DID YOU KNOW? February marks Black History Month, a nationwide celebration that remembers the significant role African Americans have played in shaping U.S. history. To learn more about the man behind this holiday, Carter G. Woodson, and why the month of February was chosen, check out this article. But first, here are this week’s nonprofit headlines!

1. Bay Area Efforts to Confront Affordable Housing Crisis

The national affordable housing shortage occurring in the United States presents many people with the reality that full-time employment does not always guarantee quality housing. Renters across the country are faced with an extreme shortage of affordable housing as well as gentrification and displacement threats, all of which are especially prevalent in the Bay Area. When federal government support for housing is “a third of what it was in the 1970s” nonprofit corporations and social benefit organizations begin to take on the housing crisis themselves. Martin Levine announces The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a $500 million effort dedicated to developing and preserving affordable housing in the Bay Area. CZI funds are known as the Partnership for the Bay Area’s Future which aims to stabilize housing for 175,000 families in the next five years. These funds will be directed towards nonprofits to buy buildings in surrounding communities as a method to maintain existing affordable housing, and are also allocated for the construction of new affordable housing units. Levine highlights how these new investments will need public-private partnerships to help them move towards their goals, and that these efforts should not substitute government effort to create and maintain affordable housing. It is also reported that Microsoft committed to lend $225 million to the preservation and construction of middle-income housing as well as an additional $250 million to low-income housing in the region surrounding its Redmond headquarters. In the face of a national housing crisis, will the involvement of nonprofits and major corporations in both the preservation and construction of affordable housing be enough to leverage concrete changes and improvements to public policy?

2. Movement for Community Schools as Teacher Strike Seeks Charter School Cap

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the nation, is fresh off of the recent teacher strike and Angelenos are wondering about the resurgence of community schools as a response to teachers’ demands. As the School Board now faces a vote on a resolution asking the state to establish a charter school cap, Steve Dubb raises the possibility of fighting charter schools with community schools. The community school movement has existed for over one hundred years and maintains the core idea that schools should be neighborhood hubs that bring together families, educators, government agencies, and community groups to provide opportunities and services to young people who need it most.  One of the demands that came from the strike calls for LAUSD to convert thirty schools in high-need areas into community schools. This will include investing $400,000 in each school over the course of two years. Data published by the Learning Policy Institute and the National Education Policy Center show the overall impact of community schools to be highly positive and effective for low-achieving students in high-poverty schools. In fact, a charter school can be a community school but in general the majority of community schools function out of regular public schools. Charter schools in Los Angeles have historically been funded by wealthy philanthropists. As the teachers’ strike continues to heat tensions around the charter school movement, this raises the question of funding and whether the wealthy philanthropists who supported charter schools will extend their support to community schools.  

3. Millions Invested to Bridge Data Science and Social Impact

Technology companies are looking to extend data science into the social sector with the hopes of providing new technology platforms that support an organizations’ fight for human prosperity, community health, and inclusive growth. Founded in 2011, DataKind provides a network of more than 30,000 volunteer data scientists and engineers who work on more than 250 social impact projects around the world. DataKind focuses on providing new technology platforms to support nonprofits and social organizations that often lack such data science tools. The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and The Rockefeller Foundation will invest $50 million over five years to build data science for social impact and have already initiated their investment with $20 million directed towards DataKind. A major goal of DataKind is to bridge the gap between technology companies and social impact organizations where data science tools are needed and where data scientists can channel their skills towards social good. This investment is meant to spark a new generation of leaders with the ability to use data science to promote social causes, through the implementation of data research, skills, and new technology platforms.    

4. The Gates Foundation Cuts Back on Paid Family Leave, Citing Work Disruption

Just three and a half years after changing the paid parental leave policy from sixteen weeks to one year, The Gates Foundation is now cutting down the parental leave period—this time to six months. In 2015 when the jump to one year of paid parental leave was made, the foundation cited the commitment to healthy children and strong, stable families. It was also announced that parental leave would be offered to both men and women, with the goal of promoting gender equity and inclusiveness in the workplace. Now, the Gates Foundation is noting the disruption in work productivity that has been caused by staff members utilizing the one-year period of paid parental leave. Reasons to cut family leave in half include not just work disruption, but the difficulty of identifying and hiring replacement talent, and the possibility that there are not enough experienced temporary workers to fill the need. Additionally, the Gates Foundation refers to the difficulties regarding knowledge transfer to temporary employees, thus resulting in greater work disruption and inefficient transitions. According to a 2017 study by the Urban Institute, The United States is one of two countries without a national paid family leave policy. In this same study, researchers found that a high percentage of both Democrats and Republicans are in favor of requiring employers to offer paid leave to new parents and family caretakers. Recently elected Governor Gavin Newsom pledged to increase California’s paid medical leave from six weeks to six months, a benefit that could go to one parent or be shared by both parents. Without a national paid leave policy, and with just four states implementing paid family and medical leave as of 2018, workers may look to their employers, specifically prominent institutions like the Gates Foundation, to establish and maintain adequate paid family leave and to advocate for a national paid family and medical leave policy.

5. The Potential of Social Donors to Give Regularly

Many nonprofits identify donors purchasing event tickets or sponsoring a friend or colleague in a fundraising event as “social donors.” Social donors are often assumed to be difficult to maintain as regular supporters of the charity they donate to. However, a study conducted by OneCause, a fundraising and technology company, with the collaboration of Edge Research, highlights the intricacies in retaining social donors and ensuring they have an easy, positive, and repeatable giving experience. The study compiled data from a survey that was sent to one thousand social donors in October 2018. The study concluded that social donors want to know how their money makes an impact on the organization’s cause since their initial gift’s influence will certainly affect their decision to give annually or monthly in the future. Three main variables in social donor giving identified in the study were the importance of recognizing the charity’s name or mission, having an enjoyable giving experience, and feeling motivated to make another, similar donation. An obvious factor towards retaining a donor is making the process of giving as easy as possible. In addition to facilitating the process, it is noted that a personalized follow-up often triggers subsequent giving. Across all generations, social donors prefer organizations to contact them by email. Despite the omnipresence of technology, there is oftentimes a gap in communication that occurs when donors receive a substandard response lacking information about how their gift mattered. A major downfall is when social donors are never contacted again after they first give, thus causing nonprofits to completely miss out on potential donations. Personal connections with social donors should be utilized as a method to keep donors engaged with the organization and interested in giving again. Contrary to commonly held beliefs that social donors contribute sporadically, this study finds that one in four social donors is open to the idea of regularly supporting an organization through sponsorship or event ticket purchases.

That’s it for this week’s Friday Five! Can’t get enough of the Friday Five? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and send your questions about the nonprofit world to See you next week!