Skip to main navigation

Catalogue Blog

Celebrate our Nation in July

On Independence Day we celebrate America’s heritage, our freedoms, and the people and institutions that shape our nation. Still looking for a way to celebrate, even after the fireworks, parades, and backyard barbecues come to an end? We’ve handpicked several Catalogue nonprofits that embrace our nation’s history, its people, and our future:

uschsCelebrate our nation’s history with the United States Capitol Historical Society
Recent surveys reveal a woeful lack of historical education in the United States, and this is true even for DC students who live in a city with a wealth of learning opportunities. But many have never even visited the Capitol. The non-partisan (and non-governmental) US Capitol Historical Society is committed to turning things around. Programs focus on landmark legislation that has shaped the nation, the remarkable art and architecture of the Capitol, the cultural and ethnic diversity of Congress, and other topics that bring history and government alive. The “We the People” Constitution Tour helps eighth grade students understand their government and take pride in their city; Capitol Literacy activities, youth leadership forums, and traveling exhibits spark an early interest in government for elementary and secondary school students. The Society also works to make the Capitol more comprehensible to visitors from around the nation. Working closely with the National Archives, US Congress, the Library of Congress, and others, the Society will always stand up for historical literacy. You can stand with them.

Thank our Troops with Thanks USA
In 2005, Virginia sisters Rachel and Kelsi (then ages 10 and 8) saw first-hand the hardships faced by a military family when a friend’s father returned from Iraq severely injured. In appreciation of the family’s sacrifice, the sisters launched ThanksUSA the following year. Through its scholarship program, it empowers military families — children and spouses of military personnel — to expand their education and skills through college, technical school, or vocational training programs. Some scholars train in new, higher-earning fields, while others enroll in college for the first time, or seek out more “portable” careers in real estate, healthcare, and education. Priority is given to families of the wounded and fallen, and while all scholarships are based strictly on financial need, scholars go on to earn an average 3.5 GPA. A dynamic online American History Treasure Hunt raises awareness of the program, and an alumni network connects graduates across the nation. To date, scholarships totaling more than $10 million (with 11.5% awarded in DC, Virginia, and Maryland) have helped say “ThanksUSA!”
See also: Operation Second Chance, Our Military Kids, Yellow Ribbon Fund

Celebrate freedom of press by supporting Fund for Investigative Journalism
Freelance journalists are in a tight spot: subject to financial pressure, intimidation, and even threats, they lack the protections offered by major media outlets. Yet they remain dedicated to investigation, balance, and ‘the story’ — and the Fund for Investigative Journalism backs them up. By covering the reporting costs that freelancers often cannot afford, it advances crucial investigative projects in the US and around the globe. The four dozen grants awarded annually cover camera and recording equipment rentals, the cost of ordering public records, and travel expenses for meeting sources (nearly half of the grantees take their investigations abroad). Over the years, FIJ-sponsored writers have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Magazine Awards, and the MacArthur “Genius” award. But the real beneficiaries are readers and citizens: reporters have exposed toxic agricultural products sold in Kenya, companies that sold overpriced (and unaffordable) seed to impoverished farmers overseas, and destitute conditions abroad that led to human trafficking in the US. With your support, they will continue to write stories.

ayudaCelebrate our nation’s rich diversity with Ayuda
Since 1973 Ayuda (which means “help” in Spanish) has welcomed tens of thousands of immigrants who want nothing more than to get a new start in “the land of opportunity.” But for so many foreign-born residents (one in eight in DC) simply asking for help is a challenge. Without a solid grasp of the language or legal system, they don’t know where to go or whom to trust. So Ayuda provides a wide range of immigration and family law assistance, as well as social services support, for all immigrants — men, women and children — from anywhere in the world. Along with representation in family- and humanitarian-based cases, Ayuda offers comprehensive services for immigrant survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence — many of whom fear that the police, courts, and even shelters will not protect them. It also offers desperately needed, specialized advice and representation to abused, neglected, and abandoned immigrant children. Ayuda gives clients the opportunity fully and comfortably to call their new country home.
See also: Capital Area Immigrants’ Right Coalition, Just Neighbors, Liberty’s Promise

Discover American parks and public lands with National Park Trust
National Park Trust is committed to getting kids unplugged, outside, and inspired by the natural world. Its signature Buddy Bison School Program has engaged 16,000 youngsters with American parks and public lands — 6,000 from the DC metro area alone — providing teachers with hands-on resources for science and history classes that enhance existing school curricula. And the benefits to children’s brains and bodies are undeniable: studies show that spending time outdoors eases symptoms of depression and ADHD, and helps curb obesity and diabetes. To create opportunities for kids to visit local, state, or national parks, NPT handles the logistics and covers transportation costs (the primary obstacle for most schools). From park trips, to canoe adventures, to service projects, the Trust has made conservation relevant and exciting for thousands of DC-area youth. After all, preservation is at the heart of NPT, which has overseen 100 land projects in parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. The goal of the Trust’s education programs? Cultivating future park stewards and conservationists.

Encourage the next generation of leaders with LearnServe International
What if every high school student graduated with the vision of a leader, the tenacity of an entrepreneur, and the passion of a change-maker? LearnServe empowers DC-area students to become a new generation of leaders, equipped with the 21st century skills and the motivation they need to transform their communities. The Fellows Program teaches participating high schoolers the fundamentals of business planning and entrepreneurship, and then guides them as they create and launch their own “social ventures.” One student founded a scholarship program for children of incarcerated parents; one mobilized teams of peers to teach a hands-on science curriculum at local elementary schools; and another launched a high school financial literacy program. LearnServe also offers summer service-learning trips to Paraguay, Zambia, and Jamaica, where students support ongoing development efforts in poverty, HIV/AIDS, education, and the environment (70% receive financial aid). Since 2004, LearnServe has engaged 800 students at nearly 50 DC-area schools, inspiring kids first to change their communities … and then the world.
See also: Education Pioneers, Global Kids , Atlas Service Corps, AVODAH:The Jewish Service Corps, Public Allies Washington, DC, Ghandi Brigade Youth Media , Docs in Progress

​New DOL Overtime Rules? Don’t Panic!

By now, you’ve probably heard about the Department of Labor’s (DOL) changes to the overtime regulations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The objective of this move is to simplify and modernize the rules so they’re easier for workers and businesses to understand and apply. Specifically, the final rule will (according to

  • Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers.
  • Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability.
  • Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime.
    Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.
overtime vid shot

Department of Labor “OVERTIME: It’s about time” video

The final rule will become effective on December 1, 2016, giving employers more than six months to prepare. The final rule does not make any changes to the duties test for executive, administrative and professional employees.

Want more information? Check out this informative blog from one of our partners, Raffa.

#GivingTuesday Best Practices Summit 3/18/2014

“Oh the weather outside is frightful,
but planning for #GivingTuesday can be so delightful…”

Monday’s “snowpatricksday” storm may not have been our idea of spring weather, but it was the perfect backdrop to get us in a winter mindset for today’s #GivingTuesday Best Practices Summit at the United Nations Foundation Headquarters in the District.

The all-day summit brought together fundraising experts, thought leaders and key partners that helped make #GivingTuesday 2013 a success. For those unable to attend in-person, the UN Foundation’s LiveStream channel allowed others from all over the U.S. (and the world!) to listen in.

#GivingTuesday is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations. This year’s #GivingTuesday is on Tuesday, December 2nd.

Although #GivingTuesday is still more than 8 months away, it’s not too early to begin planning. Below are some quick tips we learned from various panelists throughout the day:
  • START EARLY! It’s never too early to begin building anticipation for #GivingTuesday on your social networks. Use the tools that provides and find ways to incorporate them in your communications plans throughout the year. Also, now is the time to start evaluating your online giving experience (through your website, social media, etc.). You can do a lot with marketing and social media, but if the donation experience you offer your users is complicated or confusing, your efforts may fall flat. The simpler the better!
  • Get Creative! Been itching to try a fun new donor outreach initiative? Don’t be afraid to try something new on #GivingTuesday. “Surprise and Delight” your audience by making giving a fun, fulfilling experience.
  • Establish metrics! How can people make a difference with their donation? How will you measure the success of your campaign? As one panelist said, “You can’t analyze data if you don’t have it.” Start thinking about your metrics (and how you’ll communicate them) now.
  • Collaborate! #GivingTuesday is the perfect opportunity for nonprofits to work hand-in-hand with other nonprofits to share resources and best practices. Talk to others in your network, and brainstorm how you can work together to make a big impact on December 3rd.
  • Establish partnerships! Pick your 5 dream partners and ask them to participate in #GivingTuesday with you. Given that this is a rapidly growing, national movement, this could be a great way to get a foot in the door.
  • Have fun! Above all, #GivingTuesday should be a fun experience for your organization and your donors. If you can communicate your organization’s enthusiasm, donors will take note and feel the same!

For more great tips on #GivingTuesday, we recommend following @givingtues on Twitter for continuing updates and ideas to make the most of the day.

Stay tuned for more on Catalogue’s #GivingTuesday planning throughout the year…

MLK Day of Service and Benefits of Volunteering

On Monday, January 20th, we celebrate not only Martin Luther King Jr. Day but also the official MLK Day of Service, a day to honor the legacy of Dr. King by moving us closer to his vision of creating a “Beloved Community” through Americans taking community action to help solve our nation’s social issues.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy’s community of charities has a number of opportunities for volunteers to participate in MLK Day of Service. We encourage you to take a look at what they have to offer, and keep us posted on social media how you decide to turn your “day off” into a “day on” by helping your community.

It’s widely known that volunteering has many intangible benefits such as a sense of belonging and achievement, but did you know that volunteering can also benefit you in other ways, too? The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) research suggests that volunteering can have a significant positive impact on employment prospects. For example, volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that volunteering can help build up the critical elements needed for success in the workplace: socialization (networking) and skill-building (including both soft skills such as time management or teamwork, and professional job skills).

In addition to employment benefits, volunteering is good for your health! A recent survey from UnitedHealth Group and Harris Interactive reports that volunteers have lower stress, better physical, mental and emotional health, and feel more connected to their communities. Another, more unique, perk is that volunteers tend to be more informed healthcare consumers as well, and therefore are more proactive in managing their own health.

So, on this MLK Day of Service, gather your family, friends or colleagues, and join a Catalogue charity to help create a “beloved community.” Whether you are an experienced volunteer or new to service, we can all benefit in unique and substantial ways when we come together as a community.

Season of Getting, Season of Giving

The following blog was published by Barbara Harman, Catalogue President and Editor, on December 30th 2013.

To see the original post, click here.

There is a new kind of inequality in our nation and it isn’t between blacks and whites, gay people and straight, or men and women, though these inequalities remain. Income inequality — the new buzz word, or really buzz phrase, that has emerged in recent years and gained momentum in recent months — is really about the gap, the no-man’s land, that divides people not by race or gender but by economic status. The numbers, and their implications, are staggering.

In the nation as a whole, the average net assets of the top 1 percent of the population are 8.4 million which amounts to 70 times -that’s right, 70 times — the average net worth of the rest of the population. According to UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, average real income during what some have deemed the “lost decade” (2002-12) went up 86 percent for the top 1 percent, while for everyone else it went up 6.6 percent. Hold on for one more stat: from 2007-2009, a period that includes the market crash and “recovery” from the recession, 95 percent of the recovery went to the top 1 percent.

In our nation’s capital, income inequality reflects this national trend, but with a twist. Studies released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reveal that the richest 5 percent of individuals in the District of Columbia bring in an average of $436,900, while the poorest 20 percent average $17,000 and the poorest 5 percent clock in at $9100. This last figure reveals wealth disparity, or income inequality, at its starkest: on average, the wealthiest among us make nearly 40 times what the poorest do.

What complicates the picture locally is the fact that the Washington region has a greater share (1/3rd) of what are called “super zips” than any region in the country (Washington Post, “A World Apart”). A super zip is an interesting hybrid: it includes people who are in the top 5 percent for income AND for education. When super zips are contiguous, as they are here, it is possible to live one’s daily life without ever encountering people who are different from oneself — different because they lack a college (or even a high school) degree, live on less (even a lot less, even on virtually nothing) — and whose daily lives are, effectively, invisible. A century and a half ago, author (and, later, British Prime Minister) Benjamin Disraeli referred to the rich and the poor as “two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy, who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings as if they were dwellers in different zones or inhabitants of different planets.”

At the intersection of income inequality and the super zip (the “different zone” or “planet”), the problem takes on an even darker meaning — and creates an imperative that has particular force at this time of year. People who have no experience of, or exposure to, those who live in the other “nation” are unlikely to experience the empathy that generates giving. They have the capacity to give — if income inequality shows us anything, it shows us that — but if they can’t see what need looks like or if they lack knowledge of where to give, then will they give? We can advocate (and should) for an increase in the minimum wage, an extension of unemployment benefits, and a dead halt to cuts in key programs like SNAP and TANF. But as individuals, we should also be, we can also afford to be, more philanthropic.

Research shows that the poor give a greater percentage of their income to charity than the rich, and that they do so because they see before them on a daily basis just what real need really looks like. The rest of us have an exposure problem: where the need is greatest it is also the most invisible. What we don’t witness we can’t experience, and what we can’t experience we don’t connect with, and what we don’t connect with we aren’t likely to support.

In the final days of this year — when giving picks up speed because it has the added benefit of reducing tax liability — we might all take a moment to learn about causes that are addressing the needs of the neediest among us. One way to do this is to explore the Catalogue for Philanthropy: Greater Washington, which features over 300 vetted community charities that are all based right here, in our nation’s — or two nations — capital. The Catalogue shines a light on the invisible among us, tells their stories, and opens up to all of us worlds of need that we might otherwise not experience. For many in our region, this has been a season of getting. We can also make it a season of giving.

#GivingTuesday is here! How will you make an impact in your community today?

Since Thanksgiving, retailers have been promoting incredible steals and deals to help you complete your holiday shopping. What if you could turn the pennies you saved from those deals into pennies given to our Catalogue for Philanthropy charities?

The Catalogue’s #APennySaved campaign, in partnership with #GivingTuesday, combines the thrill of saving with the thrill of giving. We encourage you to turn your holiday savings into tangible good in the community through your support of our 350+ vetted charities.

After you give, don’t forget to tell us about it on social media! Use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #APennySaved to tell us about how you’re supporting our community with the money you saved. Together we can make this a season of getting AND a season of giving.

Looking for ideas on ways to give? Think about how you saved, and use the wish lists below to guide your giving! Remember, this is only a small sample of our network of 350+ charities. Go to to learn more about them.

Saved $10 on a gift for your sibling? Use that $10 for:

Saved $25 on a gift for mom or dad? Use that $25 for:

And for the really savvy shoppers out there…Did you save $50 on a holiday gift?Use that $50 for:

Happy Giving!!

Hidden Issues

Yesterday, in The Daily Wrag (Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers), President Tamara Copeland explored “What sequestration means for philanthropy:”

I want to focus on the hidden issues. Much of the impact connected to sequestration will be far less overt. The social worker in me says that as already stressed individuals deal with this reality, mental health-related incidents will also increase. There may be increased incidences of domestic violence, more emergency room visits and falling school performance as home environments become tense. Consider this article about the recession’s impact on our region’s mental health, written when our local economy was actually faring better than the rest of the country.

“The Recession’s ‘Silent Mental Health Epidemic,’ the October 2011 Business Insider article to which Copeland points, discusses a Rutgers University study of “the long-term unemployed,” which found that “32 percent were experiencing a good deal of stress” and “at least 11 percent reported seeking professional help for depression.” Moreover, many more did not have the insurance benefits or financial resources to seek such help, despite potentially needing it.

As Copeland suggests, while our region’s funders should of course ensure that basic needs are met, “it is critical that we keep in mind the less obvious needs a failure to support those, particularly mental health care, can lead to dire consequences.” She also points out that, as much or more so than sequestration, tax reforms could have a critical and perhaps longer-term effect on the national and local nonprofit community.

What are your thoughts? What might be the more “hidden” effects of sequestration?

In The News …

White House estimate spells out tough road for Washington region economy (Washington Post): “… the upcoming automatic spending cuts the Obama administration detailed Sunday would strike a tough blow, with nearly 150,000 civilian Defense Department employees facing furloughs and an estimated average loss of $7,500 in pay [...] funding for elementary and secondary education across the region would be slashed by $29 million.” Economist Anirban Basu (Sage Policy Group) points out that sequestration will have a deeper effect on this region than the nation as a whole, as DC, Maryland, and Virginia are “among the most reliant communities in the nation on federal spending.”

Nonprofit Branding 2013: What Has Changed? (Nonprofit Quarterly): “First, we needed to see information technology not as a peripheral function within our organization but central to our mission pursuits. Second, we needed to see our identity less as an extension of our mission statement, but more as a link between the public perception of the impact we create and our higher calling to strengthen communities.” Carlo Cuesta, founder of the Saint Paul-based firm Creation in Common, goes to point out that “We have access to the tools and resources needed to build meaningful relationships with our stakeholders, what we lack are the capabilities to do it in a way that advances authenticity and mobilizes the public will.” Do you agree?

Gray aims high with sustainability plan; can agencies deliver? (Greater Greater Washington): “Last week, the Gray administration unveiled its sustainability plan, which sets some very ambitious, yet very important objectives for 2032, like attracting 250,000 new residents and making 75% of trips happen by walking, biking, and transit.” GGW argues that “to achieve these goals, agencies will have to push forward not just on their existing laudable initiatives, but go beyond.” For example: “it would be better to focus more new housing near Metro stations, streetcars, and high-frequency bus corridors. To do that, though, some administration will have to modify the Comprehensive Plan and zoning to create denser areas somewhere.”

In The News …

DC, advocates at odds over homeless families; 900 people still in shelter (Washington Post): “This winter, the District’s shelter for homeless families at DC General Hospital is crammed full — 372 adults and nearly 600 children [...] City officials say that hard times and the lack of affordable housing in poor neighborhoods are to blame for the continuing crisis of family homelessnes.” Last year, the number of homeless families in the District jumped by 18 percent and advocates argue that DC “is not doing nearly enough to help the neediest residents find permanent housing at a time of budget surplus.” Learn more about Catalogue’s homelessness and housing nonprofits right here.

Class-Divided Cities: Washington, DC Edition (The Atlantic): “More than any other metro we’ve covered, greater Washington, DC is a creative class region [...] These are high-skilled, highly-educated, and high-paying positions where workers average $90,442 in wages and salaries, fourth highest in the nation [...] Still, the class divide in the region is pronounced. The creative class is concentrated in the center of the metro, as the map shows.” A map charting the geography of class in the region shows a concentration of the creative class to the west and service to the east, yet almost no clusters of working class residents, implying that “Greater Washington is a fully post-industrial region.” Explore the interactive maps right here.

Tech’s new entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy (USA Today): “The intersection of technology and philanthropy is creating “philanthrocapitalism,” borrowing ideas from venture capitalism to fund non-profits.” For example, “NFS , a model of Omidyars’ brand of philanthropy, is based loosely on a venture-capital firm’s approach. And it is quickly becoming a powerful agent for social change, as eBay was for commerce.” Says Suzanne DiBianca, the co-founder and president of the Foundation, “Companies are beginning to understand their power in leveraging their assets to non-profits [...] It’s not just throwing a check over a wall.”

In The News …

In Maryland, forecast calls for more hires (Gazette): “About 22 percent of companies in Maryland plan to hire more employees in the first quarter this year, up from 17 percent in 2012′s first quarter, according to a recent survey by employment services company Manpower Group.” Nationwide, that number is five percentage points lower and the best prospects, reportedly, are in professional and business services. One reason? Many “employers that have been piling up profitable quarters say factors such as the fiscal cliff and a lack of qualified employees put a damper on their hiring plans last year.”

Chancellor Kaya Henderson names 15 DC schools on closure list (Washington Post): “More than one in 10 DC public schools will close as part of a plan Chancellor Kaya Henderson put forth Thursday, a retrenchment amid budget pressures, low enrollment and growing competition from public charter schools [...] Closing half-empty schools will allow her to use resources more efficiently, she said, redirecting dollars from administration and maintenance to teaching and learning.” Community feedback persuaded the Chancellor to keep open five schools originally slated for closure. You can read the detailed Consolidation and Reorganization Plan on the DCPS website.

Graduation Rate Hits Record High For High School Students: Government Report (Huffington Post): “More US high school students than ever are graduating on time, according to new information released by the research arm of the US Education Department. The percentage of students who graduated from high school within four years of starting ninth grade in the 2006-2007 school year hit a record high.” In that year, 4 million students began high school and, four years later, just over 78% have graduated — a 2% increase overall. But while more students are completing high school, “fewer than half of those in the class of 2012 were “college ready” as determined by the College Board last fall.”