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Catalogue Blog

In The News …

DC officials change policy on charter schools’ occupation of surplus buildings (Washington Post): “District officials have tweaked the way they determine which charter schools should be allowed to move into surplus public school buildings [...] The new points-based system gives an edge to high-performing charter schools that are already operating in the city.” Newer charters can also receive points if they have strong prior records of raising achievement elsewhere. At present, the DGS is accepting offers from charters for two buildings: the former Young and J.F. Cook elementary school sites in Ward 5. “For fast-growing charter schools, which often struggle to find and afford suitable real estate, the unused buildings offer a rarity: a long-term home.”

Bill Clinton Urges Donors to Think About Results From the Start (Chronicle of Philanthropy): “The theme of this year’s Clinton Global Initiative is “Designing for Impact,” a nod to the growing influence of “design thinking” in shaping efforts to eradicate poverty and improve society. Explained Tim Brown, the chief executive of IDEO, “design is about being intentional about what you want your outcome to be” in the context of efforts to eliminate hunger and poverty. Have you ever planned in similar terms on a local scale? Or is this type of thinking, in fact, more inherent in local philanthropy?

With Charity for All: Big Philanthropy and the Challenge of Democracy (Forbes): “Philanthropy remains vital as a force for change and societal support — and as a growing portion of the US social safety net; where governments cut services, nonprofit organizations often step in to support those on the bottom economic rungs. Giving rebounded after the Great Recession of 2008, rising to $298.3 billion in 2011 according to Giving USA, an increase of nearly four percent over 2010.” The article also cites two “extraordinary chapters in US philanthropy” — the Giving Pledge, made public two years ago, and the annual gathering of the Clinton Global Initiative — and asserts that “there remains a disproportionate power gap between those doing the work (nonprofits and other organizations) and those funding that work.” Do you agree or disagree?

Teaming Up: Black Benefactors & the Catalogue (Part II)

By Tracey Webb, Founder, The Black Benefactors

In January, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation published the report, “Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color,” which confirmed something that I already knew: African Americans are more inclined to give than other races. I know this because philanthropy and charitable giving have been mainstays of the African American community for centuries.

In my previous GoodWorks post, I shared how my giving circle, The Black Benefactors, used the Catalogue to identify a grantee for our Black History Month grant awards. In doing so, I learned that we were in the minority. Although many of the nonprofits featured in the Catalogue serve low-income and under-represented communities — often which include African Americans — the majority of donors who use the Catalogue to identify nonprofits to support in the DC region are white. With the help of The Black Benefactors, I hope this will change.

Now that we know African Americans are more likely to give, there are two issues that are essential: ensuring that our giving is strategic to achieve maximum impact, and making sure that we’re represented as volunteers and board members with nonprofits that serve communities of color. It’s important that the clientele served by nonprofits see staff, volunteers, and board members who look like them. The Catalogue is an ideal vehicle to address these issues.

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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 …

Montgomery tries to spur affordable housing (Washington Post): “Over the next few months, county planning and housing officials will propose broad policy changes intended to improve the local housing market [...] Yet the county, which has seen year after year of budget shortfalls, also must deal with less funding. The housing department budget for the current fiscal year is 50 percent of what it was two years ago [...] The shift in county demographics, as well as the nationwide foreclosure crisis a few years ago, has led to increased demand for affordable housing, county officials said.” You can learn more about Catalogue nonprofits focused on housing and homelessness in Maryland right here.

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In the (Halloween) News …

Happy Halloween, Greater Washington! Just doing a quick “In The News …” a couple days early this week, as we stumbled upon some ghoulish news items.

Halloween Charity Treats For Those In Need” (Huffington Post): “When it comes to choosing your costume this Halloween, try this one on for size: go as a do-gooder. Even though Halloween typically takes the back seat to Thanksgiving and Christmas when it comes to charitable holidays, this festive day has plenty of potential to serve as an opportunity to help those in need.” The article highlights UNICEF, Operation Shoebox, and OneSight. What are your (perhaps local?) suggestions.

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