California, here we are. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

California, here we are. Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Here in Los Angeles an unusually wet winter has produced a bloom of wildflowers unlike any recent memory. Drive down any of our well known, if not well loved, freeways and you’ll see bright bursts of yellow, pink and purple. We know that a bright green spring is still just around the corner for some of you, but until then, keep your spirits up with five stories from this week in nonprofit news.

1. Have You Heard About Giving? Everyone’s Doing It 

GoFundMe is already six years old, but it feels like the crowdfunding website has only recently truly come into its own.  Even as it has risen in prominence as a charitable giving tool, it also finds itself competing against viral phenomenon like the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge, which swept the Internet three years ago. Ben Payter writes about this growing phenomenon at Fast Company, as well as the complexities it poses for the world of nonprofits.  Viral giving is powerful, but tends to focus on helping on an individual’s suffering as opposed to systematically attacking the root causes of the problem. It’s not all bad news; however, as Payter points out that the real strength of viral giving is in its marketing capabilities. The Ice Bucket Challenge raised $115 million for research, but the value of spreading awareness about the disease may be incalculable.

2.  An Age Old Quandary

No one gets into the nonprofit world to make a fortune. They get into it because they care about helping people, because they’re dedicated to a cause, and because they want to make the world a better place.  At the same time, nonprofit workers have to eat and keep a roof over their heads, and the realities of the nonprofit labor market are turning into a serious problem.  Writing at Nonprofit Quarterly, Martin Levine details how rising minimum wages and broken state budgets are pushing nonprofit worker dedication to the limit by using the difficulties of home health care workers as a case study.  At what point does the need to pay rent win out over dedication to one’s cause?

3.  The Clan Patriarch Laid to Rest

David Rockefeller, the oldest living member of the Rockefeller family, passed away this week at the ripe old age of 101.  Ever since John D. Rockefeller Sr. founded the Standard Oil Company, philanthropy and public service has been a major interest of the family, and David (John D. Rockefeller’s grandson) was no exception. In a tribute at The Nonprofit Times, Andy Segedin details Rockefellers contributions to arts, education, and medicine, with special focus on the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which David founded with his four elder brothers. While most of us may not have Rockefeller’s wealth, we can all learn something from his life story of generosity.

4. Donors Race to Keep the Wheels on Meals

The recent White House budget blueprint cut funding for a large number of domestic spending programs, but few received the same media attention as the potential impact on Meals On Wheels, which provides meals for housebound seniors. But as the old saying goes, all publicity is good publicity. Meals on Wheels was shocked to discover that their Twitter followers, donors and volunteers sign-ups skyrocketed following the release of the budget blueprint. At The Nonprofit Times, Mark Hrywna runs down the numbers behind the donor race to support Meals on Wheels.

5. Companies Need Give Like They Mean It 

Charity donations and cause marketing have always been a tried and true way for corporations to put a little shine on their reputations among the general public.  However, as time has passed and baby boomers have given way to millennials, attitudes towards corporations and social responsibility have changed.  Emma Bazilian of AdWeek details the generational breakdown with a useful infographic. Millennials in particular are notably far more skeptical of brands claiming to support causes than previous generations, while at the same time actively seeking out brands that they feel are aligned with their values. Check out Bazilian’s work to learn more, as well as how boomers and millennials stack up against Generation X as well.

That’s it for this Friday! We’re going to head outside for a walk in the park and hope the pollen doesn’t kill us. See you next week!

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