The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France)

DID YOU KNOW? On Sunday, November 11th, leaders, military personnel, and members of the public across the world solemnly marked the centennial of the armistice of World War I with ceremonies to remember those who lost their lives between 1914 and 1918. On this day, commonly known as Armistice Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in the U.K, an armistice was signed that signified a cessation of hostilities and a long-awaited end to the “war to end all wars.” The 100-year anniversary of this armistice was commemorated by world leaders in Paris on Sunday Morning at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which lies at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe. French President Emmanuel Macron led the ceremonies, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood in attendance. Another remembrance took place in England, as the royal family and senior politicians led the country in a moment of silence at 11 a.m. to commemorate the end of the war and those who gave their lives. An article from the National Council of Nonprofits reporting on the armistice centennial highlights a few nonprofits that mobilized during the war to provide much needed services and relieve suffering. Among the organizations that made the most impact are the American Red Cross, the YMCA, the Jewish Welfare Board, and The Salvation Army. According to the article, by the end of the war, almost one-third of the entire U.S. population had either donated their time or money to the Red Cross. For more information on the international Armistice Day memorials that took place this week, click here.

1. New Report Shows Rapid Growth in Donor-Advised Funds

The twelfth annual report released by the National Philanthropic Trust this week shows a significant increase in assets held in donor-advised funds (DAFs). According to the report, the growth of these assets stood at 27.3 percent and their total worth surpassed the $100-billion mark for the first time, reaching an impressive $110 billion by the end of 2017. While remarkable, this growth was not entirely surprising. Many anticipated this rapid rise in DAF contributions after studying donor reactions to the new tax bill. Donors trying to take advantage of the tax deduction have likely increased their contributions to these funds, hoping to meet the higher giving threshold for deductibles under the new law. More surprising, however, was that the average size of DAFs actually decreased by about 20 percent during the same period. According to Nonprofit Quarterly, this trend seems to suggest that donors had been “bundling,” or taking money originally allocated for future giving and redirecting it to already existing funds to increase their size, in order to receive an even greater tax deduction under the new law. Still, the report found that the total money donated to charity rose from $15.9 billion in 2016 to $19.1 the following year. So, while bundling might have meant more frontloading of funds, charitable donations to these funds continues to rise. Eileen Heisman, the President of the National Philanthropic Trust, predicts grants from DAFs will exceed $20 billion by the end of 2018. For more information on the latest trends in DAFs, check out the link above.

2. Brave Nonprofits Give New Life to Historic Building in the Fillmore, SF

Two determined nonprofits in San Francisco have reclaimed and reopened the Fillmore Heritage Center, a large space in the city’s historic Fillmore District. The center has served several functions over the decades, including two bouts as a jazz club, but has been vacant for the last three years. According to an article in Nonprofit Quarterly, the New Community Leadership Foundation (NCLF) and the San Francisco Housing Development Corp. are hoping to revive the once booming center and provide “live music, community events, and housing and financial empowerment workshops” to the population of the Fillmore. By reactivating this site, these nonprofits hope to give a much needed boost to the neighborhood’s struggling economy and provide a foundation from which it can rebuild African-American-owned businesses who have suffered at the hands of recent large scale redevelopment projects. Residents in the Fillmore, a predominantly African American neighborhood, have experienced widespread displacement in the past few years as the city’s housing industry continues to boom and cost of living skyrockets. The NCLF and the Housing Development Corp. are hoping to reverse this cycle. Thus, while the newly revived center will surely be a place of art, entertainment, and culture, it will also seek to address the community’s economic needs. David Sobel, the Executive Director of the San Francisco Housing Development Corp., claims that the site is planning to hold workshops on everything from “renting, credit repair, rental readiness, and first-time home-buying.” So, if your nonprofit is looking for new real estate, try tapping into your community’s history. Who knows? There might be a Fillmore Heritage Center in your neighborhood waiting to take on its next life. To learn more about the Fillmore Heritage Center and why San Francisco District Five Supervisor Vallie Brown says she is optimistic that its reactivation will provide an “economic and cultural anchor” for the neighborhood, visit the link to the article above.

3. Crowdfunding, Done Responsibly

Crowdfunding, or “broad, public, online fundraising campaigns,” is becoming an increasingly popular mode of fundraising. Crowdfunding campaigns have become so widely used and well-liked, both among nonprofits and donors, in large part because of their convenience. In such campaigns, nonprofits and individuals spread their messages to wide audiences through various forms of social media and personal outreach in the hopes of gaining modest contributions from many donors. These donors are then encouraged to spread the message along to those in their circles, creating a cycle of giving typically comprised of small but numerous donations. Yet as this fundraising mechanism continues to spread, concerns have arisen regarding its susceptibility to fraud, lack of ability to collect adequate donor data, and insufficient legislation regulating its use, among other issues. Donors also expressed concerns about uncertainty surrounding tax deductibility and what crowdfunding will mean for existing donor-advised funds (DAFs). In response to such concerns, CalNonprofits recently published its “Principles for Responsible Crowdfunding” to help guide nonprofits in conducting ethical crowdfunding efforts and to call on legislators to more clearly define what is legally permitted in these campaigns. Among such principles are those specifically concerning practices of online crowdfunding platforms, such as making apparent one’s tax-deductible status on the initial donation page, transferring the funds raised to the nonprofit within thirty days, and disclosing all fees before the point of the actual donation. As more policy attention is being directed towards this type of fundraising at both the state and federal level, nonprofits must keep up with current legislation pertaining to crowdfunding in order to carry out responsible, ethical, and successful future campaigns. To find out more about evolving crowdfunding practices and how CalNonprofits suggests your organization can stay ethical and consistent despite the paucity of on-point legislation, click the link above.

4. Learning a Living: Avoiding Complacency and Developing Your Team’s Skills

Today’s dynamic workplace requires more and more that employers not only utilize their workers strengths, but also develop and modify them through training and educational programs to keep up with current trends. In a recent article, members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council outline nine ways to promote education among your employees and ensure that your team’s skills evolve as your brand does. One such way, according to Tom Van Winkle of the Hinsdale Humane Society, is by hosting in-house training sessions rather than sending staff to conferences in order to ensure the quality of the training and avoid travel costs. If your organization does not have the resources or space to offer such a training, try partnering with local organizations and businesses to host a joint session. Another member tells of her success in offering tuition reimbursements to her staff members as incentive to take courses that benefit the organization’s development. These courses, according to Kimberly Lewis, CEO of Goodwill Industries of East Texas, could range from GED classes, to basic computer/software development, to more casual online classes and webinars. Yet another tip, likely more financially feasible for more organizations, involves researching and joining a regional center for nonprofit management, found throughout the country, and attending its occasional workshops and hearing guest speakers with your staff. Kristine Sloan of StartingBloc encourages nonprofit staff members to share any professional development resources they found helpful on internal communication platforms like Slack to share new opportunities and help promote and normalize a culture of learning. Other suggestions include focusing on problem-solving skills, being candid when discussing strengths and weaknesses, and setting not only operational goals for each of your employees but also line items for professional development. For more tips on keeping your employees’ skill sets up to date, check out the link above.

5. Implicit Sexism in the Nonprofit World: A Donor’s Perspective

In an article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Isa Catto, a long-time charitable funder and leader of a family foundation, gives personal insight on the sexism and implicit bias that she has experienced in the nonprofit sector. Catto points out that while the focus of combatting sexism in the workplace has been rightfully on preventing explicit harassment and other abuses, more subtle or even subconscious sexist practices and biases often go unnoticed in the nonprofit world. She argues that while certainly less threatening, such sexism nevertheless undermines the critical and inclusive work of nonprofits, and, speaking from her own experience, isolates key donors. In the article, Catto recalls times when she and her husband have jointly attended fundraisers and an organization’s leaders have spent most of their conversations looking primarily at her husband and avoiding eye contact with her almost entirely, despite having no prior connection to him. Other times, she remembers nonprofit leaders handing a business card only to her husband at the end of similar conversations about funding. She also remarks on the noticeable lack of engagement or interest from the male leaders she works with in matters not pertaining to work, as compared to the frequent questions she receives about her children and family and general well-being from many women leaders. This is just one of the reasons, Catto claims, that she finds her foundation increasingly shifting towards partnering with organizations led by a woman. Debra Mesch, a Professor of Philanthropic Studies at University of Indiana, reported in an article that this might be a reason that less information is known about the motivations and experiences of women donors, despite their growing numbers. Finally, Catto offers a few suggestions to leaders who are seeking to end such sexism in the nonprofit world and beyond, including promoting board diversity and more closely monitoring staff behavior with funders to identify and correct possible gender inequities. To read more on this donor’s perspective and ways that your nonprofit can combat implicit bias and change cultural norms that isolate female funders, visit the article linked above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To read more about the nonprofits that arose out of the tragedy of WWI and the work they are still doing today, check out this article from the National Council of Nonprofits.

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