Topic: News

Care2 be a B Corp?

This great website site project,  Care2 , helps you to be active in your desire to make a difference in your home, your community or global society. It’s uniquely structured a lot like a Moroccan bazaar: A little bit of everything for everybody.

You could focus on promoting a cause that you are passionate about to your friends, your soon to be friends or other members.  Members and others can search causes categorically or you can customize your causes specific to your interests, creating a ‘home page’ of causes or requesting a newsletter to be designed for you with information on just those causes you follow.

Members can also take a more personalized approach, finding valuable information on their health issues, ways to live a greener lifestyle, parenting, spirituality and conscious consumerism.

My favorite part of the website is the petition page. Members can set up fundraising, advocacy or cause promotion pages that activate members and friends to support their movement. Here one can also post news stories about their cause, write blog entries specific to their causes mission, or join/start groups supporting their efforts.

Care2 also has a social networking page devoted to friends, status feeds, e-cards, and other group minded activities.

And if that wasn’t enough, Care2 also has a special “deals” page, taking advantage of Groupon, Living Social and other marketing networks, offering socially conscious deals on products, and services.

And all of this is wrapped up in something called Butterfly rewards, which members can earn through their site interaction activities and redeem (give to) good causes online.

There’s a lot going on here.

Care2 is also proud to declare their status as a B Corporation. According to the B Corporation organization website, Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.  B Corps are unlike traditional businesses because they:

  • Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards;
  • Meet higher legal accountability standards;
  • Build business constituency for good business
The group claims to become a B Corp a company or organization must do three things:

1. Take and pass the B Impact Ratings System (Found on their website).  This sets a benchmark for social and environmental impact for good companies.

2. Adopt the B Corporation Legal Framework to bake the mission of the company into its legal DNA.

3. Sign a Term Sheet that makes your certification official.

For more information on how to become a B Corp go to http://www.bcorporation.net/become

Kind of like the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” Or the UL Certification, the B Corp organization is hoping to create a select rating and approval system to help consumers decide which companies are focusing on social good.  According to the B Corp website, only one company in Connecticut has sought or received certification.

Care2 become a B Corp?

Engaging your Board in Fundraising Part II

So I’ve struck a nerve!

More people have written to me about this topic since my last two posts than ever before. So first, thanks for reading. Its good to know that this blog has value in the cyber world for those of us doing the heavy lifting in funding our mission driven nonprofits! Secondly, your response has driven me to develop a series of posts on “Engaging your Board in Fundraising”. I recently had the opportunity to teach at a conference in Boston on just this topic and the feedback and interest was remarkable. So based on that presentation (the PPT can be found at my Linked in site here ), I’ll be blogging over the course of a week in a series, sharing insight and recommendations on board engagement in fundraising.

Enjoy and thanks for your commendations 🙂

Engaging your Board in Fundraising

Boards are complex and can be your best friend and worst enemy.     A frienemy.

We rely on our board for governance, engagement, advocacy, financial authority and leadership. We ask their input, seek their counsel and require their approval. They come to us from the community,  some as a requirement and some as a favor. They are the voice of the people.

From the people, it should therefore be easy for them to go back to the people to ask for support.

But it isn’t always so.

Most executive directors and nonprofit officers will tell you that getting their board to raise funds is one of,   if not THE,   biggest challenge they face.   Its often uncomfortable for the board and the ED to talk about the issue. Fundraising by the board is alluded to in the ED’s reports, it is referred to in the board documents, but it is not always the reality.

We will be presenting an important workshop on September 29th in Boston on just this subject.   Not to be missed!

Hosted by the Center for Nonprofit Success, we will be speaking on “Engaging your Board in Fundraising”:

Your board can be among your most powerful fundraising assets. That is, if you use it correctly. Too often, the board is not involved in fundraising or views fundraising as a daunting task. The result is that many board members neglect their responsibilities, which are then left to staff members who have too many other responsibilities already. To address this problem, your board members need to be reminded of the importance of their fundraising responsibilities, and learn concrete tools and techniques that make fundraising a rewarding task.

Topics we will cover include:

  • Why board members fear fundraising, and what you can do about it
  • What board members need to know to start fundraising
  • Steps for energizing your board even when you are not on the board
  • How to deal with board members who won’t fundraise even when they know they should
  • Building and maintaining the fundraising partnership between the board and  development staff

You will gain fresh ideas to energize your board members about fundraising. The session is designed for beginning to intermediate fundraisers.

Click here for more information on the conference and to register. As conferences go, this one is relatively inexpensive but the material and insight you’ll gain is incredibly rich.

We will see you there!!!

Report: Tour of Missouri needs fiscal policy guide – Kansas City Star

More stories hit the media on financial accountability and NPO’s. Is there an organization out there that can take this 600 pound gorilla on? A group needs to convene to research and make recommendations on what policies and oversight should and could be occurring to ensure donor rights and advocacy of respectful and honorable use of donated funds.

Report: Tour of Missouri needs fiscal policy guide – Kansas City Star

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Be Accountable

From the Hartford Courant, October 7th, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday asked the governor for an accounting of funds from specialty state license plates, saying at least $500,000 has been illegally diverted to Connecticut’s General Fund to help balance the state’s troubled budget……Usurping donor intent after the state solicits and receives such contributions is forbidden by constitutional law, fairness and common sense, Blumenthal said.”

http://www.courant.com/news/local/statewire/hc-ap-ct-licenseplatefundsoct07,0,2140204.story

And so it goes. Not that this is new. Too often, as highlighted in my post of Sept 25th, the ones raising the money and the ones spending the money in an NPO, have mutually exclusive goals. This tension always exists, but appears to increase as the economy forces nonprofits to make some critical operating decisions. And when the decisions are driven by personal gain it becomes all the more egregious. Not that Rell has personal gain in this, but the lack of respect and the hubris in assumption of donated funds as a free checkbook is disturbing and all too common.

If you are on a Board of Trustees you need to become more empowered in your governance role. Ask questions and expect answers. And if it’s still not clear ask some more. Do not allow administration to appease you with arguments of their managerial control and administrative duties vs your role in governance. Ensuring the intent of donor funds is honored is governance.

If you are administering an NPO, check your intentions. If indeed decisions need to be made about donor funds, and the use of such funds that is not in compliance with donor intent, you still have recourse. Go back to the donor or donors and explain the need. Ask permission. Seek counsel from the AG’s office. And if you find you still cannot use the funds to solve the financial issue, then build a case for more donations to meet your need.

Yes its hard work, but thats our role.

Financial Practice Standardization for nonprofits?

Recently, UConn University came under criticism for their financial practices with the UConn Foundation. Unfortunately, this isnt the first time nonprofit organizations have been questioned or targeted for scrutiny of their financial accounting and use of donor funds. Mostly it appears to come from a lack of standard reporting and accounting practices across the industry.  Many groups have long been trying to “‘follow the money”.

In many cases it is merely a practice of unclear or complicated accounting and reporting practices. Groups such as Guidestar.org and the IRS, whose quest has recently brought about a reframing of the 990 form for all nonprofit organizations, have devoted countless hours and resources to this complicated matter.

Most recently, hospitals have been under attack, concerns arising around their use of funds in charity care and other program needs.  Many critics, such as the Washington Post,  claim the IRS rule implementing the law is “so vague that nonprofit hospitals have been able to exploit it by offering some free services but often little aid to the poorest people in their communities.”

In the search for transparency, some universal laws should be considered:

1. Not all charities are alike

2. Nonprofits are predominately run by the very community which supports them financially.

3. Too often the ones raising the funds and the ones spending the funds have competing goals

So a short poll:

Given the recent dramatic increase in new not for profits organizations, the continued increase in philanthropic revenue overall and the increased call for transparency, has the time come for a set of uniform financial accounting and reporting standards to be followed?

1.Yes, it will allow for donors to understand across the board how the money is being received and spent.

2. No, each charity is unique and should account and report specific to its own needs

3. Possibly, but more study is needed.