Summer 2006 Article Reprints

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On the Road to Find Out
On the Road to Find Out
On the Road to Find Out by Ruth McCambridge What are the factors in their external environments that nonprofits need to monitor in order to stay healthy and stay at peak performance, and is it really viable for smaller nonprofits to watch so many things at once? “On the Road to Find Out” frames this edition of NPQ by examining how nonprofit isolationism, tempting as it may sometimes be, puts our effectiveness and our survival at risk. Citing vivid examples, it urges leaders to take a closer look at the value of loose and decentralized networks as excellent early trend detection and advocacy mechanisms. [5 pages; 2.7Mb]
In Whose Interest
In Whose Interest
Do national nonprofits advocating on behalf of politically or economically marginalized people and communities truly represent their interests or those of their donors? Do they make democracy stronger through providing vehicles for citizen engagement in policy making or are they yet another elitist mechanism of a closed system? Cindy Gibson looks at how these groups are structured, finding that many of them make a clear distinction between their constituents (those on whose behalf they work) and their members (those who contribute). She also finds high degrees of “professionalized” strategies and some indication that the issues they take up are arguably less about bread and butter concerns and more about the concerns of those who already have their fill of the staples of life. By Cynthia M. Gibson
In Whose Interest edre130202
Founders Who are Effective Over Time
Founders Who are Effective Over Time
What makes nonprofit founders be effective over time? What factors contribute to efforts to achieve significant social change? In a comparative analysis of several cases of long-lived social entrepreneurship from around the world, Alvord, Brown, and Letts consider the necessary ingredients for creating and sustaining initiatives that address social, political, and economic inequality. While the study remains inconclusive, the authors highlight certain strategies, dimensions of leadership, and organizational arrangements that may be important to success in working with poor and marginalized populations.
Emerging Nonprofit and Foundation Enforcement Issues
Emerging Nonprofit and Foundation Enforcement Issues
What are the current challenges in charitable law enforcement, and how much more government regulation is in the offing? This article by a state regulator focuses on state government’s role overseeing charitable funds and information, and shows the extent of changes in electronic filing, fundraising and the Internet (voluntary guidelines through the Charleston Principles), and Sarbanes-Oxley style enhanced reporting and audit requirements. [5 pages; 1.5Mb]
Tiny Bubbles: A Guide to the New New Nonprofit Economy
Tiny Bubbles: A Guide to the New New Nonprofit Economy
In the nonprofit world, we are typically faced with some combination of fads, bubbles, and, sometimes, a burgeoning movement. The latest trend in the sector includes the purported paradigm shift that relates to a reinvigorated businesslike approach for nonprofits, a potential change in the focus of nonprofit philanthropy from charity to investment, and the development of new tools for effectiveness measurement. [8 pages; 1Mb]
Phoenix in Calgary
Phoenix in Calgary
When the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Canada’s fifth largest orchestra, sought bankruptcy protection in 2002, the conventional wisdom was that the Orchestra could not be saved. Using a broad-based and participatory turnaround strategy that engaged musicians, board, funders, and community supporters and patrons, the Orchestra managed to not only survive, but reach a new level of program and financial sustainability. [9 pages; 2.5Mb]
On Nonprofit Investment Income
When your nonprofit gets ready to invest, or if it already has an investment portfolio what should your board know about the legal framework within which nonprofits must invest? What are the rules of practice that a thoughtful and prudent board should observe? Woods Bowman and Elizabeth Keating take on these questions and more in an excerpt from a chapter on investment income to be published in September 2006. As always, Bowman and Keating address complicated concerns like balancing risk and return in a decidedly straightforward manner. They end with a discussion of “Dos and Don’ts." This is an excellent handout for boards. [5 pages; 648k]
Should Your Nonprofit Build an Endowment?
“To endow or not endow?” That is the question raised by Mark Hager as he considers the risks and rewards of building an organizational endowment. For example, while nonprofits often see endowments as the holy grail of stability, few may think about the implications of the permanently restricted nature of those large investment pots. Endowments can certainly be gifts that keep on giving in more ways than one, including the fact that well-endowed organizations often attract additional investments for their promise of long standing benefit. On the other hand, some donors may shy away from such organizations in the thought that there are others more in need of their money. Ay, there’s the rub, and another reason to read on before weighing this important decision. [3 pages; 345Kb]
Getting a Grip on the Regulatory Landscape
Judith Millensen, a professor at Ohio University provides readers with a brief lesson plan developed for her nonprofit management class using NPQ’s map of the nonprofit regulatory landscape published in 2005. This lesson plan can be used by academics as well as nonprofit leaders to train boards, managers or constituents on what the organization needs to do to stay in business. The overall objective of the lesson is to provide learners with an opportunity to study the U.S. regulatory environment and gain an understanding of how regulation (at every level of government) influences the daily administrative practices of nonprofit organizations. [3 pages; 2.6Mb]
The Enron Family Philanthropies
How did the charitable and community involvements of the Enron defendants compare to their business practices? What are the implications for the nonprofit recipients of their contributions? This article goes into great depth to examine the uses of foundations and contributions by former Enron executives Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and others, showing that the principal uses of the funds were self serving image and social position enhancement. Some foundation funds were seized by court order. The article raises legal and ethical questions about the proper use of foundations and fundraising practices, and argues that nonprofits should have asked more questions before accepting funds from Lay and Skilling. [8 pages; 480Kb]