Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Presenting at Nonprofit Innovation Event


U.S. Bank invites those who work in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector to an in-depth seminar and workshop on best practices organized by the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research at the University of San Diego.

The session will present field-tested models of how organizations throughout the nation are functioning more effectively through collaborative inter-organizational relationships or the innovative use of technology. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss these ideas in small groups with the presenters over lunch.

The seminar will feature:

  • The Children's Support Foundation of New York - Shared Planned Giving
  • Pittsburgh Human Resources Collaborative - Shared HR Functions
  • Council of Community Clinics of San Diego - Shared Purchasing
  • USD Professor Mary McDonald - Mechanics of Collaboration
  • Shakespeare Santa Cruz - Fundraising Through Innovative Technology
  • Heather Carpenter and Tom Cesarini - Additional Technology Tools for Increased Efficiency

Please join us for this informative event - and please be sure to invite your friends and colleagues:

  • Date: Friday, June 5, 2009
  • Time: 8:00 AM-12:45 PM
  • Place: University of San Diego, Mother Rosalie Hill Hall, Warren Auditorium
    5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110
  • Fee: $25 per person, breakfast and lunch will be provided.
    Scholarships available upon request.

View the event's working agenda.

Register online at
Direct questions to Carmen Valencia at or (619) 260-8839.

You can follow the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research on Twitter @USDNONPROFIT.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why Great Nonprofits Isn't So Great

Guidestar recently added a feature to their website which will highlight reviews and stories of nonprofits made on I've sat back for months now while the funder and nonprofit world got excited about the Great Nonprofits website, but I can't be silent anymore. You may disagree with me, but I really don't think Great Nonprofits is so great, for two reasons.

1. The nonprofits on Great Nonprofits are not representative of the sector
Only nonprofits that have comments or stories posted about them are on the Great Nonprofits site. In other words, there are a vast amount of nonprofits who haven't heard of this site or don't have the capacity to tell their donors or constituents about this site, even though these nonprofits are doing perfectly GREAT work!

2. Comments and stories about a particular nonprofit can skew the public's image of that nonprofit.
Let me explain, ever heard of the website Great Nonprofits is like Rate my professors because when a few people write comments about a nonprofit (or a professor), that is the image that the public sees about that nonprofit (or professor), even if that image is negative or incorrect.

What if someone had a bad experience at a nonprofit and wrote a mean comment, is that representative of all the people who experienced that nonprofit, most likely not. This is so much of an issue that now nonprofits are asking their staff to log on and write nice comments about their organizations so funders and the general public will think they are great!

My advice to nonprofits, funders, and the general public is to invest in researchers to do evaluations that are representative of organizations and the sector. We need more accurate comprehensive views of organizations, not just Harry or Jill's experience with their local soup kitchen.

For example, the special issue Nonprofits and Evaluation: New Directions for Evaluation "explores evaluation through the lens of funders and nonprofits within the field." This issue explains how nonprofits are using evaluation and ways that funders can support evaluation efforts.

Time Management -- trying to schedule fun time

Yet again, I'm having an issue with time management. I've got three important deadlines coming up in the next couple of weeks and I'm working like crazy to get these projects completed. On top of that I have finals this week. With all these work and school deadlines, everything else seems to go by the wayside.

When I went to the doctor for my annual check up he said, "You seem to be stressed." I responded, "Yes, I am a PhD student, I believe stress comes with the territory." He said, "I'd like you to talk to someone and see me again in a month." I said, "Ok, what have I got to loose."

I saw a MFT counselor last week and told her I was a workaholic/overachiever and my goal is to find balance, eat healthy, and exercise regularly. She asked me what I liked to do for fun and I said scrapbooking. She asked me to set goals of where I'd like to be in four months (e.g. exercising three times a week, eating healthy and scrapbooking once a week).

The coolest thing she said was -- "I am going to hold you accontable for scheduling scrapbooking time. Once a week, I want to know that you are scrapbooking for at least a couple of hours. Doing this will decrease your stress." Wow, thats amazing, I though, I get to schedule in fun time to scrapbook!!

Are you stressed like I am? What do you need to schedule for your fun time?

I'm off to scrapbook....

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New to the Nonprofit Sector? Here's a BRIEF Overview

Two amazing incoming doctoral students will be joining our team at the Caster Family Center for Nonprofit Research this fall. One doctoral student is an excellent quantitative researcher and the other is an excellent writer.

I am looking forward to working with them and tapping into each of their individual areas of expertise. They are also looking forward to working with me and learning more about the nonprofit sector.

It is challenging for me to provide an overview of the nonprofit sector without inundating these new students with information, so I decided to write this post in an effort to provide a BRIEF overview about how one can learn about the nonprofit sector.

1. General Statistics about the Nonprofit Sector from the Urban Institute's National Center for Charitable Statistics: The Nonprofit Sector in a Brief
  • 1.4 million nonprofits
  • 501(c)(3) public charities, 501(c)(3) private foundations, and “other” nonprofit organizations.
  • The majority of public charities report less than $500,000 in expenses
  • The number of reporting public charities grew from 187,038 in 1995 to 310,683 in 2005
  • $1.1 trillion in expenses and nearly $2 trillion in total assets for
2. Nonprofit Workforce Statistics from Johns Hopkins University's Nonprofit Employment Data Project: Employment in America's Charities: A Profile & American Humanics' Initative for Nonprofit Sector Careers: Workforce Issues in the Nonprofit Sector

From Employment in America's Charities:
  • Nonprofit Workers comprise of 7% of the national workforce
  • Nonprofit employment is scattered across a wide variety of fields, from information and scientific services to religion and civic affairs. The bulk of this employment, however, is in human services, and within that broad category, in health services.
  • While nonprofit wages on average are lower than for-profit wages, this difference seems largely due to the fact that nonprofits are concentrated in generally low-wage fields. When we compare nonprofit and for-profit jobs in these fields, however, nonprofits actually turn out to have higher average wages than their for-profit counterparts.
3. Nonprofit News, Sector Leaders, Nonprofit books, Nonprofit blogs, Nonprofit Journals and Foundation Giving Statistics from the Foundation Center's: The Philanthropy Annual
4. Nonprofit Jobs and Careers Information from: Idealist's Guide to Nonprofit Careers & The Nonprofit Career Guide

From Idealist's Guide to Nonprofit Careers:
  • While every nonprofit is different, the overall perceptions of the nonprofit sector—from those who work in it, as well as those who don’t—suggest a vibrant, stimulating work environment with plenty of benefits for individuals who choose to make it their career.
  • Nonprofit Speak 101
  • The term “nonprofit” does not mean that these organizations don’t make money. Nonprofits [can] generate a lot of revenue, but they allocate these funds toward programs and operating costs, not toward dividends and other payouts.
  • While the Executive Director of a nonprofit often has similar roles and responsibilities to those of a for-profit CEO or president, using these terms interchangeably can suggest a lack of awareness of the distinctions between the sectors.
  • Form 990: The report to the IRS that many nonprofits file annually to document continued eligibility for tax-exempt status and to provide accountability on many topics.
5. Nonprofit Education Program Information from Roseanne Mirabella at Seton Hall University
  • Over two-hundred and ninety-two colleges and universities [offer] courses in nonprofit management.
  • One-hundred and thirty-two schools offer at least one course for undergraduate credit, nearly seventy with an American Humanics affiliation, (an alliance of colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations preparing undergraduates for careers with youth and human service agencies).
  • Two hundred colleges and universities have at least one course within a graduate department. One-hundred and sixty-eight of these programs offer a graduate degree with a concentration (three or more courses) in the management of nonprofit organizations.
For more in depth information about the sector, please read:
More information to follow about:
  • Nonprofit Sub-sectors
  • Nonprofit Technology
  • Fundraising and Development
  • Nonprofit Finance/Accounting