July 12, 2014

White House

A Common Picture: Two Philadelphia Arts Organizations Struggle with Debt Come Due

DebtNPQ has been chronicling the struggles of too many arts organizations which were affected by the recession in a very particular way. Here is what the pattern we have seen looks looks like.

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The Philanthropic Problem with Hillary Clinton’s Huge Speaking Fees

ClintonsThe lucrative six-figure speaking fees being paid to Hillary Clinton for speeches at universities have attracted much criticism—too high, too much money being paid to a presidential candidate. Our concern is different: The speaking fees being paid to Clinton (which she says she turns over to the Clinton Foundation) constitute the “repurposing” of donations and tax payments to colleges and universities for the Clinton family’s own philanthropic agenda and might in some cases be purchases of recognition and face time with an expectation of future favors should Hillary Rodham Clinton become the second President Clinton.

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Glenn Greenwald Reveals NSA/FBI Surveillance of Muslim-American Activists’ Emails

newsMore Edward Snowden/Glenn Greenwald revelations: The U.S. government monitored the email accounts of five Muslim-American activists in apparent violation of FISA standards for email surveillance.

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Congressional Hearing Exposes Horrendous Treatment of VA Whistleblowers

125A truly sad congressional hearing gave the platform to four VA staff people who had been whistleblowers about abuses in VA hospitals—and then bullied, harassed, and defamed as a result of their revelations. The whistleblowers are heroes and heroines in our democratic system, as are nonprofits like POGO and the IAVA that stand up to protect them from a system of vicious retaliation.

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NYC Political Funding Shenanigans with Hispanic Federation and City Council Speaker

Mark-ViveritoThe much-criticized practice of discretionary political grantmaking by New York City political leaders is unfortunately alive and well, though dressed in new clothing and sold with a new spin. The latest example involves a long-respected Latino organization, the Hispanic Federation, earning some criticism of its reputation in the process.

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Moneyball Philanthropy – Is the Work of the Nonprofit Sector Like Baseball?

MoneyballShould charitable contributions be tied to a metric system similar to the one often used to build baseball teams?  Are we moving from strategic philanthropy to “Moneyball Philanthropy”?

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Nevada Drug Court Sets Up a Nonprofit to Do What It Can’t

SolitaryDrug Court says an independent nonprofit that helps offenders deal with the stresses and strains of life could cut recidivism and reduce costs to society.

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UN Declares Detroit Water Shutoffs Violate Human Rights

FaucetThe United Nations and Congressman John Conyers believe that the plans of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to cut off water to 150,000 customers are inhumane and, according to the UN, a potential violation of human rights. Will we “save” Detroit from its bankruptcy, $5 billion of which is DWSD indebtedness, and ignore a potentially serious violation of the human rights of many of its poorest citizens?

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Color Guard at the NYC Pride March Will Be Boy Scouts

ScoutHow long will the BSA hold out on its regressive exclusionary policy excluding openly gay scout leaders? Parts of their operation are beginning to peel off, as is exemplified by the color guard for the 44th Annual NYC Pride March, scheduled for this coming Sunday, which will be made up of contingent of openly gay and allied Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts, and volunteers.

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Convictions of Al Jazeera Journalists: An Issue for Nonprofits

Al JazeeraThe now elected, formerly military government of Egypt just topped its mass death sentences for hundreds of protesters with verdicts sentencing three Al Jazeera journalists to prison terms between seven and ten years. Even though Al Jazeera is hardly a nonprofit, this judicial travesty, abetted by the Obama administration’s announcement that it will resume military aid to Egypt, should be condemned by nonprofits worldwide.

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Fundraising Costs Queried Down Under

appcoA fundraising company is being investigated by a state government regulatory agency in Australia.

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Pittsburgh Suburb Tries to Restrict Door-to-Door Solicitors

SolicitorsA lot of people don’t like people who solicit door-to-door, whether they are commercial solicitors or representatives of nonprofits. But to restrict nonprofit, charitable, or religious solicitors, as the Pittsburgh suburb of Baldwin is trying to do through a local ordinance, runs counter to a bigger law—the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

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US Patent Office Cancels Trademark Protection for DC NFL Team’s Name

RedskinsHam-handed, tone-deaf, smug, hardhearted, callous—the potential terms one might use to describe Daniel Snyder hardly compare to the racist name he deploys and defends for the Washington, D.C. NFL franchise that he owns. The decision of the U.S. Patent Office to withdraw trademark protection from his use of the term “Redskins” doesn’t force him to change the team’s name, but it’s not hard to see that the clock is ticking before quarterback RGIII and other players take the field for a team without a clearly racist team name that doesn’t use a caricature of Native Americans as its mascot.

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When PR Ensures the Buck Never Stops

MCIt is very difficult to find examples of people in responsibility actually taking responsibility for the crises and failures of the organizations they lead. In the wake of the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Mary Barra’s recent announcement of the results of an internal probe of automobile recall problems at General Motors, it may be appropriate to ask where the buck stops in those large entities—and in our own.

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Big Capital Campaigns – Do They Crowd Out Other Fundraising?

CrowdWhat, if any effect, do mega-sized capital campaigns in cities like Cleveland have on the local giving economy?

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Eight States Reduce Recidivism without Social Impact Bonds

JailEight states are implementing system-wide policy changes to reduce prison recidivism and witnessing positive results statewide. Would they do better if they had access to the private investment of Social Impact Bond or Pay for Success financial structures?

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Trials and Travails of Nonprofit Health Insurance Cooperatives, Year One

NewsIt was hard for nonprofit health insurance cooperatives to plan for their competitive environments given the dead-set mentalities of Republican congressional opposition to the Affordable Care Act. The results of their first crack at the health insurance markets haven’t been ideal, but that might be because of House Republications making the lives and operation of the cooperatives extraordinarily different.

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AG Holder Calls Boy Scout Policy “Relic of an Age of Prejudice”

BSACalling it a “relic of an age of prejudice,” Attorney General Eric Holder has come out against the Boy Scouts’ policy disallowing gays and lesbians from serving as Scout Leaders.

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Occupy Protestors Win Biggest Suit Yet against NYC

OWSA settlement of nearly $600,000 has been made by the City of New York to resolve a lawsuit filed by Occupy Wall Street protestors arrested as they walked on a sidewalk in the East Village on New Year’s Day 2012. The suit claimed that police had acted unreasonably by arresting the protestors after asking them to disperse even while they did not allow them to do so.

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Keep a Wary Eye on Sallie Mae

Sallie MaeIf you have a federally issued student loan, you probably deal with Sallie Mae (or a Sallie Mae spinoff called Navient) for your payments and servicing. Young professionals in the nonprofit field probably know Sallie for a number of dubious practices, and the Justice Department knows it for its recent violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, but that isn’t stopping Arne Duncan’s Education Department from placing Navient on a shortlist for a new potentially massive loan-servicing contract.

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UK Fundraising Study: Complaints Largely Come from Annoying Techniques

NOWant money? The strategy might be to leave people alone.

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City Bans Charity Carwashes Due to Polluted Runoff

CarwashArlington, Virginia tells the Boy Scouts that fundraising carwashes violate local storm water regulations.

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Serial Rapists Go Unidentified as Foundations Pony Up for Rape Kit Processing

Rape kitsIn Memphis, the Plough Foundation made a grant of $750,000 toward processing that city’s 30-year, 12,164-rape kit backlog, but it was dependent on assurances that the city would process every rape kit and it is structured to be the last dollar in.

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Asking for a Gift Personally

PhoneThe secret in asking someone for a contribution, even a friend, is remembering that it’s a conversation, not a presentation.

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Mental Difficulties, Funders and the Roots of Enterprise

I have been so horrified by what looks like a recent, further dismantling of mental health service availability that I made a commitment not to let Brown’s idea die along with the one attempt. Just putting it out there! 

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Houston Symphony Crowdsources a Concert Program for Cash

MusicAs the Houston Symphony wraps up its hundredth season, it has offered its supporters the opportunity to attend—and help determine the program for—a Donor Appreciation Concert in August.

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Resource for Activists: Free Database on Class Action Lawsuits

NewsLegitimate class-action lawsuits are an important check on private corporations that would otherwise run roughshod over consumers’ interests. A nonprofit called Consumer Action has an online free database for consumers to search for class action lawsuits that are open for claims and others that are still pending.

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Daniel Ellsberg Stands Up for Edward Snowden—Will You?

EllsbergSecretary of State John Kerry thinks Daniel Ellsberg was a patriot, but Edward Snowden a “coward” and “traitor.” While nonprofits are debating free speech and First Amendment issues such as 501(c)(4) regulations and campaign finance court decisions, just as important is the issue of the extent of government invasion of the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights of all Americans, including nonprofits themselves.

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As Obama Focuses on Black Men and Boys, What About Black Women?

AfricanProminent black men in the U.S. are concerned that President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative excludes black women and girls.

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Challenge Grants: A Mechanism for Double and Lasting Value

MoneySometimes it is worth acknowledging the tried-and-true mechanisms that work well in spreading philanthropy and gaining impact in its application. The humble challenge grant is one of our favorites!

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