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The Nonprofit QuarterlySmall Nonprofits Struggle in Haiti
January 20, 2010; Washington Post | Without access to private planes small organizations working in Haiti are struggling to continue operating, reports the Washington Post. Claudette Mompoint’s Silver Spring, Maryland-based nonprofit runs a school for 145 kids outside of Jacmel in Haiti. With most of her teachers and students now homeless and communication with them almost impossible, Mompoint and other small nonprofits like hers are facing huge challenges right now. “Although smaller organizations often play a huge role in the long-term recovery and rebuilding of a country, they are often overlooked in the immediate response, fundraising efforts and media coverage,” the article says. Patrick Rooney, executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, says that due to a media saturation of the initial disaster, “the big groups suck the wind out of the situation, and when they eventually pack up to leave, the smaller nonprofits are left to deal with the structural issues.” We might agree with the sucking the wind and money part but in terms of stepping in and providing immediate relief it is the resident nonprofits that often shoulder the first wave. We would point you to the Coastal Family Health article cited in the next story for a clear example. Alan Abramson of George Mason University reminds us of the response after Hurricane Katrina. While the larger groups such as the Red Cross received the bulk of the charitable dollars, the smaller groups in the area shouldered more of the burden with fewer resources. “Often, they are the ones who know the neighborhood and are connected with the people in need,” Abramson said. “They’re the ones who are there before, during and after.” Abramson suggests connecting small and large organizations so they can approach the work as a team. So far through its texting campaign, telethons, funds raised by actors and musicians, and people simply donating to their local chapters, the Red Cross has raised tens of millions for Haiti relief. In many instances like this report from Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Red Cross assures its donors it is committed to a long term rebuilding of Haiti. Pastor Ron Qualley runs Lord of Life Lutheran church in Fairfax County and is part of the Lazurus Project, which operates three schools and an orphanage, in Haiti had originally wanted to get the schools up and running right away. He realizes now that this is impossible. “We’re working on a plan now for what to do in the short term, medium term and longer term in Haiti. We will definitely continue to help the children in Haiti, to raise up leaders there. We just have to figure out how.”—Kristin Barrali

The Nonprofit Quarterly$10 billion at Stake for Community Health Centers
January 19, 2010
; | As we all know, Scott Brown, the new senator from Massachusetts has gone to Washington, DC with the intention of having his vote count in the health care debate. Nobody knows exactly what will emerge as a reform initiative but community health centers all over the country must be holding their collective breaths. Written into the latest versions of the health care reform proposals of both the House (at $14 billion) and Senate (at $10 billion) is a chunk of change aimed at increasing the number of patients served by community health centers from 20 million to 45 million. The vision of community health centers as major providers of primary care services has, of course, been long held by this network of community-based agencies. NPQ published this article in September 2007 about that vision and the value of community health centers to a community in Mississippi in the wake of Katrina and it is well worth reading if you have any questions about their enormous value. The story is especially poignant in the wake of the tragedy in Haiti this past week. Read the thoughts of the CFH board president and the story of what that organization’s stakeholders did to provide immediate care in the worst of conditions. We have written in these newswires about the waves of funding for community health centers already received through ARRA on the assumption that many more families would lose insurance as unemployment grew, but our profile of Christ Community Health Services of Memphis in the current issue describes the degree to which this money has been insufficient to need. So as Washington reorganizes itself, we can only hope that this particular element of the effort will not be lost. On a side note, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has championed community health centers, leading to some pretty nutty responses from right-fringe contingents, such as “ObamaCare Has Revealed The Moral Bankruptcy Of The Senate.’—Ruth McCambridge

 The Nonprofit QuarterlyVolunteerism as Political Self Promotion
January 17, 2010; New York Times | In commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this week, political leaders, from President Obama on down, called for expanded volunteerism and community service. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s program of community service has resulted in 18,000 new volunteers. According to the Times, 10 cities are going to receive grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, which provides support to Bloomberg’s program, to replicate New York’s volunteer effort. The 10 cities plus New York are some of the 80 municipal members of the Cities of Service coalition. Rockefeller’s Judith Rodin calls the program “an urban innovation…[that] brings the mayors and the city leadership together with volunteers in a much more organized way . . . for much greater leverage and much greater impact.” Volunteers and volunteerism are fine, but it’s hard to buy the notion that this is an “urban innovation.” The Urban Institute’s Tom Pollak challenged Rodin’s philanthropic self-promotion: “The challenge has been to break through the widespread cynicism that it’s not just some politician’s or some organization’s P.R. effort. Offhand I can’t think of any of these sorts of initiatives that clearly reached a tipping point where they’re self-sustaining and transforming people’s sense that they can be involved.” Pollak adds the critical question of targeting volunteer energies and priorities: “Can you get not just a person who will come out for 8 or 10 hours once a year, or once a quarter, but can you really match up the needs of a community with the needs of the volunteers?” The Bloomberg administration claims that it can funnel volunteers to meet priority public services. In our opinion, there is nothing wrong with volunteerism, but this program feels a bit heavy on the self-promotion.—Rick Cohen

The Nonprofit QuarterlyExecutive Salary “Absurd”
January 13, 2010; Chicago Tribune | Most nonprofit executive directors are significantly underpaid compared to their private sector counterparts. But the president of the Chicago Dwellings Association, Christine Oliver, apparently took home $685,000 in compensation in 2008 from CDA and its related management firm, the Community Management Association. During that same year, CDA’s revenues were $6.7 million according to their 2008 tax documents. Oliver was also able to use the CDA as a personal bank, borrowing a half million from the organization for her own home purchases. Who approves this compensation package and the home loans? CDA’s three-person board of directors, one of whom is the CDA president with the lucrative salary. The three-person board refused to speak to the Tribune reporter, but nearly everyone else contacted by the paper found the compensation package outrageous. The director of LISC’s Chicago office described the compensation more in line with hospitals and major foundations. A local housing and community development attorney who teaches at DePaul called it “absurd.” The executive director of the Center for Housing Policy defended the CDA president, but she happens to sit on that organization’s board of directors. According to an attorney for the organization, CDA had a “routine audit” conducted by the IRS for its salary levels, but the IRS found nothing wrong. Neither the IRS nor the CDA provided documentation to substantiate that statement. CDA spokespersons have lots of explanations for the organization’s high compensation levels, one of them being that because it doesn’t accept foundation grants or charitable donations, it uses for-profit housing development “private corporations” to determine its salary structure. In the nonprofit sector, the CDA explanations just don’t work.—Rick Cohen



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