The One Fund Boston –

By CFP President, Barbara Harman:

As some of you may know, I am a Bostonian who shares her time between two homes — one in Massachusetts and one in DC. Like many people here, I am still reeling from Monday’s events, and experiencing for the first time what it’s like to see devastation on the streets of my own city, a city I love. There is something quite unreal about it: familiar stores and restaurants, places I have walked with family and friends, the site of the finish line at the Marathon’s end — all of these familiar sites are now a crime scene. I will never forget the sound, the images of smoke billowing in the air, the runner who faltered near the end of the race blown back by the force of the first explosion, and the stories and pictures that chronicle the terrible loss of life and devastating injuries of those who survived but whose lives will never be the same.

There truly is a sense of coming together, of strength in community here, and one if its expressions is the creation of a fund to help the families devastated by loss. As one man so poignantly put it (he survived with lacerations to his face while his friends, standing on the other side of an adjacent mailbox, have all lost limbs) — the cost will be enormous, not just the medical and psychological costs, though these will be significant, but the cost in lost wages and even lost careers for goodness knows how long: maybe, for some, forever. Here at the Catalogue we rarely invite contributions to causes outside the DC region, but for those who are feeling, as many have said, that right now we are all Bostonians, please consider a contribution to whose purpose is to help the individuals and families whose lives have been irrevocably altered by this senseless act of cruelty and violence.

Changing the Philanthropic Landscape

Ever wonder exactly how the Catalogue got its start, how we’re related to the Harman Family Foundation, and what President Barbara Harman’s goal is for the CFP in the next five years? Last month, Harman sat down with the Association of Small Foundations’ CEO Henry Berman to talk about the Catalogue for Philanthropy — and the podcast was published on ASF’s website last week. Here are a few highlights of the interview, entitled “Creating a Piece of the Philanthropic Landscape”.

Barbara Harman started the Catalogue for Philanthropy back in 2003, after taking on a larger role at her family’s foundation. After spending more than 20 years teaching, researching, and writing as an English professor at Wellesley College, Harman felt the need to channel those talents in a new way — with a larger audience and a larger social impact. The foundation’s priorities revolved around the arts, and although the “big players” in the Washington region were easy to find (e.g. the Kennedy Center), Harman felt something was missing — as she calls it, the “landscape below the landscape”. It was difficult for the foundation to discover the cultural groups and arts-outreach organizations with a youth focus, serving under-served areas, or running programs in schools.

“For ordinary individuals wanting to be philanthropic, it was not so easy to find great community based nonprofits to whom they could give and [where] a donation of any size could have an impact,” says Harman. And that was the seed for the Catalogue.

When it first began, the Catalogue for Philanthropy was a much different animal than it is today. Originally, the Catalogue was just catalogue — a print publication that focused on donors and lived under the umbrella of the Harman Family Foundation, with a few independent supporters. Harman soon learned that the nonprofits featured, while honored to be a part of the beautiful print publication, identified other needs that the Catalogue could meet. The initiative soon evolved into an independent organization, offering an ever-expanding array of workshops and marketing/communications resources to its network of nonprofits. One of the key benefits for the nonprofit community? The sense of community itself.

“The first group was excited to find themselves in the Catalogue and excited to find themselves in the company of others doing similar work to their own,” explained Harman — a welcome change of pace for the group of small, widespread, and typically isolated nonprofits and their staff.

Looking back now on her work over the past ten years, Harman says she “had no idea what a big deal it would turn out to be…I didn’t see myself as taking on a big leadership role at the time — I had an idea, the skills to implement it, and fell into it a little bit.” As the Catalogue and its reach began to grow, both Harman and her family foundation decided to make a commitment to the Catalogue and its growth. “We both decided that we’re up for this and want to continue to support this. We created something that we believe in and something with its own power and rate of speed with lots of community support, but the foundation still believes in it…When you’ve created something that you believe in, how do you step away from that? That’s not something I could ever do.”

Harman calls herself an “accidental leader”; Berman suggests that serendipitous might be a better descriptor. Either way, the Washington region is surely better off for the work that the Catalogue has done to increase the profile of small nonprofits in the area and highlight the importance of individual giving. And as for the future? Harman wants to fulfill the wishes of many Catalogue supporters who frequently tell her that there should be Catalogues across the country: “Within the next 3-5 years, I would like to see a Catalogue for Philanthropy in 3, 4, or 5 regions across the country.” Here’s to making that goal a reality.

In The News …

Plan to close VA institutions stokes worry for families of the developmentally disabled (Washington Post): “Virginia is among the last states to begin dismantling its large institutions for the developmentally disabled, a decision that was made as part of a year-old settlement agreement with the Justice Department [...] All but one of the commonwealth’s five training centers, as the state calls them, are to be shuttered by 2020.” Judith Korf, the mother of a resident of the Northern Virginia Training Center, points out that “I think the past has shown that [the training center] is the only thing that works.” While Virginia officials remain “confident that the training centers’ residents can be properly cared for in the community, [..] there is deep concern that the state is rushing the process to meet unrealistic, arbitrary closure deadlines.”

Leaders of metro counties urge Congress to act on budget (Gazette: Prince George’s): “Impending federal sequestration could damage the fiscal stability of Maryland’s metro counties and leaders of those counties are urging congressional action [...] county executives Isiah Leggett, Rushern L. Baker III and Kenneth S. Ulman gathered Tuesday to call on Congress to compromise and stop sequestration.” Montgomery County executive Leggett argued that “the the federal job loss piece alone could cost the county as much as $500,000 a day in local income tax revenue” for his county and Prince George’s county executive Baker “said about 10 percent of Prince George’s jobs are federal.”

Gates, Buffett push Giving Pledge international (Seattle Times): “British billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and his wife Joan are among the newest philanthropists who have pledged to give away half their wealth to charity.” This year, the Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett-initiated Giving Pledge, has grown to include “its first international members, including 12 wealthy individuals and couples from Russia, South Africa, Australia, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and Malaysia.” Since 2010, over 100 individuals and families have signed the Pledge.

In The News …

At rally, leaders promise action on affordable housing (Greater Greater Washington): “Over 300 people rallied for affordable housing this weekend with the Housing for All Campaign [...] The next few months will be critical for housing funding. The task force is scheduled to release its report in the next few weeks, and Mayor Gray will announce his housing plan.” Do you agree that affordable housing is poised to become “key political issue?”

Report: Current Approach To Strategic Philanthropy Is Limiting (The NonProfit Times): “The current top-down approach to strategic philanthropy limits its overall effectiveness,” according to a new study by the Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP). Says NCRP Executive Director Aaron Dorfman, “All grantmakers want to maximize the impact of their grants [...] What they may not realize is that the missing piece in their grantmaking strategy is the social justice lens.” What do you think of the report’s central suggestions?

Free Tax Help Clinics Begin Friday (ARLnow): “Starting this Friday, Arlington County is holding free clinics to assist residents with tax preparation. The clinics are intended to serve residents with ‘low or moderate income.’” Several clinics list a maximum income for those interested in taking part; all clinics begin in February and run through April, with locations at public libraries, Department of Human Services, and ECDC Enterprise Development Group.

In The News …

3 Key Elements of Capitalist Philanthropy (Forbes): “Capitalist philanthropy begins with a profitable organization and then moves quickly to incorporate social impact [...] The term is not brand new, but is being discussed more often as the millennial generation has developed a strong desire for meaningful work.” Forbes offers three keys to incorporating “capitalist philanthropy” into an organization: “Determine your cause,” “cast the vision,” and “maintain momentum.” What are your suggestions for launching social impact projects? Thoughts on the terminology?

How Small Nonprofits Can Improve Their Fiscal Health (Chronicle of Philanthropy): “Three-quarters of American nonprofits have annual budgets under $1 million, and most are even smaller. What these organizations lack in size, however, they make up for in impact.” Many such nonprofits also “struggle with financial challenges that are unique to their size and structure [...] resources generally go directly into program delivery, [for example,] so they can’t invest in infrastructure”. The Chronicle offers five suggestions for small nonprofits to address and improve financial health, plus five ways that grantmakers can help.

UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising (CompassPoint Nonprofit Services): “A joint project of CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, the report found high levels of turnover and lengthy vacancies in development director positions throughout the sector [...] Beyond creating a development director position and hiring someone who is qualified for the job, organizations and their leaders need to build the capacity, the systems, and the culture to support fundraising success.” Does the report reflect your experience? What do you think might “break the cycle?”

Fiscal Cliff — Averted?

by Marie LeBlanc, Community Partnerships Coordinator

While many Americans across the county rang in New Year’s Day 2013 with pomp, circumstance, and auld lang syne, the United States Congress was (for once) hard at work — barely scraping through the passage of legislation that averted the dreaded “fiscal cliff.” However, is the danger really past? Various news outlets and media sources have been reporting on the “wins and losses”of the fiscal cliff bill, trying to help citizens make sense of it — and understand the real-world implications on their wallets this month and tax bills come April. Yesterday, the Nonprofit Quarterly’s Rick Cohen offered his take on the implications for nonprofits.

According to Cohen, changes made to charitable deductions and marginal tax rates (increasing only on households with annual incomes above $450,000) “constitutes an absolutely minimal touch on charitable contributions.” Due to various tax provisions, on everything from the expiration of the payroll tax “holiday,” to changes in capital gains and dividend income tax rates, the “fiscal cliff bill not only raises less revenues than the President’s proposal, but even less than Speaker Boehner’s Plan B.” However, many programs serving working class and lower income populations have been saved for now, including unemployment benefits and various tax credits on earned income, children, and renewable energy.

The specter of the cliff itself impacted municipal and county-level spending, even before emergency legislation was passed. According to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, “the impact of the federal budget impasse on the District was felt 10 days before the New Year’s Eve fiscal cliff deal.” Despite signs of growth in the DC economy, instability in the federal budget prevents these signs from being fully recognized and providing the foundation needed for expanding, and even maintaining, levels of social spending. Programs for domestic violence, mental health, and educational enrichment have fallen victim to the budget gridlock.

Ultimately, Cohen offers this perspective on the budget solution, and its potential future impact:

The fiscal cliff isn’t just a matter of “saving” the maximum deductibility of charitable donations or avoiding the reinstatement of the arcane and minimal Pease amendment, but recognizing how dysfunctional the nation has become and how the communities’ nonprofits serve are the primary victims. If the focus of nonprofit advocates leaving shoe leather in the halls of the Capitol is simply on maximizing the value of the charitable deduction or, perhaps more accurately, maximizing the value of the deduction for ultra-wealthy tax itemizers, then the result, reflected in the fiscal cliff legislation and future bills to be addressed in the next couple of months, will be a truly pyrrhic victory for the communities nonprofits serve.

Please Stand With Us

As 2012 turns into 2013, we are particularly grateful to all of you who have helped us raise over $19mm (and counting) for some of the best small charities in the greater Washington DC region.

Your support means:

* 47,639 people served in outdoor education programs each year
* 3,486,841 hours of tutoring/mentoring annually
* 957,570 people served in arts outreach programs
* 99,578 medical exams and referrals
* 1,474,415 meals served to hungry people each year

If you haven’t contributed this year, please take a moment to make your tax-deductible contribution before the year ends Choose the charities that mean the most to you, and please give generously. You can do so with confidence, knowing that Catalogue nonprofits have been vetted in a rigorous review process that takes months to complete.

And consider making a contribution to the Catalogue itself, and helping us help the 330 nonprofits in our network to do what they do best. The Catalogue is a tremendous community resource and we charge no fees for the work we do: generous donors like you make the Catalogue possible.

So stand with us as we work together to make this community a better place to live. And if you’ve already given, please accept our thanks — on behalf of all the great nonprofits that are proud to say they are part of the Catalogue family.

In The News …

How to Help Families Affected by Newtown School Shooting (Newtown Patch): “In the wake of the unimaginable tragedy at Sandy Hook School Friday people from all over the world — in Connecticut, California, Canada and much farther away in Australia and India — sent an outpouring of support and want to know how they can help.” Newtown Patch has compiled a list of ways to support individual families, the community, and local resources; instate residents can call 211 “for information about how individuals or businesses can support the victims and their families.” The article also invited readers to post “I want to help” in the comment section if they wished to receive updates on what they could do. Currently, over 1350 comments have appeared. The Chronicle of Philanthropy also reports that “more than $1-million has poured into a fund to help Newtown.”

New Maryland system measures school progress (Washington Post: Education): “The Howard and Frederick county school systems scored slightly higher than Montgomery County under a new Maryland accountability system that [...] takes into account each school’s benchmarks on overall student performance, student growth, closing the achievement gap and preparing students for college and careers.” This new state data, which was released this past Monday, “comes from the School Progress Index, which is permitted under new federal rules that allow states to create their own ways to measure progress in public schools.” Maryland and Virginia, along with 34 other states and the District, have received waivers from the 2002 No Child Left Behind provisions.

‘Hugely complex’ work for philanthropy in the next decade (Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers): “The rise of a wide variety of strategies for mobilizing private resources to address common societal problems is now, and will increasingly in the future, blur the lines between what we call philanthropy and commerce,” writes Susan Raymond, Executive Vice President of Changing Our World, Inc. “That makes for exciting times. It also makes for challenges. Not the least of these challenges for the formal philanthropic sector — for foundations and corporate giving — is how to partner with these new resource strategies.” What new strategy, do you think, is having the greatest impact on philanthropy today?

CFP: Winter 2012 News

Read the full Winter 2012 newsletter right here.

December is a big month for the Catalogue for Philanthropy. In addition to promoting the 2012 Catalogue and our new group of nonprofits, we also hosted our 10th anniversary celebration, Inspiration to Action. We hope that many of you were able to join us for the festivities.

The Catalogue team was honored to celebrate 10 years of creating meaningful connections between caring citizens and worthy community causes with such a passionate group of nonprofits, donors, friends, and other community supporters. The event featured a reception, nonprofit performance showcase, and intimate benefit dinner. A highlight of the dinner was a live auction, featuring ‘exclusive experiences,’ which raised over $20,000 for the Catalogue.

Jane Harman and the Harman Family Foundation also made a surprise announcement — a Challenge Grant, which matched new and increasing gifts made or pledged on December 3rd to either the Catalogue or our charities. The grant raised $200,000 for Catalogue nonprofits at the dinner — $100,000 in pledges matched by the $100,000 challenge: a great way to kick off the giving season!

As always, the Catalogue for Philanthropy is grateful for your continued support. While you browse through the 2012 Catalogue and select your favorite nonprofits for this year, we hope that the Catalogue for Philanthropy is one of them. Please consider making a gift to support the work that we do this holiday season, and all year long.

Warmest regards,
The CFP Team

In The News …

Amid change, affordable housing revitalizes parts of Ward 5 (Greater Greater Washington): “As development along Rhode Island Avenue and New York Avenue take shape over the next few years, much of DC’s Ward 5 will see major changes. But can these changes draw new residents without displacing existing ones? A key element will be to preserve and expand the availability of affordable housing.” This past week, Housing For All Campaign hosted a town hall meeting focused on the options, both small and extensive, for accessible housing in Ward 5. “Ward 5 will continue to benefit from the investments in affordable housing that build vibrant spaces for current and future District residents.”

Online Giving Streak Continues With 13% Rise Last Week (Chronicle of Philanthropy): “Online giving to 8,700 charities rose 13.3 percent last week when compared with the same days last year, according to Network for Good [...] What’s more, the number of donations grew nearly 7 percent.” The week of Thanksgiving, online giving actually rose an impressive 61 percent; and after Thanksgiving, giving rose by 42 percent — primarily as a result of Giving Tuesday. The Chronicle has created an interactive graphic that compares 2012 giving with 2011 giving on a day-by-day basis; check it out here.

Obesity in Young Is Seen as Falling in Several Cities (New York Times: Health): “After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several American cities are reporting their first declines. The trend has emerged in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Nebraska.” While the the drops are small (5 percent or less in Philadelphia and Los Angeles), experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course.” However, others point out that “the current declines, concentrated among higher income, mostly white populations, are still not benefiting many minority children.”