Archive for the ‘nonprofits and volunteerism’ Category

What Is the Relationship of Medical Humanitarian Organisations with Mining and Other Extractive Industries?

September 10, 2012 Comments off

What Is the Relationship of Medical Humanitarian Organisations with Mining and Other Extractive Industries?
Source: PLoS Medicine

Summary Points

  • In developing countries, extractive industries (including ore mineral mining and oil extraction) have far reaching consequences on health through environmental pollution, some communicable diseases, violence, destitution, and compromised food security.
  • The rapid expansion of extractive industries and the increasing frequency of environmental disasters are bound to engage medical humanitarian organisations in developing novel types of expertise.
  • While humanitarian organisations might be called to intervene in areas occupied by the extractive sector, in this Essay I argue that oil and mineral exploitation reveals a fundamental clash of values between humanitarianism, the for-profit sector, and privatised global philanthropy.
    Specific medical humanitarian organisations can respond to these challenges in different ways, based on their position between pragmatic or principled approaches, and their willingness to develop new technical capacities.

How America Gives

August 20, 2012 Comments off

How America Gives

Source: Chronicle of Philanthropy

From America’s Generosity Divide:

The nation’s generosity divide is vast, according to a new Chronicle of Philanthropy study that charts giving patterns in every state, city, and ZIP code.

In states like Utah and Mississippi, the typical household gives more than 7 percent of its income to charity, while the average household in Massachusetts and three other New England states gives less than 3 percent.

The same holds for the nation’s 50 biggest metropolitan areas. The Chronicle found that residents of Salt Lake City, Memphis, and Birmingham, Ala., typically give at least 7 percent of their discretionary income to charity, while those in Boston and Providence average less than 3 percent. (See our interactive tool to find giving data for any place in the United States.)

To account for sharp differences in the cost of living across America, The Chronicle’s study compared generosity rates after residents paid taxes, housing, food, and other necessities.

The study, based on the most recent available Internal Revenue Service records of Americans who itemized their deductions, examines taxpayers who earned $50,000 or more in 2008. They donated a median of 4.7 percent of their discretionary income to charitable causes. Altogether, they provided $135-billion to charity, nearly two-thirds of the $214-billion donated by all individuals in 2008, according to “Giving USA,” the benchmark of giving patterns.

FTC Alerts Consumers Who Want to Help Colorado Movie Theater Shooting Victims

July 27, 2012 Comments off

FTC Alerts Consumers Who Want to Help Colorado Movie Theater Shooting Victims

Source: Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, has tips for anyone who may want to donate money to the victims and families of the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting.

One opportunity for giving, the Aurora Victim Relief Fund, has been established by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and the Community First Foundation to meet immediate and long-term needs of victims and their families. Donations are being accepted through the Foundation’s program, which describes how various nonprofit organizations are offering direct support to those affected.

Unfortunately, legitimate charities face competition from fraudsters who either solicit for bogus charities or aren’t entirely honest about how a so-called charity will use your contribution. It’s wise to be wary of charities that spring up overnight in connection with current events, like the theater shooting.

Urgent appeals for aid that you get in person, by phone or mail, by e-mail, on websites, or on social networking sites may not be on the up-and-up. The agency’s Charity Checklist has tips for guidance on donating wisely.

Inertia of the Humanitarian System Means More Famines are Inevitable

July 26, 2012 Comments off

Inertia of the Humanitarian System Means More Famines are Inevitable
Source: Chatham House

Early warnings that could prevent food shortages from developing into famines are not triggering early action among humanitarian agencies or donor governments, resulting in thousands of avoidable deaths, says a new Chatham House report. Instead, the humanitarian system tends to mobilize only once a crisis hits, when it is by definition too late to prevent an emergency.

Modern early warning systems provide a crucial window of opportunity during which the humanitarian system can intervene to avert disaster and prevent the downward spiral into destitution and starvation that can follow from drought. This opportunity is being wasted, according to the report, launched on the first anniversary of the 2011 Somalia famine declaration.

The report author, Rob Bailey, says, ‘Organizations need to look carefully at how they can reward decision-makers for appropriate early action and penalize inappropriate delay. Unless the humanitarian system gets to grips with the fundamental constraints of perverse incentives and adverse politics, more avoidable catastrophes are inevitable.’

Top Trends in Nonprofit Technology

May 3, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Blackbaud
As a nonprofit, you face a complex and evolving environment. New organizations each day make competition fiercer, while a trend in the privatization of funding sources has created myriad challenges for building a case for funding and demonstrating results to maintain funding levels year over year. Your donors are different, too. A “thank you” letter is the bare minimum standard for stewardship. Today’s donor wants to better understand and engage in your mission. And because of this increased interest and involvement, individual donors, as well as funders, have an increased focus on accountability, outcomes, and evaluation, as well. To keep your organization alive and in the forefront of your donors’ minds despite these challenges, you may feel the need to reinvent your approach to fundraising — either upgrading areas of operations that seem to be under-serving staff, constituents, and beneficiaries, or reevaluating your programs as a whole. Technology can play a key role in efforts to enhance, optimize, or reengineer processes and operations.

Protecting Your Constituents’ Personal Information: A principle every nonprofit should embrace

May 2, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Blackbaud
Beyond HIPAA, FERPA, PIPEDA, PCI Compliance, and other government-mandated privacy regulations, nonprofit organizations have an obligation to protect the privacy of constituent information. Governmentmandated privacy regulations tell us what kinds of information we can collect, opt-in and opt-out permissions we may need, and how we can use the information acquired. But every organization should further define how staff will manage requests for constituent information such as addresses and phone numbers. You can educate trustees, volunteers, and staff by creating and enforcing a policy to protect the personal privacy of constituents by maintaining confidentiality of all constituent information.

CRS — The Peace Corps: Current Issues

April 10, 2012 Comments off

The Peace Corps: Current Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps has sought to meet its legislative mandate of promoting world peace and friendship by sending American volunteers to serve at the grassroots level in villages and towns in all corners of the globe. As of end September 2011, about 9,095 volunteers were serving in 76 nations.

In 2012, the 112th Congress is considering the President’s annual funding request for the Peace Corps, efforts to reauthorize the Peace Corps, and related issues. In February 2012, the Administration issued its FY2013 budget request, proposing $374.5 million for the Peace Corps, $500,000 less than the FY2012 level of $375 million approved in December 2011 in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2012 (Division I of P.L. 112-74, H.R. 2055).

The last Peace Corps funding authorization (P.L. 106-30), approved in 1999, covered the years FY2000 to FY2003. On July 21, the House Foreign Affairs Committee reported H.R. 2583, the Foreign Relations Authorization for FY2012, which includes language authorizing $375 million for the Peace Corps in FY2012 as well as provisions addressing Peace Corps safety and security. On July 27, 2011, Senator Kerry introduced S. 1426, the Foreign Relations Authorization for FY2012 and FY2013, including language authorizing $439.6 million for the Peace Corps in FY2012 and “such sums as may be necessary” for FY2013.

On November 21, 2011, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 was signed into law (P.L. 112-57). It puts into place a number of safeguards to address and reduce the incidence of volunteer rape and sexual abuse.

A comprehensive assessment of Peace Corps operations was published in June 2010. It makes 64 recommendations supporting a six-point strategy to be implemented in the coming years.

Current issues include the extent to which there is available funding for Peace Corps expansion, whether the Peace Corps has the institutional capacity to expand, and whether volunteers are able to function in a safe and secure environment.

This report will be updated as events warrant.

2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report

April 9, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Blackbaud, NTEN and Common Knowledge
Blackbaud, NTEN and Common Knowledge just released the fourth annual 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Benchmark Report.
We learned a lot of things, but one prevailing theme stood out — despite limited budgets and staffing, nonprofits continue to find great value in their fast-growing social networks.
The report is packed with insights into how nonprofits are leveraging social networks as part of their marketing, communications and fundraising strategies. Have a look at the INFOGRAPHIC below then download the full report to learn more about important behaviors and trends.

+ Full Report

Guide to the Internal Revenue Service Decision-Making Process Under Section 501(c)(3) for Journalism and Publishing Non-Profit Organizations

April 2, 2012 Comments off

Guide to the Internal Revenue Service Decision-Making Process Under Section 501(c)(3) for Journalism and Publishing Non-Profit Organizations
Source: Social Science Research Network (Berkman Center for Internet & Society)

Confusion about the IRS’s processes and standards has led to criticism of the IRS as being arbitrary in its decision-making process and adverse to the journalism industry. But while there have been controversial decisions by the IRS in particular cases, it is critical to understand that the IRS’s primary duty with respect to these applications is to protect the public fisc by ensuring that only organizations that meet criteria enacted by the United States Congress are granted a Section 501(c)(3) exemption. Although the IRS has some discretion in applying these criteria, it does not have the authority to recognize broad new categories of tax-exempt organizations, such as news outlets.

Until and unless there is action in Congress to facilitate tax exemptions for journalism non-profits, news organizations seeking 501(c)(3) status must learn how to structure their operations to meet the existing standards applied by the IRS. To that end, this guide is intended to provide practical information regarding the standards that the IRS applies in determining whether to grant federal tax-exempt status to a non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3).

China Civil Foundation Developing Trends.2011

April 1, 2012 Comments off
Source:  China Foundation Center
Foundation Data Review is a series of data research products based on the most complete foundation database independently developed in China by China Foundation Center, which annually produces a number of research reports targeted at various types of foundations, industrial fields and hotspot topics. The series of reports conducts research and development of information of public benefit organizations with its information platform, targeting at the issue of transparency currently prevailing in public benefit and charity fields while extensively disseminating the research findings. Covering all foundations, the series of reports promotes the transparency and public confidence of foundations in that it contributes to the trust and confidence in public benefit organizations by releasing the research findings.

Foundation Support for Water-related Issues Growing

March 23, 2012 Comments off
In recent years, the number of U.S. charitable foundations awarding grants for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects around the world has more than tripled. A new research brief by the Foundation Center, Foundation Funding for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, finds that between 2003 and 2010 this growth in the number of active funders was accompanied by a nearly five-fold increase in the number of organizations receiving these grants, to the tune of $144 million in 2009-2010. And, while WASH funding as a proportion of international grantmaking overall has grown from 0.2 percent in 2003, it remains very small (1.7 percent in 2010).

Full Report (PDF)

IRS Creates Online Search Tool for Easier Check on Information About Exempt Organizations

March 19, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service has launched a new online search tool, Exempt Organizations Select Check, to help users more easily find key information about tax-exempt organizations, such as federal tax status and filings.
Users can now go to one location on, select a tax-exempt organization, and check if the organization:
Is eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions (Publication 78 data, which is incorporated here). Users may rely on this list in determining deductibility of contributions (just as they did when Publication 78 was a separate electronic publication rather than part of EO Select Check).
Has had its federal tax exemption automatically revoked under the law for not filing a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years (known as the Auto-Revocation List).
Has filed a Form 990-N (e-Postcard) annual electronic notice. (Most small organizations whose annual gross receipts are normally $50,000 or less are required to electronically submit Form 990-N, unless they choose instead to file a completed Form 990 or Form 990-EZ.)
EO Select Check also offers improved search functions. For example, users can now look for organizations eligible to receive deductible contributions by Employer Identification Number (EIN), which was previously not a searchable or sortable field in the electronic Publication 78. And data about organizations eligible to receive deductible contributions are now updated monthly, rather than quarterly.
In addition, organizations that have automatically lost their tax exemptions may now be searched by EIN, name, city, state, ZIP Code, country, exemption type, and revocation posting date, rather than only by state. EO Select Check also provides new pop-up help text to assist users in understanding the significance of auto-revocation search results, including the meaning of, and distinctions between, revocation dates and revocation posting dates.

Audit of VHA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program

March 15, 2012 Comments off

Audit of VHA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General

We conducted this audit to determine whether community agencies receiving funds from the Grant and Per Diem Program (GPDP) are providing services to homeless veterans as agreed upon in their grant agreements or authorized changes of scope. We also examined whether program funding is effectively aligned with program priorities. We found the VHA GPDP provided services to homeless veterans and had successfully assisted veterans to live independently in safe and affordable permanent housing. However, an incomplete grant application evaluation process; a lack of program safety, security, health, and welfare standards; and an inconsistent monitoring program impacted the program’s effectiveness. As a result, VHA did not ensure homeless veterans consistently received the supportive services agreed to in approved grants. In addition, funding was not effectively aligned with program goals. We recommended strengthening the grant application and evaluation process by publishing policies and standards, updating the inspection checklists, and implementing procedures to ensure grant providers had the capability to deliver services. The Under Secretary for Health concurred with our findings and recommendations and provided appropriate action plans.

+ Full Report (PDF)

White paper: Nonprofit/commercial media partnerships fill news gap

March 9, 2012 Comments off

White paper: Nonprofit/commercial media partnerships fill news gap
Source: Knight Foundation

A new report from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism’s Investigative Reporting Program (PDF) explores how partnerships between commercial media and nonprofit journalism can reach a broader audience and have a stronger impact. The report reveals how these new joint ventures can sustain a nonprofit media organization’s bottom line. In an era of newsroom cutbacks and a decline in local news, cross-platform media partnerships offer hope for a beleaguered industry.

The report, “From Outsourcing to Innovation”, lays out practical recommendations for a robust partnership between nonprofits and commercial outlets. At the same time, the report highlights a role for government and the technology sector in supporting these collaborations. Finally, it examines how market forces can help or hinder nonprofit/for-profit initiatives.

+ Full Report (PDF)

Holding the Fort: Nonprofit Employment during a Decade of Turmoil

February 15, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Center for Civil Society Studies (Johns Hopkins University)
This report presents previously unavailable data on year-to-year changes in employment in private, nonprofit establishments in the United States from January 2000 through June 2010, with a special focus on how nonprofit employment fared during the 2007-2009 recession. Initial findings published in September 2011 are available here.

Full Report (PDF)

Giving by U.S. Family Foundations Recovering Slowly

February 13, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Foundation Center

America’s family foundations contributed more than $20 billion in 2010 to organizations and people working for the public good, but total giving did not reach its pre-recession peak of $21 billion in 2008. According to the Foundation Center’s latest edition of Key Facts on Family Foundations, the 1.1 percent increase in family foundation giving between 2009 and 2010 marks a reversal of the previous year’s 3.4 percent decline.

Among other key findings in the report:

    • Family foundations account for the majority of giving by independent foundations overall (63 percent in 2010).
    • One-third of all family foundations were established in the 2000s.
    • Education is the top funding priority of family foundations located in the Northeast, Midwest, and South, while health accounts for the biggest share among Western family foundations, largely due to the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Key Facts on Family Foundations identifies 38,671 independent foundations with measurable donor or donor-family involvement. The fact sheet examines giving by issue area, type of support, population group served, and geographic location. It also details differences in the size of the boards of family foundations.

Full Report (PDF)

OJP Fact Sheet: Faith-Based Programs

February 8, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Office of Justice Programs
Fast Facts
    • There are more than 350,000 religious congregations in the United States. The average congregation has 100–400 members.
    • U.S. congregations generate an estimated $81 billion annually in revenues, much of which is used to support programs that address social needs.
    • Faith-based institutions engage 45 million volunteers, nearly half of the total number of American volunteers.
    • Virtually all U.S. prison systems offer faith-based worship services; 93 percent also offer prayer groups.

CRS — Horn of Africa Region: The Humanitarian Crisis and International Response

January 31, 2012 Comments off

Horn of Africa Region: The Humanitarian Crisis and International Response (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

As a result of the worst drought in 60 years, regional conflicts, and conflict within states, a humanitarian emergency of massive proportion has unfolded over the past year in the Horn of Africa region. Current estimates suggest that more than 13.3 million people are currently affected, 250,000 of whom need food assistance in the near term to avoid death. Somalia has been hardest hit so far, creating population displacement within its borders and a refugee crisis of nearly 1 million people in the region, primarily in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The international community continues to respond with a massive humanitarian operation that reached full strength in mid 2011. Although food security has begun to improve, the situation remains very fragile, particularly in southern Somalia, where conditions are considered among the worst in the world. Humanitarian needs are expected to demand sustained attention well into 2012. While life-saving assistance is the current priority, long-term responses may be needed to break the disaster cycle in the Horn. Though triggered by drought, the humanitarian emergency is complicated by political and security pressures within, between, and among the various countries in the region. The recent deterioration of security conditions along the Kenya-Somali border, security incidents within the Dadaab refugee camp complex in northeast Kenya, and increasing restrictions by Al Shabaab, an Islamist insurgency led by an Al Qaeda affiliate, on humanitarian access in Somalia all have had an impact on the relief effort.

This report provides an overview of the current status of the crisis, summary background on the region, a framework for the international and humanitarian response, and an analysis of some of the operational challenges.

The role of the 112th Congress, which has so far focused on the crisis in hearings, legislation, and congressional correspondence with the Administration, is also examined, particularly with regard to funding questions, including:

  • budget priorities on global humanitarian accounts and food aid;
  • diversion of food aid;
  • donor restrictions on aid; and
  • burdensharing and donor fatigue.

It is anticipated Congress will continue to follow and respond to events as they unfold in the Horn.

Volunteers in Police Service Add Value While Budgets Decrease

January 16, 2012 Comments off
Source:  Bureau of Justice Assistance
While in the midst of budget cuts, many law enforcement agencies are being asked to take on additional responsibilities due to cuts and restructuring in other government agencies. Seventy-seven percent of agencies were asked to increase their support of other agencies and asked to shoulder additional responsibilities in the last year.
More than ever, volunteerism in the law enforcement arena has become a need and not a luxury. The financial return on investment of a volunteer program can be substantial, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of value added to the agency each year. In 2009, IACP’s Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) Program held a focus group to see how agencies were coping with tightening budgets by utilizing their existing volunteer programs. While agencies were cutting staff and programs, the use of volunteers remained consistent or, in some cases, increased. Many agencies have responded to the tough financial climate by training and placing volunteers in duties not previously performed by volunteers.
The services provided by VIPS volunteers are essential. As we look to the future, it is clear that the economic outlook is not going to change anytime soon. Shrinking budgets and limited resources will remain the norm for some time. In the IACP Policing in the 21st Century survey, one-third of law enforcement leaders said they will have to further reduce their budgets by 10 percent or more in the coming year.  In these difficult times, volunteers can enhance public safety and services and offer a wealth of skills and resources to law enforcement and their communities.

Manitoba top province for donating money to charity but Canadians still much less generous than Americans

January 8, 2012 Comments off
Manitoba is Canada’s most generous province, but Canadians continue to trail their American neighbours on private charitable giving, according to a new report on private monetary generosity from the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank.
“By comparing the share of tax filers making charitable donations and the share of income donated to charities across North American jurisdictions, our report reveals a significant generosity gap between Canadians and Americans,” said Charles Lammam, Fraser Institute senior policy analyst and co-author of the report.
“This generosity gap undoubtedly limits the power and potential of charities to improve the quality of life of Canadian families that are in need.”
For the 13th year in a row, Manitoba ranked as the most generous province in Generosity in Canada and the United States: The 2011 Generosity Index, published annually by the Fraser Institute. The index measures and compares monetary generosity in Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories and in the 50 American states and Washington, D.C. using data on charitable donations as recorded on personal income tax returns in the 2009 tax year (the most recent year of comparable data available).
Among the provinces, Manitoba had both the highest percentage of tax filers donating to registered charity (26.0 per cent) and the highest percentage of total income donated (0.89 per cent).

Full Report (PDF)


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