foundations have regained solid financial footing positioning them well for community investment,” Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, and John S. Griswold, executive director of Commonfund Institute, say in a statement.

Mission-related spending

Fifty-six percent of participating foundations increased mission-related spending, up from 47 percent a year ago, while only 26 percent decreased mission-related spending, down from 32 percent.

Asset classes

Domestic equities yielded the highest average returns, 31.8 percent, compared to 15.9 percent for international equities.

Returns averaged 7.3 for alternative strategies and 0.1 percent for short-term securities/cash/other, and a loss of 0.7 percent for fixed income.

Asset allocation

Asset allocation included 24 percent for domestic securities, down from 26 percent in 2012; 9 percent for fixed income, down from 11 percent; 20 percent for international equities, up from 16 percent; 42 percent for alternative strategies, flat from 2012.


The “effective spending rate” among participating foundations — the amount spent on mission divided by the foundation’s market value at the start of the year — grew to 5.5 percent in 2013 from 5.4 percent in 2012, returning the effective spending rate to the level reported in 2011.

Among all participating foundations, 36 percent reported an increase in their effective spending rate, 43 percent reported a decrease, and 16 percent reported no change.

Resources, management, governance

Private foundations on average employed the equivalent of 1.3 full-time professional staff devoted to investments, down from 1.4 in 2012 and 1.5 in 2011.

Twenty-five percent of all study participants, and 58 percent of foundations with assets over $500 million, employ a chief investment officer, while 73 percent of all participants use a consultant, down from 80 percent a year ago.

Thirty percent of participants have substantially outsourced their investment function, down from 38 percent last year, marking a return to the level reported in 2011.

Ninety-nine percent of participating foundations reported they have a conflict-of-interest policy.

Todd Cohen

Avoid website gimmicks

Under growing pressure to find new donors and partners, many nonprofits are quick to  grab the latest trends in web design, often with the advice of web design and marketing firms that are only too willing to peddle flash over substance.

But in the rush to be first on the block with the newest website design or phone app, or simply to mimic what their competitors are doing, nonprofits often forget that what truly matters is their message, not the medium they use to deliver it.

Smitten by designers who pitch such website features as flash pages, moving marquee text, photo carousel and autoplay videos, nonprofits can forget what visitors to their sites actually need and want.

Visitors want to know who you are, who you serve, what you do and the difference you make.

So your home page should tell your story clearly and concisely, and your navigation bar should make it easy for visitors to understand what the website contains, find the information they want, and get involved.

If you don’t know much about web design, don’t let design consultants seduce you with their cool and trendy gimmicks.

A website should not be designed to give the design firm another hip sample of its work for the portfolio it uses to market its business.

The form of a website should follow its function. So figure out who you want to reach, the information you want your audience to have, and the actions you want visitors to take.

Then make sure your website is designed to do all that, and hire a designer who understands and will deliver what you want, not what the designer is selling.

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

Transitions LifeCare focuses on ‘maximizing life’

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — The number of patients and families served each year by Transitions LifeCare, formerly Hospice of Wake County, has roughly doubled in the last five years to between 5,000 and 6,000.

That increase tracks with a surge in the hospice marketplace: According to a recent report in The Huffington Post, the U.S. hospice industry has quadrupled since 2000 and, among all Medicare patients who die, nearly half now are hospice patients — twice as many as in 2000.

To cope with rising demand for services, growing competition from for-profit hospice providers, sweeping changes in health-care regulation, broad misunderstanding about hospice, and a reluctance among Americans to acknowledge their mortality, Transitions LifeCare is undergoing big changes of its own.

In addition to changing its name, the Raleigh nonprofit has developed partnerships to better educate health professionals and care providers, and raise awareness, about end-of-life care.

It also has launched the quiet phase of a capital campaign to raise $6 million to add 10 private single-rooms to its 20-room hospice home, install a Veterans Garden, and create a building maintenance fund for its eight-acre campus.

“We have a unique expertise in managing a period of a patient’s life that is emotionally exhausting, medically intense, and financially can be extremely expensive,” says Cooper Linton, vice president of marketing and business development at Transitions LifeCare.

That approach, he says, is in sync with a marketplace and regulatory climate that increasingly are “moving more toward paying for outcomes than paying for process.”

Founded in 1979 by volunteers and operating with an annual budget of $24 million, a staff of 330 people and 450 volunteers, Transitions LifeCare provides services in the areas of home-health care, palliative care, hospice care, and grief care.

It provides home-health services, including nursing, social work and home-health aid, to 300 patients a year, with 50 percent to 60 percent of those patients ending up in hospice care.

Its palliative care services, which focus “on comfort and not cure,” Linton says, provide physician consultations to 1,500 to 1,800 patients a year in the areas of pain and symptom management, setting goals for care, and assisting with end-of-life decision-making. It serves patients in four hospitals in two counties and 25 nursing facilities in five counties.

Its traditional hospice care serves 2,800 to 3,000 patients a year in six counties, with patients staying an average of 55 days.

And it provide grief care for over 1,000 adults a year and 127 young people.

But Transitions LifeCare faces big challenges, including increased operating costs, growing competition, declining insurance reimbursements, rising demand from uninsured patients and “the denial by both our lay society and the health care profession” that mortality is “the natural last phase of human life,” Linton says.

“We have an unrealistic and irrational sense that we can eliminate death as a reality,” he says.

To address those challenges, Transitions LifeCare has worked to improve efficiencies, including a merger four years ago with Hospice of Harnett County, and to increase economies of scale in its operations and the use of its medical and clinical staff.

It is working to treat patients sooner through palliative and home-health care, working more closely with its medical partners and referral sources to find the best way to treat patients collaboratively.

It is providing nurse education, and offering classes for lay and professional caregivers and for civic groups, faith communities and employers.

And it has changed its name to reflect its geographic reach and its focus.

“We are more than hospice, serving more than Wake County,” Linton says. “There is a misconception and misperception that hospice is about death, as opposed to maximizing life until you die.”