Nonprofit news roundup, 01.30.15

Maine plan would require big charities to pay local property taxes

Colleges, hospitals and other big charities in Maine would be required to pay local property taxes under a budget plan from the state’s Republican governor to cut taxes for families and businesses, The Wall Street Journal reported.

If approved, the plan would make Maine the first state in the U.S. require charities to pay local property taxes, the Journal said.

Laws in every state exempt churches and federally-designated nonprofits from property taxes. Nonprofits say they need that special status because they provide critical programs that governments typically do not provide, the Journal said.

Giving grows, donor retention improves

Giving to U.S. charities, and their retention of donors, grew for the fourth straight year and neared their levels before the economy collapsed in 2008, a new report says.

For every $100 a charity gained in 2013 from new donors, the return of previous doors, and increased giving from current donors, it lost $92 from lapsed doors and smaller gifts from current donors — for a positive gain of $8, says the 2014 Fundraising Effectiveness Project Survey Report.

In 2009, every every $100 a charity gained, it lost $19.

Still, for every 100 new and returning donors, 102 departed without a gift, for a net loss of two, although that was an improvement from a net loss of five donors in 2012 and a net loss of seven donors in 2011, the report says.

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project was developed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute, working with donors software providers.

Positive messages seen getting more donations

Charities that support a cause are more likely to raise money over the long-term than charities that oppose a problem, a new study says.

The study, from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, analyzed financial data from nonprofits’ tax filings over 10  years, measured donor pledges to a registered nonprofit, and examined actual donation behavior in a lab study. It analyzed donations both of time and money.

The study defined a “supportive” message as one such as “Feed The Children,” and a “negative” message as one such as “Stop Child Hunger.”

While negative messages have bee shown to attract attention in the short-term, the study found that supportive messages “prevail over time,” a co-author of the study says in a statement.

The study, “What’s in a Message? The Longitudinal Influence of a Supportive Versus Combative Orientation of the Performance of Nonprofits,” will be included in the February print edition of the Journal of Marketing Research and can be found on its website.

Nonprofits report greater use of management tools

Nonprofits’ use of management tools such as strategic planning, benchmarking and “collective-impact” collaboration is widespread, and nonprofits expect to increase use of those tools in 2015, a new report says.

Relationship-oriented tools are popular throughout the sector, with partnerships and collaboration at the top in use and satisfaction, says the Nonprofit Management Tools and Trends Report 2014 from The Bridgespan Group.

The report, based on 481 surveys completed by nonprofit leaders, says respondents generally find the tools they use to be useful, and that increasing effort to apply them usually — but not always — leads to significant increases in satisfaction.

It also finds that while nonprofit leaders see a need to increase performance measurement, few believe funders will increase support for evaluations.

And it finds that while many nonprofits consider talent management a key issue, 60 percent have not taken advantage of tools that could help assess and develop employees.

Nonprofits and foundations collaborating, see barriers

Collaboration is widespread among nonprofits and foundations, and while they are highly satisfied with their collaborations, they see big hurdles to greater collaboration, a new study says.

Ninety-one percent of 237 nonprofit CEOs and 101 foundation officers surveyed say they are engaged in at least one type of collaboration, and 80 percent viewed those collaborations as highly successful, says Making Sense of Nonprofit Collaborations, the study from the Bridgespan Group.

Collaborations typically involve associations, including coalitions and community collaboratives; joint programs; shared support functions; and mergers.

Funders and nonprofits alike want more formal collaboration, particularly through shared support  services and mergers, the study says.

It also identified barriers to collaboration, and found that nonprofits and funders disagree over what those barriers are.

Nonprofits say they don’t get much funder support for collaboration, for example, while funders say nonprofits don’t ask for that support.

Nonprofits also say the biggest barrier to collaboration is the difficulty of finding the right parters, while funders rate that is the lowest barrier.

And nonprofits say joint programs have the highest failure rate and too often are driven by funder requests, while funders say joint programs don’t fail.

Charitable giving projected to grow

Sixty-seven percent Americans planned to give as much as more to charities in 2014 than in 2013, up from 59 percent who said they planned to give more in 2013 than in 2012, a national survey reported in December.

Thirty-seven percent of roughly 1,000 respondents said the amount they give to charity depends mainly on confidence in their own economic situation, while 12 percent said the amount depends on how people are faring generally, and 16 percent said they weigh a mix between their personal situation and the situation of others, said the survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute in Saint Leo, Fla.

Widening tech gap found among nonprofits

A gap is growing between nonprofits that are quickly adopting technology and those that are falling behind, a new survey says.

While 84 percent of 80 nonprofit senior executives surveyed by GiveCentral report their organizations are embracing technology change, the survey says, 27 percent do not have a formal email communication schedule in place, and only 10 percent send weekly email messages to donors.

Another 26 percent still send weekly printed newsletters.

As a result, GiveCentral says in a statement, “nonprofit senior executive are leaving many opportunities on the table to communicate and engage with donors to build stronger relationships and increase giving.”

Schwab Charitable gives $928 million

Schwab Charitable says it gave $928 million in grants to charities for its donors in 2014, up 25 percent from 2013.

Appreciated investments or assets represented 71 percent of contributions into Schwab Charitable, which says it has facilitated roughly $5 billion in grants to over 91,000 charities on behalf of its donors since it was formed in 1999.

Fidelity Charitable gives $2.6 billion

Fidelity Charitable says it made over 620,000 grants totaling nearly $2.6 billion recommended by its donors in 2014, up 24 percent from 2013.

Fidelity Charitable has made over $19 billion in grants to over 190,000 charities, or 63 percent of contributions to it, since it was  formed in 1991.

National Christian Foundation posts growth

Stock giving and the number of new funds more than doubled in 2013 and 2014 at the Raleigh chapter of the National Christian Foundation, while grants it gave set a new record, the chapter says.

Donated stock grew to $7.1 million in 2014 from $3.7 million in 2012, while the number of new funds grew to 100 from 63, and grants it gave grew to $13.2 million from $9.6 million.

Homeless programs in North Carolina get $21.2 million

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development awarded nearly $21.2 million in grants to support 184 local programs in North Carolina that provide housing and services for homeless people. The grants were among $1.8 billion in grants the agency awarded throughout the U.S. to help end homelessness.

North Carolina ranks poorly for residents ‘scraping by’

North Carolina ranks 41st among the states for its high number of low-wage jobs, 42nd for its high number of low-income residents who lack health insurance, and 44th for its high number of low-income residents who lack a four-year college degree, according to  new data in the 2015 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard from the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

ArtsGreensboro awards $18,000 to artists

ArtsGreensboro awarded a total of $18,000 to 12 artists in the region from among 37 who  submitted applications requesting a total of over $90,000.

Tomorrow Fund raises $34,000

The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students raised over $34,000 at its 4th annual Celebrating Immigrants’ Dreams fundraising event on January 15 at Brier Creek Country Club in Raleigh that attracted 180 guests.

The Tomorrow Fund provides college scholarships for low-income North Carolina Hispanic students.

United Way, BB&T offer free income-tax preparation, filing

Households that earned $53,000 or less in 2014 can get free income-tax preparation and filing services on February 27 at United Way of Greater Greensboro.

United Way has teamed up with BB&T Bank for its second annual Family Economic Success Day, which will feature IRS-certified volunteer income tax preparers, plus information and instruction on financial topics.

The BB&T Bus will be parked at United Way headquarters at 1500 Yanceyville, St. and will serve as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site for the day.

BB&T also will be offering free credit reports to those who qualify.

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Philanthropy emerging as focus of academic study

Academic scholarship and teaching on philanthropy are thin but emerging, with much of it geared to the business of raising money and giving it away, and with the potential to cause conflicts between its funders and those who study them, a British philanthropy scholar and practitioner says.

In Europe, university-based centers’ courses and training “are not keeping pace with the growth in the scale and prominence of philanthropy in recent years,” Charles Keidan, a philanthropy practice research fellow at the Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy at Cass Business School at City University in London, writes in an article in Times Higher Education.

Growth outpaces scholarship

Between 2006-08 and 2011-12, giving to universities in Britain grew to 693 million British pounds, or $1.2 billion, from 513 million British pounds, or $822 million, and is expected to grow to 2 billion British pounds, or $3.21 billion, by 2022, Keidan writes in “Why philanthropy merits scholarly study.”

Yet across European universities, the article says, there are only 20 individual courses on philanthropy or with philanthropy as a core component.

Gain in visibility

It also see signs that philanthropy and charitable foundations, which it characterizes as philanthropy’s “handmaiden,” are “finally achieving global academic visibility.”

It cites the world’s first school of philanthropy, which Indiana University opened in 2013, and the fact that Europe is now home to eight dedicated academic centers of philanthropy and two chairs, most of which were created after 2000.

Still, consensus among scholars is lacking “about what should be studied or taught,” the article says.

“As an interdisciplinary phenomenon, philanthropy inevitably lends itself to — but also requires — expertise from a range of disciplines,” it says.

That creates a “potentially rich and vast research agenda,” and multiple disciplines have the potential to provide “important empirical insights,” it says.

Challenges

But that “diffusion” among multiple disciplines “also creates complexity.”

Those complex issues, which seem “equally unresolved in the U.S.,” the article says, include questions about how the field will develop from a fragmented base; whether there is sufficient “critical mass” of scholarship, peer-reviewed journals and student demand; and how the “seemingly endless variety of research questions, approaches and methods will “coalesce.”

The article also says its research indicates “university leaderships are lukewarm to the development of a knowledge base about philanthropy,” and it cites an “unresolved tension between the two distinct thrusts” of philanthropy education.

“Alongside the urge to reflect on the related normative and abstract questions, there is the issue of teaching the coming generations of philanthropists, foundation professionals and fundraisers about how to distribute or raise funds,” the article says.

“The lack of skills-based techniques and training is a cause of frustration among some donors and practitioners.”

Chasing philanthropic dollars

Research for the article “uncovered signs of a renewed openness to philanthropy education among research-focused foundations, and found the “appetite” for philanthropic income is “naturally piquing an interest in philanthropy among some university leaders.”

But such “instrumentalization” of philanthropy education presents some dangers, the article says.

It could “narrow the scope of scholarly inquiry, gearing it towards research on stimulating giving or towards master’s-type courses with a more vocational and craft-based bent,” it says, adding its research suggests that might be happening in Europe, where most current courses on philanthropy — 13 of 20 — are post-graduate courses.

And funding of university-based philanthropy education by philanthropists and foundations creates the potential for conflicts of interest “on both sides,” the article says,

“Philanthropic backing may be motivated by a desire to promote philanthropy as well as study it,” it says. “This could push funding towards disciplinary settings broadly sympathetic to philanthropy (such as business and management) and away from those asking more critical questions (such as ethics or political theory).”

Possible conflicts for universities

Universities also could “find themselves conflicted between, on the one hand, welcoming philanthropists and seeking philanthropic funds for a range of causes and, on the other, supporting rigorous academic scholarship about philanthropy,” the article says.

Universities “might become sensitive to scholarship that asks critical questions — especially of the particular philanthropists who support them.”

In the U.S., where philanthropic income represents an even bigger share of university budgets, it says, “it is not unknown for scholars whose research raises awkward questions about philanthropy to be cautioned against biting the hand that feeds them.”

Recommended solution

The ideal approach, the article says, is for funding for philanthropy studies to come mainly from “statutory research councils, channelled into existing disciplinary settings.”

Philanthropic support “should be cautiously welcomed, but background correspondence and funding agreements between donors, university leaderships and academics should be made public to reduce real or perceived conflicts,” it says.

“Philanthropy’s imprint on the fabric of university life is just emerging,” the article concludes. “As its profile rises, we should expect some celebration of its contribution to higher education — but we are also entitled to demand more rigorous and robust scholarship about its role in society.”

Todd Cohen

Creating a legacy for the arts

By Todd Cohen

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

DURHAM, N.C. — The Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham is a mecca for culture, a catalyst for community, an engine for growth, and a crossroads for past, present and future. After closing in 1988 for renovations, and reopening in 1994, the historic theater has attracted big-name performing artists, as well as emerging voices, and helped kickstart and fuel downtown’s cultural and economic renaissance.

The vision for saving and restoring the theater has inspired a large and eclectic cast of players performing widely diverse roles.

Pepper Fluke and Stephen Barefoot, two of those players, traveled different paths to the Carolina Theatre, but they share a passion for the arts and a bond with the late Connie and Monte Moses, the couple who spearheaded the theater’s revival.

In 2006, to help provide continuing support for the arts in Durham and to serve as an enduring legacy to the Moseses, Fluke and Barefoot created the Connie and Monte Moses Fund at Triangle Community Foundation.

The Carolina Theatre “would fulfill all their hopes and dreams,” says Fluke, 85, a Durham potter who volunteered for years on the restoration work.

Barefoot, 68, who met Fluke while he was serving as the Theatre’s managing director from 1985 to 1988, says the facility — built in 1926 as the Durham Auditorium — now has a quickening “pulse” driven by a “phenomenal variety” of programming.

Baton-twirling champion

Born and raised in Ridgewood, N.J., Fluke learned from her parents that “you do things for other people, and you don’t necessarily do it for what you’re going to get from it but because you’re going to share your talents.”

Her father taught science at Eastside High School in Patterson, N.J, and created the marching band there. A member of the U.S. fencing team that competed in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, and a college champion at swinging “Indian clubs,” he taught her both skills.

Her mother, a dietician, taught European immigrants how to run an American house so they could get housekeeping jobs.

“My parents were school teachers and there were no extra dollars for anything,” Fluke says. “I learned from them that you share what you have with your community.”

In 1939, at age nine, she accompanied her father’s marching band and majorettes to the World’s Fair in New York City and won the gold trophy in the national juvenile championships for baton twirling.

Guided by her parents to the sciences “because it was the only way a woman would be able to make a living,” she says, she majored in biology at Cornell but found no organized team for a woman who could fence or swing an Indian club, although she practiced with the men’s fencing team and traveled to Dallas and Chicago in compete in Indian club competitions.

In 1952, after graduating from Cornell, Fluke got a job in the pathology department in the research center at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island that was looking for peaceful uses for atomic energy.

While at Brookhaven, she met her future husband, Donald Fluke, who spent most of his career as a professor of radiation biology, including job at a research center associated with the University of California at Berkeley and eventually at Duke.

The couple share a love for community theater and got involved with a local theater group on Long Island that had been started by Connie and Monte Moses. After the Flukes moved to Durham in the late 1950s, they helped persuade Monte Moses to take a faculty job at Duke.

The Flukes have two children — a son who is retired from IBM and lives in Oxford, N.C. and a daughter who is a veterinarian in Charlotte.

Fluke became a potter after spending a year in The Netherlands and falling in love with Dutch art while her husband was on sabbatical there. When the couple returned to Durham, she enrolled in a new women’s program at Duke and took four art classes. She then found her calling at a potter’s wheel and continues to makes functional items like bowls, pitchers and mugs.

Fluke, who lives in Durham with her husband, 91, says creative people inspire her.

“I just love creative people,” she says. “I love being around them. I love helping them and the ideas that get generated.”

Swine-breeding arts impresario

Barefoot was born at the old Mary Elizabeth Hospital in Raleigh and raised in Johnston County on his family’s farm. His father grew tobacco and corn, raised pigs, and also worked for the county’s Soil Conservation Service. His mother was a homemaker. As a child, he took piano lessons, a pursuit he says led to his lifelong passion for the arts.

He learned from his parents “to treat people fairly, to work hard, to be a part of a community, to be a good neighbor, whether the person lived next door or not,” Barefoot says.

While he was the state 4-H swine champion at age 12 or 13 — his father helped him raise a pig and taught him how to keep records on her litter of 16 piglets — he knew early on that he “wanted to be anything but a farmer” and was “inclined to either music or journalism.”

Barefoot majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then spent three years as a U.S Peace Corps volunteer in East Africa. He has devoted most of his career to performing arts production, presenting and administration.

After serving as director of public relations for The Experiment in International Living in Putney and Brattleboro, Vt., and as director of marketing for A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, he was owner and operator of Stephen’s After All, a Chapel Hill club where he first met Connie and Monte Moses.

He then served as managing director of the Carolina Theatre for three years and as executive director of Brightleaf Music Workshop at Duke for six years before founding goingbarefoot in 1994. The firm provided arts project management services and customized entertainment planning, design and production for commemorative events.

Barefoot, who has lived in Durham since 1978, partially retired this summer but his agency still represents a handful of national touring performing artists.

What inspires him is the “interaction between artists and audiences, seeing how the arts enable an individual to respond to his inner soul,” he says. “It frees one to follow his passions.”

Genesis of a restoration

When the Washington Duke Hotel, which opened in downtown Durham 50 years earlier, was imploded on December 14, 1975, Connie Moses was watching and vowed publicly “that would not happen to the Carolina Theater in her lifetime,” Fluke says.

Barefoot says the Carolina once was among roughly 12 “legitimate theaters” downtown, but all but the Carolina had disappeared or been torn down.

“The Carolina was the last one standing when the Moseses came to town,” he says, “and it was really their passion to keep that building from being demolished.”

Monte Moses formed a nonprofit, Carolina Cinema Corp., and persuaded city officials to lease the theater to the nonprofit, which would manage it while plans were made to restore the building.

Fluke says she learned how to be a volunteer from Connie Moses at the community theater in Brookhaven, N.Y, and then spent countless hours volunteering on the restoration of the Carolina Theatre, where Connie Moses, a milliner, oversaw a crew of over 200 volunteers who restored the building’s ballroom.

Thriving in Durham

Fluke and Barefoot have seen Durham revive and flourish since they moved to the city — Fluke in the 1950s, and Barefoot in the 1970s.

“I used to be able to drive downtown at 5 o’clock if I had an appointment or class,” says Fluke, who has lived for 50 years in the same house she and her husband built in Duke Forest right after it opened and was “just a wood.”

Now, she says, “it’s almost impossible because there are so many places. People are driving downtown to eat and be entertained.”

As a potter who loves the arts, she says, she enjoys Durham’s thriving arts community, where she can visit groups like Manbites Dog Theater or a diverse mix of shops, restaurants and food trucks on Foster Street.

In November, she was one of 18 local potters featured on a tour of studios.

“It’s a wonderful energetic community with many different facets,” she says of the Triangle and Durham.

Barefoot says he also enjoys the region’s cultural mix.

“The Triangle is just a fabulously rich community in which to live due to the diversity of communities and opportunities, Durham especially,” he says.

When he was managing director of the Carolina Theater 30 years ago, he says, only one person — Tim Walker, known as “the leather worker” — was officially a resident of downtown. Now downtown housing is an important engine in the area’s economic and cultural boom, he says.

Legacy for the arts

In the 1980s, Barefoot served on a volunteer committee that reviewed funding requests from arts groups to Triangle Community Foundation. So when he and Fluke were looking for a way to create a fund to honor the legacy of Connie and Monte Moses, they created a donor advised fund at the Foundation.

To seed the new fund, Barefoot and Fluke assembled a “Circle of Friends,” a group of nearly 200 people who made contributions. The fund also received money remaining in a memorial fund from the defunct Carolina Cinema Corp. that had been established after the death of one of its managers.

The Connie and Monte Moses Fund was created to support local projects in the performing and literary arts, cinema and filmmaking, and historic preservation, Fluke says.

“The Carolina Theatre being there has made all those interesting presentations come alive in this community,” she says.

Barefoot agrees.

“That’s what Connie and Monte worked for,” he says. “They would be so excited to see that building.”

Healing Blues Project pairs homeless, musicians

By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In the lyrics of “Cross Road Blues,” a classic Delta blues song, the image of a country crossroads has come to represent a place where a musician can hitch a ride, or kneel and pray for mercy, or even sell one’s soul to the devil in return for musical talent.

For the Healing Blues Project, an initiative at Greensboro College, the blues itself has served as a crossroads that has brought together homeless people and musicians to create songs that give voice to people living in crisis. The effort is raising awareness about the challenges they face, and raising money for a local nonprofit that serves the homeless.

Spearheaded and co-founded by Ted Efremoff, an assistant professor of art at Greensboro College, the Healing Blues Project paired homeless people, who served as storytellers, with blues musicians, who worked with them to co-write songs.

With both the storyteller and songwriter for each song getting copyright credit, the songs then were recorded by local, professional musicians from Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem for a CD, with all revenue from sales benefiting the Interactive Resource Center, a Greensboro nonprofit that provides a range of services for people who are homeless.

So far, the effort has generated $10,000 through concerts and the sale of 350 copies of “The Healing Blues,” a CD that features 15 tracks with titles such as “Bitter Route,” “I Come from a Place,” “I Die a Little,” and “If Only Mother Had Told Me.”

Efremoff says he got the idea for the project after receiving an email in December 2013 from the Open Arts Society in Durham soliciting proposals for art installations in storefronts in Greensboro on the theme of the blues. The installations would promote the annual blues festival held each May by the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society in Greensboro.

In addition to proposing an installation, Efremoff also proposed teaming homeless people with musicians to write songs, and setting up a series of “blues cafes” where they could collaborate, try out songs and read poetry.

Writing workshops were held at the Interactive Resource Center and other locations, with the storytellers sharing their stories with the musicians, who wrote songs based on those stories.

David Fox, a professor of music at Greensboro College and co-founder of the project, produced the CD last summer at Earthtones Studio in Greensboro. An art student from the school served as intern on the project, music students assisted in the studio and performed on vocals and horns, and another art student created the CD cover.

Business students helped organize shows to raise money for production of the CD and, as a class project this semester, communications and art students are making a documentary about the project.

The CD, which sells for $15, is available at cdbaby.com, at the Greensboro College Bookstore and its website, and at local music stores.

“We’re an institution that’s interested in outreach,” says Efremoff, a “social practice” artist who focuses on creating situations in which people can interact with one another.

“Through this project,” he says, “we were able in a cross-disciplinary way to involve the sociology, business, art, music and communications departments, and work collaboratively in the community to create a work of art that is benefiting some of the citizens who have the most need in our community.”

Jonathan Epstein, a musician and visiting associate professor of sociology at Greensboro College who co-created and performed on two songs on the CD,  says a common theme on the CD is “why are we invisible?”, and that the project gave homeless participants a forum for telling their stories.

The project shows the power of community-building, says Epstein, who focuses his work on using the arts to express sociological concepts explicitly, rather than implicitly.

“You start at the grassroots level and move upwards, as opposed to the other way around, because that’s how you get communities involved in projects,” he says. “You make it theirs.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 01.23.15

Winston-Salem Arts Council launches campaign

The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County kicked off its annual fundraising campaign, setting a goal of $2.675 million, up from the $2.65 million it raised last year.

The totals include private contributions, corporate support, grants from foundations, and grants from the city of Winston-Salem.

Co-chairing the campaign are Anc Newman, senior vice president at AON Corporation, and Stuart Parks, managing principal at The Arden Group.

The Arts Council, which celebrated its 65th birthday at Hanesbrands Theatre in the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts, also is launching a new grant initiative.

Its new Community Enrichment Mini-Grant program will provide community groups with grants of up to $500 for small projects to promote creativity and use art as a means of bringing people together.

Volunteers boost day of service in Triangle

An estimated 2,200 volunteers supported 38 community-service events in Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake counties on January 19 during 10th annual Triangle-wide Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service sponsored by United Way of the Greater Triangle.

Davis new executive director at WakeMed Foundation

Brad Davis, senior vice president of development at YMCA of the Triangle, has joined the WakeMed Foundation as executive director.

Byrd joins Church World Service

Christine Byrd, director of development and communication at Greensboro Urban Ministry, has been named director of foundation relations for Church World Service.

Feit leaving NCCJ

Susan Feit is stepping down after eight  years as executive director of NCCJ, the National Conference for Community and Justice of the Piedmont Triad, no later than June 30, 2015.

She says she will spend more time with her family and consider new professional opportunities to advance social justice issues.

Music director gets three more years at Winston-Salem Symphony

Winston-Salem Symphony has negotiated a new contract with Robert Moody, who now is in his 10th season as its music director and now will remain for three more years.

Moody also has served as artistic director of Arizona Musicfest since 2007, and as music director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine since 2008.

Pfitzer joins Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence

Chris Pfitzer, vice president of marketing and communications at United Way of the Greater Triangle, has joined the Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence.

Kenchen tapped for leadership program

Tara Kenchen, president and CEO of the North Carolina Community Development Initiative and its investment arm, Initiative Capital, has been selected by the Opportunity Finance Network and the Citi Foundation as one of 48 community development financial institution professionals from throughout the U.S. who will participate in the second annual Citi Leadership Program for Opportunity Finance.

High Point United Way offering tax assistance

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program will is offering free tax preparation by IRS-certified volunteers to individuals in the High Point area with 2014 household incomes of $53,000 or less.

The program encourages eligible taxpayers to take advantage of  tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, and works to help eligible taxpayers claim those credits.

The local VITA program is a partnership managed by the City of High Point and supported by West End Ministries, Guilford Technical Community College, Macedonia Family Resource Center, High Point University, and United Way of Greater High Point.

John Rex Endowment gives $2 million

The John Rex Endowment in Raleigh has awarded five grants totaling over $2 million to support work to increase the engagement of organizations and people in effective prevention of childhood injury in Wake County.

Grant recipients and the totals they received include Haven House Services, $51,651; UNC Healthy Solutions, $668,268; UNC Highway Safety Research Center, $764,215; UNC Injury Prevention Research Center, $115,810; and YMCA of the Triangle, $498,596.

SECU House names officers, members

The SECU Family House in Winston-Salem elected Melinda McConnell as chair of its board of directors and Sharon “Shari” Covitz, as vice-chair, and elected Bruce Brown, Lory Kelley and Benjamin Anyanwu to three-year terms.

Harvard Business Club of Charlotte to give $55,000

The Harvard Business of Club of Charlotte will give $55,000 to charities, its biggest donation in a single year and bringing to $427,000 the total it has donated over the past 12 years.

The Club makes the donations using surplus tuition from its Management Development Program, a “mini-MBA” course taught by taught by volunteers who are Harvard Business School alumni.

John Crosland School ranked among top in U.S.

The John Crosland School in Charlotte was ranked 12th in a listing by the Master’s in Special Education Guide of top 50 learning-disabilities schools in the U.S.

The school, which serves students with learning differences in kindergarten through 12th grade, was the highest-ranking learning-disabilities school in Charlotte and the third-highest day school overall. 

Health underwriters meeting to focus on long-term care

Long-term care will be the focus of the February 3 meeting of the Triad Association of Health Care Underwriters. Dan Conrad, brokerage manager with Capitol Financial Solutions, will speak at the session, which will be held at Starmount Forest Country Club and begin at 11:45 a.m.

Recycling furniture for households in need

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — In 2010, when her two daughters were nearing college age, Jackie Craig began staging homes to be sold by her friend Beth Smoot, a broker associate at Fonville Morrisey.

Craig found many people selling homes were reluctant to part with furniture and other household items and, if they were willing to let go, often did not what to do with those belongings.

As a long-time volunteer for JobStart, a partnership of the Presbyterian Church and state Division of Prisons that supports women getting out of prison, Craig also understood a big challenge those women faced was finding furnishings to start a new home.

The solution was The Green Chair Project, an effort she and Smoot founded to collect donated furniture and distribute it to people recovering from crisis.

Operating with an annual budget of nearly $500,000, three full-time and three part-time employees, and over 1,000 volunteers, the Raleigh nonprofit has provided 25,000 items of furniture or household goods for 1,000 households, or nearly 3,000 individuals, roughly 80 percent of them women and children.

“We’re giving people a meaningful way to put their old items to good use here in our community and keeping them out of the landfill,” says Craig, who serves as executive director.

The effort initially stored donated furniture in a closet and then a classroom at Edenton Street United Methodist Church, where co-founders Craig and Smoot are members, and later occupied 1,100-square feet of borrowed space at Building Together Ministries and then 3,000 square feet of rented space in the former Carolina Custom Golf building on Capital Boulevard.

It now is based in the 27,000-square-foot building on Capital Boulevard that it leases from its former occupant, Alfred Williams & Co.

Each week, through appointments coordinated by 55 partner agencies focusing on issues ranging from homelessness, domestic violence and incarceration to mental health and disaster relief, individuals from four to eight households visit The Green Chair Project.

The agencies pay a $25 referral fee, and households contribute $50 to $250, depending on how much furniture and other items the household needs and can afford. Each household gets one visit only to furnish their home.

In return, an individual or family gets “points” to spend, with the point system representing “a fair way to ration the furniture and provide the dignity of choice,” Craig says.

After a brief orientation in a “family room” that features a large dollhouse showcasing the types of furniture and other items available for each room of a house, clients tour the showroom. In sections of the showroom, each devoted to a different room of a house, visitors can select from pre-arranged sets of furniture and from packets containing items they might need for that room.

Donors can drop off furniture and other items at The Green Chair Project, which also has partnerships with four moving companies that will pick up donated furniture for a discounted fee, and with one company that will deliver it for free, if needed, to households that participate.

Volunteers ranging from high school students to senior citizens sort and wash donated items, which are stored in rooms allocated, respectively, to each section of the showroom.

As its charity project in 2014, the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County transformed what had been the break room at The Green Chair Project into a washing station for cleaning donated dishes and household items, and also created a new break room for volunteers and staff.

Through a partnership with the Wake County Public School System and two bedding stores, The Green Chair Project has provided mattresses for about 100 children who have no beds, and aims to provide 200 mattresses in 2015.

And when tornadoes swept through Raleigh in April 2011, the Salvation Army of Wake County turned to The Green Chair Project to serve as a hub for distributing furniture and household items to hundreds of families left homeless by the storm.

The nonprofit generates income through contributions and grants from individuals, foundations and the city of Raleigh, and an annual gala, as well as four retail sales a year for the public that account for up to one-third of its annual budget.

While The Green Chair Project has grown significantly in just five years, Craig says, its plan now is to focus on strengthening its programs with partners “to better serve Wake County and put more families in beds and homes.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 01.16.15

Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation names executive director

Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea, Ky., since 2002, has been named executive director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation in Winston-Salem.

Maxson, who starts work on March 16, previously served as executive director of the Progressive Technology Project, a group that formerly was based in Washington, D.C., and now is in Austin, Tex.

Sandra Mikush, who has served as interim executive director at the Babcock Foundation, will return to her job as deputy director.

She was named to the interim job after David Jackson, who had served as executive director for just a year-and-a-half,  resigned in April 2014 for personal reasons.

Jackson, who previously was president and CEO of the Center for Working Families in Atlanta, joined the Foundation in November 2012.

He succeeded Gayle Williams, who retired after leading the foundation for 19 years.

Menestres retiring from SAFEchild

Marjorie Menestres, founding executive director at SAFEchild, a child abuse prevention agency in Raleigh that was founded in 1993, will retire on June 30.

Launched by the Junior League of Raleigh,  SAFEchild became an independent nonprofit three years later.

It operates with an annual budget of $1.2 million, a staff of 14 people, and over 250 volunteers.

The agency operates the SAFEchild Advocacy Center, which provides coordinated response to allegations of child abuse and is the only center in Raleigh serving children who have been severely abused physically or sexually, or both.

Other programs include Welcome Baby for new mothers; the MOVE Program for mothers who have been abused; the Nurturing Program to teach parenting skills; and Funny Tummy Feelings to empower and protect area first-graders.

Salvation Army fights human-trafficking

Project FIGHT, a program of the Salvation Army of Wake County that works with victims of human trafficking, has received the Survivor Care Award from the North Carolina Human Trafficking Commission.

Project Fight, which has assisted over 140 victims of human trafficking and has trained over 4,500 people across the state since 2011, also has received the a federal grant from the Office of Victims Crime that will allow it to expand, with locations in New Bern and Salisbury.

The grant provides funds for housing of victims.

Creative economy grows in Wake County

Creative jobs and revenue grew in Wake County in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, according to Wake’s Creative Vitality study, a report fro the Western States Federation.

Creative jobs totaled 25,242, up 3 percent from 2012, including 5,628 post-secondary teachers; 2,595 photographers; 1,416 graphic designers; 1,203 public-relations specialists; and 1,202 musicians and singers.

Creative-industry revenue totaled $5.4 billion, up 5 percent, including $3.2 billion for software publishers, $293.7 million for internet publishing and broadcasting;$168.3 million for book publishers; $124.3 million for independent artists and writers; and $116.3 million for newspaper publishers.

Revenues for cultural nonprofits totaled $79.3 million, up 9 percent, plus $45.8 million in contributions and gifts, although grant revenue fell 12 percent.

With 1.0 serving as the national baseline or average, Wake’s Creative Vitality score for 2013 was 1.10, or 10 percent above the national average, and up from 1.03 in 2010.

In comparison, the scores were 1.26 for Durham County; 0.95 for Raleigh-Cary; 0.91 for Asheville; 0.75 for Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill; and 0.66 for Winston-Salem.

Nationally, Wake County posted a better score than competitors such as Provo, Utah, with 0.89; Oklahoma City, with 0.77; and Indianapolis, with 0.95.

But it trailed competitors such as Austin, with 1.31; Boston, with 1.67; Seattle, with 1.38; and San Jose, with 1.24.

“Wake County is rebounding from the recession but will need to continue growing in these areas to catch up to some of our competitor cities,” says Eleanor Oakley, president and CEO of United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County.

Triangle Community Foundation investing in innovation

Triangle Community Foundation is seeking applications for its 2015 What Matters Innovation Awards, an annual grant program that will award $25,000 to the winning collaborative proposal to solve a community problem, address a need or strengthen the region.

Applications, which are due by February 6, must be submitted by a collaboration of at least two organizations based in Chatham, Durham, Orange or Wake counties.

The Innovation Awards are held in conjunction with the What Matters Community Luncheon, which the Foundation will host on April 1 at the Raleigh Convention Center.

This year’s luncheon, with “Adapting to Change” as its theme, will focus on the region’s changing demographics, and how businesses, nonprofits and leaders adapt to that change.

The keynote speaker will be Dan Heath, co-author of Switch.

Hobson new VP of advancement at Alexander Youth Network

Trish Hobson, senior financial development director at YMCA of Greater Charlotte, has been named vice president of advancement at Alexander Youth Network in Charlotte.

Casp joins Environmental Defense Fund

Molly Coyle Casp, development associate at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, has joined the Environmental Defense Fund as board liaison.

Flavin named executive director at LIFEspan’s Guilford Creative Campus

Timothy P. Flavin, executive director of Physicians Home Visits in Winston-Salem, has been named executive director of LIFEspan Inc., Guilford Creative Campus, in Greensboro.

Baker joins board of Triangle United Way

Amy Baker, assurance partner and office managing partner at EY, has been elected to the board of directors of United Way of the Greater Triangle.

Vanguard Charitable grants climb to $5 billion

Vanguard Charitable says its has granted a total of $5 billion since it was founded in 1997.

The eighth-largest grantmaking organization in the U.S., Vanguard Charitable says it has made grants to over 142,000 charities, sustained an annual five-year rolling payout rate of nearly 20 percent, and made grants totaling over $2 billion in the past four years.

Vanguard Charitable manages assets for over 15,000 donors.

Davidson County Hospice hires marketing firm

Hospice of Davidson County has selected Lexington marketing firm The Media Matters as its agency of record. The firm will develop and implement a public relations, social media and advertising strategy for Hospice, which this year is marking its 30th anniversary.

Human Race to be held April 18

The Volunteer Center in Greensboro will hold the 2015 Human Race on April 18 at The Greensboro Coliseum.

Since 1994, The Volunteer Center has managed the event, helping to raise over $4.2 million for local nonprofits.

Greensboro realtors feed homeless

Roughly 50 members of the Realtors Community Service Committee of the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association served a traditional Thanksgiving meal on November 29 to about 300 people who are homeless.

Culinary Visions Catering provided the food through a donation from the Greensboro Regional Realtors Foundation. 

The realtors partnered with Under the Bridge, a ministry for feeding the homeless through 16 Cents Ministry, which works with volunteers to provide meals to roughly 300 homeless men, women and children every Saturday night at 6 p.m. under the Randleman Bridge spanning Spring Garden Street.