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Our "Adventures in Philanthropy" blog posts are written by our staff and diverse membership and offer a glimpse into the world of philanthropy, presenting current issues and information relevant to funders, policymakers, members of the media, and those interested in current issues and giving trends.

 

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The Giving Life: Stories About the Purpose, Passion, and Power of Generosity and Service – Jilliane Shear

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, March 3, 2014
March 3, 2014
 
In November 2013 we held an inspirational evening showcasing individual stories of generosity and service.

Seven people - philanthropists, activists, community, and public service workers – each told a 5-minute true, personal tale about the transformative power of leading a "giving life.”

Presented by The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers’ Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund and The Stoop Storytelling Series, the evening highlighted giving and honored the goal of the Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund – to encourage and promote philanthropy in our community.

With the theatre alive from the music of Baltimore musicians Letitia VanSant and the Bonafides, The Creative Alliance at the Patterson was filled with members of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, nonprofit partners, friends and members of the community who came together to be inspired by a diverse group of people excited to share their story of giving.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts designed to bring each story to life. Our hope is that this event and these help to catalyze more giving in our community

Everyone Has a Story. What’s Yours?
 
"Eight years ago when my daughter was born ... the one thing I knew I wanted to share with her in my life was running.”

Jilliane Shear is a crazy and fun coach who brings happiness and joy to children. She inspires and motivates kids even on days when she’s not feeling so inspired herself.
Read our other blog posts from ABAG's The Giving Life series:  

The Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund aims to share philanthropy's message beyond the ABAG membership and to build connections between charitably-minded people, organizations and institutions to strengthen our community. As the Resource on Grantmaking, Network for Givers, and Voice for Philanthropy, the mission of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective grantmakers. www.abagrantmakers.org

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund  BNLF  Giving  March 2014 Members' Memo  Philanthropy  The Giving Life 

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Giving Forecasts & Trends

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Wednesday, December 18, 2013
GIVING FORECASTS & TRENDS
 
Recenty released giving data:

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2014. In her fifth annual industry forecast, scholar, blogger, and philanthropy wonk Lucy Bernholz uses both the American and European landscapes to discuss the new "digital civil society" and the challenges and opportunities that arise from it. 
 
Key Facts on U.S. Foundations (October 2013). This is the primary publication in which the Foundation Center documents the overall size of the U.S. foundation community and provides perspective on the giving priorities of the nation's largest foundations. The outlook for 2013 is for continued modest growth overall. 
 
2013 Foundation Operations and Management Report.  This report, based on survey responses from 762 Association of Small Foundations members, benchmarks foundation boards, investments, administration, and grantmaking.
 
■ Forbes rated the top donors of 2012 in its second annual philanthropy issue -- along with other insights "for anyone who believes in market-based, permanent answers to large-scale problems."

Blackbaud Index (October 2013 report). The index, which tracks U.S.-based charitable giving, showed that overall charitable giving in the first 10 months of 2013 has grown 4.4% compared with the same period of 2012.  (Related: December 2 USA Today article)
 
Thank you to our colleagues at The Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers for compiling this information.

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy  Data  Giving 

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#Baltimore Twives So That Healthcare for the Homeless May Receive

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Wednesday, June 13, 2012
June 13, 2012
 
Guest Blog Post, By Kate Bladow

Thursday, June 14, is Twive and Receive, a 24-hour online giving competition organized by Razoo. Nationally, cities have been encouraged to participate, and over 200 cities have signed up. Each participating city has picked a local nonprofit to support, and the three cities that raise the most will win a share of the $30,000 prize for their selected nonprofit.

Baltimore is one of the participating cities, and a small group of people, most of whom met through Twitter, selected the city's nonprofit: Healthcare for the Homeless, which provides health-related services, education, and advocacy to reduce the incidence and burdens of homelessness.
 
Together, Stephanie Dickard, Rodney Foxworth, Tracy Gold, Jessica Platt, Keisha Reed, Andrea Snyder, Christina Voll, Gary Williams, and I have been using our combined knowledge of social media, community building, public relations, and Baltimore to create a strategy that brings the city together to support Healthcare for the Homeless.

Want to help and show that #Baltimore is America's Most Charitable City? Here's how:

Schedule a donation for Thursday at http://bit.ly/TwiveBmore To count, it needs to happen on June 14. (If you want to schedule your donation now, use the "Schedule one for Twive and Receive 2012” link under Make Your Donation.)

Join us at Dangerously Delicious Pies in Canton on June 14 from 5:30-7:30 pm to learn about the work of Health Care for the Homeless, celebrate Twive and Receive, and listen to Street Voices, a singing group made up of Health Care for the Homeless' staff.

Tell your friends: tweet (#twivebmore), post on Facebook, send an email, or make a phone call.
 
With help from everyone, we think Healthcare for the Homeless can win the top prize - $15,000. That's enough to provide basic medical supplies for 150 homeless families.

If Twive and Receive seems familiar to you, it's because this isn't the first online giving competition Razoo has organized. Others include GiveMN, DC Give to the Max Day, and, most recently, Cultures of Giving, in which Baltimore's [ABAG Member] Associated Black Charities raised more than $70,000.
 
These competitions are part of Razoo's goals of encouraging nonprofits to think innovatively about fundraising and helping nonprofits to engage with millennials and other digitally savvy donors.

To watch the Twive and Receive competition on Thursday, go to TwiveAndReceive.org and follow #twivereceive or #twivebmore on Twitter.

Kate can be reached at: kbladow@gmail.com


Tags:  gen x  giving  millenials  Next Generation  online  philanthropy  technology 

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Investing in Capacity Building

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The third Annual Nonprofit Summit just took place in Frederick and we invited Rebecca Southers, Grants Coordinator at The Ausherman Family Foundation to guest blog about the foundation's support of the Summit and commitment to investing incapacity building for nonprofits in Frederick County.

 

One of my first assignments as a staff member of the Ausherman Family Foundation was to help The Frederick Rescue Mission to improve their grant writing capacity, bringing more resources into Frederick County. When I asked the staff for their case statement I was informed that it didn't yet exist so I began with staff interviews, a preliminary case statement, and a presentation to the board of directors. This resulted in the hiring of a case manager who is now measuring program outcomes in a more comprehensive way than had ever been done previously.

This is also a classic example of how organizational capacity building works – one strand is pulled and the whole web changes shape.

The staff members and Trustees of the Ausherman Family Foundation are passionate about building a strong and vibrant nonprofit community in Frederick County, Maryland, and this passion has guided the foundation's work. The Ausherman Family Foundation's capacity building grant program provides funds for consultants to help organizations develop anything from a marketing plan to a program evaluation plan.

My role as Grants Coordinator at the foundation was created to strengthen our nonprofit community: As in the example above, I provide grantwriting technical assistance to selected grantees.

We have also, in partnership with the Community Foundation of Frederick County and HandsOn Frederick County, facilitated a Nonprofit Summit for the past three years.

The Nonprofit Summit is a one day training event that brings high quality, low cost professional development to Frederick County. The first Summit was held in March 2009 and it has grown each year. In March 2011, 167 nonprofit executives, board members, staff, and volunteers attended.

Our nonprofit community finds value in this local training event both for the learning opportunities and the opportunities to build partnerships. Sue Oehmig, Executive Director of Hope Alive, attended the Summit with several board members who walked away with new information and a plan of action. Sue wrote, "Our board members…plan to meet in the coming month to begin to implement a lot of changes on how the board meetings are run and to incorporate much more strategic thinking.”

Carol Goundry, a member of The Banner School's parent organization, got to experience the depth and diversity of our nonprofit community. She observed, "As a first time attendee, I found the sessions to be engaging, professional, and informative. It is great to know so many great nonprofit organizations exist in Frederick County.”

As I darted in and out of workshops on topics ranging from "Leading Through a Crisis” to "Nonprofit Storytelling” the thing I enjoyed the most was observing my community's leaders helping each other brainstorm solutions to a problem during a small group activity or reflecting on new ideas over lunch.

Place-based philanthropy and organizational capacity building complement each other well. As a local funder, we know our local leaders and believe in the power of our local nonprofits to address our community's problems. We can also take the time to build relationships with those local leaders and nonprofits in order to help them improve their service to the community.

The Ausherman Family Foundation will continue to invest in capacity building programs like the Nonprofit Summit in order to "provide support for institutional initiatives and transformational ideas.”

I invite your thoughts below about investing in capacity building!

Rebecca can be reached at:

*Phone: 301-620-4468
*Cell: 240-439-9952
*Connect withher on Linkedin
*FollowThe Ausherman Family Foundation on Twitter

Tags:  Ausherman  Community  Family  Foundation  Giving  Investing  Nonprofit  Philanthropy  Sector 

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The Philanthropic Response to Japan

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, April 4, 2011

April 3, 2011

Our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the recent earthquake, aftershocks and tsunami in Japan. The preliminary numbers on those affected by these disasters are staggering. Japanese police estimate that the death toll from the quake and tsunami will surpass 18,000, while the World Bank reports that it could take five years to rebuild, at a cost of up to $235 billion.

With the scale of destruction and resulting needs vast, people have responded accordingly with quick and significant contributions to support relief efforts. Nearly three weeks after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, American donors have contributed more than $161 million for relief efforts, according to a recent Chronicle of Philanthropy tally.

Foundations and businesses in the region are acting swiftly to assist, including Constellation Energy Group, Citi, McCormick & Co., CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Bank of America, IBM, Northrop Grumman, T. Rowe Price, Verizon and Wells Fargo.

In the coming weeks and months, Japan will continue to need the world's attention. As with any disaster, it's important to remember that raising the money may be the easy part. Responding to any crisis requires immediate, intermediate, and long-range support for victims.

We are often compelled to respond immediately — and certainly there is a need for such support. But as with all donations, contributions to disaster relief should be considered carefully. Where, when, and by whom can it be put to best use? Remember, it's important to give but it's equally important to give wisely.

Experts recommend that the best way to help the victims is to donate cash rather than in-kind donations like clothing and canned goods. Donors also should consider giving to organizations with a proven track record and to those with a long-standing history of relief work.

Several Baltimore-based humanitarian organizations are assisting Japan:

-Catholic Relief Services: www.crs.org

-Lutheran World Relief: www.lwr.org

-World Relief: www.worldrelief.org

-International Orthodox Christian Charities: www.iocc.org

Two years from now, the Japan earthquakes and tsunami probably won't be a prominent topic of everyday conversation, but for those affected by the disaster the effects will still be omnipresent. Recognize that, unfortunately, giving to charities for disaster relief needs to be on all of our yearly contribution lists.

To find information about Japan relief efforts and to follow the local philanthropic response, visit, friend and follow ABAG at: www.abagrantmakers.org, www.facebook.com/ABAGrantmakers and on Twitter at @ABAGrantmakers.

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  community  disaster  efforts  foundation  funding  giving  Japan  philanthropy  relief 

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More in the Middle

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, March 21, 2011

March 21, 2011

In spite of gains over the recent decades, inequities in income, employment, educational attainment, housing and business ownership rates persist between African American and white communities at a national and local level.

To address this, Associated Black Charities of Maryland (ABC) launched "More in the Middle”, an asset and wealth building initiative that aims to strengthen the economic competitiveness of the state and region by supporting -- through public policy, grant making, project incubation, research, convening, and advocacy --the increased access and opportunity needed to achieve more equitable economic outcomes between whites and African Americans, as well as other people of color.

More in the Middle has an ambitious, data-driven, outcomes based intervention and investment strategy to address the economic vitality and health parity for all Marylanders by surfacing and working with its partners to eliminate long-standing and institutional barriers to people of color. ABC recognizes that if the state can retain, grow, and attract "More in the Middle”—more African American middle income residents who will help grow the economy of the region and spread their economic gains across the state – then the "economic renaissance” seen in some areas of the state will expand to others, bringing more income, an increased tax base, a broader workforce pipeline of leaders and workers, and a more robust economy.

Diane Bell McKoy, President and CEO of Associated Black Charities, noted "the More in the Middle agenda is one that offers an "on-ramp” for everyone in the state of Maryland. It is really simple. If you believe in the development of human capital; if you recognize that areas with on-going, long-lasting economic weaknesses are bad for growing and sustaining families, businesses, and prosperity; and if you understand that strengthening economically distressed ‘linchpin' groups positively affect and strengthen the families, communities, and social and economic structures around them, then you can find an access point to the More in the Middle agenda.”

Associated Black Charities was founded in 1985 to represent and respond to an African American community whose issues and realities were being dismissed or ignored. Concerned about the limited access, opportunities, and "voice” allowed these communities in greater society, a group of area ministers and businessmen came together to call for an organization that would raise and distribute funds to organizations targeting needs within Maryland's African American communities.

In its 26th year, Associated Black Charities is a respected public foundation. With the investment of its partners, including individual donors, corporations, foundations and other public and private funds, ABC continues its mission to facilitate the creation of measurably healthier and wealthier communities throughout the State of Maryland through responsible leadership and philanthropic investment.

I applaud Associated Black Charities for its dedication to strong, healthy, and economically viable communities by creating opportunities for all Marylanders.

For more information on Associated Black Charities and it's More in the Middle Initiative, visit http://www.abc-md.org/.

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  associated  black  charities  diversity  foundations  giving  philanthropy 

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"Nonprofits Should Share Tales of Generosity"

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Friday, February 4, 2011
February 3, 2011

In my previous column, I outlined the public policy challenges ahead for nonprofits and philanthropy in 2011. One of my colleagues, Adam Donaldson, member services director at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, makes the point that now, as Congress and the Maryland General Assembly wrestle with record deficits and the national debt, there is greater need to promote understanding of philanthropy and showcase the work of local grantmakers and nonprofit organizations. Otherwise, our leaders are making decisions about us without knowing us.

Here is what Adam has to say:

"Like many, I used to mark anonymous on the pledge form with my charitable gifts so I would not be listed in any annual reports. Anonymity seemed to infuse my donations with sincerity; plus my mom always warned me that I would start to be solicited by all of the ‘cancer people’ and then my name sold to the a sheriffs’ association who would call during dinner. She was right. Moms always are.

"But now I have caller ID, and what Mom later acknowledged is that knowing about my donations motivated her to give as well. Now I tell anyone who will listen what charities I support and why I care about their work. On an individual scale, each name listing and conversation ignites interest in my causes and inspires more giving.

"On the scale of institutions, the same lesson leverages investment in their work and aligns partners to maximize community impact. I am convinced that nonprofits and foundations should share stories of their generosity and successful strategies to address community needs. Stories can help spread promising practices, earn champions, attract new ideas, and encourage more giving.

"The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers has always worked with grantmakers to promote their good work. We channel these stories through news media, including the bi-weekly column in The Daily Record, and ABAG’s blog, website (www.abagrantmakers.org), e-newsletter, along with Facebook and Twitter.

"These efforts combat a measurable awareness deficit among the public and government leaders. In the field of philanthropy, national research conducted by the Philanthropy Awareness Initiative found that only four in 10 influential Americans can name a foundation and only one in 10 can identify a foundation’s impact on an issue they care about. Nonprofit organizations are better known because they deliver direct services, but too few of us have knowledge of the operations, strategies, and collaborations propelling those services.

"We are all ambassadors for the organizations we care about, whether it is simply our favorite coffee shop or a national cancer research center. Whether a donor, staff member, or trustee of a foundation or nonprofit, you have a communication role to play. And now, perhaps more than ever, it is vital also to educate legislators about the role of nonprofit organizations and philanthropy in society.

"I hope one of your New Year’s resolutions will be to step away from anonymity and help build awareness of your charity. Start with your Mom, but then ask your favorite organization how you can help.”

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  awareness  giving  news  nonprofits  philanthropy  policymakers  promote  promotion  stories 

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Budget Cuts, Tax Changes Worry Nonprofits

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Friday, January 21, 2011
Congress is back to work and, candidly, the nonprofit sector is nervous.

In addition to calls to cut spending and reduce the deficit, the Obama administration is pushing a tax code overhaul over the next two years. Both efforts could have a negative impact on nonprofit organizations and the people they serve.

And, with many new members of Congress, there has never been a more important time to educate elected representatives about the role of nonprofit organizations and philanthropy in society.

According toThe Chronicle of Philanthropy, the nonprofit sector can expect a number of possible challenges in 2011.

First, there may be less understanding of how much the federal government relies on local nonprofits to deliver public services. The House of Representatives has 93 new members, the largest freshman class in years.

Second, many legislators campaigned for office last year promising to reduce spending. In times like this, grants to safety-net programs and social services are especially vulnerable.

Third, specific federal programs scheduled for expansion, such as AmeriCorps and the Social Innovation Fund, are unlikely to grow. These programs support volunteerism and expansion of promising solutions to our most pressing social problems.

Fourth, new leadership in Congress may bring greater scrutiny of the nonprofit sector.

Finally, efforts to raise revenue and overhaul the tax code may touch upon the sacred benefits of nonprofit status — tax-exemption and the tax deduction for charitable giving.

Getting the word out

Many groups knowledgeable about nonprofits and philanthropy will need to educate newly elected officials as well as keep returning policymakers up to date with the latest information.

Nationally, groups like Independent Sector and the Council on Foundations are already at work to advance a number of issues on behalf of the sector.

Locally, Maryland Nonprofits acts as a strong voice for nonprofits. Its Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute studies state government fiscal policy to understand how it affects vulnerable populations and community programs.

As the voice of philanthropy in Central Maryland, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers works with our members to bring the ideas and insights of the philanthropic sector to local, state, and national public policy discussions.

What we have most in common with other associations is a keen understanding of the old adage that all politics is local. That is one reason we devote so much time and energy to sharing stories about the great work of local grant makers and helping our members communicate their impact in the community.

The 2011 Congress may bring about changes affecting the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in a variety of ways, and we are fortunate to have regional and national efforts under way to focus on the value that the sector brings to our quality of life.

But we also need to have others sharing that story too. It is a story all nonprofit organizations can tell and should be telling — especially now.

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  budget  Congress  cuts  federal  giving  nonprofits  obama  philanthropy  president  programs  scrutiny  sector  tax  taxes 

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Finding Career Jobs for Low-Wage Workers

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's always inspiring to start a new year with some good news.

Just before the holidays, it was announced that Baltimore is one of 10 communities to receive a total of $5.5 million in new funding to expand innovative approaches to job training and career support from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions via the federal government's Social Innovation Fund — a landmark effort to co-invest with private philanthropy in identifying solutions to some of the nation's toughest challenges.

The Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, will receive $600,000 over two years to add to its investments in work force partnerships that train and place formerly low-wage workers in career track jobs in biotechnology, construction, health care and food service/culinary arts.

Meeting employers' needs

Work force partnerships bring employers and training providers together in targeted sectors to create training and career support programs that meet the needs of employees and employers.

"The highly effective work force partnerships supported by the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative are meeting the needs of our region's employers while training and placing formerly low-wage workers in jobs that can support their families and lead to a career — even in this difficult economy,” said Marci Hunn of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, a co-chair of the Baltimore Funders Collaborative.

Along with the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, other members of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative include the Mayor's Office of Employment Development, the Abell Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose associate director for civic sites and investments, Patrice Cromwell, joins Hunn as co-chair.

Dollar-for-dollar match

In the press release that accompanied the announcement of the award, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake noted that she "was extremely proud to receive word that Baltimore had been selected as one of the first recipients of a Social Innovation Fund award.”

The Social Innovation Fund award establishes a dollar-for-dollar match from the Living Cities Integration Initiative for work force training announced as part of a larger award to Baltimore several months ago. Staff and logistical support for the Collaborative comes from the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

We are particularly proud to have received this grant because the Social Innovation Fund is an innovative new federal funding source that addresses major challenges confronting communities by growing high-impact nonprofit organizations delivering proven solutions.

This blog post was originally published in the Daily Record, as part of a bi-weekly column series written by ABAG President Betsy Nelson


Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  Baltimore  collaborative  foundations  fund  giving  innovation  philanthropy  social  solutions  workforce 

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At Nonprofits, Need is Still Up and Funding is Still Down

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Monday, December 20, 2010

As the year draws to a close, I have been reflecting upon the accomplishments of, and challenges for, the Maryland philanthropic community over the past 12 months. We continue to be in challenging times, both as citizens and as players in the philanthropic landscape.

While the economy may be improving for some, those of us in the nonprofit arena recognize that many of our citizens continue to struggle.

Today's challenges are hitting a much larger segment of our community. And, unlike past downturns, the descent was faster, affecting people and organizations in more unexpected ways. More people need assistance, and we aren't seeing signs that this will decline soon.

The irony is that as more individuals and families experience financial and associated social difficulties, the charities whose missions are to offer assistance are financially challenged themselves.

Long story short, the need is up and the funding is still down — there has been a rebound in the market, but foundation assets aren't back to the pre-recession figures. Government funding and contracts, actually one of the largest sources of funding for social services, has declined, again, showing no signs of changing any time soon.

In previous downturns, I had predicted that we would see nonprofits merging with others, or closing their doors. Overall, I was proven wrong. I have come to realize that by nature, nonprofits are often scrappy organizations, with resiliency that we often underestimate. While we have seen a few organizations shut down, along with an occasional merger, we have not seen major disruption yet. I do fear that we have a number of fragile organizations that are just barely surviving.

How have philanthropies responded?

Funders are looking carefully at how their grantees manage and plan for difficult times. Some have offered technical assistance training for organizations on steps they can take to better position themselves to make it through these tough times.

And, funders are placing an increased emphasis on reviewing the financial stability of an organization and understanding what impact particular projects are having on an organization's financial health. Having a reserve fund has allowed some organizations to weather the downturn.

For some funders, the response to having less money to distribute has been to winnow the group of organizations they are supporting. Over the past year, many boards engaged in thoughtful, challenging conversations around priorities, expectations for their grants, and how best to respond to the current situation.

Finally, I have observed that more funders are looking at funding basic human needs, knowing that the recession is making life more difficult for more people in our community.

While some recent surveys indicate there may be a beginning of an economic recovery in the nonprofit sector, many are still hurting. My hope is that this holiday season our community continues the great spirit of generosity so tied to this time of year. Happy Holidays to all.

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  challenging  economy  foundations  funders  giving  grantmaking  need  nonprofits  philanthropy 

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IBM Grant to Help Baltimore Deliver Services

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Thursday, December 9, 2010

IBM recently inaugurated the Smarter Cities Challenge, a competitive grant program that will award $50 million worth of technology and services to help 100 municipalities across the world — including Baltimore.

Teams of IBM experts will provide city leaders with recommendations for successful growth, better delivery of municipal services, more citizen engagement and improved efficiency.

This new program is the single-largest philanthropic investment planned by IBM, which made $186 million worth of charitable contributions in 2009.

Over the next three years, IBM consultants will immerse themselves in local issues involving the administration of health care, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy and utilities.

To ensure the success of the Smarter Cities Challenge, IBM is conducting a series of pilot grants in Baltimore, and Austin, Texas, and the Charlotte, N.C., area that are producing valuable insight into how cities might derive the greatest benefit from IBM’s expertise, and will serve as a model for engagements elsewhere.

"We are honored to have been the first city chosen for IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. "Over the last number of weeks, we enjoyed brainstorming with IBM about making the delivery of Baltimore City’s citizen services even more effective.

"It was refreshing to hear new and creative points of view, and inspiring to hear about the successful approaches undertaken by other like-minded cities. I was particularly pleased that they quickly grasped our vision for the future and offered strategies for realizing and even enhancing those potential plans.”

Corporations are finding it increasingly important to have their giving be relevant internally — to employees and other company stakeholders — and are choosing to give more in line with their business focus and expertise. To this end, companies have a great opportunity to "donate” corporate acumen and talent for the betterment of the community.

"Our work with Smarter Cities reflects IBM’s belief that urban areas are increasingly central to society,” said Jim Sellinger, IBM vice president & senior location executive for the Baltimore region. "Many local employees are eager to apply their expertise toward the communities in which they live and work.

"What’s interesting about the Smarter Cities Challenge is that we’re also bringing in IBM employees for these pro bono engagements who happen to live elsewhere,” he added. "These folks can provide a fresh perspective to long-standing local challenges, and can suggest or apply the successful strategies that their communities or work-engagements in other cities may have employed.”

I applaud IBM for their investment in Baltimore and other "Smart Cities” and for leveraging the talent and expertise of their employees to increase their overall corporate "gift.”

Betsy Nelson is the President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or bnelson@abagrantmakers.org.

Tags:  Baltimore  corporate  giving  IBM  philanthropy 

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Women's Philanthropy Emerges as a Force

Posted By Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 7, 2010

Women's Philanthropy Emerges as a Force

In the last 20 years there has been an astounding growth in women's funds, women's giving circles, women leading major fundraising efforts, and women donating millions of dollars to causes they care deeply about. A newly published book, "Women & Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World," recounts these phenomena.

I spoke with Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, co-author along with Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor, about their motivation for writing this book.

"Philanthropy has changed a great deal in the last two decades," Beaudoin-Schwartz said. "Even a few years ago, few were talking about passion, values, vision and responsibility. Now those terms and usage are commonplace. Now they mean women's philanthropy. In effect, women's philanthropy has led the way and 'reinvented' fundraising.

"As the communications director at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, I have seen firsthand how women's philanthropy has flourished in our community. We now have over 25 giving circles, bringing hundreds of women together to make their communities better."

No contradiction in terms

She noted that some still don't understand that "women's philanthropy" is not a contradiction in terms. Too often women are not taken seriously as philanthropists. And when they are, the ways women are approached to donate don't take into account how women give and what they care about.

The authors felt compelled to address these continuing issues, to foster an understanding that women now make up more than half the population and are perhaps the largest of many nonprofit organizations' donor constituencies. They also feel there's a need to update the concepts of fundraising that best appeal to women and will lead to the creation of more women philanthropic leaders.

Beaudoin-Schwartz pointed out that even administratively, organizations aren't adapting to this trend. For example, most nonprofit computer systems are designed to credit only one donor - the man.

Women are increasingly engaged in giving circles, global giving, transformative gifts, entrepreneurial giving, faith-based giving, family and couple giving, and social change gifts.

Changing the face of philanthropy

Sondra, Martha and Buffy spoke with numerous women and in the book, they identify strategies to better engage women in giving, as well as insights into developing women leaders in the nonprofit and philanthropic arenas to help shape the future for the better.

Christine Grumm, president and CEO of the Women's Funding Network, believes that the importance of writing a book like "Women and Philanthropy" is that it provides a look at what has been, but more important, it also provides a road map for what is possible for women as donor leaders in changing the face of philanthropy.

There's no doubt that women's philanthropy will continue to grow to become an even more powerful force and our region - and this country - will be better for it.


- Betsy Nelson, President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers
bnelson@abagmd.org.

Tags:  giving  philanthropy  women 

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