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In The News…

Arts Nonprofit Launches Crowdfunding Website For Local Projects (Bethesda Now) – The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC) launched a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding platform last Wednesday in a campaign to gain more donors who will actively be able to see the difference that they are making. The site, called, features 21 community-based programs that are seeking up to $7,000 in funding. “This is an opportunity for us to find people who really can’t give that much,” said Erin Gifford, an Imagination Stage marketing associate. “This is a very big thing on social media and we find there’s a lot of younger people on social media who probably don’t have as much accessible income to give us.” With this effort, every dollars counts, and like Kickstarter, donors can enjoy certain prizes and benefits based on the amount of their gift.

The Overhead Myth (The Nonprofit Quarterly) – A recently published letter by Art Taylor of BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Jacob Harold of GuideStar, and Ken Berger of Charity Navigator is drawing a lot of attention in the philanthropic community. Entitled “The Overhead Myth,” the letter urges donors to not just analyze a nonprofit’s “overhead”- or charity expenses that go to administrative and fundraising costs- when deciding where to donate. The letter argues that while for some organizations, this ratio of donations to administrative costs can be used as reasoning to not donate (the recent Susan G. Komen scandal comes to mind), for most charities, these overhead costs are crucial to nonprofit improvement, advancement, and sustainability. The Nonprofit Quarterly, one of the many philanthropic journals featuring the letter, said in an editor’s note, “The NPQ is proud to highlight this important letter from GuideStar, Charity Navigator and the Wise Giving Alliance calling for an end to the obsession many have had with nonprofit overhead costs as a proxy for measuring effectiveness BUT for the letter to be effective it is important that people share it in every way they can.”

Fannie Mae’s Rosie Allen-Herring tapped to lead United Way of the National Capital Area (Washington Business Journal) Rosie Allen-Herring, Fannie Mae veteran employee, has recently been selected to lead the UWNCA with the upcoming retirement of Bill Hanbury, current CEO. Ted Davies, incoming Chair of the United Way of the National Capital Area Board of Directors, said the Allen-Herring was “extremely passionate about the success of the organization, but in a confident, humble way.” This news comes the same week that Diana Leon Taylor, founder of SageGroup-DC Consulting, LLC and special adviser on Haitian affairs to the State Department and White House, was selected out a national search to become the new president and CEO of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington. Both women bring with them business savvy and commitment to the local community. This could be the beginning of a new trend in the nonprofit sphere according to a report by the Nonprofit Center; while more than 70% of nonprofit employees are women, a majority of men still hold leadership positions.

Let It Be Known

From “What Donors Want — but Often Don’t Get” in the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Charities don’t do nearly enough to tell donors how their money will be used. That;s one of the striking preliminary findings from a new survey by the researcher Penelope Burk. This is the fourth year that Ms. Burke, president of Cygnus Applied Research, has conducted an online survey with thousands of donors. (See my article about last year?s findings.)

The survey asked donors “what could unleash your philanthropy at a whole new level?” Nearly half of the donors said that they had more money to give but held back. Many of them said that was largely because they had not received enough information about how past donations had been spent.

Burk’s blog reports that “even in the worst moments of the recession, close to 50% of donors we surveyed agreed that they could have given more money.” One survey respondent explained that the “the thing that could unleash my philanthropy at a whole new level is [...] knowing that the money I give is making a real difference in people’s lives (not just a drop in the ocean of need);” another said that she would appreciate non-profits “giving loyal donors feedback about their accumulative giving to a cause over five, ten or even fifteen years.”

So let us know: what do you do to keep your donors “in the know?” And donors, what do you most appreciate hearing and enjoy leaning about at the non-profits that you support?

In The News …

Division of Labor: The Gap Between Skills and Jobs (DCentric): “While much of the country struggles with job creation, DC is in the unique position of having more jobs than residents [...] Many of the available jobs in the District, the ones that attract people from around the country, require advanced degrees. This mismatch, or skills gap, means many of those born and raised within the District are increasingly being left out of its economic success.” According to the DC Department of Employment Services, professional, technical, or scientific or federal government positions make up nearly half of the area’s jobs; and 65% of November online job postings stipulated that applicants needed a minimum of a bachelors degree.
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Feature of the Month: Gift Cards

It’s an obvious choice. But we are heading into the midst of the holiday season, so what better time to talk about gift cards? First, click the “How to Give” tab on the Catalogue mainpage and then click “Gift Cards” on the left hand menu. This screen will pop up:






So what is a Catalogue gift card? It works just like a traditional gift card for a website or store; but rather than spend the contents, the recipient donates it to the Catalogue charity (or charities) of his or her choosing. You can purchase a card for a friend or family member in denominations of $25, $50, $100, $150, and up and we will send it to them, along with instructions for visiting our website and learning about the great nonprofits in our network. And redeeming the card is pretty simple: just click “donate” on any charity’s page and select a donation amount. Same procedure as usual! But once you get to the payment page, you enter the code on the card instead of a credit card number.

With Catalogue’s wide range of organizations, from charter schools to preservation groups to dance companies, these gifts cards really can appeal to anyone. So if you’re interested, here’s how to get started: just head to the “Purchase a Gift Card” page and fill it out:







We can mail the card to you or directly to the recipient, along with a personal message. Just one important heads-up: we receive quite a few gift card orders during the holidays, so please order by December 12 if you would like the card to arrive by December 25. If you’re reading this entry after December 12 … we do e-cards of course!

Any questions? Just leave a comment and we’re happy to help out.

Story Store

Just to venture (a bit … or more than a bit) outside the Beltway, do check out this news item from the Rochester, MN, Post Bulletin:

Rick Weiss, who owns Insty-Prints in Rochester, is taking a different tack this year for his annual search for groups deserving of help. He has made annual donations to local organizations for the past 11 years.

Using Facebook and LinkedIn, he launched “a $1,000 Nonprofit Challenge” last week. Weiss is asking people whose lives have been touched by a local non-profit to share their stories. “We want to hear the stories of those organizations that are making a difference,” he says.

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