Nonprofits are: EMPOWERING

This post is one in a series exploring each of the seven attributes – being productive, empowering, effective, enriching, reliable, responsive, and caring – revealed in the Listening Post’s Nonprofit Values Survey in detail. Please visit the Nonprofit Values overview page to browse our other items from this initiative, including the full report, blog posts, and outreach materials, and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to join the conversation.   For this post, we asked Listening Post Organization and survey respondent Monterey Bay Aquarium to tell us about how their organization works to empower members of their community. This post focuses on two educational programs – Teen Conservation Leaders (TCLs) and Watsonville Area Teens Conserving Habitats (W.A.T.C.H.), and examines the ways in which these programs empower their participants. This post was a collaborative effort between Tritia Moneypenny, TCL Program Lead, and Sonya Sankaran, WATCH Program Lead, and TCL and WATCH alumni Bruny Mora, Sierra Garcia, Isabel Jimenez, and Jonathan Rincon.   ________________________________________   The mission of Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. For high school students that get involved in our programs, inspiration is just the start. They develop a personal connection to the ocean,...

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Nonprofits are: ENRICHING

This post is one in a series exploring each of the seven attributes – being productive, empowering, effective, enriching, reliable, responsive, and caring – revealed in the Listening Post’s Nonprofit Values Survey in detail. Please visit the Nonprofit Values overview page to browse our other items from this initiative, including the full report, blog posts, and outreach materials, and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to join the conversation.   For this post, we asked the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a Listening Post Organization and survey respondent, to tell us about how the symphony embodies one of the seven values. The following guest post by CSO Association President Deborah Rutter looks at several programs that ENRICH the lives of the larger Chicago community and beyond.   ________________________________________   By Deborah Rutter   At the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, we’re constantly exploring how music enriches. The core of that work will always be the transformative musical experiences we create in the concert hall, but the vision of our music director, Maestro Riccardo Muti, is to take transformative musical experience outside of the concert hall as well—to engage people throughout our city, and throughout our world. In pursuing Maestro Muti’s vision, our driving...

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Productive, Responsive, and Caring: Highlighting 3 Nonprofit Values

In December of 2012, we released a major report highlighting seven values that nonprofit leaders agreed were vital to the sector. This report was based upon a survey of 1500 nonprofit organizations around the U.S. conducted by our Listening Post Project.   Our hope in undertaking this survey is that these values will provide a useful framework around which individual nonprofits, and the sector as a whole, can begin a discussion about recommitting to these values internally, and doing a better job of making sure that external stakeholders receive clear messages about the added value these attributes allow the sector to bring to the wider community.   As a step toward this goal, we have asked survey respondents to choose one of the seven values and to tell us about how their organization embodies that value. Thus far, we have highlighted the values of being PRODUCTIVE, CARING, and RESPONSIVE. With the next post in this series planned for later this week, we thought this would be a good time to recap these values.   Click on the images below to learn more!          ...

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Nonprofits are: RESPONSIVE

This post is one in a series exploring each of the seven attributes – being productive, empowering, effective, enriching, reliable, responsive, and caring – revealed in the Listening Post’s Nonprofit Values Survey in detail. Please visit the Nonprofit Values overview page to browse our other items from this initiative, including the full report, blog posts, and outreach materials, and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to join the conversation.   For this post, we asked Listening Post Organization and survey respondent Landis Homes to tell us about how their organization embodied one of the seven values. The following guest post by CEO Larry Zook.   ________________________________________   By Larry Zook   Ever since opening in 1964, Landis Homes has been committed to providing the highest quality in all it does. From early beginnings as a single building in the middle of farm fields in rural Lancaster County, Pa., to currently serving more than 750 persons living in cottages, apartments, suites, personal care and healthcare, Landis Homes has also always been looking forward while listening carefully. From the beginning, we have valued listening to residents and were one of the early retirement communities to encourage a resident council and to...

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Nonprofits are: CARING

This post is one in a series exploring each of the seven attributes – being productive, empowering, effective, enriching, reliable, responsive, and caring – revealed in the Listening Post’s Nonprofit Values Survey in detail. Please visit the Nonprofit Values overview page to browse our other items from this initiative, including the full report, blog posts, and outreach materials, and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to join the conversation.   For this post, we asked Listening Post Organization and survey respondent Liberty Lutheran to tell us about how their organization embodied one of the seven values. The following guest post by Lyndsie Smyser and has also been cross-posted to Liberty Lutheran’s blog, which you can read here.     ________________________________________ By Lyndsie Smyser Liberty Lutheran faithfully provides vital resources for individuals facing life-changing situations, from the earliest stages of life through the many stages of aging. Liberty’s eight families of service provide quality, compassionate care to more than 50,000 individuals every year. Here are just four examples of how our organization demonstrates the value of being caring.     Meet Helen Tobin, a volunteer at Lutheran Children and Family Services Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS) provides a broad...

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Nonprofits are: PRODUCTIVE

This post is one in a series exploring each of the seven attributes – being productive, empowering, effective, enriching, reliable, responsive, and caring – revealed in the Listening Post’s Nonprofit Values Survey in detail. Please visit the Nonprofit Values overview page to browse our other items from this initiative, including the full report, blog posts, and outreach materials, and follow us on Twitter or Facebook to join the conversation.       As discussed in the recent report “What Do Nonprofits Stand For? Renewing the nonprofit value commitment,” this is a critical time for the nonprofit sector. The challenges faced by nonprofit organizations across the U.S. – from caps on the charitable deduction to the imposition of new fees by state and local governments – has created both a challenge to the health of the sector and an opportunity for nonprofits to recommit to the special values that make them such an important part of the American fabric. A crucial part of that recommitment will be a renewed effort to communicate those values in an effective way to stakeholders outside the sector.   The report was based on a survey of nonprofit leaders around the country which attempted to...

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Center Director Lester Salamon on the State of Nonprofit America and the Need for Renewal

On October 5th, 2012, Center Director Lester Salamon delivered a keynote speech, “The State of Nonprofit America and the Need for Renewal,” at the Nonprofit Issues Forum in Atlanta, Georgia.   His presentation drew on the recently published second edition of The State of Nonprofit America, and focused on issues directly related to our recent report, “What do Nonprofits Stand For? Renewing the nonprofit value commitment.” His speech, and the panel discussion that follows, provides a solid background for understanding the need to undertake an examination and renewal of the core principles of the sector in light of current challenges.   Thank you to the Nonprofit Issues Forum, and to the Foundation Center, for posting this video and for hosting the Forum!     For more on the challenges facing the nonprofit sector today, and on the nonprofit values report and renewal conversation, check out the following links, and join us on Twitter or Facebook to share your thoughts!   Report: “What Do Nonprofits Stand For? Renewing the nonprofit value commitment” Post: What Makes Nonprofits Special? News release: Study Reveals What Makes Nonprofits Special Infographic: Seven Nonprofit Values Book: The State of Nonprofit America, Second Edition (2012)    ...

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NEWS RELEASE | New Report: What Do Nonprofits Stand For? Renewing the nonprofit value commitment

Today, we are happy to announce the launch of our report on the core values of the nonprofit sector. You can download the report here and read our background post here.   For Immediate Release   This is a crucial time for nonprofits around the country. As the federal government moves to avoid the fiscal cliff, reduce or cap the federal tax deduction for charitable contributions, which have become an increasingly common feature of budget-balancing measures from both ends of the political spectrum. And on the state and local levels, governments are imposing new taxes and fees on nonprofits in order to make ends meet. Meanwhile, shifts in government payment methods that advantage for-profit businesses have resulted in a reduction of nonprofit market share in many traditional nonprofit fields. Over the past decade, the nonprofit share of private employment has decreased by nearly 8 percent in social assistance, by 4 percent in education, and by 2 percent in health care as for-profit employment in those fields has expanded.   These ongoing challenges are not happening in a vacuum. Increasingly, the realities of nonprofit operations have diverged from the popular understanding of what a nonprofit is and how it operates....

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What makes nonprofits special?

Nonprofit organizations are under assault today as perhaps never before, with consequences that could be profound for the future of these organizations and for those they serve. The most prominent example of this has been proposals to reduce or cap the federal tax deduction for charitable contributions, which have become an increasingly common feature of budget-balancing measures from both ends of the political spectrum.   But the challenges facing the sector do not stop with the charitable deduction. There have been several assaults on the special status of nonprofits in recent years, including the imposition of taxes and other fees by state and local governments and a growing number of demands for nonprofits to make payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs). On top of these pressures, shifts in government payment methods that advantage for-profit businesses have resulted in a reduction of nonprofit presence in many traditional nonprofit fields—over the past decade the nonprofit share of private employment has decreased by nearly 8 percent in social assistance, by 4 percent in education, and by 2 percent in health care; as for-profit employment in those fields has expanded.     WHY NOW? An important part of the reason that nonprofits find...

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Pushing back on taxation of nonprofits: Some lessons from the field

The Listening Post Project has released a new report covering the discussion from a recent Listening Post webinar on nonprofit taxation and government fees, which was convened to dig deeper into some of the findings from the Project’s 2010 survey. Participants identified four strategies that are useful in fending off proposed fees: Mobilize your organization’s strengths. Emphasize your organization’s economic impact. Collaborate with state nonprofit associations, regional or national field coalitions, and/or the National Council of Nonprofits. Pursue legal means to resist potential taxes and fees.   Read more about these strategies in the full report. You can also share your experience with PILOTs/other fees and offer advice to organizations facing similar pressures from state or local governments. Submit your stories to listeningpostproject@jhu.edu or on the CCSS Facebook page, and they’ll be compiled and posted here later.   For more Listening Post news and developments, be sure to follow us on Twitter!  ...

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GuideStar Helps Expand Reach of Listening Post Project Survey on the Nonprofit “Value Proposition”

Those of us in the nonprofit sector know that what we do matters. But have you ever felt unable to effectively communicate the unique contributions of your organization, or feel as though those outside our field don’t really understand the benefits nonprofits bring to the table? To help shed some light on these issues, the Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project fielded a survey to its national network of nonprofits on the “value proposition” of the sector. The survey focused on the value nonprofits bring to American life and how this value is articulated to various stakeholders. Now, GuideStar has teamed up with JHU to bring this crucial and timely topic to a much larger cross section of organizations to make their voices heard. With a network of over 900,000, GuideStar is providing the opportunity for the Listening Post Project’s important work to be carried out on a bigger scale. This partnership enormously benefits the nonprofit sector by allowing thousands of organizations to express their view on the special contributions they make and how valuable they are to the public.   The collaboration with GuideStar is especially significant given the link between communicating the importance of the value proposition and...

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Taxing the Tax-Exempt Sector—A Growing Danger for Nonprofit Organizations

One of the long-standing features of American law has been the principle that nonprofit charitable organizations should be exempt from taxation. However, a recent survey by the Johns Hopkins Listening Post Project found that a surprising number of the responding organizations are currently paying fees, taxes, or payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) to local governments.   On top of this, respondents reported that local governments have been placing increased financial pressure on nonprofits during the current financial crisis.   Survey results varied considerably, however, by field, size of organization, and geographic region. For example: Nearly a fifth of all respondents (17 percent) reported that their services or activities are subject to field-specific taxes, such as taxes on admission charges or bed taxes. These field-specific taxes were much more commonly paid by elderly housing and service organizations (37 percent), by the largest organizations (28 percent), and by nonprofits located in the Northeast.  By contrast, only 7 percent of respondents in small organizations and 11 percent of respondents  in mid-sized organizations reported paying such taxes. Nine percent of respondents reported paying PILOTs to local or state governments, but this share reached 26 percent among elderly service and housing groups, 19 percent among...

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Featured Listening Post | The Benjamin Rose Institute

This post is one in a series of Featured Listening Posts highlighting Listening Post Project participants employing innovative strategies and techniques to address the key challenges we have analyzed in recent Listening Post Soundings.     The Listening Post Project selected the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging (BRI) as a Featured Listening Post because of its effective use of new practices. To learn more about the Institute and its involvement with the Listening Post Project, the Project spoke with Branka Primetica, Senior Research Analyst, and Linda Noelker, Senior Vice President at BRI.     Our Sounding revealed that your organization is more innovative than most. Why do you think this is the case? What structures/systems do you have in place that encourage innovation? The Benjamin Rose Institute (BRI) encompasses a unique mix of services, research, and policy institutes. Collaboration on a variety of projects is essential to innovative practice and service programs. This collaboration allows BRI to remain competitive when seeking grant opportunities. In addition, the Board of Directors promotes a collaborative culture by investing endowment funds to launch new ideas and programs, many of which are strongly encouraged to develop their own revenue streams.   A prime example...

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Featured Listening Post | The Henry Ford

This post is one in a series of Featured Listening Posts highlighting Listening Post Project participants employing innovative strategies and techniques to address the key challenges we have analyzed in recent Listening Post Soundings.     The Henry Ford was formally dedicated by its founder Henry Ford and his friend and mentor, Thomas Edison. Opened in 1929 as a school, this Dearborn, Michigan institution is a National Historic Landmark that tracks 300 years of American history and innovation and serves more than 1.6 million visitors annually. The Henry Ford holds 26 million objects and documents including such icons as Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory, Henry Ford’s Quadricycle, the world’s oldest steam engine, and Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House.       Your organization started a website devoted to innovation, oninnovation.com. Why did you develop this website? What are the benefits of it? How do you measure its effectiveness? In 2008, The Henry Ford began a new oral history project, Collecting Innovation Today, to capture the stories of today’s innovators, people dedicated to changing and improving the world and the way we live. The subjects have included household names, like Bill Gates and Martha Stewart, plus people like “green” architect William...

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Featured Listening Post | North Carolina Symphony

This post is one in a series of Featured Listening Posts highlighting Listening Post Project participants employing innovative strategies and techniques to address the key challenges we have analyzed in recent Listening Post Soundings.     The North Carolina Symphony was founded in 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression. Truly the “people’s orchestra” since its inception, the Symphony has dual legacies of statewide service and music education. Today the Symphony performs 175 concerts each year, in a concert season that takes the orchestra to venues of various shapes and sizes across the entire state of North Carolina, from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks and many places in between.     Have your healthcare costs been going up over the past few years? If yes, by how much? Did this have any impact on services, staff retention, etc.? Up until FY2008, the total cost of health care to our company had increased by more than 100% over a 10-year period, including 27% over the immediate prior two years alone. While health care costs have not directly impacted our organization’s ability to fulfill its mission, they have without question put a strain on available resources and...

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Listening Post Project Year in Review | 2009

It’s been a busy and exciting year for the Listening Post Project. Thanks to our dedicated partners and Listening Post organizations, we were able to achieve the following: The finding of our Health Benefits Sounding that three out of every four nonprofits offering health benefits have experienced an increase in their total direct health insurance costs during the past year helped convince the Senate to include provisions to assist nonprofits in its healthcare reform bill. Our Pensions Benefits Sounding was used by staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (the HELP Committee) to help kick off a set of hearings on pensions. Our Sounding on nonprofit policy priorities led to the Forward Together Declaration endorsed by hundreds of nonprofit leaders across the country and used to help convince Congress to include a new nonprofit capacity-building program in the Serve America Act; Our shovel-ready nonprofit infrastructure Sounding, which documented $166 billion worth of “shovel-ready” nonprofit projects, has been used by state nonprofit associations across the country to help nonprofits get access to state decisions on Economic Recovery funding.   The project also: Created a customized report function that enables us to provide each Sounding participant with...

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We’re listening — give us your thoughts on future Listening Post Soundings!

The Listening Post Project seeks to “take the pulse” of the nonprofit sector by fielding surveys on timely issues for nonprofits and making sure the findings are broadly disseminated to the sector and beyond. In the past year, we have covered cutting-edge topics such as what nonprofits want from the new presidential administration and how they are faring in the economic downturn.   Most recently we have gathered extremely valuable data on the state of nonprofit healthcare benefits and pensions,which have been instrumental in helping to get nonprofits on the national policy agenda.   As 2010 approaches, we want to ensure that the Listening Post Project remains at the forefront of knowledge-gathering for the nonprofit sector. We will be fielding a survey on nonprofit innovations and performance measurement in early January.   What are some other topics you would like to see in following Soundings? Please let us know!  ...

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Retiring Retirement Benefits

Our most recent Sounding found that the majority of retirement benefit programs at nonprofits are under stress at the present time. Nonprofits offering “defined benefit plans” (plans with a guaranteed benefit) have been particularly hard hit, with 76 percent reporting that their plans are currently under stress and 43 percent reporting severe or very severe stress.   Even those offering “defined contribution plans” (plans with investments controlled by the employee and no guaranteed benefit) have been affected, however, with 58 percent reporting that their plans are under stress. As a result, organizations have been forced to reduce retirement benefits, scale back employer matches, end future benefit accruals, and deny pension coverage to new employees, or as a last resort, divert resources from program operations. Many smaller organizations have been prevented from offering pension benefits at all.   How do these results compare to your organization’s retirement benefits situation? For organizations that have avoided such stress, how have you done it? For organizations experiencing similar stress, what strategies are you employing to help cope? Let us know!...

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Featured Listening Post | Presbyterian Villages of Michigan (PVM)

This post is one in a series of Featured Listening Posts highlighting Listening Post Project participants employing innovative strategies and techniques to address the key challenges we have analyzed in recent Listening Post Soundings.     Founded in 1945, PVM provides a variety of living options and services in 23 communities across Michigan, including continuing care retirement communities, subsidized senior housing, and market-rate senior housing. PVM also sponsors community outreach and health ministry programs including parish nursing, home health care and personal services. Over 2,500 individuals reside in PVM affiliated Villages, while another 1,000 community members are served through various programs. With assets over $200 million, an annual budget over $50 million, 650 employees, and over 500 volunteers, PVM serves individuals of all financial means in urban (intercity), suburban, rural and resort communities.   The Listening Post Project selected Presbyterian Villages of Michigan (PVM) as a Featured Listening Post because of the innovative ways in which it has accessed investment capital in recent years. To learn more about PVM, and its involvement with the Listening Post Project, we spoke with Roger Myers, President and CEO of PVM.     The Listening Post Investment Capital Sounding found that most nonprofits...

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Featured Listening Post | The Andrus Children’s Center

  This post is one in a series of Featured Listening Posts highlighting Listening Post Project participants employing innovative strategies and techniques to address the key challenges we have analyzed in recent Listening Post Soundings.     Founded in 1928 as an orphanage, the Andrus Children’s Center is in its 80th year of serving children and families. The Center has a 110-acre campus that offers residential and day treatment services for 150 children. It also provides mental health services through community clinics, school-based initiatives and after-school programs across eight sites in Westchester County, helping 2,500 children and families. With a budget of $30 million, the organization primarily relies on funds from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (25 percent of its revenues) and the New York State Education Department (23 percent). Other key funding sources include Medicaid (18 percent), government and non-government contracts, fees (15 percent), and private funding sources, including foundations (14 percent).   The Listening Post Project selected the Andrus Center as a Featured Listening Post because of the innovative web-based curriculum it described in the Nonprofit Recruitment and Retention Sounding. To learn more about the organization, this innovation, and its involvement with...

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