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Suffragettes at the Capitol

DID YOU KNOW? On January 10, 1917, women began a picket line outside of the White House in order to pressure President Woodrow Wilson to support a proposed amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee women the right to vote. Over the course of the year, more than 1,000 women left their homes across the country and courageously joined the picketing. Yet the White House lawn did not always remain the peaceful venue for protest it may have started as. According to the Library of Congress, between June and November 1917, “218 protesters from 26 states were arrested and charged with ‘obstructing sidewalk traffic.’” Protesters began this picket line with relatively mild signs that showed messages like “How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?” As the summer approached, however, these signs got more provocative and bystanders even became violent. In January of 1918, one year after the start of this picketing, President Wilson finally gave his support for the amendment and it was passed by Congress shortly after. On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was officially ratified and, after years of bravery and sacrifice, women had finally won the right to vote. Today, August 18th is commemorated as Women’s Equality Day. But before learning more about the lives of the brave women who picketed for change, check out the nonprofit headlines below!

1. Members of Congress to Donate Salaries During Shutdown

The recent government shutdown, which began on December 22nd due to a dispute over funding for the President’s proposed border security wall, still has no definitive end in sight. Yet according to a recent article in the Nonprofit Times, although the government may be closed, the wallets of the men and women in Congress might be opening even wider. Several Senators and Representatives have pledged to donate their salaries to various charities for as long as the government is shut down. A few of the many members donating their pay include: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote in a tweet last week that she would be directing her pay to HIAS, a nonprofit that works to protect refugees. In the tweet, Warren also claimed that the government shutdown has forced over 7,000 workers in her home state of Massachusetts to remain at home or work without pay. Although he did not specify the specific charity his donation would support, recently elected representative Max Rose (D-N.Y.), stated, “…it’s time for us to do our jobs, and until we do I will donate any pay.” According to the article, the breakdown of many of these members’ salaries equates roughly to $725/day. Thus, considering the continued controversy surrounding the border wall and the lack of compromise in the foreseeable future, these donations could give a handful of charities a welcomed beginning of the year boost to fundraising. To read more about the shutdown and where other members of Congress are directing their salaries, check out the article linked above.

2. DC Charities Help Close Gaps in Services During Shutdown  

Despite the generosity of the Senators and Representatives mentioned above, the government shutdown has brought particular challenges to nonprofits, many of which are now attempting to support the more than 800,000 federal workers and their families during a period of no pay. As of January 9, the date of this article, the stalemate was just days away from marking the longest government shutdown in the country’s history. The Capital Area Food Bank has been hit particularly hard, anticipating a 10 to 20 percent increase in demand, which could require an extra $300,000 of funding. Several organizations have directed funds allocated for emergencies to help assist affected workers. This week, the United Way of the National Capital Area announced a pledge of $50,000 of such funds to help nonprofits “providing vital food, rent, and utility assistance” to federal workers in the area. Some worry, however, that such donations will not be enough and that nonprofits may need to rethink their approach to government shutdowns. Radha Muthiah, Chief Executive of the Capital Area Food Bank, stated that “what’s becoming more clear is we need to think of shutdowns as a larger bucket of possible emergencies.” Others are calling attention to the fact that the list of those affected by the shutdown extends beyond federal workers. According to Rosie Allen-Herring, President and Chief Executive of the United Way of the National Capital Area, “there’s another rung of smaller, more disadvantaged businesses who contract with the federal government” who are also feeling the pinch. To read more about the government shutdown and what nonprofits are doing to mitigate its negative impacts on federal workers and contractors, visit the article above.

3. How Stock Market Fluctuations Could Impact Charitable Giving

Although the recent volatility of the stock market might not have come as a total surprise to managers of nonprofit endowments, continued fluctuations have raised concerns about possible effects on fundraising in the new year. An article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy outlines a few important trends for nonprofits to take note of during this uncertain time and offers tips on how to best retain donors despite market volatility. According to the article, the health of the stock market can have significant impacts on both a foundation’s grant writing and large donations by wealthy individuals. Given that many foundations calculate their giving caps based on a three to five year average of their endowment returns, a weak year for the stock market could have a much more sustained effect on overall giving trends. This, coupled with the potential for increased demand for nonprofit services should the economy weaken, could lead to hard times for the nonprofit sector ahead. Yet, according to experts, the best thing to do now is begin to “plan ahead and not panic.” Larry Kramer, President of the Hewlett Foundation, urged foundations to take into account the profound impact their immediate giving patterns will have on the well-being of current grantees should they abruptly discontinue funding. Those at the Commonfund, a nonprofit endowment manager, also warned of the danger of making rash changes in investment strategies. Tim Yates, Commonfund’s Managing Director, said in a statement, “Due to their long-term focus, the most relevant, material risk for nonprofit portfolios is not volatility but rather a severe drawdown in portfolio value that compromises the ability to spend in support of a mission." The article advises fundraisers looking to calm anxious donors to spend a little extra time and attention on some of their biggest and most loyal donors and talk through any concerns they may have. It also encourages nonprofits to “go back to basics” by asking critical questions about donation types at the beginning of these conversations. Knowing the type of asset a donor is thinking of giving “opens the door to a discussion about the tax benefits of giving appreciated assets, including not only stock but real estate or other possessions.” This can help you answer questions before concerns arise. To read more about the potential effect of current investment patterns on charitable giving, check out the article above.

4. “Google It”

Today more than ever, those wondering where to direct their charitable giving are often met with answers like, “just Google it.” A recent study of Google search trends carried out by Digital Third Coast found that people in certain states were far more likely than others to search online for organizations to which they could donate both their money and their time. The highest rates of such searches were found in Massachusetts, Delaware, and Michigan. Other states in the top ten included New Hampshire, Virginia, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Connecticut. The study identified a considerable gap in search rates between these states and the southern states, which typically showed far lower rates. Jenny Lake, Digital Marketing Coordinator at Digital Third Coast, attributed this discrepancy to larger financial centers on the East Coast, claiming that people there might be receiving more consistent ads asking for donations. The key phrases that were searched included: “volunteer opportunities near me,” “best charities to donate to,” “best nonprofits to donate to,” “places to donate near me,” and “what percentage of my income should be donated to charity.” The first of these, however, “volunteer opportunities near me,” was by far the most popular, with 33,100 monthly searches. The second most popular phrase, “best charities to donate to,” fell far behind this total at 6,600 searches. According to Lyndsey Maddox, the Director of Business Development at Digital Third Coast, organizations looking to improve their online visibility will need to focus on these keywords in order to appear in the results of these popular searches. To do this, begin by taking a look at Google Ad’s “Keyword Planner” tool to find other keywords that show up in frequent searches and adding some of these words to your website’s text and headlines, as well as putting them on image tags. Encouraging corporate sponsors to post your link somewhere on their website can also bring you heightened online visibility by adding their website as a search result for your organization. Finally, the article recommends taking advantage of “Google Grants,” which give up to $10,000 per month in free advertising to certain charities. To learn more about how you can ensure your nonprofit shows up in these popular Google searches, click the article linked above.

5. Women Nonprofit Founders in Tech: the Unsung Heroes of 2018

While less than 20% of founders in the for-profit sector are women, a remarkable 47% of tech nonprofit founders are women. An article in Forbes magazine takes a look back on some of the most influential women founders of tech nonprofits in 2018 and their significant impact in the field. Mitchell Baker is the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation, an organization dedicated to creating an internet that is “open, accessible, humane, and inclusive.” Last year, Baker teamed up with fellow philanthropists to launch the Responsible Computer Science Challenge, a campaign to create more ethical computer science education. Founder and CEO of Code for America, Jennifer Pahlka, along with her team, launched the organization’s Clear My Record program, a product that automates the process of wiping outdated, low-level convictions from records in order to eliminate barriers for those seeking employment and housing loans. Last year, Anushka Ratnayake, Founder and CEO of myAgro, helped nearly 47,000 farmers in Western Africa buy necessary agricultural tools through a bank-less digital payment system, also called a mobile layaway program. In 2018 alone, farmers using this system made close to 1 million digital investments in their farms. Jess Ladd, Co-Founder and CEO of Project Callisto aslo made massive strides in 2018. Originally designed as a product for college campuses, Callisto is a reporting software that gives survivors of sexual assault the opportunity to anonymously file complaints and/or report perpetrators. Last year Ladd and her team announced Callisto Expansion, a program meant to detect repeat perpetrators. To read about other female CEOs and founders of tech nonprofits and get some inspiration for making impact in your community in 2019, click on the article above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! For more information on the courageous women who began picketing the White House on a cold January morning in January, 1917, check out this article.

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