Ken Goldstein, MPPA

Ken Goldstein has been working in nonprofits and local government agencies from Santa Cruz, to Sacramento, and back to Silicon Valley, since 1989. He's been staff, volunteer, board member, executive director, and, since 2003, a consultant to local nonprofit organizations. For more on Ken's background, click here. If you are interested in retaining Ken's services, you may contact him at ken at

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How generous is your state?

Thanksgiving is done with (hope yours was peaceful and happy), and we're now officially into the Holiday Season. That means plenty to each of us personally, of course, but as nonprofit professionals it also means quite a bit work-wise as well.

As you hope for the best return on that holiday pitch you should have already prepared, and as you get set for those final big asks of the year, you might want to see where your state stands in the new state-by-state assessment of charitable giving.

Prepared by the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy, this second annual survey takes into consideration such factors as each state's religious and ethnic group mix, the existence of nonprofit organizations, and the local cost of living and tax burden, "including changes within states that are driven by levels of urbanization-which affects cost of living at the more local level," in order to more fairly index the comparisons.

Now, however you interpret the results, don't make the mistake of calling this a "generosity index." The authors caution:
"Generosity is a moral, spiritual or social psychological characteristic of individuals and perhaps families and households. We do not believe that the term generosity should be associated with our measures, nor any other measures that do not directly study the inner disposition ... of generosity. In truth, every purported generosity index that has ranked states is, in fact, a charitable giving index."
And the top five states for charitable giving are... New York, the District of Columbia, Utah, California, and Connecticut. And, at the bottom, Iowa, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and North Dakota.

You can download the full report from Boston College at

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What are we compaining about?

According to a new report from the Urban Institute, the growth of the nonprofit sector has outpaced the growth of the economy over the past decade. The report says that, "While the nation's gross domestic product grew by an inflation-adjusted 36.6 percent from 1994 to 2004, the nonprofit sector's revenues increased 61.5 percent." So why are we always whining about needing more?

Probably because all that growth and resources is concentrated in hospitals and universities. Some of the data from the report:
  • Hospitals and other health care organizations, 12.9 percent of all reporting public charities, accounted for 58.7 percent of the sector's revenues in 2004, 41.1 percent of its assets, and 60.0 percent of its expenses, dominating each category.

  • Colleges and other higher education nonprofits, less than 1 percent of reporting public charities, received 11.6 percent of the sector's revenue, controlled 22.3 percent of its assets, and recorded 10.9 percent of its expenses.

  • Human service organizations, 34.5 percent of reporting public charities, had only 13.6 percent of the sector's revenues, 11.5 percent of its assets, and 14.0 percent of its expenses.
Get more information from the Urban Institute's web site.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What about that election last week?

I generally try to keep politics out of this blog (not always successful), but I thought this was an interesting short article in the Philanthropy News Digest: Nonprofit Leaders Weigh Impact of Election.

The article tackles the question of whether or not the incoming Democratic Congress would be "better for the nonprofit sector" than the exiting Republicans. The short answer is, "marginally."

In the Senate, where the Finance Committee chairmanship will go from from Charles Grassley (R-IA) to Max Baucus (D-MT), no change in direction is expected. Grassley and Baucus have a close working relationship and have traded this position back and forth before.

In the House of Representatives, however, Charles Rangel (D-NY) will take over the chairmanship of the Ways and Means Committee from Bill Thomas (R-CA). This leadership change does make the committee more receptive to some our issues.

Perry Wasserman, managing director of 501(c) Strategies, a D.C.-based lobbying group, cautioned nonprofits not to expect too much of the Democrats. "[It's] important to have realistic expectations of the next two years," he said. Although Democrats have articulated an agenda for the next session, "they're focusing on 2008, so not everything is on the table."
Will things be better for nonprofits under the new Democratic Congress? Well, at least they won't be any worse.

By the way... This is posting number 100 at the Nonprofit Consultant Blog. In a minor technical note, this posting also marks a change from the "old Blogger" to the "new Blogger beta." Please excuse any glitches as I transition to the new platform.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Care2 join an online community?

I've written before about nonprofits using MySpace and YouTube and other mass market social networking platforms. One of the complaints about these sites is that the users are not really there to look for volunteer or philanthropic opportunities. Most users are there for fun, networking, or just killing time.

What if I told you about an online community that was designed to link nonprofit organizations to people who are looking for action opportunities? Would you give that a try?

The site I'm referring to is - "the global network for organizations and people who Care2 make a difference!"

Like most all social networking platforms, Care2 allows users to create personal profiles to share their interests, but here the focus is on activism. There are groups, much like MySpace, etc., but again the focus is on solving community problems. Most groups are user started, but many are created and moderated by nonprofit organizations.

Members also get involved through creating and signing online petitions, using Care2's sister site, Again, individuals can start petitions, or they can be sponsored by organizations. When organizations create petitions, they can also give the signer the chance to join their mailing lists.

Basic, individual memberships are free and open to all. Currently, there are about 6.6 million members. Many of the expanded features that are available to nonprofit organizations do carry a fee. But, if you consider the cost of direct mail or other advertising to get your message in front of 6.6 million self-described activists, it's probably a bargain.

Even without these fee-based add-ons, just being involved in group discussions as a regular member where you can talk about your organization, and how you're helping out, could be a great way to network and attract new supporters.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Get younger, wealthier, (better looking?) donors online

Network for Good, an online service that facilitates online charitable donations, has just released a report looking in detail at $100,000 in online giving to 23,000 nonprofits. Some of what stands out from the results are the differences between online and offline donors: they're younger and more generous.

Some more highlights (click here for their summary and link to full report):
- Online givers are young (38-39 years old) and generous, giving several times more than offline donors on average.
[Compare that to an average age of 60+ for "traditional" donors]

- Virtually all of them (96%) have given to charity before, but a sizable proportion (38%) is new to online philanthropy.

- Online giving is tracking to the trends of online shopping and banking, and it is the avenue of choice for donors during disasters.

- Most people give online during the week, during business hours - most commonly, between 10am and noon.

- Giving online follows the same "long tail" phenomenon seen in online sales of books and music.

- Most online giving goes to disaster agencies.

- People say they give online because it's easier than writing a check and a fast way to respond to disasters.
You don't have to be responding to a disaster to get in front of these young, generous donors - They also use the net (and Network for Good) to find organizations for their year-end giving as well.

Does that give you any ideas? If you're not already set-up for, and actively promoting, online fundraising this better give you some ideas.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Carnival of the Nonprofit Consultants

Welcome to the Carnival of the Nonprofit Consultants. This traveling carnival was started by Kivi Leroux Miller of the Nonprofit Communications Blog to bring you the best postings on nonprofit issues each week. This week I am honored to be the guest host.

Soul Resources starts us off with Sacred cow tipping - Making a difference. The sacred cow in question? "An individual can't make a difference" - well worthy of tipping this day before elections.

Speaking of "sacred cows," a bit of controversy was kicked up recently when the Donor InSite blog posted a link to an article from Inside Collin County Business called Running a nonprofit like a business.

First, "a fundraiser" at the Don't Tell the Donor blog posted a rebuttal to the original article titled I could not disagree more, which I seconded and added to in my posting, Pressing our buttons.

Well, the Agitator disagreed with "a fundraiser" and me, and said so in his posting, We're flabbergasted. Where do you stand on this issue?

Finally, a nonprofit related article you may have missed in the tech press was a posting at ZDNet UK called Web 2.0: A step backwards for accessibility?. Sure, your organization makes its office accessible to those with special needs, but what about your web site?

Next week, Nancy Schwartz of the Getting Attention blog will be hosting the carnival with a focus on social networking tools. See the Carnival homepage for more information.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

The Carnival Is Coming (again)

On Monday I will again be hosting the Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants. For those who are not familiar with the blog carnival concept, it is a collection of the best posts on a particular subject (in this case, nonprofit management and fundraising) from the previous week.

If you have a post you'd like to submit, there's still a few hours left to submit your blog by clicking here and following this link.

Be sure to come back on Monday to join us at the carnival! I promise lots of good reading.

Meanwhile, your reading assignment for the weekend is to spend some time with your sample ballots and voter information pamphlets and get ready for Tuesday's election...

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