Thursday, August 30, 2007

25 weeks of USA charities

Beginning tomorrow, USA TODAY will highlight 25 charities, one a week, for 25 weeks as part of the newspaper's 25th Anniversary celebration. The first national nonprofit to be covered will be Goodwill Industries (full disclosure: I'm on the Goodwill Industries International board).

I'm really pleased that USA TODAY is making this effort to discuss generosity and good works. So often the press highlights the bad news, since that seems to be more interesting to our voyaristic selves. With this series, readers will be both reminded of good things that are going on in their communities and, I hope, urged to volunteer and get involved.

A big shout-out to USA TODAY.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Get on(line) with it....and getting back into it.

The Wall Street Journal has a great story (and a good listing of resources) on younger adults working online to help charities raise their visibility, market, and raise funds in a variety of interesting and innovative ways. Whether through their blogs, or on MySpace or FaceBook, these young philanthropists are making a difference.

"A New Generation Reinvents Philanthropy" is worth the read.

As an aside, my extended absence should be pretty much done. We're over the worst of our moving chaos, and more and more of our new home is appearing as the piles of boxes are opened, emptied, and the boxes thrown out.

I actually got to answer some email last night with a degree of thoughtfulness. My mind had been so full of "gotta do this, and this, and this, and then that..." in an endless chain of priorities that I hadn't been able to sit quietly and think clearly; my mind would go right back to my "To-Do" list in about 4 seconds. Made me reminisce (not happily) about my days as an Exec of a nonprofit whose entire funding had been much to do I couldn't focus well. Not a good feeling.

Anyway, more postings soon. I'm starting the guts of a really fun project on generation change for a mid-size city in the Midwest, and in about two weeks, I'm back on the road for the first of about 20 different speeches during September, October and November.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Small is beautiful

A few months back, three different ED's wrote me in the space of a few weeks and asked if I would write an issue of the Mission Based Management Newsletter on "small nonprofits". That's part of the deal with my subscribers: they can suggest topics for future newsletters, and it results in one or two issues a year that are user initiated topics. It's fun for me, since I get to renew my knowledge on topics I know something about, or research new stuff for areas that I don't.

So, small nonprofits? Huh. What do I know about them? Well, there are lots of them, I suppose, but not that many. I suspect that they are more volunteer driven, have less infrastructure, are more flexible, etc. Time for a little research.

I was right about the volunteer predominance, the infrastructure and the flexibility, but oh so wrong about the number of small nonprofits. Here's the key piece of data

While there are just under 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the United States (according to the most recent data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics), nearly 81% have total annual income of less than $100,000. So, while we may think first about the big 501(c)'s , the playing field is actually filled with smaller, dedicated, and often invisible organizations.

Wow. 4/5 of the nonprofits in the US under $100,000. I was really surprised. That's a lot. Why isn't there more attention paid to this dominating cohort?

So, I read and searched some more and wrote this month's newsletter on the topic of Small Nonprofits. Check it out.

An aside: I've been slow to post the last few weeks, and it's going to get worse for a while. I apologize. We're in the last stages of moving from our house of 17 years and our town of 30 to Southern Virginia. The movers come to pack things up starting Wednesday, and we actually leave Springfield on Monday. I will almost certainly be pretty much offline for the next week or so. I'll post again as soon as I can.