Nonprofit news roundup, 03.27.15

Foundation for the Carolinas gets $45 million gift

Foundation for the Carolinas has received a $45 million gift from Howard R. Levine, chairman and CEO of Family Dollar.

Last October, Levine gave 600,000 shares of Family Dollar stock to the Howard R. Levine Foundation, a donor advised fund at the $1.7 billion-asset Foundation for the Carolinas.

In January, the stock was sold for $45 million.

The gift and sale increased to $65 million Levine’s total philanthropic funds at Foundation for the Carolinas.

Levine and his wife, psychologist Julie Lerner Levine, also are giving $1 million to the Carolina Theatre at Belk Place.

The gift supports Foundation For The Carolinas’ restoration of the 36,000-square-foot historic theatre.

The Foundation, which has set a goal of raising $35 million for the project, now has raised $25.8 million.

Museum of Natural Sciences gets $585,000

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences received a three-year, $584,700 grant from Biogen Foundation it will use to continue to develop and put into place public programs focusing on biotechnology and human health for students throughout the state.

The grant is the largest to a North Carolina museum by the Biogen Foundation, which since 2007 has given over $1.6 million to museums for science and education programming and outreach.

The new grant eclipses the $450,000 gift the Foundation made last October to the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center to support the North Carolina Science Festival for the next three years.

Compass Center honors DWM Advisors

Compass Center for Women and Families in Chapel Hill presented its Joseph P. Davis Award for Corporate Sponsorship to DWM Advisors.

The award, which recognizes long-term supporters, is named for Joe Davis, who is chairman and managing director of DWM Advisors, which provided $100,000 to the nonprofit as a sponsor for more than 10 years.

Ronald McDonald House raises $95,000

Ronald McDonald House of  Chapel Hill raised $95,000 at its Third Annual Storybook Gala, an event on March 21 at the Carolina Club that attracted over 300 guests.

The total raised included $20,900 from a live donor appeal, with those dollars to be used for a capital campaign to support expansion of Ronald McDonald House to 53 guestrooms from 29, along with other facilities.

Hospitality House of Charlotte raises $76,000

Hospitality House of Charlotte, a local nonprofit that provides lodging to families and patients undergoing medical treatment in the Charlotte area, raised over $76,000 as a result of a challenge grant from The Leon Levine Foundation.

The Foundation agreed to give $20,000 to Hospitality House if it raised $30,000 in 30 days. The nonprofit raised $56,000.

British charities fear government cuts

Public funding cuts are the biggest challenges facing British charities, while protecting the independence of the charitable sector is the top priority for the next government, a new report says.

Seven in 10 of over 400 charities responding to the survey say demand for services grew in the previous 12 months, and they expected demand to grow for the next 12 months, says Managing in the New Normal, a report from Charity Finance Group, Institute of Fundraising, and PwC.

Nearly three in 10 charities say they lack the resources to meet rising demand for services, up from 16 percent that said that in 2014.

Fifty-seven percent of charities say staff levels grew in the past year, more than said that a year earlier, and fewer charities than in the previous year say they took steps to reduce staff.

Charities indicated most categories of income had improved, and are optimistic they will continue to improve in 2014.

Over half of charities plan say they plan seek different sources of income.

ArtsGreensboro to hold family event

ArtsGreensboro will kick off the first-ever “I HEART ARTS Month” with a free Family Jubilee and Summer Camp Fair on March 29 at Revolution Mill Event Center at 900 Revolution Mill Drive from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Family Service of the Piedmont getting $20,000

Family Service of the Piedmont will get $20,000 raised by students, faculty and staff at High Point University, and members of the community, at the second Super Hero Dash co-hosted by the school’s Kappa Delta sorority and the Guild of Family Service of High Point.

High Point Salvation Army to hold sale

The Salvation Army of High Point will hold a sale of donated furniture and home décor items on March 28 to raise funds for social ministry programs.

The sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Salvation Army building on 301 West Green Drive.

Evia-Lanevi honored by Hispanics in Philanthropy

Diane Evia-Lanevi, founder and chair of the advisory board of The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students, was recognized by Hispanics in Philanthropy for her work with fund.

She was among 31 Latino leaders from across the U.S. honored at an event in San Francisco.

The leaders are featured in a video and their stories are included in a book published by Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Community assets focus of Winston-Salem Foundation event

Asset-based community-building will be the focus of the 2015 Community Luncheon on May 6 hosted by The Winston-Salem Foundation.

Keynote speaker at the event, to be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Benton Convention Center, will be John McKnight, co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute and professor emeritus of education and social policy at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

Clouden to head 7th Street Public Market

Chris Clouden, former director of events for the Charlotte Sports  Foundation, has been named executive director of the 7th Street Public Market in uptown Charlotte.

N.C. Stroke Association accepting applications for grants

The N.C. Stroke Association is accepting applications from hospitals for a total of $20,000 in grants to support the Association’s programs for stroke prevention, education and post-stroke activities, and for building their own stroke programs.

May 31 is the deadline for submitting applications.

Care Ring to hold gala

Care Ring in Charlotte will host its circus-themed gala, Under the Big Top, presented by Wells Fargo, on April 25 at The Hilton Charlotte Center City.

Charities should say what they mean

Charities have a tough job, and they’re making it tougher by communicating poorly.

The job of charities is to address the symptoms and causes of social and global problems, and to make their communities better places to live, work and play.

Those problems are complicated, and charities typically lack the resources they need.

Yet in working to find and keep the supporters they count on, charities often downplay the problems they are trying to fix, and the challenges they face as organizations.

That is not what donors, funders, volunteers and other investors and partners want.

What they are looking for is the honest and often brutal truth about social needs, about the improvements nonprofits need to make in their own organizations, and about how the nonprofit’s work is in sync with the causes those partners and prospective partners care about.

So the stories nonprofits tell need to be clear, candid and compelling.

A nonprofit should help its audience understand community needs, their urgency and causes, the work it is doing, the difference it is making in the lives of people, and how supporters and partners can get involved and help.

Instead, nonprofits often soft-pedal social problems, describing them in technical jargon or vague terms that sanitize their causes and their harsh impact on people.

And instead of being open and straightforward about the operating and fundraising challenges they themselves face, nonprofits often try to put on a happy face.

What donors want is honesty, clarity and details. If they are going to get involved and give, they want to know what the problems are, both in the community and at the nonprofit, and what can be done to make them better.

They want to be valued as partners and investors, not treated as children who cannot be trusted with the truth. Ultimately, they want to make the world a better place.

To develop the partners and resources they need, nonprofits need to communicate as if the lives of their clients, and the survival of their organizations, depended on it, because they do.

So stop hiding behind the safety-blanket of vague, feel-good philanthropy buzzwords and start telling your story so people can understand the urgent needs you address, the work you do, the challenges you face as an organization, the difference you make, and why anyone should care.

Tell your story in a way that makes people want to get involved.

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

Center serves victims of domestic and sexual violence

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — Every year, over 157,000 adult North Carolinians are victims of domestic violence, costing the state nearly $307.9 million, or $32.26 per resident, excluding the cost of emergency shelters, according to a study last year at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Helping to address the needs of women and children in Durham County who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault is the Durham Crisis Response Center, which focuses on advocacy, education, prevention and support.

The Center, which was created in February 2001 through the merger of Rape Crisis of Durham and the Orange-Durham Coalition for Battered Women, has served over 20,000 women and children, including 237 women and children who stayed at its 18-bed shelter and another 3,800 who called its crisis line.

“There’s no wrong door where a victim can come to us,” says Aurelia Sands-Bell, the Center’s executive director.

Since she joined the Center in July 2006, its annual operating budget has doubled to just over $1 million, it has trained its staff of 8 full-time and 12 part-time employees, and its volunteers, to handle clients with a range of needs, languages and cultural backgrounds, and it has expanded its services and its collaboration with partner agencies.

In addition to its shelter and 24-hour, confidential crisis line, services include accompanying clients to the hospital and court; legal clinics with local lawyers; support groups; counseling; and referrals for job training, housing, child care, and other community services.

The Center also offers workshops and training for service providers, churches, schools, police, hospitals, civic groups and other community members.

The Center has added Spanish-speaking staff to field calls on its crisis line; expanded its counseling for individuals and groups; added legal advocates and a sexual assault investigator; and is working more collaboratively with law-enforcement and criminal-justice officials, schools, and the Durham County departments of public health and social services.

Law-enforcement officials and Duke Medical Center have been strong partners of the Center, she says.

It also is partnering with schools, faith-based communities and youth organizations to provide a six-to-eight-week pilot program to help 80 students in middle school and high school see the link between alcohol and sexual violence.

The Center counts on government and United Way grants for half its funds; contributions for 20 percent; events, including a spring golf classic, for 10 percent; and a thrift store at 2715 Chapel Hill Blvd. for 20 percent.

One of every four women in the U.S. is the victim of violence at the hands of an intimate partner during her lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the number of clients the Center serves has increased by roughly 25 percent since she joined the organization, Sands-Bell says.

The Center is in the planning phase of an effort to expand its shelter.

Sexual violence is “far more widespread than people want to think or believe” and is tied to other community problems, she says. Many women are homeless, for example, as a result of domestic or sexual violence, she says.

More victims are seeking assistance from the Center and other agencies because of increased awareness about the problem of domestic and sexual violence and a greater sense of “being believed and knowing they can get help,” she says.

It also is important to “have honest conversations with our young people about sexual assault and violence and really address the impact of violence on the lives of children,” Sands-Bell says.

Yet it can be tough for communities to talk about domestic or sexual violence or support efforts to address the needs of victims because the issue is “taboo” for many people, with victims often feeling a “sense of shame, of not being believed,” and perpetrators not wanting to “own up to this problem,” Sands-Bell says.

“We have to look at domestic violence and sexual assault as a community issue, a societal issue,” she says, “not simply as a women’s issue.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 03.20.15

Crisis Assistance Ministry gets $200,000 challenge

Four couples — Carol and Peter Budko, Tom and Heather Finke, Ken and Malinda Gill, and Brent and Claire Trexler — each has pledged to donate $50,000 to match dollar-for-dollar donations to Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte until April 16.

Crisis Assistance Ministry is Mecklenburg County’s lead agency dedicated to preventing homelessness.

Sisters of Mercy of N.C. Foundation gives $1.9 million

Sisters of Mercy of North Carolina Foundation has awarded grants totaling $1.9 million to 37 nonprofits.

The Foundation made 15 grants totaling $816,000 in the area of social services, 15 totaling $718,000 that were education-related, and seven totaling $368,000 in the area of health care.

Organizations that received grants are located Buncombe, Catawba, Davidson, Forsyth, Gaston, Hendersonville, McDowell, Mecklenburg, and Union counties in North Carolina, and York County in South Carolina.

Since 1996, the Foundation has awarded 1,612 grants totaling over $72 million to organizations serving unserved or underserved populations.

SWOOP volunteers pitch in for Benevolence Farm

Fifteen volunteers from Raleigh nonprofit Strong Women Organizing Outrageous Projects, or SWOOP, built a greenhouse on March 14 for Benevolence Farm in Alamance County.

Benevolence Farm, which provides housing and jobs for women after their release from prison, is raising money for the greenhouse through an online campaign and a grant from Criminal Justice and Mercy Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

Paralympian Bonnie St. John to speak at Women’s Leadership Summit

Author and leadership consultant Bonnie St. John, who had her right leg amputated at age five and in 1984 became the first African American to win medals in the Winter Paralympics as a ski racer, will be the keynote speaker on April 22 at the 5th Annual Women’s Leadership Summit that will be hosted by the Junior League of Greensboro at the Grandover Resort.

For the second year, Jeri D’Lugin, senior financial services representative at The Principal Financial Group, is awarding scholarships to over 60 League members to attend the summit.

McCracken named president of Junior Achievement in Greensboro

Jacqueline McCracken, interim president and programs manager for Greensboro-based Central North Carolina chapter of Junior Achievement, has been named president.

She succeeds Cyndy Hayworth, who led the organization for 13 years and now is interim president of Downtown Greensboro Inc.

In 2014, McCracken was named by Triad Business Journal to its list of “40 Leaders Under 40.”

Community Investment Network names executive director

Erin H. Moore, former founder and CEO of Black Studies Online, and former assistant professor of history at Central State University in Ohio, has been named executive director of the Raleigh-based Community Investment Network.

High Point Boys & Girls Clubs opens tech center

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater High Point has opened a new technology center at its Carson Stout Club at 1900 Fern Ave.

The Boys & Girls  Clubs received a $5,000 grant from Ronald McDonald House Charity of North Carolina and a $5,000 matching grant from Global Ronald McDonald House Charity to buy new computers to run educational programs at the new tech center for its members.

SECU Family House gets $2,500

SECU Family House in Winston-Salem received a donation of $2,500 to its Family Assistance Fund from the Enterprise Holdings Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the company that, through its regional subsidiaries, operates the Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car brands.

HandyCapable Network giving computers to school

HandyCapable Network in Greensboro will give 110 computers to students and their families at McNair Elementary School this spring, thanks to a grant from the Cemala Foundation.

John Rex Endowment gives $127,000

The John Rex Endowment in Raleigh made five grants totaling over $127,000, including capacity-building grants to The Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education, Communities in Schools of Wake County, and Loaves and Fishes Ministry, and grants for organizational assessment to El Pueblo and InterAct.

Barnabas Network to benefit from ‘Chair Affair’

The Barnabas Network in Greensboro will hold the “Chair Affair,” an art auction, on April 16 at the Barnabas warehouse at 2024 16th St. starting at 6:30 p.m.

The nonprofit provides gently used home furnishings for families and individuals who are moving from homelessness, recovering from a major setback, fleeing domestic violence, or living with incomes that cannot cover basic needs.

Microsoft to sponsor digital series for Apparo

Microsoft Corp. will be the presenting sponsor of the annual Digital Series of Events and Ball for the second straight year for Apparo, a nonprofit that offers technology solutions to Charlotte-area nonprofits.

The ball will be held April 18. Last year’s event raised $800,000.

Cat shelter to host gala

SAFE Haven for Cats in Raleigh will hold its 11th annual Tuxedo Cat Ball on April 24 from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh.

Advance your cause by respecting your audience

To effectively engage the donors, volunteers and other partners your nonprofit counts on, your communication with them should show you know who they are, understand what they care about, and value the role they can play in advancing your cause.

Sadly, however, far too many nonprofits talk at, down to or around their audiences.

Rather than focusing on the needs they address, the difference they make in the lives of the people they serve, and the causes their supporters care about, many nonprofits simply talk to and about themselves.

On their websites and in their newsletters, annual reports, fundraising materials, news releases and other communications, nonprofits seem intent on impressing their own leaders and supporters, rather than doing the hard work of explaining what they do, cultivating existing partners and recruiting new ones.

They overstate their successes and impact, and soft-pedal the serious social problems they are trying to address.

They tell heart-tugging stories about their clients and the tough challenges they must or have overcome, but fail to explain in clear terms the complex causes underlying those challenges or the complicated and often collaborative remedies to address them.

They seem seduced by their own hype and smitten with technical jargon and philanthropic shoptalk.

And they place greater emphasis on their leaders than on their own work and impact, and they pander shamelessly to their donors.

In short, when many nonprofits speak, it’s all about themselves. They often seem confused about who they are trying to reach, and tone-deaf to the intelligence, interests and values of the audiences they are targeting.

The job of a nonprofit is to serve people in need, fix social problems, and make our communities better places to live, work and play.

To do that job, a nonprofit depends on supporters and partners. Finding and keeping them requires knowing who they are and their values, and creating stories that explain the need the nonprofit addresses, the difference it makes, and the way its supporters and partners can address community needs and advance their own values by getting involved.

Communication should advance your cause. So instead of talking to yourself, listen to and learn about the people you need to reach, and talk to them, not at them.

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

Higher-education slipping, U.S. at risk, UNC chief says

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. —  America is shortchanging and devaluing public colleges and universities, putting the nation at risk in the global economy, the head of the University of North Carolina system says.

Americans increasingly see colleges and universities as “nothing more than factories that must demonstrate an immediate return on investment for consumers,” Tom Ross, president of the 17-campus UNC system, said in a speech to the National Public Affairs Forum of the City Club Raleigh.

But America is forgetting that the job of higher education is to prepare students to think on their own and work together, and to develop them as leaders and foster life-changing research, Ross said March 10 in the Forum’s inaugural lecture.

States are shifting costs to students and families, putting higher education out of reach for many or saddling them with debt, he said.

States also are cutting spending and losing faculty, along with their research dollars and the jobs they create, he said.

“I have come to the conclusion that America is losing her way with regard to higher education,” he said.

Eroding investment

America’s greatness is rooted in its higher education system, the best in the world, said Ross, who will step down next January after five years on the job, forced out in a move this past January by the UNC Board of Governors.

Yet enrollment is outpacing investment in higher education, which increasingly is focusing on “metrics, return on investment, and job preparation,” he said.

While America spends only two percent more on higher education in real dollars than it did 25 years ago, he said, enrollment has ballooned by over 60 percent, resulting in a 30 percent decline in spending per student.

“As a nation, we are disinvesting in higher education, and we are beginning to pay the price,” he said.

Bloomberg recently reported unemployment among college graduates had declined to 2.8 percent, he said, and it warned America was at risk of “not producing enough college graduates to meet its workforce needs.”

Falling behind

Other countries are making big investments in higher education, while the rankings of U.S. institutions decline and America’s “premier status as the place to be educated is fading,” Ross said.

What’s more, he said, the cost of higher education is rising beyond the means of many Americans.

“Growing numbers of American students can’t afford to attend college at all, and too many of those who do are burdened by significant debt,” he said. “This is a dangerous trend in my view.”

Wrong direction

In half the states, students at public universities pay more toward the cost of their education than the state does, down from only three states in which that was the case in 2000, Ross said.

“We are moving in the wrong direction,” he said. “America must educate more people if we are going to compete successfully in the global economy.”

The U.S. and North Carolina “must ensure that college remains affordable and accessibility to everyone who has the ability and desire to pursue it,” he said.

N.C. bucks trend

North Carolina, Ross said, has shown stronger support of its public universities than most other states.

In-state tuition rates for UNC campuses are in the lowest fourth among their public peer institutions in other states, with rates at many UNC campuses the lowest or next-to-lowest, he said.

As a result, he said, UNC students generally graduate with less debt than students in most other states.

Accessibility, efficiency

Keeping college affordable and accessible in the U.S. “will require renewed and sustained investment” in public systems of higher education, as well as greater operating efficiencies “without sacrificing the quality of education,” Ross said.

He said the UNC system is looking at ways to share services such as those to determine students’ residency and handle financial aid and audits. It also is looking at ways to conserve energy; streamline academics and operations; provide college e-purchasing; and make information-technology more efficient.

The UNC system, which employs 60,000 people — more than any private enterprise in the state — has eliminated hundreds of positions, and is producing 18 percent more graduates than it did five years ago while spending 15 percent less per degree, adjusting for inflation, Ross said.

“Very few businesses can boast that kind of increase in production along with that level of cost reduction,” he said.

Yet while the UNC system always can become more efficient, he said, an ongoing concern is that greater efficiency could “begin to erode the excellence” of educational opportunities campuses offer.

Spending cuts

In his four years as UNC system president, Ross said, he has managed continuing budget cuts, including $400 million in 2011, the largest cut in UNC’s history, and faces more cuts in the budget proposed this year by Gov. Pat McCrory.

With few exceptions, he said, UNC system faculty and staff have had only two salary increases, averaging about 1.5 percent, in the last six years.

“Without great faculty, you cannot be a great university,” he said.

And in their exodus to private industry and other institutions, he said, faculty often take federal research funds with them.

“This is a dangerous trend for North Carolina and one we must address,” he said.

Research dollars

While industry in the U.S. historically conducted its own research and development, Ross said, universities now account for roughly 75 percent of research in the U.S.

Public and private universities in North Carolina generate over $2 billion in research grants and contracts a year, including $1.2 billion at UNC campuses.

Those grants and contracts support over 22,000 jobs throughout the state and, over the past 10 years, have generated more than 135 spin-off companies, Ross said.

North Carolina State University alone has over 700 corporate partners, he said.

While research may be important to business, Ross said, it is even more important as a teaching tool.

“We must help people understand that today research is an integral part of teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” he said. “At its core, research is another form of hands-on learning.”

Economic impact

The UNC system enrolls 220,000 students from all 100 North Carolina counties, nearly all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, and operates with an annual budget just over $9 billion, including $2.3 billion from the state, making it the 11th-largest industry in North Carolina, Ross said.

A recent study found the UNC system creates $27.9 billion of added economic value for the state’s economy, he said, representing 6.4 percent of the state’s annual gross domestic product, or the equivalent of creating 426,000 new jobs.

Shortage of teachers

The UNC system has a responsibility to help prepare teachers for North Carolina’s schools, which face a “looming crisis” in the pool of teachers, Ross said.

Enrollment in UNC schools of education fell 12 percent last year and has plunged 27 percent over the past five years, he said.

At the same time, the state is losing veteran teachers “at an alarming rate,” he said.

“This is a recipe for disaster,” he said. “We must find effective ways to attract the best and brightest into teaching, and retain them once we invest in training them.”

Valuing higher education

The value of higher education “is not fully measured by one’s job title or earnings level,” Ross said. “Higher education has value beyond the individuals who participate in it that extends to the public at large.”

The U.S. must reverse its 25-year trend and “begin investing again in our public universities, in their faculties and students, in teaching and learning, and in research and discovery,” he said.

“I am convinced that if we increase educational attainment in North Carolina, we will have fewer people in poverty, there will be less demand for social services, fewer people will end up in our correctional system, more people will  have better health outcomes, and we will have stronger communities with more civically engaged residents,” he said. “Education is the great equalizer. It is the pathway to opportunity.”

Raising awareness

Efforts to educate policymakers about the “importance of education to the fabric of our society” must be aggressive, Ross said.

Higher education, both public and private, has driven the U.S. economy to become the strongest in the world, he said.

Higher education will prepare America’s business and community leaders, he said, to “produce the talent we need to win the economic competition we face globally,” and “preserve and protect our democracy.”