Not a lot going on with CFP nonprofits this weekend but we hope you all have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend! Please take this weekend to remember those that we have lost while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Thank you all for your service. We appreciate you.
Living in dreams of yesterday, we find ourselves still dreaming of impossible future conquests.
-Charles Lindbergh, who 86 years ago today began the world’s first transatlantic flight in 1927. For this historic exploit, Lindbergh was awarded the Medal of Honor and remains an American hero for all generations for pushing boundaries and fearlessly exploring the unknown.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve written about the importance of the DC One City fund as a support for the nonprofit sector (see posts here and here). At the same time, adult education advocates have waged another local budget battle over funding for the Pathways to Adult Literacy Fund. Yesterday, CFP nonprofit Academy of Hope Executive Director Lecester Johnson joined Community Foundation for the National Capital Region President Terri Lee Freeman to publish an op-ed in the Washington Post about this issue.
Johnson and Freeman tell the stories of Academy of Hope students who have changed their lives by completing a GED program. They also share compelling reasons for why adult literacy is so crucial – not only in general, but specifically in the District of Columbia:
More than 64,000 D.C. adults lack a high school credential. With limited basic math, reading and digital literacy skills, these residents have difficulty following written instructions, completing paperwork, communicating effectively with colleagues or helping their children with homework. This undermines the job security of workers, the economic viability of local businesses and the well-being of families…
Literacy is one of those root problems that, if addressed with serious investments, will pay off in multiple ways. For instance, earning a diploma is not only good for adult students; it also is good for their children. Parents with strong literacy skills can better help their children do homework, study and succeed in school. And young adults whose parents have a high school diploma are more likely to complete high school than are those whose parents do not, according to a 2012 Urban Institute report.
The DC City Council is still making decisions on the FY2014 budget. You can read more about current hearing and decisions online here, and lend support to those fighting for adult literacy programs here.
A poem is an approach towards a truth. But poems can be funny, witty, quirky and sly. They can be mischievous, tricksterish. Their truths don’t sound like the truths of the courtroom or the inquest. Does this, then, show us something about the nature of truth? Can we say there are many truths, or, rather, many aspects of Truth? That truth itself is a shape-shifter?
- Scottish poet, Kathleen Jamie, born today in 1962. The author of poems exploring gender, nature and life, Jamie has received numerous awards including the Forward Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.
This week, Sara Blakely made philanthropy headlines by becoming the first female billionaire to sign the Giving Pledge – a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals to give a majority of their wealth to charity. It seems fitting that the first woman joins this elite group the week before Mother’s Day – a time of year to think about the important women and female role models in our lives. While eight other philanthropists also signed the Pledge this week, Blakely received the most attention – and not just for signing the pledge.
It was only in March of last year that Blakely joined the elite group of global billionaires – as well as an even smaller group of self-made female billionaires. (Only 2% of billionaires across the world who are women, the majority of whom inherited their wealth.) With those odds, it’s an achievement indeed that even one sits among the wealthiest individuals who have joined the Pledge and made a life-long commitment to philanthropy.
In reading Blakely’s pledge letter, I was inspired by the way that she recognized her privilege as a woman born into a country where girls can aspire to any career choice and have the freedom to pursue it. This is not the case in many countries around the world.
I have so much gratitude for being a woman in America. I never lose sight that I was born in the right country, at the right time. And, I never lose sight of the fact that there are millions of women around the world who are not dealt the same deck of cards upon their birth. Simply because of their gender, they are not given the same chance that I had to create my own success and follow my dreams. It it for those women that I make this pledge.
I was also inspired by her dedication to philanthropy since founding Spanx and focuses on the empowerment of women and girls across the globe.
I am committed to the belief that we would all be in a much better place if half the human race (women) were empowered to prosper, invent, be educated, start their own businesses, run for office – essentially be given the chance to soar! I pledge to invest in women because I believe it offers one of the greatest returns on investment. While many of the world’s natural resources are being depleted, one is waiting to be unleashed – women.
You don’t have to be a millionaire or billionaire like Sara Blakely to make a difference in the lives of women and girls – here in DC or around the world. Many of CFP’s nonprofits work to empower women – those who have been abused, exploited, ignored, or just not given the chance to thrive:
Women Thrive Worldwide advocates for programs that free women from poverty and violence.
District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH) provides safe housing to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.
FAIR Girls is a girls’ empowerment organization keeping girls safe from exploitation.
The Women’s Collective supports girls, women, families infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
It’s budget season in DC, and the nonprofit/social sector community has been rallying lately around several different budget priorities for FY2014. We’ve written before about the One City Fund and the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region circulated a petition to fully fund adult literacy programs. Today, another issue caught our eye on the DC Fair Budget Coalition’s blog about tackling homelessness in the District. Many CFP nonprofits currently work with individuals and families experiencing homelessness in DC (as well as Maryland and Virginia), and we’ve shared posts before from organizations like Washington Legal Counsel for the Homeless and FACETS. In this article, Danielle Rothman from the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project shares her experience working at DC General and urges the DC City Council to fully fund the Housing First and Local Rent Supplement Programs tenant-based voucher programs in 2014.
A key theme in this piece is the fact that falling on hard times and into homelessness can happen to anyone. The profile of a struggling single mother who kept fighting for herself and her daughter, only to face an onslaught of new challenges, inspires compassion even for those most removed from poverty in the Greater Washington area:
Nicole is a 30-year-old woman with a knock-out smile. She exudes warmth and joy, and when she greets you with one of her signature hugs, you can’t help but feel a little happier. Nicole’s 7-year-old daughter, Taylor, is a bubbly little girl, with a flair for drama and a mischievous sparkle in her eye. If you saw Nicole and Taylor walking down the street, you might notice their close relationship, or maybe the energy they radiate. Perhaps you wouldn’t notice them at all, because they seem so much like any other mother-daughter pair. You would probably never guess that Nicole and Taylor are residents of the DC General Emergency Family Shelter, DC’s largest shelter for homeless families. You would certainly not be able to imagine the countless ordeals that they have been through…
Nicole’s ordeals included drug-addicted and absent parents, sexual assault, raising a daughter alone, and the financial pressures of students loans and family illness, and then her daughter’s own experience with sexual abuse. Each one of those challenges is more than most of us probably experience in a decade. And, Rothman notes, Nicole is not alone:
In my two years of working at DC General with the Playtime project, I have met a college educated mother of two who lost everything when she escaped domestic violence, a family where both parents lost jobs they’d had for years, a father who had to leave his job after his wife left because he could not find evening day care for his two little girls, and even a mother who used to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Much like Nicole, she never thought she would end up living in a shelter herself. These stories are common, and they are powerful reminders that homelessness can happen to anyone. We as a community must pull together to support these families and help them find solid ground again.
The DC City Council has the opportunity to help address the challenges faced by Nicole, and others staying at DC General and homeless shelters around town, by funding the programs mentioned above. However, the responsibility to help and make a difference goes beyond our local government, and lies with each member of the Greater Washington community. Consider getting involved with a CFP nonprofit that works with those experiencing hunger or homeless as a donor, volunteer, or advocate – more information online here.
Along the paths of echo backwards.
There the words lie in the chest of their old meanings.
But, sad, so foreign. What is it they are saying, those lips.
They speak of different connections and conditions.
As you listen to them speaking
they form a thing that is also changed by them
spell in a language even farther removed
in still another of the chests
inside the mount of the seven chests
thousands and thousands of years before Babylon.
- Poem by Swedish poet, Harry Martinson, born today in 1904. Martinson was awarded a joint Nobel Prize in Literature in 1974 “for writings that catch the dewdrop and reflect the cosmos.”
Yesterday, the Meyer Foundation hosted a workshop about a recent report on next generation philanthropists: #NextGenDonors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy. The report, a project of 21/64 and the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, surveyed thousands of high-capacity Millennial and Gen X donors (ages 21-40) in the United States. High level findings from the report show that next gen donors:
1. Conduct due diligence and do research before deciding whom to support.
2. Decide philanthropic goals or ideal solutions first, and then search for potential recipients who fit those
3. Fund efforts that address root causes and attempt systemic solutions
4. Prefer to have information about an organization’s proven effectiveness or measurable impact before deciding whether to support it
5. Often recommend a cause or organization to others
Many of the other trends that emerged from yesterday’s conversation include the importance of technology in engaging and cultivating donors (like the preference for email or online communications over printed mail) and the importance of demonstrating impact and outcomes. However, I find that these are the same trends that are currently discussed in conversations about “today’s donor” and not just the “30 year old, high capacity donor.”
At the Catalogue, we try to look at all emerging trends in philanthropy from the lens of a small nonprofit. One question at the event yesterday hit the nail on the head, in terms of recognizing the impact of a new donor profile for the small nonprofits with restricted resources and capacity – what does this all mean for us? How do we balance our current donor outreach with the type of specific engagement that is suggested for next generation donors…and continue offering the services and programs that our clients need? There are only so many hours in the day and dollars in the budget.
Not many donors are directly asked to reflect on the constraints that small nonprofits face and consider how this might impact their donor outreach. But for donors who admittedly have a preference or inclination towards the start-ups or little guys, perhaps they should be. It’s a tough question to consider for someone who isn’t immersed in the day-to-day operations of a nonprofit with a budget under $2 or $3 million (or even under $500,000). Obviously certain aspects, like a well-structured and aesthetically pleasing website, are must-have’s for today’s tech savvy world, but other types of donor personalization might be out of reach for an organization with a limited development team. This is gap that the Catalogue attempts to fill – addressing the information asymmetry in the philanthropy marketplace by allowing small nonprofits’ best versions to shine and connecting them to donors with whom those stories resonate.
How does your nonprofit attempt to engage millennial or next gen donors? Do you have specific outreach for this demographic? Let us know what you think!
Earlier this month, TEDxChange 2013 took place in Seattle, Washington. TED talks and TEDx events have gone viral over the past few years, taking place in cities and communities across the globe. TEDxChange 2013 focused on the theme of “positive disruption” and featured a speaker from our own community here in Greater Washington. Julie Dixon, Deputy Director of the Georgetown Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC) and a friend of the Catalogue, was one of the six speakers at TEDxChange 2013, talking about social change and the currency of influence.
At Georgetown, Julie considers the intersection of digital media and social good, and presented the idea in her TED talk that social influence is perhaps the most valuable resource that each of us possess today. In the nonprofit and philanthropy sectors, the focus is often on mobilizing money from donors, time and skills from volunteers, but few organizations actively ask for supporters to use their influence on behalf of the common good. Julie posed the audience with a question — do likes on Facebook and retweets on Twitter really matter? — and definitively answered it with a yes. A well-crafted tweet or Facebook comment has the potential to find a kidney donor, raise money for the victim of bullying, or gain attention for local, state, or national legislation.
In Washington, influence is the currency of the day in for-profit and government circles. Isn’t it time that the not-for-profit sectors start using for social benefit as well?
Put it this way: Jazz is a good barometer of freedom…In its beginnings, the United States of America spawned certain ideals of freedom and independence through which, eventually, jazz was evolved, and the music is so free that many people say it is the only unhampered, unhindered expression of complete freedom yet produced in this country.
- American jazz musician, Duke Ellington, born today in 1899 in Washington, D.C. Playing over 20,000 performances worldwide, Ellington made an indelible mark on jazz history and transcended racial boundaries to share his music.