Plotting a Course for 2017

2016 was a year of flipping the script and changing up the status quo. Come tomorrow, it is time to push through our anxiety about what may lie ahead and plot a course to best navigate the unknown terrain of 2017.

But where to start? Some thoughts…

Where will the road take you in 2017?

In December, I always look forward to Lucy Bernholtz’s data and philanthropy forecast for the upcoming year and the insights in Blueprint 2017 are as thought-provoking as those of its predecessors. It is available for download at the Foundation Center’s Grant Craft website.

Diversification of revenue is more important than ever, especially among donors as well as sources.

Show the impact of the work you do – the very change your program facilitates at both the client and community levels. It seems to be in fashion to downplay all measurement because quantifying impact can be challenging, what with small samples and scattered cohorts and bias (oh my!). Yes, it is. But demonstrating how a program meets expected and desired goals – the outcomes – is not a clinical trial, it is just good practice. As is using those data to inform and improve services.

In Pennsylvania, as this fiscal year’s budget shortfall grows, all signs point to a doozy of a 2017-18 negotiation process. Structural changes to the current human services system are also on the table, which may signal new opportunities for nonprofits. How can you best advocate for the sector and your organization?

Moving purposefully into the unknown may be less intimidating for a nonprofit when there is a verbal AND a financial commitment to cultivate leadership within the ranks.

On the topic of developing leaders, this is a perfect time to engage in a some formative assessment of a more personal nature. As an established or up-and-coming nonprofit leader, how do will you look back on 2016 and plan for 2017?

  • Set aside some time to conduct your own career-centered end of year review.
  • Use/create a rubric to determine where you are now and what you should focus on, add, or set aside in 2017. Rubrics consist of a descriptive set of items or elements and a related performance scale. List your goals or expectations for 2016, then rate each one on a numerical scale where each point is defined along a continuum of progress, for example, 0 = “No progress made” while 4 = “Achieved 100%.” Add as much or as little detail to each rating point as needed to accurately capture the situation.
  • Last January, I worked with Emily Marco on a year-in-review that included a look back at professional and personal events and milestones of 2015 and planning for 2016. She also helped me clarify my goals and identify “action steps” to begin working toward them immediately. Emily is a visual problem solver who excels at helping people organize their thoughts and build a plan of action to achieve their goals. If you are interested in exploring a new way to digest the old and plan for the new you can learn more about her new online learning experience Relaunch 2017 or contact her for a goal setting session at Emilymarco.com.

 

 

Note:  This post is not sponsored.  I do not receive any compensation or services for mentions or links included in the post.

Study: Online Revenue and Email Revenue Up for Nonprofit Organizations

The just released M+R Benchmarks Study 2016 (in collaboration with the Nonprofit Technology Network) contains lots of interesting data about the state of online fundraising and marketing among nonprofit organizations. Some highlights

  • Online revenue is up 19%.
  • Although email opens and click-throughs are down, email fundraising is up 25%, and among the 25 top performing  (dollars raised online)  study participants, over one-third of their online revenue is via email.
  • Nonprofits sent more emails around fundraising and advocacy in 2015 than the year prior, but the response rate decreased.
  • For every 1,000 emails sent, nonprofits raise about $44.
  • The average one-time gift ranged from $61 (Wildlife/Animal Welfare nonprofits) to $168 (Rights nonprofits).
  • Wildlife/Animal Welfare nonprofits have the highest rates of engagement on social media.
  • On average, just over 1% of website visitors make a donation.

The Benchmarks study may help you gauge your nonprofit’s development and marketing metrics against sector averages, in fact, on page 17 the authors advise how to best use the data comparatively. The study is available to download for free at www.mrbenchmarks.com .

Think You Know Giving Profiles?

Research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy indicates gender income differences influence charitable giving, particularly among married couples. Where Do Men and Women Give? Gender Differences in the Motivations and Purposes for Charitable Giving and Do Women Give More? Findings from Three Unique Data Sets on Charitable Giving, both authored by Debra Mesch, Una Osili, Jacqueline Ackerman, and Elizabeth Dale, utilize data from the Philanthropy Panel Study (PPS), the Bank of America/U.S. Trust Studies of High Net Worth Philanthropy surveys (HNW), and the Million Dollar List (MDL) to examine patterns in giving level and activity. Their analysis found that single women made more charitable contributions than their male counterparts (except in the highest net worth category) but overall, marriage increased the occurrence and dollar amount of charitable contributions.

Among those married, an increase in the husband’s income was associated with increased giving in both activity and amount, specifically to charitable organizations related to religion, basic human needs, health, and education. Married couples who shared in decision making around philanthropy also tended to give more. Still, the relationship between income, gender, and charitable giving is a complicated one. For example,  when women earned more than their husbands, giving activity dropped in comparison to households where the husband’s income was higher.

Sectors supported also differed by gender, as households headed by a female were more apt to donate to youth and family, health, and international causes, while those with a male decider were more likely to give to religious and education organizations.  As far as social issues however, married couples with female deciders ranked animal welfare as a top priority, while those with a male decider prioritized the arts.

Examining giving at a level deeper than the “household” may help nonprofits and charities improve engagement with current and future donors.  These papers, as well as a literature review on women’s charitable giving, are available at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s website.

Study Identifies Patterns in Rural Grants

A study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service suggests that grants to rural-based organizations are on the decline.  The report, Foundation Grants to Rural Areas from 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns by John Pender, examined data on grants from the Foundation Center (of at least $10,000 awarded by the largest private and community U.S. foundations between 2005-2010), the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the Census Bureau, and USDA’s Economic Research Service to identify patterns grant distribution to rural communities in the United States.

Although 19 percent of the country’s population is located in rural areas, Pender concludes that grant funding “to rural-based organizations accounted for 5.5 percent of the real value of domestic grants by large foundations during 2005 to 2010, with a slight downward trend (based on Foundation Center data on grants by the largest 1,200 to 1,400 foundations).”  A random sample of large foundations found that 6.3 percent of the total value of grants awarded in 2010 went to organizations in rural areas. Analysis using a sample of small foundations found the rural share of total grant value went from 7.5 percent in 2005 to 7 percent in 2010. During this time period the majority of grants to rural communities came from independent foundations.

Other findings from the study:

  • The average dollar value per person of grants from large foundations to rural organizations was $88, versus $192 per person in metro counties.
  • Counties with more college-educated residents (even when grants to universities and students were removed from the sample) received more grants per person.
  • Rural organizations received more grants related to higher education, environment, and recreation/leisure than their urban counterparts.

 

 

Report Citation:  Pender, John L. Foundation Grants to Rural Areas Frrom 2005 to 2010: Trends and Patterns, EIB-141, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, June 2015.