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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