DID YOU KNOW? The Women’s March in 2017, which included marches in Washington DC and cities across the country, marked the largest protests in American history. On January 21, 2017, the day after President Trump was inaugurated, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in a kind of “counterinauguration” movement to express resistance to the President’s election. The event included a variety of speakers and performers that addressed crowds in DC before beginning their march to the White House. Many praised the movement for bringing together supporters of a range of causes, from reproductive rights, to immigration rights and racial justice. Begun as a simple Facebook post, the event rapidly gained national attention and amassed turnouts so large in some cities that marches had to be cancelled for safety reasons. The number of protesters in last year’s march dropped significantly from 2017. This year’s Women’s March is set to take place tomorrow, January 19th, and while it seems unlikely that it will attract crowds similar to those in 2017, recent controversies within the administration, including the recent partial government shutdown, might bring more people. For more information on this year’s march as well as some of the recent controversy surrounding the movement, check out this article from the New York Times. But first, check out these nonprofit headlines!

1. Nonprofits to Collect Funding for National Parks Recovery Efforts During Shutdown

With the partial government shutdown still in full swing, countless government-funded organizations are finding themselves more and more strapped for cash and with fewer places to turn. As many services are likely to remain closed entirely until the shutdown is over, some nonprofits are looking to the future. Last week, the National Park Foundation, the organization that serves as the official charity of the National Park Service, announced a new fundraising campaign to help national parks fund essential recovery services once the shutdown officially ends. The Parks Restoration Fund was launched after concerns arose about the harm the lack of funding is causing the country’s national parks. According to an article in The Hill, the Trump Administration’s decision to leave the parks open to the public with nearly no staff to provide essential services has left many parks trash-ridden, and in some cases even more permanently damaged. In fact, the same day the National Park Foundation began its efforts, a photo of a tree cut down in California’s Joshua Tree National Park went viral, sparking further calls for funding. Will Shafroth, the President of the National Park Foundation, said in a statement that the public’s “love for their national parks is palpable” and that “once the government reopens and rangers have determined what needs to be done, this fund will help repair damage where it’s needed most.” CalNonprofits is currently collecting information from nonprofits regarding how the government shutdown has affected their organizations in order to learn how to best advocate on their behalf until government funding is restored. To fill out the survey and have your voice heard, click here.

2. National Council of Nonprofits Outlines Nonprofit Legislative Agenda

In a publication late last year, the National Council of Nonprofits released an open letter to federal legislators that outlined a nonprofit legislative agenda and recommended actions that would create a stronger and more effective nonprofit sector.  A recent post in the Nonprofit Law Blog from the Law Professor Blogs Network that mentions the letter reminds us of the open letter’s continued relevance for the sector. The letter was addressed to the chairs of the congressional tax-writing committees: Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley, and Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Richard Neal. The letter begins as follows: “Tax policy does far more than just define the nonprofit sector as tax exempt; whether intentionally or not, it also can promote fairness or its opposite, pick winners and losers, and support or ruin well managed operations trying their best to improve the lives of others.” After discussing the relevance and severe effects of tax policy on nonprofit operations, the letter continues on with a call to protect the Johnson Amendment and to challenge various provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which imposed new taxes on tax-exempt organizations and significantly reduced tax incentives for most Americans to participate in their typical level of charitable giving. The letter ends with a strong plea for the withdrawal of Form 1023-EZ, a form meant to help streamline the application process of organizations seeking charitable tax-exempt status with the IRS. According to the letter, the council argues that this form represents an abdication of IRS duties “to protect the public by screening out unqualified or unscrupulous individuals who seek charitable tax-exempt status.” To learn more about the nonprofit legislative agenda as outlined by the National Council of Nonprofits and read the letter in its entirety, click here or check out the link above.

3. Creating a Self-Funding Business Model

Every nonprofit, regardless of size, shape, or model, has had to worry about the uncertainty of future funding. In a recent article, nine members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council offer several methods to help struggling nonprofits build a more self-funded model in order to remove part of such uncertainty. One of these methods, as outlined by Ronald Tompkins of 82nd Street Academics, is diversifying funding streams to ensure a dominant secondary source of funding, especially if a government contract is your primary source. His own organization’s targets for funding sources are “40% contract, 40% fee for service, 10% gifts, and 10% grants.” Another suggestion from Aaron Alejandro of the Texas FFA Foundation encourages nonprofits to take advantage of automated online giving and social media scheduling tools in order to plan asks ahead of time and carry them out on a consistent basis. While such social media tools are still relatively new to the philanthropic world, Alejandro predicts that this platform can only become more effective as giving technologies continue to improve. Finally, according to Steven Moore of M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, “almost every nonprofit generates something of value as a byproduct of their service to the community and making that available for sale can cover a portion of revenue needs.” While this may look different for every organization, with possibilities including selling physical goods in a store to creating digital resources and selling them online, every nonprofit can identify at least one route to a potential earned income stream. To read more advice from those who have made their own self-funding models, visit the link above.  

4. Community Impact Tours Used to Prompt Giving

According to a recent article in the Nonprofit Times, community foundations have increasingly been serving as community educators as well as partners for peer organizations. In just one of these cases, The Heart of West Michigan United Way in Grand Rapids recently began using their bus tours, originally designed to orient new board members, as a fundraising tool. They have begun inviting company campaign coordinators to participate in such tours with the hope of educating them of the community need and encouraging them to share this information with their co-workers. Some larger companies have even begun requesting private tours. Their tours typically consist of a short breakdown of the services they provide, a video presentation, and at times a beneficiary testimony. Two workers at the United Way of Greater Topeka in Kansas, Angela Romero, Vice President of Resource and Development, and Brett Martin, Vice President of Community Impact, also articulated the value of community impact tours as a new tool to spread messages and boost fundraising. According to the article, “the pair attended a storytelling conference in California and found the idea of tours is fairly new, even among nonprofit professionals seeking ways to share stories.” Yet a common thread among nonprofits employing tours is their lack of a strong ask for funding. While an eventual goal of these tours is that participants will ultimately decide to support the organization’s mission, the primary focus of the tours “remains experimental with the hope that participants share what they see with peers.” The funding benefits will hopefully follow suit. So, if your organization is looking for a creative and inexpensive way to spread the word and increase giving from company partners, you might want to consider bringing supporters to the frontline of your operations. To read more about community impact tours and how United Ways are using them differently across the country, click the link to the article above.

5. Using Behavioral Economics to Identify Giving Patterns

Identifying the specific reasons that make people decide to donate to charity as well as those that make them not donate, can help organizations get a better sense of who their donors really are. Reasons people give might include generosity, guilt, reciprocity, or duty, while reasons not to give could come from inattention, distrust, or insufficient income, among many others. According to an article published recently in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, while people decide to give to charity for a variety of reasons, two trends remain constant: “donors rarely give as much as they would like and they are rarely able to articulate consistent, evidence-based approaches to choosing the recipients of their aid.” Charities struggling to find the motivation behind their donors’ giving patterns can find answers by applying behavioral economics to charitable practices. An interdisciplinary science that uses psychology, economics, and several other fields, behavioral economics can help determine whether donating practices are impulsive or deliberate. Ultimately, the article finds that “some donors prefer to give impulsively and embrace strategies that encourage intuitive, quick actions that make them feel good,” while “other donors want to be more deliberate with their giving, and the right tools can help them follow through on those intentions.” It is more than likely that your organization has supporters that fall into both categories. Thus, developing fundraising strategies that appeal to both types of giving practices will be necessary to appeal to your entire donor base. To read more about applying behavioral economics to charitable giving and how it can help your organization, check out the article above.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! To read about some of the highlights from the historic Women’s March of 2017, check out this article.

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