Note: The following column written by David Biemesderfer, President & CEO of Florida Philanthropic Network, and Rena Coughlin, Board Member of the Florida Nonprofit Alliance, appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat on March 23, 2014:
David Biemesderfer, President and CEO, Florida Philanthropic Network:
In January, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced his legislative proposal to revise Florida’s laws regulating charities and charitable solicitations. His proposal is in response to the Tampa Bay Times’ “America’s Worst Charities” investigative report from last year, which highlighted the unscrupulous practices of for-profit telemarketers used by some charities to solicit donations. Eleven of the charities on the Times’ list of the country’s 50 Worst Charities are in Florida, more than any other state.
Although the vast majority of charities in Florida operate in a proper and responsible manner when seeking contributions, the Times report revealed a handful of organizations that preyed on vulnerable citizens with deceptive and fraudulent practices; spent as much as 90 cents of every dollar raised to generate more donations; and claimed to raise money for worthy causes but actually funneled most of the funds to charity founders themselves and the for-profit telemarketing companies they hired.
It’s easy to be skeptical about Washington these days, what with the apparent rise in partisanship, the seemingly oversized influence of money in politics, and the perception that not much seems to be getting done. So why bother meeting with your congressperson, one may ask, particularly traveling all the way to DC to do it. Is it really worth it? It’s a fair question, and one to which I’d respond with an unequivocal “Yes.”
“Place-based grantmaking” has become a popular term in philanthropic circles over the last several years. As described by the Neighborhood Funders Group, place-based grantmaking illustrates a shift in strategy from a traditional issue- or problem-based philanthropic approach to one focused on improving specific neighborhoods or communities. Instead of a more traditional grantmaking model where funders seek requests for funding proposals from the community related to the funders’ focus areas, place-based grantmaking starts with a focus on a community and then lets the funding priorities surface from the community. Place-based grantmaking strategies have taken many forms and the term itself is used quite liberally to refer to everything from grantmaking based purely on geography to multi-faceted collaborative partnerships among philanthropy, nonprofits and governments aimed at large-scale systems change that leads to healthier communities.
In a recent FPN program, three Florida grantmakers shared different strategies they are using to implement new place-based grantmaking programs in their organizations. Each funder is at a different stage in its program, and they are using different strategies and approaches, but the common thread running through all of their experiences is that they are trying to find new and innovative ways to better engage communities in grantmaking decisions that impact those communities. Continue reading →
Did you know that one of the best predictors of high school graduation and career success is whether or not a child can read proficiently by the end of third grade? A recent study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, for example, showed that students who do not read proficiently by the end of third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a high school diploma than proficient readers. For those who cannot master even basic reading skills by third grade, the rate is nearly six times greater.
Florida Philanthropic Network is pleased to announce that FPN and the Grants Managers Network (GMN) have established a new relationship that will support our respective missions and maximize the value of membership in both organizations. Building on our shared values of collaboration and leadership, we have forged a mutually beneficial partnership that will help us achieve our independent and combined goals. Continue reading →
In late January Dan Pallotta was the closing keynote speaker for Florida Philanthropic Network’s 2013 Statewide Summit on Philanthropy, and people in Florida philanthropy who heard him are still talking about his remarks to this day.
One of Pallotta’s key points Pallotta had to do with our country’s historic focus on a nonprofit’s “overhead” when making funding decisions. The word “overhead” has come to mean something bad or wrong, he pointed out, and “good” nonprofits are the ones who keep their overhead as low as possible. This way of thinking does not recognize that those overhead expenses also help to support a charity’s cause, Pallotta continued. It’s hard for a nonprofit to operate effective programs to fight hunger or homelessness, for example, if it can’t keep the lights on in its office or give its employees decent computers. Continue reading →