VOL. 128 | NO. 83 | Monday, April 29, 2013
Nonprofits Coping With New Challenges
By Jennifer Johnson Backer
About 74 percent of Mid-South nonprofit organizations reported increased service demands in 2012, compared with 72 percent a year earlier. But many of those organizations cannot fully meet the demand for increased services because of funding constraints.
Just more than half, or 53 percent, of all nonprofit organizations reported being able to fully meet demand for service in 2012, compared with 57 percent last year.
That finding, from the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence, reinforces the need for nonprofits to understand the dynamics that surround charitable giving,” says Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence CEO Nancy McGee.
The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence is holding its eighth annual conference, “The Gatekeepers of Philanthropy,” on Wednesday, May 1, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Temple Israel. The conference will give Mid-South nonprofits an inside look at philanthropy, including the people who influence giving, new trends in funding and insights into how decisions are made.
“Philanthropy is influenced in many ways: for example, through public policy and advocacy as well as through wealth advisors,” McGee said. “Our nonprofits need to understand the dynamics that surround this most vital revenue stream.”
Keynote speaker Patricia Brandes, executive director of the Barr Foundation, will highlight the importance of creating leadership networks to connect diverse leaders to build the nonprofit community. Brandes created the Barr Fellowship in Boston, a leadership group designed to celebrate, connect and empower leaders across the city.
Jacob Harold, president and CEO of GuideStar, the largest source of data about nonprofits, will address GuideStar’s influence on charitable investments and how that trend has changed over time.
“In a really complicated world, you need good data to make good decisions,” he said. “I think that is especially true in the nonprofit sector.”
Donors have historically focused on nonprofit financials, but Harold said donors are realizing nonprofit balance sheets only tell a small part of the nonprofit’s story.
“What really matters are the results that nonprofits create,” he said. “We’ve been really shifting our attention to gather more data about a nonprofit’s programs, their communities, and about their beneficiaries.”
Harold said donors recognize they need a multidimensional understanding of a nonprofit to make giving decisions and to track an organization’s effectiveness.
“The bigger question is: who is accomplishing more?” he said. “The nonprofit sector is big and diverse, and we need to have different ways of thinking about performance.”
The conference also will feature Eileen Heisman, president and CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust. Heisman, an expert on charitable and planned giving, will discuss donor-advised funds.
Robert Fockler, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, says the Memphis region tends to follow national trends.
“About 75 percent of charitable giving in Memphis came from individuals,” said Fockler, who also is a conference speaker. “Individuals make these gifts in many ways, by writing their own checks, by dropping cash in the collection plate, or through more organized giving instruments like donor-advised funds.”
Other conference speakers like Benita Melton, program officer for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, will discuss how foundation giving priorities are influenced and decided. Christine Reeves, senior field associate, the National Committee on Responsive Philanthropy, will advise nonprofits on how to have difficult conversations with foundations.
Conference panels and speakers also will address everything from finding funding amid shifting demographics to how donors are being advised and the nonprofit policy agenda for Mid-South nonprofits.
Conference attendance is $120 for Alliance members and $160 for nonmembers.