Nonprofit news roundup, 12.12.14

North Carolina Community Foundation gives record-high $15 million

The North Carolina Community Foundation awarded a record-high $15 million in grants on behalf of fundholders and affiliates in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2014.

Those grants bring to $89 million the Foundation’s cumulative grantmaking since it was formed 26 years ago.

In fiscal 2014, the foundation administered over 2,200 grants, its most ever, on behalf of donor advised funds and community grantmaking programs through its network of 60 affiliate foundations throughout the state, and through endowments, including scholarships and those held by nonprofits, corporations, government agencies, small businesses and private foundations.

Grants for human services in the fiscal year totaled $7 million, followed by $3.9 million for education-related initiatives.

The Foundation also awarded nearly $600,000 in direct scholarships for post-secondary education for 300 students.

Salem launching $60 million campaign

Salem Academy and College are set to launch a campaign early next year to raise $60 million for capital improvements to its campus in Winston-Salem, and to provide support for students and faculty, Triad Business Journal reported.

The school has raised over $26 million over the past two years during the campaign’s quiet phase, the Journal reported.

Museum of Art gets $13 million, unveils plan for campus

The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh has unveiled a phased, long-term plan for its 164-acre campus and has received $13 million from an anonymous donor to complete the plan’s first phase, scheduled to begin in spring 2015.

The plan calls for a new campus entrance and streetscape, increased parking capacity, woodland and meadow restoration, additional Park trails and infrastructure, improved sustainability measures, and additional outdoor works of art.

Civitas, a landscape architecture and urban design firm in Denver, developed the plan, and the Museum commissioned artist Jim Hodges of New York City to create a signature work of art from the existing smokestack on the campus.

Pope Foundation gives $1.7 million

The John William Pope Foundation awarded nearly $1.7 million to schools, churches, arts organizations, and community groups, mainly to organizations serving the Triangle area and Vance County, bringing its total giving for 2014 to over $7.69 million.

The biggest grants includes multi-year commitments of $300,000 to White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh and $400,000 to the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill, and a grant for $100,000 to Transitions LifeCare in Raleigh.

Cone Health Center for Children raises over $1.1 million

Over $1.1 million was raised for the Cone Health Center for Children at December 4 celebration honoring Cone Health CEO Emeritus Tim Rice at his retirement.

The funds will be used to establish an endowment named for Tim and Carolynn Rice at the Center, and to fund several special projects.

SAFEchild raises $405,000

SAFEchild in Raleigh has raised over $405,000 from individual donors, corporate sponsors and matching gifts in its annual fundraising campaign and will use the funds to provide child abuse prevention programs and support the needs of child abuse victims.

The campaign included matching gift challenges of $50,000 each from the WakeMed Foundation and an anonymous family, which together agreed to match all new gifts made up to a total of $100,000.

Public relations consultant Anita Blomme Pinther is campaign chair, and Rick Guirlinger, president of Bourke Services, is honorary co-chair.

ArtsGreensboro names program director for National Arts Festival

Amy Grossmann, a program director for the Maryland State Arts Council, has been named local director for the National Folk Festival by ArtsGreensboro, effective Jan. 2, 2015.

Grossmann will work directly for ArtsGreensboro and in close cooperation with the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the organizations co-presenting the festival for its three-year residency in Greensboro starting September 11-13, 2015.

She will oversee all administrative and logistical elements of the festival, and will also play a leadership role in managing local operations ranging from vendor relationships to volunteer needs.

Gallagher joins Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center

Arthur Gallagher, former campus president of Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, has been named vice president for foundation and community engagement at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte.

Metts new regional advancement officer at National Rife Association

Susan Metts, director of strategic giving at Meredith College in Raleigh, has been named regional advancement officer at the National Rifle Association.

Flinn joins The Volunteer Center

Megan Flinn, who has handled digital and marketing communications social media and event development at Durham Community Land Trustees, has been named director of marketing and community relations at The Volunteer Center.

North Carolinians sign up for health care through federal exchange

In 2014, 390,000 North Carolinians obtained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and an overwhelming majority of them qualified for financial assistance to help cover the cost of care, a new report says.

Last year, 357,584 North Carolinians signed up for health care through the federal exchange, and the state’s new Medicaid program signed up 46,044 North Carolinians, says “Know the Facts: The Affordable Care Act Is Working in North Carolina,” a report from the Center for American Progress.

More than nine in 10 North Carolinians qualified for tax credits that lowered the cost by 79 percent, on average, the report says.

If North Carolina were to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid in 2014, it says, the state would see its economy grow by $1.7 billion over two years.

Foundations give $111 million for disasters

In 2012, 234 U.S. foundations made 884 grants totaling $111 million for disasters, with 58 percent of the funds going to natural disasters, and 46 percent directed to response and relief efforts, a new report says.

Sixty-two percent of the grant dollars addressed human services needs related to disasters, and 62 percent targeted disasters in North America, says “Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2014: Data to Drive Decisions” from the Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Countries in Asia received 16 percent of the funds, and countries in Africa received 13 percent, the report says.

Habitat renovating more homes

In the face of rising land prices, the number of homes Habitat for Humanity for International has renovated in the U.S. doubled to 1,435 in the fiscal year ended June 30 from 2008, while new construction fell 31 percent to 3,323 over the same period, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ipas supports local causes

The staff of Chapel Hill-based Ipas, in partnership with Durham Social Services, have collected 30 gifts and over $400 in donations for a local family. 

The local staff of Ipas, which employs more than 150 people in Chapel Hill and works to improve health care for women in developing countries, for several years has led food and gift drives to support area social service organizations.

During its annual summer food drive this year, Ipas donated over 400 pounds of food and $1,200 to TABLE, an organization providing emergency food assistance to school-aged children in Carrboro and Chapel Hill.

In 2012, Ipas donated 1,449 pounds of food and $560 to the CORA Food Pantry in Pittsboro.

Artist team selected for Charlotte Rail Trail

Charlotte City Partners has hired the artist team Wowhaus as the public art consultant to develop a public art plan and execute recommended art along the Charlotte Rail Trail.

The project will be funded with a $412,000 grant that ArtPlace America awarded in June, plus $20,000 from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation.

Winston-Salem Foundation accepting applications for teacher grants

Feb. 13, 2015, is the deadline for teachers, guidance counselors, curriculum coordinators, and media coordinators in the Winston- Salem/Forsyth County schools to submit applications to The Winston-Salem Foundation for teacher grants of up to $2,500.

Grants can be used for needs such as local, state, and national conferences, workshops, or seminars; foreign travel; innovative classroom experiences; educational travel to be incorporated into the classroom or school curriculum, or both; and other professional growth and enrichment opportunities.

In 2014, the Foundation made 18 teacher grants totaling nearly $27,000.

Junior Achievement gets $7,500

Junior Achievement of Central North Carolina has received a $7,500 grant from Wells Fargo to support economic literacy and work readiness training in kindergarten-through-12th-grade schools in Forsyth County.

Greensboro Boys & Girls Clubs get $15,000

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greensboro received $15,000 from Disaster One, a Greensboro-based restoration company serving commercial and residential clients. The donation represents the net proceeds from a casino event that attracted over 240 people.

Center for Human-Earth Restoration receives awards

The Center for Human-Earth Restoration in Raleigh received the Community Conservation Award 2014 from the Wake Soil and Water Conservation District. It also received $200 from the North Carolina Bluebird Society to buy bird houses and replacement materials for damaged bird houses at Kingswood Elementary School.

Watauga Children’s Council, Jaycees of Winston-Salem to get support

Tar Heel Basement Systems has selected Children’s Council of Watauga County and Jaycees of Winston Salem to receive volunteer time and money in December.

High Point Bank sponsoring film program

High Point Bank is sponsoring the RiverRun North Carolina Shorts film program during the 2015 RiverRun International Film Festival April 16-26, 2015.

Wheels4Hope seeking car donations

Wheels4Hope has placed over 70 cars with individuals and families in the Triad over the past two years and is looking for 25 car donations during the holiday season.

Corporate Volunteer Council to meet Jan. 8

BackPack Beginnings will be the guest nonprofit for the next meeting of the Corporate Volunteer Council. The session will be held Jan. 8, 2015, in The HR Group Training Room at 216 S. Swing Rd., Suite 3, in Greensboro from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Don’t get bogged down in data

Nonprofit and philanthropy professionals love data, maybe too much.

Numbers, used sparingly, can help explain a community need, measure how a charitable program is helping to address it, and show donors and funders the return on their investment in the program.

But while data can be a useful means to the end of fixing problems, many people working in the charitable world seem to let data drive their thinking, decision-making, programs and funding, as well as their appeals to donors.

Data are not what matter for a nonprofit. What matters is the difference you make in the lives of the people you serve. And the most effective way to show your impact is by telling compelling stories about how your work improved the lives of your clients.

Data can help by tracking and quantifying your impact, but the story you tell about your work should focus on the human need in your commuity that you address, and on the way real people benefit from your nonprofit.

Do not be seduced by data. Instead, use it to help tell real stories about the people you serve and how their lives are better as a result of the work you do.

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 relationships seen as key to fundraising success

By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — A coach at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater High Point with a natural gift for connecting with people has helped cultivate important relationships for the nonprofit. When a parent of one of his soccer players was sick, for example, the coach sent get-well cards.

Later, that parent’s spouse phoned the Boys & Girls Clubs and asked how to help the organization. So it invited the spouse to serve on its board of directors. That individual, in turn, invited the nonprofit to apply for grants from the family’s foundation. Then the donor began volunteering for the organization, reading with children and helping them with their homework.

Over the course of a 10-year relationship, the donor has become one of the Boys & Girls Clubs’ top contributors, making a string of individual gifts of more than $10,000 each, compared to an average gift to the organization of roughly $150.

“All you have to do is say, ‘This is what’s going on,’ and that donor will say, ‘Let me write a check, let me help alleviate that problem,'” says Holly Ferree, vice president for development at the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Managing relationships

At a time of growing competition among charities for donor support, continuing uncertainty about the economy, and increasing expectation from donors for a measurable return on their investment, nonprofits increasingly are focusing their fundraising on building relationships with donors who have the ability to make large gifts.

“The number one lesson for any nonprofit is maintaining a close relationship with donors,” says Whitney Jones, president of Whitney Jones Inc., a fundraising consulting firm in Winston-Salem. “Fundraising is all about relationships management.”

Ferree agrees.

“The key to any fundraising is establishing relationships, making sure you’re letting donors know how the money is being used, and reporting results, being transparent,” she says.

Keeping it personal

At many charities, Jones says, 80 percent of the income comes from 20 to 30 donors.

“Even in a small organization, some donors are giving significantly more than anyone else,” he says. “The key is to maintain really close relationships with them, which is regular, personal visits to keep them informed.”

The goal of those visits, which should take place every three months, he says, is not to ask for money but to talk about “here’s where we are, here’s who we’re serving, here’s a touching story of someone we’ve served.”

Ferree says building relationships with donors requires “constant communication, making sure you have touch points throughout the year where you’re trying to reach your donors through quarterly publications, and having them in for special recognitions.”

The best approach is to have one-on-one conversations with key donors, she says, “making people feel special, making them feel they are part of something and really contributing to something that is making a difference.”

Board role

Jones says many nonprofits are small and lack sufficient staff to maintain relationships with donors, making it “incumbent on the board to get involved.”

And that makes it important that the CEO of a nonprofit work to build the board by developing relationships and identifying potential board members who are “connectors” who can connect the nonprofit to prospective donors.

To help find those connectors, a nonprofit CEO can ask either a board member or community leader to host a “friendraising” event in their home at which they can “share the vision and the passion for the organization,” Jones says.

A nonprofit also could host a luncheon both to raise money and identify prospective board members, he says. The organization might recruit sponsors to contribute, in advance, 90 percent of the total to be raised, and ask existing board members and donors to invite prospective board members and donors to the event. At the event, the nonprofit also would spell out its “vision and passion,” Jones says.

Setting priorities

With small staffs, limited resources and significant demands on their time, nonprofit CEOs need to focus and be resourceful about how to invest their time and the organizations’ efforts to raise money, Jones says.

“You’ve got to set your own priorities, goals in terms of the people you’re going to visit based on the potential return on investment of your time,” he says.

Accompanying the CEO on those targeted donor visits, he says, should be a member of the nonprofit’s board or development committee, which typically might include individuals such as those connected to foundations, corporations or local businesses, or a lawyer who handles trust work, or a banker who focuses on wealth management.

Peer connections

At Guilford College, a key strategy has been to recruit “passionate” major-gift donors to help secure major gifts from their peers, says Mike Poston, vice president for advancement.

“If somebody gives $100,000, put them in front of someone else who can give $100,000, he says. “Here is a passionate person, and make sure they talk to another person who hasn’t given but will give if they see someone who has the same passion and will invest. It’s matching the passion with the ability to invest through a gift.”

Equally important, he says, is to “cluster” those volunteers around a set of core needs, so existing donors who have made gifts to support a particular need will talk to prospective donors with a passion for the same need.

Organizations also should give prospective donors an opportunity meet people who have benefited from the programs that donors are supporting.

“You want to know that what you’re giving your money to is appreciated,” Poston says.

Volunteers as leverage

Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro has engaged volunteers to work closely with its staff on developing and soliciting key prospective donors, says Gordon Soenksen, chief development officer.

That requires communicating effectively with key volunteers “so you’re developing strategies that are appropriate for the prospects but also comfortable for the volunteers,” he says.

It also requires “engaged volunteers who are passionate about the mission of the organization and who are clear on the vision of the organization,” and “who are confident enough that they are willing to ask for the commitment or the gift, or appropriately set up the fundraiser to ask for the gift,” he says.

“Most of us at nonprofits are small staffs,” he says, “and engaging volunteers appropriately allows us to leverage our activity.”

Investing in infrastructure

Boys & Girls Clubs of America is promoting a program known as “Advancing Philanthropy” that encourages its more than 1,140 independent local Clubs to invest in their infrastructure “to get the best payoff for the kids we’re serving,” Ferree says.

“Donors want to see what their investment is doing,” she says. “That takes a greater investment of time and more people. We’re starting to see we have to do things differently.”

Instead of spending time on special events that might raise $20,000 and consume staff time, for example, local Clubs could assign a staff member to work with prospective donors and make requests for major gifts that might generate as much in donations, if not more, she says.

“It’s a culture shift,” she says. “It takes time.”

Telling stories, and selling

To raise money, Jones says, nonprofits need to create a “compelling vision” and two or three stories that reflect that vision and show how their organizations have helped transform the lives of the people they serve.

Soenksen says nonprofits should focus their fundraising on individuals — who account for well over three-fourths of charitable giving in the U.S. — and avoid “the trap of grantwriting as the sole fundraising activity.”

Grantwriting can consume “enormous amounts of time that could otherwise be spent with individual prospects.”

Nonprofits also should not be “afraid to hear ‘no,'” he says.

“It gives you a chance to come back to the conversation later on,” he says. “Fundraising success comes from relationships that have been carefully developed over time.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 12.05.14

#GivingTuesday raises $45.7 million, up 63% from 2013

#GivingTuesday, a global effort to encourage giving on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, generated $45.7 million on December 2, up 63 percent from 2013, including $34.9 million in online giving and $10.8 million in offline, a new report says.

Giving results for #GivingTuesday 2014 are expected to grow significantly as offline donations continue to be processed, says the report from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, which reported estimates from five big donation processing platforms for nonprofits.

Online giving represents an estimated 6 percent to 10 percent of total annual giving, the report says.

During the 24-hour period that began at 12 a.m. on December 2 and continued until 11:59 p.m., over 296,000 online and offline contributions were made to charities, up at least 53 percent from 2013.

The total average donation is estimated to have grown 6 percent.

An estimated $28.09 million was raised through #GivingTuesday in 2013, up from $13.46 million in 2012, all mainly online.

The estimates are based on contributions tracked by Blackbaud, DonorPerfect, GlobalGiving, Network for Good and Razoo.

Launched in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, with additional partners, #GivingTuesday is driven mainly by social media and online giving campaigns, the report says.

Over the course of the day, over 698,000 tweets mentioning the #GivingTuesday hashtag were shared, up 159 percent from 2013.

UNC-Chapel Hill getting $100 million for Pharmacy School

The Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a $100 commitment from Fred Eshelman, a 1972 graduate of the school who is founder and former CEO of Pharmaceutical Product Development and founding chairman of Furiex Pharmaceuticals.

The commitment, the biggest ever to UNC from an individual or to a pharmacy school in the U.S., will be used to create the Eshelman Institute for Innovation.

Through strategic collaborations inside and outside UNC, the institute will aim to help fuel innovation, create jobs and spur economic development in the state.

The Pharmacy School was named for Eshelman in 2008.

Humanities Council leaving Greensboro for Charlotte

The North Carolina Humanities Council is moving its administrative offices to Charlotte from Greensboro, its home since it was formed in 1972.

Paula Watkins, the Council’s executive director, will move to Charlotte, while the Council’s four other staff members declined to move and will not be employed by the organization, effective Jan. 31, 2015, when it will open its new offices in the Center City campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Each of those four staff members will receive a severance package. The Council aims to fill all four positions in the first quarter of 2015.

The Council, a statewide nonprofit that works as an advocate, makes grants and provides programs to boost understanding of the humanities, says the move aims to take advantage of opportunities for organizational development and collaboration in Charlotte.

Over the past four years, the Council has provided over $559,000 in grants, with an additional $131,000 budgeted for the current fiscal year.

Since 2009, Council funding has supported presentation of nearly 800 programs in over 80 North Carolina counties for more than 50,000 participants. All programs are free and open to the public.

MetLife invests in Self Help credit unions

MetLife Foundation made an $800,000 grant to Self Help to support its first full-service credit union branch in Durham and to develop new products, while MetLife made a $5 million long-term, low-interest loan that Self-Help will use to make a secondary capital investment in its credit unions.

Self-Help credit unions operate 43 branches in North Carolina, California and Chicago that serve over 100,000 families. 

Founded in 1980, Self-Help has provided over $6.4 billion in financing to nearly 87,000 families, individuals and businesses underserved by traditional financial institutions.

GSK gives $40,000 to each of 9 Triangle nonprofits

GlaxoSmithKline has made $40,000 GSK IMPACT Award grants to each of nine Triangle nonprofits. Winners of the awards, presented in partnership with Triangle Community Foundation, include Community Home Trust; Dress for Success Triangle; Durham’s Partnership for Children; Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina; Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines; Motheread; Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina; StepUp Ministry; and Voices Together.

For the first time this year, winners participated in a $10,000 challenge grant on #GivingTuesday and proposed through Twitter what they would do with an additional $10,000 to foster a healthier community.

The winner, Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines, will use the additional prize money to bring healthy eating and active living programming directly to girls in remote, under-resourced areas of the Triangle Region through its Mobile Program Vehicle Project.

BCC Rally gives $199,000 to Komen Charlotte

BCC Rally has given $199,000 to Komen Charlotte in its 11th year raising funds and awareness for breast cancer, bringing to more than $1 million the total it has raised for Komen Charlotte.

BCC Rally, Komen Charlotte’s largest single donor, generated $116,000 from special events and $83,000 from the sale of pink bows.

Of the funds given this year, 75 percent will benefit local breast health organizations that provide screenings, treatment and education to under-insured and uninsured residents, and the remaining 25 percent goes to the Susan. G. Komen National Research Fund.

In its 13-county service area, Komen Charlotte is funding 17 grantees and so far this year has referred over 400 people to local breast health services.

Komen, the largest nonprofit funder of breast cancer research, has invested over $847 million in research since 1982 and is funding nine research grants in North Carolina totaling $2 million.

Wake Salvation Army kicks off Red Kettle campaign

The Salvation Army of Wake County has kicked off its Red Kettle Campaign to raise funds for people in need, including over 8,800 children who have registered for its Angel Tree program that provides holiday gifts.

The Salvation Army, which has served people in Wake County since 1887, says it invests 91 cents of every donated dollar in programs and services.

High Point Boys & Girls Clubs in campaign

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater High Point is raising money through its “Give the Gift of a Great Future” campaign through January 15, 2015.

The Clubs, a partner program of the United Way of Greater High Point and United Way of Randolph County, operates five Club sites and for 17 years has provided a year-round program for over 1,300 youth ages six to 18 for the past 17 years.

Make-A-Wish event to recognize women

A three-month fundraising campaign for Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina will culminate on January 30 with the organization’s “WISH – Women Inspiring Strength & Hope – 2015 Celebration Luncheon” at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary.

Co-chaired by Diane Adams, chief people officer at QlikTech, and Billie Redmond, founder of TradeMark Properties, both members of its board of directors, the campaign challenges each WISH Champion to raise at least $7,500 to grant a wish.

The WISH Champion who raises the most during the campaign will be recognized during the luncheon as the 2015 WISH Woman of the Year.

SearStone donates $156,000 to charities

SearStone, a nonprofit retirement community in Cary, donated a total $156,000 this year to charities that serve seniors, including Meals on Wheels, Resources for Seniors and the Center for Volunteer Caregiving.

A provision in SearStone’s charter says it will donate 5 percent of its gross revenue to local nonprofits that serve seniors.

Public School Forum expanding fellowship program

The Public School Forum of North Carolina will expand the North Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program to Western North Carolina beginning in 2015.

Expansion of the program, which focuses on preparing high-potential teachers, as well as school and district administrators, for leadership roles in education and related fields, is supported through a grant to Appalachian State University in Boone from the U.S. Department of Education.

The Public School Forum of North Carolina is a partner in the program.

Bike Drive to benefit Salvation Army

Womack Electric Supply in Danville, Va., and the North Carolina Association of Electrical Contractors are teaming up to host the 5th Annual Give A Kid A Bike campaign at each of the company’s branch locations in North Carolina and Virginia.

The drive aims to collect 314 bikes, up from 214 last year, which will be donated to the Salvation Army site in Greensboro for distribution to children during the holidays.

Junior Achievement names board members

Junior Achievement of Eastern North Carolina has elected seven new members to it board of directors — Ryan Cotterman, senior manager for assurance services at Ernst & Young; Monica Cutno, president and co-founder of Envision Science Academy; Rosalind Fox, factory manager at John Deere Turf Care; John Lynch, senior vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; David Rabin, executive director of marketing at Lenovo Americas; John Risinger, Raleigh city president for commercial banking at SunTrust Bank; and Leah Webb, senior vice president and general counsel at Square 1.

1st Aide Restoration collecting gifts for kids

1st Aide Restoration, a Greensboro franchise member company of Chicago-based DKI, a disaster restoration contracting organization, is a sponsor of the Hope for the Holidays program of Children’s Home Society.

Children’s Home Society, which has served children and families for over 100 years, collects holiday gifts each year for over 300 Children’s Home Society foster children.

The Children’s Home gets $45,000

The Farm at The Children’s Home in Winston-Salem has been awarded a $45,000 grant from the Harriett Taylor Flynt Fund at The Winston Salem Foundation. The 105-year-old community farm, which provides food and vocational training and uses farming to teach work ethics and serve as a basis for therapy, will use the grant to fund a professional business manager for 2015.

Winston-Salem Foundation gives $246,000

Winston-Salem Foundation has awarded 12 community grants totaling $245,742 to groups working in arts and culture, human services, health, and the environment that serve people living in Forsyth County.

Duke gets $1.25 million commitment

Karl Leo, an Alabama lawyer and graduate of Duke Law School, and his wife, Fay, have committed $1.25 million to Duke University to establish a new faculty chair at the in business law and entrepreneurship at the law school.

Council on Developmental Disabilities honors two professionals

The North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities has presented its Helen C. “Holly” Riddle award to Maureen Morrell, a special projects director for the Autism Society of North Carolina in Raleigh, and to Joan S. Johnson of Browns Summit, project director of Beyond Academics at UNC-Greensboro, for their professional work with families and people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Kurt Timothy Reid of Maiden, N.C., received the Jack B. Hefner Award for his advocacy of individuals with autism.

Crumley Roberts to sponsor Heart Association initiative

Law firm Crumley Roberts has become a local sponsor in Guilford County of Go Red For Women, a year-round initiative of the American Heart Association to educate, encourage and enable women in the community to prevent and fight heart disease and stroke.

Financial Pathways gets $150,000

Financial Pathways of the Piedmont has received a three-year, $150,000 grant from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem to support its Representative Payee program.

Financial Pathways began offering the program early in 2014 when The Enrichment Center, another nonprofit, decided to stop offering the program.

The program, which works in partnership with the Social Security Administration, allows a third party to receive and manage the financial benefits of a person who qualifies for government payments but is not able to manage his or her money.

Payee clients may have a range of challenges, including behavioral issues, substance abuse, and developmental disability, including age-related disability.

Prospective donor’s ‘no’ is an opportunity to engage

Communication starts with listening. And for people who work with donors to raise money for charities, listening carefully is critical.

Gordon Soenksen, chief development officer at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro in Greensboro, N.C., has a positive take on what many fundraising professionals might take to be a donor’s negativity.

“Don’t be afraid to hear ‘no,'” he says. “‘No’ does not mean never; it just means not now. It gives you a chance to come back to the conversation later on.”

His favorite coffee cup bears the saying, “Salesmanship begins when the customer says no,” Soenksen says.

Fundraising success, he says, “comes from relationships that have been carefully developed over time.”

To pursue that success, he uses a simple, circular model that begins with “communication” with the prospective donor, followed by working to “relate” to the prospect, then to “engage” the prospect in the mission of your organization, and then to secure “support,” he says.

“And when they support you, go back to communication,” he says. “You thank them, and run the circle several times. And that’s where the gifts come from.”

Too often, Soenksen says, people begin with communication but jump immediately to asking for money.

“And we wonder why they don’t support us,” he says. “Because we have forgotten about relationships and engagement.”

Fundraising, in short, is an ongoing process or circle.  When you get to the end, you start all over again. It begins — and continues — with communication.

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

Building community by investing in nonprofit capacity

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This was written for Triangle Community Foundation.]

RALEIGH, N.C. — Marbles Kids Museum created a program to train its staff to help develop early literacy skills in visitors to the museum.

Triangle Family Services developed metrics on the use of its space that helped dramatically reduce the “no-show” rate among its clients.

Both Raleigh nonprofits were among 22 in the Triangle that received grants from Triangle Community Foundation to assess their operations, and among 21 that received additional grants to use those assessments to strengthen their organizational “capacity.”

The Foundation’s total investment in the effort, which included learning “cohorts” designed to provide training for participating nonprofits and help them share best practices with one another, was $330,000.

“Running a nonprofit is a business, and one with an extremely important outcome,” Pat Nathan, a member of the Foundation’s board, told 85 guests attending TCF Connect, an event in October at the North Carolina Museum of Art attended by 85 Foundation donors and nonprofits.

A similar event for donors and nonprofits was held in Durham and attracted 40 people.

Building capacity

Building the capacity of nonprofits in the region that work in the fields of youth literacy and community development is the focus of the first phase of a “People and Places” initiative Triangle Community Foundation launched in 2014 that also will invest in nonprofits working in the fields of land conservation and the arts.

The Foundation decided to make capacity-building in those four fields of interest its focus as the result of a two-year effort to assess its grantmaking with advice from donors, nonprofits and civic leaders from throughout the Triangle.

Lori O’Keefe, the Foundation’s president, told donors and nonprofits attending TCF Connect that its dollars for making discretionary grants are limited and its donors want to see the “direct tangible impact” of grants from their funds.

“As much as we want to give from our hearts, we have to invest in organizations’ ability to grow and expand and be successful,” O’Keefe said. “We have to be accountable for what the return on investment is.”

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014, discretionary funds available for grants to community programs totaled $1 million, or the investment income on 15 percent of the Foundation’s $189 million total assets.

“It’s important for us as donors to recognize that for organizations to feed more kids or buy more books,” O’Keefe said, “they have to be able to invest in their infrastructure, much like a business.”

Literacy, community development

Nathan, founder and president of Dress for Success Triangle NC and a former sustainability executive at Dell, moderated a panel that focused on the issue of organizational capacity and included Sally Edwards, president of Marbles; Alice Lutz, CEO of Triangle Family Services; and O’Keefe.

Since Marbles was formed seven years ago through the merger of Exploris and Playspace, hundreds of thousands of children have visited the museum, Edwards said.

“We knew we had such an opportunity to make such an impact in early literacy but didn’t have the capacity to make it,” she said.

So with a grant from Triangle Community Foundation, Marbles assessed its capacity in the area of youth literacy, looking at factors such as its staff and exhibits to determine how it might best improve its organization to better focus on early literacy.

A second grant from the Foundation allowed Marbles to develop and launch a program in collaboration with Motheread, a Raleigh-based national training and curriculum development organization, to train its staff to help develop the early literacy skills of visitors to the museum.

Triangle Family Services, which works to help families experiencing family violence, financial crisis and mental health issues, was looking for ways to streamline its operations.

With five business units spread across multiple locations and operating seven days a week, the agency was using a complicated process for assigning its rooms for clients to meet with its staff.

Triangle Family Services used an initial grant from Triangle Community Foundation to  identify the need to improve that process, and used a second grant to develop and adopt a “systemizing of metrics and measures across all program areas to make it simple and accessible” to assign space for clients, Lutz said.

The result: A reduction — to 5 percent from 18 percent — in the no-show rate among mental-health clients.

Gearing for change

The “People and Places” initiative is part of a larger effort at Triangle Community Foundation to find ways to be a more effective partner to donors, funder of nonprofits and resource on local community issues, Lacy Presnell, chair of the Foundation’s board, told guests at the TCF Connect event.

“When we work together,” he said, “we are stronger and can increase the positive impact we have on our communities.”

In the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014, he said, the foundation received over 220 gifts totaling over $25.2 million, and made over 3,700 grants totaling over $15.4 million invested back into the community.

In assessing its grants, he said, the Foundation found the biggest fields of interest that received funding were education, arts and culture, followed by housing and human services, religious activities, and health care, he said.

Today, with $189.4 million in assets and celebrating its 30th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of community foundations in the U.S., Triangle Community Foundation is “trying to stay in step with rapid growth in the region,” said Presnell, who serves as general counsel for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Retooling for impact

O’Keefe said the focus of the Foundation’s grantmaking is local, with three-fourths of all its grantmaking remaining in the Triangle, and donor advised funds accounting for nearly two-thirds of the grant dollars that stay in the region.

The Foundation has been retooling, looking for “how to best deploy the flexible funds that have been given to us by past and current donors, and how to put them back into the community for the best use,” she said.

In talking to donors, the Foundation learned that while they were “excited about the programs, they were not always sure how it connected back to their funds and grantmaking.”

And finding that donors already were funding programs in the areas of youth literacy, community development, the arts and the environment, she said, the Foundation decided to focus on capacity-building in those four areas.

Partnering for success

Jessica Aylor, director of community investment at Triangle Community Foundation, told guests at the TCF Connect event that partnerships with nonprofits is one of central roles the Foundation is playing.

“We are taking more of a partnership approach with our programs, trying to strengthen the capacity of nonprofits, giving them grants and putting them in learning cohorts” where they can learn from one another, she said. “Stronger nonprofits end up with greater impact in the community.”

Funding for the Foundation’s “People and Places” community programs that focus on youth literacy, community development, land conservation and the arts is available from Fund for the Triangle, created through gifts to the Foundation by donors “who wanted us to be more strategic in our funding,” she said.

Getting involved

In addition to donating money, said panelists at TCF Connect, donors to Triangle Community Foundation and to nonprofits have many other opportunities to get involved with nonprofits they care about.

Donors can contribute time as volunteers, either working directly with a nonprofit’s clients or in the back office, or can serve on boards, committees and task forces, they said.

At Marbles, for example, a donor could volunteer to help deliver programs or with committees such as one working on a master-planning process to expand the museum’s campus, Edwards said.

And at Triangle Family Services, donors can serve on boards, task forces or a facilities committee that currently is looking at how to get a sump pump for the organization, or can attend a coffee chat with the CEO on the first Friday of each month from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Donors, nonprofits and local residents also can attend the Foundation’s What Matters event on April 1, 2015, that will feature stories about giving and data on the Triangle, and will focus on “how the region is changing and how to be thinking for years ahead,” Aylor said.

This past April, the What Matters event attracted 500 people and focused on community innovation.

“Community foundations,” she said, “are places for people to learn together and support causes they care about.”

O’Keefe agreed.

“The community foundation field is about connecting resources to opportunities and needs,” she said. “The more we learn together, the more work we can do.”