Category Archives: Managing
October 1, 2012, 5:55 am
Maurice Lim Miller, founder of a nonprofit that’s trying to reshape social services for low-income people, is one of 23 people to receive a “genius” grant this year from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
For the past decade, Mr. Lim Miller has led the Family Independence Initiative, which The Chronicle profiled in 2010. Until recently, the group, which eschews professional case workers in favor of direct cash awards to poor people, has struggled to win foundation support.
“It’s a game changer,” Mr. Lim Miller said of the MacArthur Fellows award. “We’ve been kind of swimming against the current for 10 years. We have the data. I know it works. But our work is counterintuitive. This kind of credibility will, I think, get people who are skeptical to really stop and think about some of the core pieces that are essential to do this work.”…
September 13, 2012, 9:15 am
Nonprofits say they want more help from donors in measuring their performance, according to a new survey from the Center for Effective Philanthropy.
More than 70 percent of the 177 nonprofit officials surveyed said they don’t receive assistance with evaluation from foundations. About 62 percent said they would like help with that work.
And despite many foundations’ public insistence that they want charities to measure performance, how to do so isn’t a big topic of conversation between donors and nonprofits, according to the study.
Foundations “could help provide expertise and help organizations measure, instead of relying on organizations to bear the sole responsibility for these skills,” said one nonprofit official quoted anonymously in the study. “It is rare that a foundation offers this kind of help.”
More than half of those polled said that when foundations do seek…
August 21, 2012, 9:10 am
In just a few days, the nation will mark the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and a few weeks later, the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Those disasters posed major challenges for the philanthropic world, as donors wanted to help but weren’t always sure how they could. Now a new organization plans to help such donors—and to ensure that more money goes to the projects most in need.
The new Center for Disaster Philanthropy wants to get more information to donors and help them pool their money so their gifts can make a bigger difference.
Today the organization announced that it has tapped Bob Ottenhoff, who for the last 10 years served as the chief…
July 26, 2012, 9:00 am
Few nonprofits pay much attention to the videos, Facebook pages, and tweets of their foundation backers, according to a new study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy.
The study surveyed more than 6,000 grantees that receive money from a set of 34 large foundations. Social-media use among those grant makers was widespread: About 68 percent post videos, 59 percent use Facebook, 56 percent are registered on Twitter, and 29 percent write blogs.
But only 16 percent of nonprofits surveyed said they use social media created by their foundation supporters. Nearly a third said they were unaware whether the foundations that finance them use social-media tools.
Grantees find social media to be “less helpful for learning about the foundation” than individual contact with foundation staff members, group meetings, and foundations’ published guidelines and Web sites, the report found.
July 20, 2012, 7:01 pm
As foundations adjust their approaches to dealing with the tough economy and changing needs, they often face a big challenge in how to tell grantees that money is about to disappear.
The situation can be even tougher when a grant maker takes a new approach to dealing with some of society’s most vulnerable, as the Annie E. Casey Foundation has learned the hard way in recent weeks.
Casey announced last month that it was getting out of the business of providing direct support to foster-care families to free up $20-million a year for grants to organizations that care for such youngsters and handle other social-service needs.
That news stunned Mark Floegel, a Vermont foster parent, who with his wife has cared for half a dozen children over the years through the foundation’s program. The family is now in the process of adopting a 16-year-old foster daughter, but Mr. Floegel felt…
July 11, 2012, 5:16 pm
Ten months after appointing a new president to conduct a review of its final years, the Atlantic Philanthropies is giving nonprofits some additional clues about what to expect between now and the time its last grants are announced in 2016.
In a letter Tuesday to grantees, Christopher G. Oechsli, Atlantic’s leader, says that “not all program work will continue to 2016.”
The foundation’s giving in Australia concludes this year, while grant making in South Africa and Vietnam will finish in 2013. Atlantic’s support of efforts to help elderly people in the United States and Ireland now has a narrower focus, he said.
What’s more, Mr. Oechsli told The Chronicle that while the foundation is considering grants to key civil-liberties organizations, it has wound down support of efforts to protect the rights of people who suffered after September 11.
In an e-mail, Mr. Oechsli said it…
June 26, 2012, 6:16 pm
The Annie E. Casey Foundation on Tuesday announced plans to close a foster-care unit it runs, a move that will eliminate 280 jobs and free up roughly $20-million a year in grants to nonprofits that help government agencies serve the needy, including youngsters in foster care.
The closure of Casey Family Services affects employees who provide services in seven states.
Patrick McCarthy, president of the Casey Foundation, said he believes his organization can do more good by providing grants to improve child welfare across the country than it can by continuing to assist the 400 to 600 youngsters it now helps through direct services.
Plans include making sure that all the children now served by Casey Family Services get transferred to other foster-care agencies, with the transition ideally completed by the end of the year. However, the foundation said it will retain some staff…
June 22, 2012, 9:37 am
Cecilia Conrad, an economist and dean of Pomona College, will serve as the new director of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Fellows Program, informally known as the “genius” awards, the foundation said today.
The fellows program provides “no strings attached” awards of $500,000 to help some of the country’s most talented people pursue creative work. Winners are drawn from all disciplines, including the arts, medicine, and the social sciences. Past fellows have included author David Foster Wallace, poet Adrienne Rich, and Majora Carter, the environmental activist.
Ms. Conrad, who has also taught at Duke and Columbia universities and at Barnard College, focuses in her research on economic inequality. She received master’s and doctorate degrees from…
June 21, 2012, 9:17 am
Two-thirds of nonprofits say they need pro bono help, but many report challenges in recruiting volunteers who can lend their business skills, according to a new survey.
The survey of 1,348 charity officials found the greatest demand for pro bono marketing and branding (cited by 78 percent), technology (70 percent), and strategic-planning and management expertise (more than 51 percent).
But despite the needs, nearly half of those surveyed said they didn’t know how to attract volunteers with business skills.
When nonprofits do succeed in attracting pro-bono volunteers, the groups often have trouble taking full advantage of the experience, according to the survey. About 46 percent of respondents, for example, said the projects completed by skilled volunteers began to unravel when the volunteers moved on.
Aaron Hurst, founder of the Taproot Foundation, which promotes pro bono…
June 6, 2012, 9:28 am
Michael Bloomberg’s third term as mayor of New York may have been the product of his indecision over what to do with his time after leaving office—and a reluctance to devote himself full-time to his philanthropy, according to a profile in New York magazine.
As he contemplated a run for the presidency in 2008, says the article, Mr. Bloomberg came to the conclusion that his chances of victory were slim. With that dream deferred, the mayor found himself at loose ends.
“Up to that point, [philanthropy] had been an occasional hobby for him—something like flying a helicopter,” writes Gabriel Sherman in New York. “He needed more time to think, more time to plan. And it was at that moment that he came up with the idea of a third term.”
With that third term now scheduled to wrap up in January, the magazine says, the billionaire media mogul is looking to focus his foundation…