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There is a famous cartoon of a man wearing a sandwich board proclaiming “The End Is Near.” If you were in attendance at a few of the most recent fundraising conferences you might think the end is near for charity. Note the difference between phrases charity and the nonprofit sector. There is a technical difference and the gap appears to be getting wider.
In the midst of a contentious election year, a White House Summit on Global Development doesn’t get the headlines it should. The daylong event at the Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., brought together the biggest names and the best activists working in international development to discuss the challenges of overcoming persistent poverty and hunger, and improving public health and governance worldwide.
The wide range of speakers reflected the chief areas of concern as the Obama administration prepares to leave office. Just as President Barack Obama built on President George W. Bush’s signature PEPFAR program to combat the spread of HIV in Africa, the initiatives the current administration has put in place on food security, global health and civil society are meant to leave a framework that the next president can adopt.
Among the event moderators were United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Among the panelists were: Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE USA; Gary Hattern, president, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation; and, Dr. Kent Brantly, medical missions advisor with Samaritan’s Purse. Brantley made headlines when he contracted Ebola while treating patients in Liberia, returning to the United States to be successfully treated at Emory Hospital in Atlanta.
“Progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all,” Obama said in his keynote address at the Summit. “We’ve shown this can work. Now we’ve just got to keep it up.” He spoke after a wave of violent terrorist-inspired attacks not only in the United States, but abroad, had many people on edge. He said continued investment in overseas development is part of national security, and puts the United States “in a better position to protect our country, and improve our country.”
Bill signings are so rare in today’s gridlocked Washington that Obama got sustained applause from the audience when he said he had just signed the Global Food Security Act, a centerpiece of his administration’s efforts to address human needs and foster civil society worldwide. The president seemed a bit taken aback by the boisterous response, joking, “You’re not surprised I signed it, right? I mean, you guys are all excited about it. We’ve been working on this for a while. We got it passed, so it’s my job to sign it.”
It was a moment to mark progress when the Summit convened on July 20, but there are also mounting obstacles for nonprofits operating in many countries. The second panel of the morning was titled “Transparency, Accountability, and Open Government.” Moderated by Power, it addressed a wave of new legal requirements that restrict how nonprofits can operate in 63 countries.
Power said China is “in the midst of an unprecedented crack down,” with a new law that bans international groups from engaging with their Chinese counterparts. “What you see around the world plays itself out at the UN with countries ganging up to prevent other countries from participating in a conference on HIV/AIDS,” she said.
Douglas Rutzen, president and CEO of the International Center for Not-for-Profit-Law, cautioned against oversimplification, getting a laugh from attendees when he said, there’s no “world movement for autocracy, with people sitting around sipping cognac.” Governments have legitimate concerns, he said. It’s “not simply good guys versus bad guys,” and the response should not be to just denounce what’s happening, “but be more pragmatic,” Rutzen said.
Rakesh Rajani, director of democratic participation and governance with the Ford Foundation, spoke of a decade full of contradictions, citing the Arab Spring and noting that a poor farmer in Tanzania, Rajani’s home country, has more access by cell phone than President Bill Clinton had when he was in the White House from 1993 to 2001.
Svitlana Zalishchuk, a member of Parliament in Ukraine who was instrumental in organizing the social media movement that led to the country’s “Revolution of Dignity,” talked of the “price we pay to break away from the old and corrupt system.” Her message was underscored by news she received that morning of the assassination by a car bomb in Kiev of crusading Russian journalist Pavel G. Sheremet.
Power called Zalishchuk “a true engine of reform,” praising her work on human rights, anti-corruption and gender equality. Elected to Parliament in 2014, she pushed through a “Declaration On Assets” to require all members of Parliament to reveal their income and assets. “There is huge resistance even though it’s the law,” she said, adding, “It’s not yet the end of corruption, but you have people able to monitor their MPs.”
What Rutzen calls “a contagion of legal restraint” is the result of four drivers. First, national security and counter-terrorism concerns, which he said are legitimate. Second, concerns about the effectiveness of development. Third, governments are clamping down on political dissension and don’t want outside meddling. Fourth, there are concepts of transparency in some countries that discourage participation. For example, in India, if you are a voluntary trustee of a charity, you have to disclose all your assets, including your car, and your jewelry.
The crackdown is affecting not just human rights groups and groups that deliver social services. “It’s everybody,” Rutzen said in an interview after the panel, citing Green Peace, LGBT advocacy groups and orphanages. “That’s why organizers added this panel, and why the President is giving this his highest attention.”
Other panels zeroed in on specific initiatives, like food security, global health, sustainable development, public-private partnerships in Africa, and “Engaging Generation Now,” moderated by Dana J. Hyde, CEO of Millennium Challenge Corporation. The independent U.S. foreign aid agency established by President George W. Bush to fight global poverty with competitively awarded grants has continued under President Obama, who is counting on his successor to continue his cherished initiatives in the same spirit of non partisan global development. NPT
The Republican Party has made a restriction preventing 501(c)(3) organizations from engaging in partisan political activity a focus of the 2016 election. The so-called “Johnson Amendment” — named after then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson — affects all 501(c)(3) nonprofits, but interests have centered around the impact on religious organizations.
First you pretended that it didn’t exist. Your IT intern bumped into the door while playing it on her phone and you turned away. Then your rage grew to the heat of a thousand Charmanders as your clients and visitors began using it.
You tried to bargain your way out – “Maybe only during lunch,” you thought. It was no use. The museum down the street held a huge event around it. You wept into the Jigglypuff throw pillow that found its way into the break room. It’s time to accept it: Organizations across the country are catching all the attention with Pokémon Go.
The mobile app only launched in July but already sped through the stages of massive popularity to overexposure and backlash. Nonprofits were quick to jump on the bandwagon, ranging from museums and food banks to churches.
Many branches of the New York Public Library have created “Lure” events, activating a feature that “attracts” Pokémon to the area, bringing new patrons to the library. Other branches are using Pokémon as a jumping off point for other activities, according to a spokeswoman. The 53rd Street library organized a Pokémon-related scavenger hunt throughout the building to teach teens how to navigate the space. The Westchester Square branch put Pokémon cutouts in their Young Adult literature to encourage kids to catch not only Pokémon but new reading material as well.
Some museums have had to remind users to avoid stumbling into their collections while playing the game. The National Holocaust Museum Memorial in Washington, D.C., has asked that users not play the game there and is working to be removed from the game. Other nonprofits might be asking whether Pokémon Go is just the latest shiny new toy to devote resources toward.
The augmented reality game in which players try to catch Pokémon via a mobile app that makes them appear through their smartphone cameras already rivals Twitter in number of active daily users. The question is whether Pokémon Go becomes the next Twitter or Facebook or if it will flame out, only to go the way of QR codes and other concepts that were eventually relegated to merely “shiny new toy” status?
“Augmented reality is about adding a layer of fantasy, possibility, and discovery to the world we see around us,” said Steph Routh, content manager at Portland, Ore.-based NTEN. Whether nonprofits should be chasing Pokémon Go users is an open question, she said. “Nonprofits should definitely be paying attention,” she said. “The nonprofit sector exists to further social change; to manifest a reality that does not yet exist. A nonprofit’s role is about changing the reality we experience and helping envision and create a more just reality,” she said.
The question nonprofit managers can ask themselves, she said, “is, how can we as a change agent use the concept of augmented reality to further our mission? Perhaps the mission is about getting more people experiencing a neighborhood and making it feel safer. Maybe it is about connecting students with STEM programs. What part of our current reality is your mission trying to shift, and how can augmented reality help your dreams feel more possible? That is a lesson of Pokémon Go worth learning,” she said.
Pokémon Go represents the continued growth of “serious games” with real-world objectives, Elizabeth Merritt wrote in a blog post for the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). “Scavenger hunts in and around museums are nothing new nor are apps that introduce virtual elements into galleries even without permission,” said Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums, an AAM initiative. “But the growth of open data sets and social media facilitate taking such use to scale,” she said, noting estimates from 9.5 million to 21 million active users of Pokémon Go per day in the United States.
Increased attendance has been reported at a number of museums, including the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., and Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Fla., according to Merritt. There are still emerging concerns for museums, she said, as they “struggle to control, adapt to or partner with people who make us part of their digital worlds.”
Stephanie Bagley, chief operating officer for the mobile app Charity Miles, was out walking her dogs in Brooklyn when she noticed that everyone in the park around her was playing Pokémon Go two days after the game launched. The following Monday, her teammate noticed that there had been a spike in activity over the weekend. Members had already connected the dots – playing Pokémon Go while using Charity Miles.
Charity Miles allows members to donate to one of 40 different charities by walking, running or cycling. Members are not asked to donate money, Bagley said. Instead, partners including Johnson & Johnson, CVS and Kenneth Cole sponsor participants by paying for advertising on the app.
Staff wrote a blog post encouraging users to keep Charity Miles open and take and upload screenshots while playing Pokémon Go. The post went viral in news outlets in the U.S. and abroad, such as in France, the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
“We observed that this would be way more than a flash in the pan trend from the start,” Bagley said. “People were not only playing, but walking around playing.” He said it is too early to determine how the Poké-craze would impact the number of sponsoring partners or dollars coming in. Membership numbers have shown promise, tripling to 380,000 monthly active users in the month following Pokémon Go’s launch. NPT
The Donald J. Trump Foundation has been ordered by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to cease fundraising operations in the state. Failure to comply with the order, and provide the office with necessary documents, will be considered a “fraud,” according to a letter sent to the foundation.
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of large churches have grown in attendance during the past five years – including 36 percent growing by 30 percent or more. The rate dwarfs that of average North American churches, from which only 20 percent are seeing growth.
More than half of United Ways reporting data for 2015 showed declines in fundraising, with the national number dipping more than 4 percent last year. Some of those with the largest percentage increases were responding to immediate crises.
By Joan Benson
Philanthropy can be a driving force in both helping mobilize families in impoverished areas move to areas of greater opportunity and rehabilitate blighted communities. A $1 billion investment in such work could, conservatively, bring back four-fold returns.
Herschell Gordon Lewis, considered the “Godfather of Gore” as well as the “Godfather of Direct Marketing,” died early this morning from congestive heart failure. He was 87.
You have a job description, but on any given day, you're probably doing dozens of things outside the scope of that description. Combine that with the challenge of a fast-paced environment and the shifting priorities of funders, colleagues, and board members and it’s easy to fall short of doing your best. By being mindful of your limitations and capacity—and saying “no” when your plate is full—you can actually do more for your cause. In the sixth installment of the Raise and Engage podcast Danielle Johnson and Robin Anderson discuss the power of saying “no” at work.
In the most recent episode of Raise + Engage, Danielle is back with Brian Reich from little m media to discuss how nonprofit professionals can stay motivated and energized in their day-to-day roles. Brian shares his experience working with nonprofits and the lessons and tips he's learn from and shared with them over the years, including tips for avoiding a professional rut, creating forward momentum in your career and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you're considering making a career move or want to ensure you're on the right path, you won't want to miss this inspo-packed episode!
Episode 4: Apps and Hacks to Stay (Mostly) Sane, is all about tips, tricks and tools for sanity. Blackbaud’s own interactive product marketer, Julia Lenz, joins host Danielle Johnson to share some high tech. (and no tech.) productivity tips to help nonprofit professionals stay sane in the crazy world of philanthropy. Tune in to hear:
- Tips for how to spend the first 30 minutes of your day
- The benefits of 15 minute meetings
- Why notebooks are still relevant to a successful organization
- Ideas for better managing your inbox
- Why you should take lunch outside the box
- ...and much more!
Episode 3: Tech. Connection: Solutions, Strategy, and Staff In episode 3 of the Raise + Engage podcast, Danielle Johnson is joined by Chris Geady and William DaSilva, two IT experts in the nonprofit space, to talk technology integration for NPOs: when you need it, when you don’t, and how to do it successfully. Tune in to hear:
- When to say NO to integration
- How to set your strategic plan before even looking at technologies
- Ways to get your entire team on board
- The importance of identifying a project lead
- The RFP process - how it should and should not go
According to Danielle Johnson, straight-shooting host of the Raise + Engage podcast series, if your staff members aren’t the number one advocates for your cause on social media, you’re failing. In the most recent episode, Danielle is joined by Blackbaud’s own social media guru Madeline Turner to discuss overcoming social struggles and creating a social ambassador program at your organization. This entertaining and insightful duo dishes on the importance of making your social media presence human, making the case for a formal social program to leadership, how University of Michigan turned a one time social media campaign into a long term social program, and how Madeline's mom unknowingly became a social ambassador on #GivingTuesday.
In the premiere episode of Raise & Engage, Danielle is joined by three straight-shooting nonprofit rock-stars: Jodi Smith of Sanford Health Systems, Veronica Brown of Chicago Public Library Foundation and Ali Burke of Southlake Regional Health Centre Foundation. The group talks organizational culture, problem employees, why its important to celebrate and how to shake things up this year and build a better more authentic team that gets stuff done!