The Good Counsel Blog


Apr

08

2013

Charity Navigator Meets Reality

 A Post from James V. Toscano Notwithstanding self-promotion, “Charity Navigator is American’s largest and most influential charity rater” and self-aggrandizement, “the largest and most utilized charity rating service that exists anywhere,” the New Jersey-based Charity Navigator is realizing the incredible complexity of its task. At first, they presented themselves as charity raters, although they based their rating stars (1-4, with 4 best) only on financial variables. They gradually became more sophisticated on this dimension through critical feedback and through their experience in examinations of large charities with at least $500K in public support and $1M in overall budget. By elimination of the…

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Apr

01

2013

Ten Insights into Fundraising Among Boomers and Elders

 A Post from James V. Toscano As a person born before 1946, I am part of that group referred to as the “lost,” “quiet” and some of us, “greatest” generation. Marketers often call us “seniors” or “elders.” Given the great American Indian tradition of respect for elders, I prefer that term and will use it throughout. The Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, subject of a mountain of studies and opinion pieces, are now coming into their own. They’re the richest generation ever, thought to have over $40 trillion to leave to the next generation. They, with my generation, make…

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Mar

19

2013

Ten Questions to Ask a Director of Development Candidate

 A posting by Dania Toscano Miwa and James V. Toscano We read in the recent report, UnderDeveloped, of significant problems in recruiting and retaining good development people and that average tenure now is often at two years or less. Moreover, all is not well in many relationships between Executive Directors (ED) and Development Directors (DD). In an effort to promote transparency and clear up what is thought of as the “profound misunderstanding” about roles between and among the Board, ED and DD in an institution’s development program, we submit the following initial questions to recruitment and screening committees of nonprofits interviewing…

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Mar

11

2013

The Two Nonprofit Sectors

 A post from James V. Toscano In his post, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ Jon Pratt discussed “A Virtuous Cycle” referring to the recent UnderDeveloped study. He reported difficulties of smaller nonprofits in affording needed development and related infrastructure costs. The idea of a virtuous cycle for nonprofit organizations able to afford infrastructure and transaction costs provokes discussion on the haves and have-nots among us. A recent study helps. In the March 2012 Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “ Why More Nonprofits Are Getting Bigger,” authors Peter Kim and Jeffrey Bradach reported on the emergence of a new wave of large…

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Mar

05

2013

Guest Post – A Virtuous Cycle

A post by Jon Pratt To paraphrase St. Paul, Minnesota native F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Let me tell you about rich nonprofits. They are different from you and me.” Underdeveloped — A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising identifies several ongoing, and challenging facts of life for the development staffing of the nonprofit sector, particularly for small organizations. Clearly these factors makes it more difficult for organizations to gather consistent or adequate resources – what we don’t know is what improvements or declines have occurred over the last 15 years, but I suspect that little is different.


Feb

26

2013
Guest Post – Functionality Plus Fit Equals Better Fund Raising

Guest Post – Functionality Plus Fit Equals Better Fund Raising

 A Post by Dawn M. Fish, M.A., CFRE Reading the recently released report, Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising by Jeanne Bell and Maria Cornelius, I reflected upon my 25 years as an executive, development director and gift officer raising funds in social service, health care and higher education institutions. The report contains no surprises, but did fail to address two major issues related to nonprofit fund-raising failures: the traits and skills necessary in an effective director of development (DOD) and the relationship between the executive director (ED) and the DOD. DOD traits and skills An effective…

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Feb

21

2013

10 Questions A Development Director Candidate Should Ask Once Offered But Before Accepting the Position

A posting by Dania Toscano Miwa and James V. Toscano 1. How many different individuals have held this position in the last 5 years?  If one, proceed to the next question. If 2, ask why each left. If 3 or more, run in the other direction. 2. How is the development goal determined? Has it been met in the last three years?  If the goal is set by the difference between expected expenses and anticipated revenue, and if it hasn’t been met in 2 or 3 of the last three years, ask for a change in the way it is…

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Feb

18

2013

Sector Agnosticism

 A post by James V. Toscano Saturday’s HBR e-newsletter has a nifty article, “How to Woo Talent From the For-Profit World.” by Jenny Davis-Peccoud, who heads Bain’s global social impact practice. She leads off with “ Social enterprises and nonprofits increasingly recognize the need to adopt management disciplines used successfully in the for-profit world.” Davis-Peccoud states that the major reason for those with this business training and skill who do change “career lanes” and go into some type of nonprofit work is to follow a passion for social impact. She cites a number of nonprofits that have benefitted from such…

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Feb

12

2013

Doing Development Differently

 A post from James V. Toscano In a rich and thoughtful study, UNDERDEVELOPED: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising, authors Jeanne Bell and Marla Cornelius report on a study done electronically among nonprofit senior development staff and executive directors.  A small number of focus groups were also conducted that included board members along with development people and executive directors. CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund jointly sponsored the study.  Approximately 1850 senior development staff responded to the survey as well as 870 executive directors. The results document the instability in development in many of our…

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Feb

07

2013
Guest Post – In Defense of Taxes—Even If They Might Cut into Charitable Giving

Guest Post – In Defense of Taxes—Even If They Might Cut into Charitable Giving

 A post by Andy Robinson This article was originally published by the Nonprofit Quarterly on January 4, 2013 In recent weeks, nonprofit organizations mobilized against the threat that Congress would limit tax deductions for charitable gifts. Because charitable deductions provide an incentive for giving, many nonprofit leaders fear that scaling them back will make it harder to raise money. Following the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, the charitable deduction remains more or less intact—at least for now. As we consider the broader implications of tax reform and government spending and gear up for legislative fights to come, I am concerned that many…

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