Find common ground to promote collaboration

Charities like to tout their partnerships yet often fail to explain how they actually work and why they matter.

Collaborative partners should work together to develop a story that makes it easy for donors and other supporters to understand the partnership, including the need it addresses, the people it serves, the way it operates, and the difference it makes for its community.

Instead, partners often get bogged down in deciding who gets credit and top billing, and in hyping rather than explaining their respective roles and clearly showing their collective impact

Collaborative work represents a great opportunity to engage donors and other partners in making your community a better place to live and work by showing them exactly why a partnership is greater than the sum of its parts in filling critical gaps in serving people in need.

So if you are part of a collaborative initiative, help people understand why they should care and get involved.

Want professional 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

Nonprofit news roundup, 11.06.15

CASA buys 53 affordable-housing units

CASA in Raleigh plans to acquire 53 units of permanent affordable housing in Sunnybrook Village, Sunnybrook Road, marking the largest single property acquisition since it was founded 23 years ago.

The nonprofit will offer 24 one-bedroom apartments and 18 two-bedroom units, providing a mix of supportive housing for people living with disabilities and workforce housing for families and individuals earning a modest wage.

Another 11 one-bedroom apartments, located off of Western Boulevard, will serve people living with disabilities.

CASA will invest over $4 million to make both acquisitions.

The City of Raleigh has committed $1.9 million, and Wake County has committed nearly $1 million, to preserve the affordability of the residential community.

CASE also secured private donations, along with financing from North State Bank.

CASA’s strategic goals are to grow and serve more people with housing needs by building affordable developments and preserving affordability through the purchase and rehabilitation of existing properties.

miraclefeet doubles staff

miraclefeet, a five-year old Carrboro nonprofit that provides clubfoot treatment for children in developing countries for $250, doubled its staff in the last year.

In the past year, miraclefeet and its partners have enrolled over 5,500 new children in treatment, doubling the number of children they helped enroll in the last four years combined, for a total of 12,500 children in treatment in 13 countries.

Joining the nonprofit are:

* Casey Saussy, director of marketing, who most recently was director of marketing and brand development at Endurance Magazine. 

* Sarah McDaniel, assistant program manager, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural Nicaragua and has pursued a graduate degree in maternal and child public health at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

* Shriya Soora, grants manager, who has worked for grassroots and international nonprofits in India and Nepal.

* Kristina Kellyjoins, social media manager, who was a senior community manager at Ignite Social Media.

Wake Forest Law School opens community outreach center

The School of Law at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem has opened the Smith Anderson Office of Community Outreach in the Worrell Professional Center.

The Office houses the Law School’s Pro Bono Project and Public Interest Law Organization.

Raleigh law firm Smith Anderson and many of its attorneys made financial contributions to support the new Office.

Durham Boys & Girls Club changes name

The John Avery Boys & Girls Club has changed its name to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Durham.

The Club has renamed its main building at 808 E Pettigrew St. the John Avery Complex.

Formed 76  years ago, the Club serves over 500 children a year and operates as an after school program, athletic facility, and summer camp.

Care Ring raises $122,500

Care Ring in Charlotte raised $112,500 at its Hope for Community Health Luncheon on October 22.

The event attracted 525 guests, 41 sponsors and vendors, and 66 table hosts.

Carolina Farm Credit awards $100,000

Carolina Farm Credit in Statesville is awarding a total of $100,000 in grants and scholarships to 20 North Carolina organizations and eight college students through its Corporate Mission Fund.

The grants were awarded for the first time this year, and 78 organizations submitted applications for grants of up to $5,000 to promote agriculture and stimulate the local agricultural economy in the western half of the state.

New leadership class at Medical Society Foundation

The Leadership College at the North Carolina Medical Society Foundation has 15 new graduates from its 2015 class and 14 new scholars for 2016 class.

Founded in 2003, the year-long program for physicians, physician assistants  and students from across the state has over 200 alumni in 35 counties throughout North Carolina.

Nearly half its alumni hold leadership positions in their workplace or professional organization.

Artspace to hold annual gala

Artspace in Raleigh will host its annual Collectors Gala on November 21 at 6:30 p.m. at its location at 201 East Davie St.

Over 100 pieces of art will be available for sale through live and silent auctions. 

Urban Ministries to host Stone Soup Supper

Urban Ministries of Wake County will host its 11th Annual Stone Soup Supper on November 12 at the Talley Center at North Carolina State University to raise fund to support programs to alleviate and eliminate poverty in Wake County.

Greensboro Housing Coalition to benefit from event

Greensboro Housing Coalition will receive all the proceeds from “Evening of Magic, an event to be held November 12 at the Carriage House at Blandwood Mansion.

At the event, Beth McKee-Huger will be honored for 25 years of work at the Coalition.

Concert to benefit refugees

Greensboro College will host a concert on November 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Hannah Brown Finch Memorial Chapel on its campus to benefit Syrian and Egyptian refugees.

 Admission is free, and donations will be accepted, with proceeds going to the Barnabas Fund, Nazarene Fund and Samaritan’s Purse for refugee relief.

StepUp Ministry launches program for job-seekers

StepUp Ministry in Raleigh is launching a new program designed for job-seekers.

The class will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday mornings at the Boys and Girls Club at 605 Raleigh Blvd.

Greensboro Bar, Legal Aid team up

The Greensboro Bar Association and Legal Aid of North Carolina are providing free, professional legal services to low-income households to help expunge criminal records.

Grants to support education in Mt. Airy

The Zach Smith Fund Advisory Committee of The Winston-Salem Foundation has recommended 10 grants totaling $17,095 to educators or administrators, or both,for projects to improve the quality of education in Mt. Airy.

Cone Health Foundation board names officers, new members

Cone Health Foundation has elected officers and added five new members to its board of directors. 

Steve Sumerford, retired assistant director of Greensboro Public Library and a consultant to nonprofits was elected chair, and Margaret Arbuckle, retired executive director of Guilford Education Alliance, was elected vice-chair.

Named to the board are the Rev. Mike Aiken, retired executive director of Greensboro Urban Ministry; Kimberly Bullock Gatling, a partner at law firm Smith Moore Leatherwood; Ross Harris: Ross Harris, executive director of the North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership; Kelly Leggett, medical director of Cone Health Faculty Practice and Cindy Thompson, executive director of Boundless Impact.

Practice the transparency you preach

“Transparency” is an overused buzzword in the charitable world, with nonprofits and foundations talking a lot about the need to be open and accountable.

Yet far too many charities do far too little to show who they are, what they do or how they work.

Instead of making it easy for people to learn about their programs and finances, many charities fog their websites and marketing materials with hype about how great they are, but offer few details about who they serve, the need they address, the difference they make, and the challenges they face as organizations.

And instead of offering insight into who serves on their board and staff, including details about their jobs and professional background, and making it easy to connect with them, charities offer fluff.

Their websites may list their board members but provide little if any information about their work and employers, or how to reach them.

The biographies they provide for their staff may list their job titles and personal information about their families, pets and hobbies, but say little about their professional background or the role they actually play at the charity.

And while charities often provide an organizational history on their websites and in their marketing materials, those histories often can be big on overstatement and short on specifics.

Charities also seem reluctant to disclose even the suggestion that they may have faced problems or even failures, or to explain what they did to address those challenges.

The donors, volunteers and other partners that a charity counts on for support want to know as much as they can about charities they may want to support and get involved with for the long-term.

So instead of hype and generalities, use your website and marketing materials to provide the facts, figures and context that will make your charity truly open and accessible to the people you need to deepen your impact and help sustain the important work you do.

Want professional 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

Nonprofits not tapping staff for senior posts

Succession planning consistently is the top organizational concern of nonprofit boards and CEOs, yet nonprofit leaders are not promoting current staff to fill senior positions, a new study says.

In the past two years, only 30 percent of senior roles in the social sector were filled by internal promotion, or about half the rate in the for-profit world, says “The Nonprofit Leadership Development Deficit,” a paper from The Bridgespan Group published on

The study found “a broad gap in leadership development,” says Kirk Kramer, a Bridgespan partner and co-author of the paper.

“Promising leaders, frustrated at the lack of professional development and mentoring, are not staying around long  enough to move up in the ranks, he says. “CEOs want to exit, too, because their boards aren’t supporting them, a syndrome that is coming at a significant financial and productivity costs to organizations.”

Among 438 survey respondents, one in four said they plan to leave their roles within the next two years, with nonprofits providing the biggest source of people to fill those positions.

That creates a “turnover treadmill,” says Katie Smith Milway, a Bridgespan partner and co-author of the paper. “It exacerbates the succession planning problem at a time when the sector needs capable leaders more than ever.”

Fifty-seven percent of respondents cited low compensation as the cause of their departures from their organizations, compared to 50 percent who cited lack of career development opportunities.

Also cited were a lack of mentorship and support, particularly from their boards.

Only 17 percent indicated they wanted a different work environment.

Over half of respondents ranked their organizations lower than six on a scale of 10 for their ability to develop staff.

The report says funders can foster the development of existing staff for leadership roles.

Libbie Landes-Cobb, Bridgespan manager and a co-author of the paper, says effective development “calls for capacity investments in recruiting, training and performance measurement.

Yet in the past two years, she says, 58 percent of survey respondents received no funding earmarked for talent development.

Kramer says Bridgespan’s research and experience “indicate that the solution to this  problem, while addressable, requires the skill and will to build an ecosystem for leadership development within organizations, involving senior management, boards and funders.”

Todd Cohen