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onLine examines all things related to philanthropy and "being online": online marketing, online fundraising, Web 2.0 technologies, new tools, new issues, and new strategies to help nonprofits find their audience,
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Big brands are steering millions in charitable dollars to building neighborhood playgrounds for children to help fight Childhood Obesity. [New York Times]
Boston Foundation grant will pay for teacher development, curriculum development in math and literacy, and a clicker system that will boost participation. [Boston Globe]
A blogger with a large audience has used his platform to challenge one of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations devoted to gay rights. In a series of posts, popular blogger Andrew Sullivan, himself a gay man and equal rights advocate, has challenged the effectiveness of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which describes itself as "America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.”
to both the HRC Foundation’s Charity Navigator rating (with one out of four
stars overall and zero out of four stars for efficiency) as well as the
Foundation’s latest IRS 990 forms, Sullivan publicly challenged the
organization to respond to questions “about their operation, what it spends,
how it spends it, and what achievements they have won for the money.” He also encouraged readers to review the
financial information and submit their own questions.
To be sure, Sullivan's criticisms about the HRC not only about the nonprofit's fundraising and financial management; rather, he's questioning the nonprofit's track record in achieving its stated objectives of achieving equality.
The HRC responded that they “are committed to the transparency of the organization. Ninety-three percent of our total income comes from individuals, reflecting the importance of our work as seen by the broader community, and it is important they understand how their dollars are being put to work.” The nonprofit then went on to detail how the expenses from their recent capital campaign – to raise money for a headquarters building in Washington, D.C. – was the reason for their low rating.
a gay-rights organization with nearly 600,000 members now has to answer to a
gay-rights blogger who has an estimated 60,000 daily readers. This episode raises the power of blogs and
other new technologies, which are forcing nonprofits to be more open about
their operations, holding them accountable not only to their financial supporters,
but also an increasingly skeptic (and engaged) public.
Is this the future of nonprofit transparency? Public fights online between multi-million dollar nonprofit organizations and self-styled online watchdogs?
According to Sullivan, the nonprofit has “asked for a private meeting with me. I'd rather bring a few thousand readers along.”
New York Times: The Salvation Army has gone to court in Seattle to challenge a trust dividing more than $260 million among eight charities, including Greenpeace.
Washington Post: Two years after California voters passed a landmark $3 billion bond measure for stem cell research, not a single bond has been sold and not a penny of bond money has been spent. The fund is caught up in court challenges.
Wall Street Journal: After a spate of damaging incidents in which donors backed out of high-profile gifts, many colleges, cultural centers and other nonprofits are making it tougher for philanthropists to renege on pledges. A number of institutions, including the San Francisco Symphony, are asking donors to sign legally binding gift agreements rather than rely on the looser arrangements some used in the past. Others, such as New York University, are keeping better tabs on pledges, sending frequent reminders or calling givers to keep better track of money coming in. Some are investigating the finances of potential givers to ascertain their ability to complete pledges.