Monday, November 29, 2010

Charities Seeing Slight Recovery in Giving, But Not Enough to Keep Up with Demand or Budget Cuts

Nonprofit organizations have seen a slight turnaround in giving so far this year that mirrors the slow economic recovery, a new survey from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) finds. But the small rebound hasn't been enough to help many nonprofits that are grappling with staff and service cuts even as demand for their services has increased.

The national survey showed that 36 percent of charities reported an increase in donations in the first nine months of 2010, compared with only 23 percent in the same period of 2009.

Thirty-seven percent of charities reported a decrease in giving, a dramatic change from 2009's 51 percent. Among those experiencing a decline in giving, the main reason cited was fewer individual donations and smaller amounts. Lower amounts received from foundations and corporations also contributed to the overall lower giving amounts at these charities. Giving remained unchanged at 26 percent of nonprofits in 2010 vs. 25 percent in 2009.

"We are beginning to see some positive signs, but despite that giving still has a long way to go to return to the levels it was at three or four years ago," said Patrick M. Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which spearheaded the collaboration. "One-fifth of charities in the survey said their budgets for 2011 will be lower than for 2010, forcing many of them to look at cuts in services, salaries and staff."

Among the 20 percent of nonprofits anticipating reduced budgets next year, 66 percent say they will have to reduce programs, services or operating hours, 59 percent expect to cut or freeze staff salaries or benefits, and 49 percent are planning layoffs or hiring freezes.

"The Nonprofit Fundraising Survey: November 2010" is the first product of a collaboration involving six organizations that serve the nonprofit sector: the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Blackbaud, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the Foundation Center, GuideStar USA Inc., and the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics.

"For the first time in two years, there is cause for cautious optimism about the nonprofit sector in this economy," said Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of GuideStar. "Nonetheless, in this latest study, as in all prior years, nonprofits also are reporting increased demand for their services. Even as giving increases, philanthropic dollars fall short of the amounts needed to help people in our country and abroad."

Demand for services increased at 78 percent of human service nonprofits and 68 percent of charities overall in 2010. Charities will be hard-pressed in 2011 to secure funding for growing needs, especially as individual and foundation donors are cautious about boosting support and other sources of funding — including government contracts for services — are cut.

"Younger, less well-established nonprofits have been especially hard hit by the recession," noted Lawrence T. McGill, vice president for research at the Foundation Center. "Many foundations, seeking to maximize more limited resources, have steered their grantmaking toward organizations they believe have the best chance to weather the economic storm."

Other Key NRC Survey Findings:

  • In four of eight subsectors, the share of organizations reporting an increase in contributions was about the same as the share reporting a decrease. The four with nearly equal percentages of organizations with giving up and giving down are: arts, education, environment/animals, and human services.
  • International organizations were the most likely to report an increase in contributions, reflecting donations made for disaster relief.
  • In three subsectors — health, public-society benefit, and religion — a larger share of the organizations reported declines than reported increases.
  • The larger an organization's annual expenditures, the more likely it reported an increase in charitable receipts in the first nine months of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009.
  • Most organizations were guardedly optimistic about 2011. Forty-seven percent plan budget increases, 33 percent expect to maintain their current level of expenditures, and 20 percent anticipate a lower budget for 2011.
The Collaborative and Survey Methodology

By working together, the Nonprofit Research Collaborative can reduce the number of surveys nonprofits are asked to complete, collect information more efficiently, and analyze it in more useful ways to create the benchmarks and trends that nonprofits and grant makers use to guide their work. Each partner has at least a decade of direct experience collecting information from nonprofits on charitable receipts, fundraising practices, and/or grantmaking activities. Survey participants will form a panel over time, allowing for trend comparisons among the same organizations. This approach provides more useful benchmarking information than repeated cross-sectional studies.

The first NRC survey, based on questions that GuideStar used for its annual economic surveys, was fielded between October 19 and November 3, 2010. It received 2,513 responses. More than 2,350 charities completed the questions, as did 163 foundations. The analysis for grant makers includes responses from charities that make grants but that are not foundations. These include United Ways, Jewish federations, congregations, and a number of other types of organizations. There were responses from 386 grant makers.

The respondents form a convenience sample. There is no margin of error or measure of statistical significance using this sampling technique, as it is not a random sample of the population studied. However, given the long-running nature of GuideStar's economic surveys and the strong relationship between findings in those studies in prior years and actual results once tax data about charitable giving are available, the method employed here is a useful barometer of what charities experience and what total giving will look like. In the future, the NRC surveys are expected to occur in early winter, spring, and fall every year.

"The Nonprofit Fundraising Survey: November 2010" (PDF), which includes responses broken down by types of nonprofits and budget size, can be downloaded at no charge from the Gain Knowledge area of the Foundation Center's web site.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Arts as an International Force for Change

Twenty-five Chinese Ministry of Culture executives just left my office. It was exciting to learn about Chinese cultural investment in projects -- from massive contemporary visual art colonies in Beijing and Shanghai to an exploding phenomenon of cultural festivals in cities and villages throughout their colossal country. They in turn were eager to learn how the arts industry is structured and supported in the United States. As they were leaving my office, 35 French, Belgian and Spanish business leaders arrived with the cultural officer from the French Embassy. They, too, were excited to learn how the arts industry is supported in the United States.

Last month, I was brought in to speak to arts groups and government and business leaders in Amsterdam; other Americans for the Arts staff members went or will go to Brussels, London, Korea, and Germany just this fall. Each of these countries wants to learn how the arts industry in America is supported and how private sector giving to the arts works. They are especially curious about how business donations "flow" into the bank accounts of U.S. arts organizations, and to capture the compelling arguments that motivate elected officials to "shower" the arts with public dollars and supportive policymaking in America.

What is going on? World governments are increasingly excited about the economic power of the arts and the value of cultural exchange in a changing world. Because the prodigious levels of government support in Europe and Asia are diminishing, they want to better understand our American advocacy techniques. And as they observe the sea of corporate logos on the backs of most U.S. performing arts programs, they want to know America's secret to eliciting substantial business support for the arts.

However, the leaders from these other countries are often quite disappointed when I tell them that the result of our mightiest, most sophisticated advocacy efforts generates just 9 percent of the total income for U.S. nonprofit arts organizations. Equally disappointing is that private sector support in America is only 31 percent, mostly from individuals. Business support -- despite all the logos and brand recognition -- is only about 5 percent. Yet these foreign leaders and delegations keep coming because they see the breadth of creative and innovative arts organization we have here. They see the freedom of ideas, the variety and the sheer pluck and entrepreneurial spirit of America's arts community.

In September 2009, at the Sundance Preserve, Robert Redford and I convened our fourth National Arts Policy Roundtable for CEOs, elected officials and opinion leaders to discuss how the arts strengthen 21st century global communities by helping create better understanding and stronger relationships between the U.S. and the world .

Thinking about this 21st century global marketplace, four key cultural imperatives jumped out:

  1. The arts are a global economic force.
  2. The arts are an aggressive part of today's international competitive marketplace.
  3. Improved cultural understanding is essential in international dialogue.
  4. The arts make dramatic contributions to our national security.

The report complements what has been a recent growth of dialogue and interest in making a case for the strength of the arts in U.S. diplomacy and with key decision-makers. Margaret (Peggy) Ayers at the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation has pioneered groundbreaking research on our private sector's role in supporting U.S. cultural exchange. Former Congressman John Brademas, with his Brademas Center for the Study of Congress' Project on Cultural Diplomacy at NYU, is spearheading an effort to reinvigorate Congress' role in supporting the arts in our cultural diplomacy efforts.

From the Huffington Post. Read more here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nonprofits Have Big Role in State

As Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo and legislators shape their plans for New York next year, they should pay close attention to the state's vibrant not-for-profit sector, as it is the standard-bearer for innovation and service to the state and its people. The 80,000 not-for-profit organizations in the state play crucial roles: leading efforts to prevent or cure disease, alleviate poverty, advance education, address environmental and social concerns, and ennoble through culture.

New York's robust charitable sector, including such powerhouses as Columbia University, Sloan-Kettering, the Red Cross, the Ford Foundation and Lincoln Center, as well as community-based organizations, such as local drug-prevention programs, small community theaters and religion-based charities, help fuel the state's economy, generating over $150 billion in revenue annually and employing hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Second in size only to the government as an employer in the city, the nonprofit sector provides more jobs than the financial and insurance industries combined.

Working together, state government and nonprofits can help maintain our state's primacy as innovator, incubator and magnet for investment. Here's how.

* Adjust taxes to encourage more giving. For example, reward taxpayers for increases in year-over-year charitable giving and incentivize artists to donate their work to charity auctions in support of good causes.

* Promote regulatory, administrative and legislative reforms that make it easier to start and operate nonprofits, especially in high-tech, medical research and green industries.

* Encourage and facilitate partnering among nonprofits and between them and for-profit businesses. For instance, provide a clearinghouse so that environmental groups can pair up with green-tech businesses or so arts-in-education organizations can collaborate with founders of charter schools.

* Incentivize nonprofits to hire recent college graduates to fill needed roles while they learn important lessons about professional development and social responsibility.

* Rearrange state budgets with existing charitable resources in mind. For example, recalibrate school aid and Medicaid expenditures so that public spending on students, the elderly and the disabled complements and stimulates private nonprofit resources and support.

* Safeguard against encroachments on sales- or property-tax -exemptions, which would hurt already-stretched hospitals, elder-care facilities and YMCAs.

* Promote visibility for worthy nonprofits by providing voluntary check-offs on state tax forms.

* Include nonprofit destinations in the state's promotion of tourism and convention activity.

* Make nonprofits part of New York's federal lobbying strategy.

The public's trust in state government may be at a low ebb, but public support for nonprofits endures. By recommitting himself to the well-being of our valuable nonprofit institutions, Mr. Cuomo can take important steps toward reclaiming the state's role as a national beacon and perpetuate its highest ideals.

by Lesley Freidman Rosenthal, for original article click here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Funding Available for Park and Trail Groups: Only One Week Left to Apply

Parks & Trails New York is offering a new round of Capacity Building Grants for park and trail groups in New York State. The grants, of up to $3,000, can be used to assist with activities associated with organizational start-up and development, training, communications, and volunteer recruitment and management. The deadline for submitting applications is November 22, 2010.

For more information email Parks & Trails New York or call 518-434-1583.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Three Organizations Collaborating to Low Income Families with Thanksgiving Meals

The Mohawk Valley Latino Association, The NIA Group of Utica and Arts West Alliance have partnered to give free Thanksgiving Meals to low income families in Onieda and Herkimer counties.

MVLA and NIA are accepting the donations to purchase turkeys to add to the other food items donated, any amount is welcome and appreciated. Due to the fact that, Thanksgiving is here, please send your donations as soon as possible, as this is a time sensitive request.

Donations are being accepted at the addresses below:

MVLA, Inc.
309 Genesee Street, 3rd Floor
Utica, NY 13501
315-738-1083, Extension 147

The NIA Group of Utica, Inc.
PO Box 394
Utica, NY 13503

Thanks! Gracias!

Sonia Martinez Kay Lanaux Harmony Speciale
Chairman/President Chairman Founder & Director
MVLA, Inc. The NIA Group of Utica Arts West Alliance

People can come on Sunday, November 21, 2010, 3-5 PM, at the New Renainnace Center, 7 Rutger Park, corners of Seymour and Rutger streets., to pick up a box of healthy foods and a turkey to enjoy on this special holiday time.

For other details and/or questions, please see, contact information above this message.
Mohawk Valley Latino, Inc.
309 Genesee Street, 3rd Floor
Utica, NY 13501
315/738-1083, X121 or 147
MVLA in facebook
Motivation * Vision * Latin Pride * Attitude
Motivacion * Vision * Orgullo Latino * Actitud

Friday, November 12, 2010

Merger pending for MV Council on Alcoholism and Family Services of the MV

From the OD: Officials are hoping a merger will help two area nonprofit agencies do more with the same resources.

The agencies – Family Services of the Mohawk Valley and Mohawk Valley Council on Alcoholism/Addictions – are waiting for permission from the state secretary of state’s office to merge into a combined agency called the Center for Family Life & Recovery. The target date for the merger is Jan. 1.

“We’re not two agencies that have been forced to do this because we’re in trouble (financially),” council Executive Director Cassandra Sheets said. “We chose to do it because we really saw an opportunity to make something work and to marry two services.”

The combined agency would continue to work out of existing offices for both agencies until its housing needs are determined, officials said.

Sheets is expected to remain as executive director of the merged agencies. Family Services Executive Director Herb Freeman has been working part-time since his originally planned retirement date of June 30, and will retire officially Dec. 31.

No layoffs are planned as a result of the merger and services should continue without disruption, Sheets said.

Sheets said she hopes the new center will be able to offer more professional development training for area human-services workers and more support services for people who have completed some kind of recovery program, such as for addiction, alcoholism or mental health.

Alcohol and drugs often play a role in the problems addressed by Family Services and other human-service agencies, Sheets noted. Alcohol-and-drug education should be infused throughout the human-services system, she said.

The two agencies already do a lot of similar work, Freeman noted. Both serve what he called “mandated clients.” The council provides a program for convicted drunk drivers who want to get their licenses back, Freeman said. And Family Services provides court-ordered programs for men convicted of battering women or of sexually abusing children, and for parents who have lost or face losing custody of their children due to neglect or abuse, he said.

“In the area of mandated clients, that seemed like a very good fit,” Freeman said. “And we also know historically that alcohol and drug abuse is a major issue for families where there’s a neglect issue for children.”

Family Services counselors also have the necessary skill to help with the employee-assistance program offered to area employers by the council, he said.

Freeman also said that Family Services’ strategic plan has always called for more work in prevention, an area in which the council is already active.

Recognizing the Impact of Community Foundations

During the week of November 12-18, 2010, The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties will join more than 700 community foundations across America for Community Foundation Week activities. Community foundations represent one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy in the United States and hold nearly $50 billion in assets. Every state in the U.S. is home to at least one community foundation—large and small, urban, and rural—that is fostering local collaboration and innovation to address persistent civic and economic challenges.

“In a down economy, with limited resources, and a growing need for services to help families in need, we are more determined than ever to bring our community partners together to find innovative and effective solutions to some of our most challenging social problems,” said Foundation President/CEO Peggy O’Shea. “Our community is stepping up and getting more creative in how we provide support that people need during tough times.”

The Community Foundation recently collaborated with Mohawk Valley EDGE and United Way of the Valley and greater Utica Area on a Community Indicators project, to identify our area’s greatest needs. The Community Foundation also funded literacy studies for the greater Utica area and Herkimer County, which paved the way for two New York State Department of Higher Education Literacy Zones and leveraged $1.5M in funding for the programs.

Further, the Foundation established a Corporate Partners Program with area businesses to galvanize charitable resources and maximize their impact for public good, recognizing that “we can do more together than alone,” in the words of President/CEO O’Shea. To date in 2010, nearly 300 grants and $1.8 million have been distributed to charities serving the community to meet essential needs.

Launched in 1989 through a proclamation by former President George H.W. Bush, the first Community Foundation Week included a congressional briefing about the work of community foundations throughout America and their collaborative approach to working with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to address community problems.

Nonprofit Businesses of the Year Announced by Mohawk Valley Chamber and Mohawk Valley Business Journal

The Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with The Mohawk Valley Business Journal, selected the finalists for the 2010 "Business of the Year Awards."

The finalists in the nonprofit with more than 50 employees category are First Source Federal Credit Union and Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute. Finalists in the nonprofit with fewer than 50 employees category are Kids Oneida, The Peacemaker Program, and The Children's Museum of History, Science & Technology.

The chamber will announce the award winners Dec. 16 at a luncheon at Twin Ponds in New York Mills. Richard Hanna, who won the race for the 24th Congressional District seat in the House of Representatives, is the keynote speaker for the event, which begins at noon.

Tickets are $30 per person. For reservations or more information, contact the chamber at 724-3151 or

Award sponsors include Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Benefit Specialists of NY, Faxton-St. Luke's Healthcare, and Holland Farms.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Nonprofit Times TV

Nonprofit Times TV has a collection of webcasts and other videos directed specifically to nonprofits and their needs and interests. Videos cover not just current news, but issues such as fundraising, volunteer management, legal issues, and finance. Most videos are less than three minutes, giving necessary information without taking too much time. Users can also submit their own videos to share ideas with others in the sector.

Their current webcast discusses the loss of revenue of national nonprofit organizations and the Jerry Lewis telethon. Check out Nonprofit Times TV here.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Phish Show Benefits For the Good

Phish. Uitca. 2010 Tour. They’re back. This time not in Syracuse or Albany – they rocked Utica. Hard. The over-capacity crowd was set ablaze on Oct. 20th as Phish got real dirty, real quick, and showed us once again that they are back and better than ever.

One local “phan” anticipated that the smaller, more intimate arena show at the Memorial Auditorium was going to be a “clinic.” He was right.

It is widely known that Phish is playing at a level unmatched by any previous incarnations of the musical phenomenon. This is why phans young an old assembled from all corners of the continent to witness what was anticipated and billed as potentially the best night of the 2010 tour thus far – the band did not disappoint...

With the exception of the unfortunate police arrests of out-of-towners, the show, which sold out in 18 minutes was a joy for all to behold.

The energy and the way in which Phish wove in and out of their jams signaled their appreciation for a small venue. Followers have begun to compare the quality of the Utica dispatch with the 2009 Albany and Syracuse shows. For those that attended each of the respective shows the verdict has consistently been that the energy and excitement at the Utica Auditorium was packed to the point that the vigor of other shows pale in comparison to reception Utica received.

The real story concerns Utica, Phish and hope. CEO of For The Good, Inc., Cassandra Harris-Lockwood entered her organization for consideration by The WaterWheel Foundation. The Waterwheel Foundation was created by Phish in 1997 to oversee the band’s various charitable activities. The Touring Division of Waterwheel has worked with the band to benefit a select non-profit (picked by the band) in every market that Phish visits on tour. The net proceeds raised at each show- fan donations plus the sale of WaterWheel logo merchandise and items autographed by the band- are donated to the selected organization after deducting overhead costs.

The WaterWheel Foundation chooses non-profits from a large sphere of needs including social services, primarily those benefiting women and children; environmental, with a focus on clean water and land conservation; as well as food banks, urban gardening and more. To date, WaterWheel has donated over $750,000 to more then 325 groups. Accordingly, For The Good, Inc. was picked by the band to be the beneficiary of the donations and sales from merchandise at the Utica show. The band was gifted a generous basket of delicious selections from For The Good, Inc.’s Community Gardens that initially interested the group in the work done by the organization here in Utica.

The affirmation of the work done by For The Good, Inc. here in Utica, by one of the world’s best known musical acts is not the first time international artisans have commended the efforts of the city’s lone change agent. In 2008 Academy Award winning actor Adrien Brody donated $50,000 to For The Good for the Study Buddy Club and its Arts Program.

“Phish provided For The Good with an amazing opportunity to showcase their Community Gardens, the Study Buddy Club, the Mohawk Valley Contractor’s Guild and our independent publication, the Utica Phoenix,” Harris-Lockwood remarked. “We are very grateful to Phish for recognizing our hard work and dedication to our community. We are also thankful for this funding opportunity and the support to continue the work that we do.”

With the influx of patrons to the area in observance of the show, the local economy felt the holistic benefits of the unique brand of industry that Phish brings to town. Hotels were sold out, bars and clubs were packed before and after the show and food/wares vendors (local and visiting) benefited from the event. Friends reunited under a common banner of the positive enjoyment of music and in the process enriched the greater community.

Someone who has been a seminal phan experiencing Phish 3.0, one is very much elated seeing the quartet not at all mitigated by the past, in fact, in its most brilliant manifestation to date. The live Phish experience is a celebration, an ongoing conversation and a rowdy exploration of that unmistakable brand of music.

Phish elected Utica as worthy location amidst their history-making 2010 tour, while additionally making a presentation as unique and special as any performance to date. If Phish recognizes the positive energy, cultural appreciation for the arts, and the vibrant history that is alive here in Utica, while personally anointing the progress and good work that is being done, we have much to be thankful for. With one of the worst economic situations in the state, Utica needed the uplifting energy, grassroots commerce and communal encouragement to remind us that we are very much on the map. Phish, along with Utica are here to stay, and this is only the beginning.

From Utica