Don’t wind up on 60 Minutes

Nonprofits need to be sure that they manage their finances well.  Monies raised need to be used for the purposes intended.  Here is a 60 Minutes story about a charity and its management that didn’t handle its finances well.

60 Minutes story about Greg Mortenson and his charity.

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Grants Information

Looking for grant resources?  Check out the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).  Click here to read the news article.

Small NPOs and the pressures they face

The Baring Foundation of London, England has established a panel on the independence of the voluntary sector.  They have invited smaller charities to speak on the pressures they face in this economic climate.  Here is the link to the article.  So what do you think?  Do we need such a panel?   Are you a small nonprofit?  What pressures do you face?

The Anacostia Watershed Society

One of the things I’ve decided to do with this blog is to highlight Washington Metropolitan nonprofit organizations.  Since this Sunday is Earth Day the nonprofit I’m highlighting is the Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS).   The AWS was formed in 1989 by a group of citizens who were concerned about the state of the Anacostia River and its watershed communities.

The Anacostia River flows from the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC to its mouth at the  Potomac River near downtown Washington. Its watershed encompasses 176 square miles and contains 13 subwatersheds in southeast Washington, DC and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland.

The watershed is composed of three main drainage areas – the Northeast Branch, the Northwest Branch, and the tidal river. The Northeast and Northwest Branches converge in Bladensburg, MD and form the tidal Anacostia River, which flows 8.4 miles through Maryland and Washington, DC until it meets the Potomac River at Hain’s Point. (1)

By the late 1980s the Anacostia River was considered by many scientists and experts as one of the most polluted waterways in the United States.  In its early years AWS focused on bringing the health of the river to the attention of the public and to stop the pollution.  Recent efforts have been focused on restoring the river.  The guiding manifesto for all of AWS activities is  “Clean the Water, Recover the Shores, and Honor the Heritage”.  The goal of AWS is to make the Anacostia fishable and swimmable.

For the second year in a row the AWS has put out a report card on the Anacostia River.  The river is still in poor health but there has been some improvement.  Click here to see the report.

On Saturday, April 21 AWS will be having its annual Earth Day clean-up and celebration.  For more information and to learn more about the Anacostia Watershed Society click here

Aerial view of the Anacostia River

1.  The Ecological Cities Project


Surviving and Thriving in Hard Times

This is a post from Proverbs Consulting, a company located in Arlington, TX.  I wanted to share it because it is good stuff.  I’m also going to put this blog in the blogroll.  So here it is; Non-Profit Strategic Planning Strategies: How To Survive & Thrive In An Economic Downturn

Services Survey

To be successful in business you have to serve your customers well.  To serve them well you have to know what they want.  So to that end I am conducting a survey to find more about you and your needs.  Please fill out the form below.  The survey is short and probably won’t take much time to complete.  Thank-you in advance for your time and input.

Starting a nonprofit? Do your homework first.

Currently there are about 1.3 million nonprofit organizations in the United States.  That’s a lot of groups looking for funds.  So before you start your nonprofit, do some research first.  Here are 3 questions you need to answer:

1. Is there a need for your nonprofit?

2. Is there another nonprofit organization you can work with?

3.  Is there funding for your programs?

So You Want To Start A Nonprofit…Why?

As I interact with my networks a common question I see is how to start a nonprofit organization.  The questioners want to know where to go for funding, where to find space for their organization, where to get volunteers, how to set-up their boards, etc.  What is often missing is the why.  Why do they want to start a nonprofit?  What are they trying to accomplish?

The first step in forming a nonprofit organization is clarifying the mission.  What is a mission?  A mission is a purpose in life.  Or it can be a goal you want to accomplish.  Or it is a task you feel is assigned to you.

Why do you need to have a mission?  Well, the first reason is your mission can provide the motivation to keep you going when things get difficult.  Running a nonprofit organization is not always easy.  You have to secure funding for your program, manage staff and volunteers, handle paperwork, communicate with your donors, etc.  All of these tasks can take their toll on you.  When that time comes its helpful to go back to your mission.

Secondly, a mission will provide direction for your organization.  It will help you stay focused.  As stated previously there will be many tasks that will pull at you.  Also you will have to do a lot with a few resources.  In order to manage your nonprofit well and provide your services you will have to stay focused.  Your mission can serve as a guide as you set priorities.

Finally, your mission will be important in attracting funders.  One of the top reasons people give to an organization is that they like and support its mission.  As I learned from a fundraising conference, money chases ideas.

So if you want to start a nonprofit put first things first.  Clarify your mission before doing anything else.

Photo by sippakorn 

Althea Nonprofit Consulting connects at DiscotechDC

Discotech DC - sharing what we learned

Sharing what we learned

On Saturday, February 25, I took the opportunity to volunteer at Discotech DC.  Discotech is short for Discovering Technology.   Discotech is a technology fair which enables participants to learn about computers, mobile devices, social media, and issues affecting technology in a fun way.   It was sponsored by Broadbandbridge.org in partnership with other DC nonprofit organizations.   The fair was held at the Thurgood Marshall Academy which is located in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, DC

The event really was set-up like a fair.  There was a space called the “Great Hall”.  In the “Great Hall”  you could get your computer tuned-up, learn about computer games, learn how to build a computer among other activities.  Several large classrooms were used where folks could learn other things.  One classroom was the computer lab.  The computer Lab was where you could learn some basic computer skills.  This is where I was volunteering.  I helped people set-up  Gmail accounts, Twitter accounts, and an accounts on job search sites.

In between volunteering I had the opportunity to speak with Carolina Argumedo of Bread for The City.   Argumedo teaches computer classes to clients of Bread for the City.  I wanted to know what was the inspiration for the event.  She the inspiration came from the city of Detroit which held the first one.  She also said there was a desire to present technology in a way that is fun and non-threatening.

The day ended with volunteers and participants coming together to share what they learned.  Several girls from the Anacostia neighborhood developed a website about country music.  I learned that a lot can be done when nonprofits come together and combine their resources.

There’s talk of having another Discotech.  Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted.

Got a story about nonprofits coming together on a project?  Tell me about it.

News Roundup: The 2013 budget and charitable deductions

Last week President Obama submitted his budget for 2013.  In the budget is a proposal to limit the percentage of charitable deductions than can be taken.  Many nonprofit leaders are critical of the plan because they think it will reduce contributions.  Here is an article on the budget by Lisa Chiu of the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Rick Cohen of the Nonprofit Quarterly thinks contradictory messages are being sent from the White House.  A month earlier he reported White House officials as saying the charitable deduction cap was off the table for 2012.  (No change to charitable deductions)  Now it seems the White House has reversed itself.  Read Cohen’s article about President Obama’s plan.

Do you want to know the reasoning behind the charitable deduction cap?  Read a post by Jonathan Greenblatt, Director of Social Innovation who lays it out.

So what  does all of this mean for nonprofit  funding in the future?  Will the charitable deduction cap affect future contributions?  That remains to be seen.

Do you think the proposed change in the charitable deductions cap will negatively impact contributions?  Has the proposed legislation affected your fundraising plans?