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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