Tag: nonprofit

Overcoming Power Dynamics and Fostering Authentic Nonprofit-Philanthropic Relationships

By Sean Herpolsheimer
WRAG’s 2018 Summer Fellow

Have you noticed recently the increased focus in the nonprofit and philanthropic fields on overcoming power dynamics and building more authentic relationships? If you’ve attended some of WRAG’s most recent events, you’ve likely noticed this topic as an overarching theme.

In June, WRAG and a number of our colleague organizations co-hosted Get a BEER* and Undo Nonprofit Power Dynamics Day. We also kicked off our annual Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, designed to “pull the curtain back on philanthropy” and shed light on how grantmakers think, how they approach their work, and what they look for in strong nonprofit partners.

Session 1 of the 2018 series explored “Transparency, Authenticity, and Honest Feedback: The Path to True Partnerships.” Michael Bobbitt and Leon Seemann of Adventure Theatre set the tone for the day with their opening presentation, followed by a panel discussion with Anne Gunsteens, the executive director of the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation; Naomi Smouha, the senior manager of community relations at Capital One; and Julian Haynes, the Maryland program director at the Meyer Foundation.

Below are some of the key take-aways nonprofits and funders should consider when building healthy relationships:

  • Communication – When nonprofits feel like they have a safe space and a trusting funding partner, they are free to share openly about challenges and opportunities. It’s important for funders to provide this safe space and to ensure nonprofit partners that they won’t be dinged for communicating challenges or having an issue arise. Simultaneously, it is important for nonprofits to be open with their funders and to reach out when circumstances change. Don’t avoid the tough conversations! Funders do more than write checks. They have lots of resources and connections that they can leverage on your behalf, but not if they don’t know you need help.
  • Mutual Interests – Nonprofits, it is important to find funding partners whose interests align with your mission. Don’t chase the money! If you try to be good at everything, you’ll end up being good at very little. Stick to what you know best. Funders, it’s important to be clear about your philanthropic vision and to have a way for nonprofits to determine if they would be a good fit for your priorities. This saves everyone time and sets the relationship off on the right foot. It is better for everyone when funders are clear, and nonprofits are honest when funding isn’t a good fit.
  • Face Time –Funders, get out and experience the people and programs you’re investing in! With LOTS to do and limited time and staff, it’s easy to get stuck in the office. But, when you build face-to-face relationships with your partners, it’s easier for those partners to have authentic conversations when challenges or opportunities arise. Nonprofits, don’t be shy about reaching out to your funders. A quick email or phone call with good news or to share a resource that might be of interest is a great way to give back to your funders. And, please don’t be offended if your funder doesn’t show up to your gala or other community events! Remember, there are lots of grantees and only one program officer.
  • Friends in Common – Mutual relationships are social currency. Nonprofits, having a personal introduction to a funder is a great way to begin a relationship. And, as it turns out, nonprofits and funders alike appreciate connections to other organizations doing similar or complimentary work or to dynamic leaders and thinkers in their space – Just be sure to ASK your funder if they’d like an introduction before cc’ing everyone on an email! The more connected we are as a sector, the more we can share, learn, grow, the more effectively we can affect change for our clients and community.

In the end, attendees learned that there is good reason for that dreaded “what is your biggest challenge?” question on grant proposals and reports. Funders genuinely want nonprofits to succeed. When they have the full picture – the good AND the not so good – they can bring their resources, knowledge, and connections to bear.

All of our missions can be better served by the deep, productive, and long-lasting relationships that are created through authentic and transparent dialogues. Be open. Be vulnerable. We’re all in this together for the betterment of our communities.


Designed and taught by some of the Greater Washington region’s top philanthropic leaders, WRAG’s Nonprofit Summer Learning Series “pulls the curtain back on philanthropy.” Join WRAG and our sponsor, Booz Allen Hamilton, as we shed light on how grantmakers think, how they approach their work, what they look for in strong nonprofit partners, and how you can build new and stronger relationships with the local funding community.

To ensure maximum participation, all of these events are offered in-person, via-live webinar, and are being recorded for later viewing. To receive the webinar recording, you must be registered for the event. Simply choose “webinar” as your online registration option.

New Equal Justice Initiative museum memorializes America’s lynching victims

CIVIL RIGHTS 
–  The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a museum in Montgomery, Alabama opened by the Equal Justice Initiative, uses sculpture, art, and design to memorialize known and unknown lynching victims in America. (Yes!Magazine, 4/26)

By including women in the historical narrative of lynching, the new memorial in Alabama reveals a more complete understanding of this devastating social practice.

The monument sheds light in an unprecedented and innovative way on the reasons and circumstances surrounding the death and torture of countless victims, including women and children, who suffered at the hands of vigilante mobs. By unearthing the soil and pinpointing the counties where such cruel and inhumane acts were committed, the monument sends a powerful message and conveys to its audience a desire for deeper understanding.

Related for WRAG Members: WRAG and Leadership Greater Washington are pleased to announce its Memphis to Birmingham Civil Rights Learning Journey this fall. Throughout the Putting Racism on the Table series, we have underscored the importance of understanding the history of race in America. WRAG & LGW members are invited to explore history first-hand on a learning journey through the South from September 23 to September 27.

We’ll visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel, the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Southern Poverty Law Center, the Equal Justice Initiative National Memorial for Peace and Justice and more. Learn more.

NONPROFITSRise of Robots Makes Nonprofit Workers More Essential Than Ever (Chronicle, 4/30 – Subscription needed)

HEALTH | Last week, Prince William County approved a budget that will significantly increase its services to combat substance abuse. (Prince William Times, 4/30)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE | Education in prisons still reinforces gender roles, which robs women of vocational programs and men of other skills. Advocates want to change this. (Atlantic, 4/30)

EDUCATIONDocuments show ties between Virginia university, conservative donors (WTOP, 4/30)


Happy May Day (aka International Workers Day)! Here’s why we celebrate it.

– Kendra

DC’s public high schools plagued with chronic absenteeism

EDUCATION | A new report released yesterday found that more than 1 of every 10 students that graduated from a District public high school missed most of the 2017 school year, and teachers felt pressured to pass them. DC officials called for an investigation into the school system after NPR found that most of Ballou High School’s graduates were chronically absent. There has yet to be an investigation into the root causes of why these low-income students of color have poor attendance. (WaPo, 1/16)

The review saved some of its sharpest criticism for Ballou High School, which has been engulfed in controversy amid a graduation scandal. The report found that the school’s administrators told teachers that a high percentage of their students were expected to pass and encouraged them to provide makeup work and extra credit to students, no matter how much school they missed. Teachers received little training in a new grading system, and their annual performance reviews hinged in small part on their success in graduating students.

2020 CENSUS | Vu Le, Nonprofit AF blogger, discusses why nonprofit organizations and funders should work together to make sure everyone is counted in the upcoming Census. (NAF, 1/16)

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY | Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, WRAG’s partner in the Institute for CSR, discusses how companies such as Boeing and Wells Fargo have increased their community investments. (LinkdIn, 12/21)

HOUSINGThe Wharf development raises the question: How affordable is ‘affordable’? (GGW, 1/12)

NONPROFIT | The Center for Nonprofit Advancement is asking for applications for the 2018 Advancement In Management (AIM) Award Competition. Nonprofits in the Greater Washington region that believe they demonstrate outstanding achievement in organizational management can apply here.

HOMELESSNESS | Cheryl Bell, executive chef at Miriam’s Kitchen, recalls her journey into the nonprofit sector and how the organization impacts the District’s homeless population. (BYT, 1/16)

HEALTH CAREVirginia hospitals want proposed tax on profits out of budget in push to expand Medicaid (Richmond Times, 1/16)

ENVIRONMENT | The Environmental Protection Agency is changing the way it assesses new chemicals for health and environmental hazards, causing advocates and environmental experts concern. (NBC News, 1/17)


Just some helpful advice: You could seriously hurt yourself by trying to stifle a sneeze.

– Kendra

On Martin Luther King Jr Day, the country reflects

RACIAL EQUITY
– This weekend local residents and visitors flocked to the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, the first on the Mall to honor a black man, to commemorate the holiday. These individuals embraced King’s words etched into the stone monument and reflected on the state of race relations in this country and how much further we have to go. (WaPo, 1/15)

At the entrance to the memorial, two huge granite stones split, symbolizing that “mountain.” A slice of the sculpture is pushed out several feet from the split, and from this slice, King’s image emerges, carved into a “stone of hope,” a second massive piece of granite.

Some visitors recalled the optimism about race relations when the monument was unveiled. But now, they said, the country seems stuck in a dark period of racial tensions and open hostility toward new immigrants, shocked by Ku Klux Klan rallies and a president who referred last week to El Salvador, Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries.” The progress in the country’s race relations since King was assassinated that April day in Memphis seems to have become twisted, stuck in a time warp.

– In honor of the second annual National Day of Racial Healing, Tamara Lucas Copeland, WRAG’s president, reflects on her own journey to healing and how WRAG’s Putting Racism on the Table series has activated the Greater Washington region’s own philanthropic sector. (Daily, 1/16)

NONPROFITS | Rick Moyers, former vice president for programs and communications at Meyer Foundation, advises nonprofit boards to re-examine their recruitment strategies and have discussions about how structural racism and implicit bias have infected our society in order to create more diverse boards. (Chronicle, 1/8 – Subscription needed)

ARTS/HOMELESSNESS | Due to an installation of artwork in two underpasses in the District’s NoMA neighborhood, homeless individuals are being displaced. (WaPo, 1/15)

PUBLIC SAFETY | Jessica Raven, executive director of Collective Action for Safe Spaces, discusses the impact of sexual violence on low-income communities and communities of color in DC. (GGW, 1/11)

EDUCATION | Georgetown University has approved a proposal to include LGBT-only student housing on its campus. (Washington Blade, 1/15)

ENVIRONMENT | DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser has designated Kingman and Heritage Islands as a state conservation area. The city envisions the islands as a place for outdoor learning with an environmental center. (WAMU, 1/12)

CRIMINAL JUSTICEBill would change Virginia’s ‘three-strikes’ law on parole eligibility (Richmond Times, 1/15)


This new Google Arts & Culture app will match your face to paintings. Find your doppelganger now!

– Kendra

Lawsuit alleges issues with the District’s food assistance program

FOOD INSECURITY
– Four individuals and two local nonprofit organizations have filed a lawsuit alleging that issues with the District’s food assistance program has left participants unable to buy groceries for their families. In some instances, participants had their benefits cut off or lowered with no warning or explanation. (WaPo, 8/28)

The trouble began last year, advocates for the poor say, when the city transitioned to a new computer system despite warnings of potential problems from the federal government, which pays for the program.

…The transition to the new computer system in October 2016 and associated problems coincided with a citywide surge in demand for food from Bread for the City. The number of households receiving emergency food packages increased by nearly 40 percent through May 2017 compared with the same period one year earlier, according to the organization.

– This Nonprofit is Reducing Food Waste With a Smartphone App (Street Sense, 8/24)

PHILANTHROPY | United Philanthropy Forum has created a resource list of grantmakers who are responding to the needs of residents hit by Hurricane Harvey. (United Philanthropy Forum, 8/28)

HEALTH | A Congress member who represents Alabama has submitted a bill to block funding for the District’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers based on their reproductive health choices. (DCist, 8/28)

MILITARY SERVICE | Two lawsuits have been filed to challenge the new ban on transgender military service. (WAMU, 8/28)

NONPROFITS/ VIRGINIA | The Center for Nonprofit Advancement is supporting the Northern Virginia Idea Exchange to promote two candidate forums (one for each candidate for Governor of Virginia). The forums will be devoted to a discussion with each candidate regarding their views/positions on the roles of nonprofits vis a vie state government in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure. The first one with Dr. Ralph Northam is on September 1. Learn more and register here

WORKFORCE |Opinion: Small Charities Should Lead by Example in Paid Parental Leave (Chronicle, 8/28 – Subscription needed)


A look at DC’s past

– Kendra

Alexandria searches for a solution to its low-income housing problem

HOUSING | 36 years ago, Alexandria, VA promised to replace any housing unit that is demolished. Due to the growing cost of construction and the limited options to finance low-income housing, some are looking to review that promise. (WaPo, 6/9)

Changing Alexandria’s 36-year-old promise to preserve the number of housing units for its poorest families at affordable rents would break a social compact, affordable housing advocates say.

“At the time this law was passed, it was never envisioned that public housing authorities would be losing their funding from the federal government,” said Michelle Krocker, executive director of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance. “We need to be sure any solution provides housing in perpetuity for these extremely low-income people, because we know these are the hardest populations to serve.”

POVERTY | A new nonprofit that provides furniture to formerly homeless DC residents launched last week. (DCist, 6/9)

EDUCATION
– Ron Brown College Preparatory High School, the District’s male-only high school, takes stock of its progress after a year of operating. (WaPo, 6/11)

– What Philanthropy Has Done Right — and Done Wrong — on Charter Schools (Chronicle, 6/12 – Subscription needed)

TRANSIT | Metro Access users, who are disabled or elderly, are unsatisfied with the duration of their rides and wait times. (WaPo, 6/10)

NONPROFIT | Congratulations to DC SCORES for being the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s 2017 AIM for Excellence Award finalist for outstanding achievement in organizational management. You can register for the AIM award presentation on June 20 here.

VETERANS | A Congress member is ordering a formal review of the District’s VA Medical Center. (NBC4, 6/9)


Virginia remembers Loving v. Virginia on the case’s 50th anniversary.

– Kendra

HIV prevention drug awareness in DC focuses on black women

HIV/AIDS | Addressing the HIV rate in the District, which is the nation’s highest, has long been a priority for the city. Now the city has partnered with local organizations to raise awareness and increase access to a new prevention drug for the community that are the second-highest demographic at risk for HIV: black women. But with this new awareness, they are still dealing with the barriers related to accessing the drug. (StreetSense, 3/22)

Low-income Black women or those who are homeless face systemic barriers to accessing PrEP when they are HIV-negative. If they are HIV-positive, they face significant stigma surrounding HIV in society and even within the medical community.

Since PrEP requires a prescription and follow-up appointments every three months, people with unstable housing face additional challenges in trying to obtain PrEP. Simply lacking a place to store the medication is a problem.

Dr. Monica Vohra, a primary care physician at Bread for the City, noted that transportation is a large problem for adherence to PrEP by patients experiencing homelessness. “How do you get to your provider to have these follow-up visits that are pretty much required for you to be able to take the medication?” Vohra asked. “PrEP is useful if it’s taken correctly. Its efficacy really reduces if it’s not taken on a consistent basis.”

Related: The Washington AIDS Partnership launched its PrEP for Women Initiative last year to increase knowledge and use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) among women of color in the District. Channing Wickham, executive director of Washington AIDS Partnership said this about the program,”We are proud to be managing one of the largest programs helping women of color.”

NONPROFITS/EVENT | Dr. Donney John, executive director of NOVA Scripts Central, reflects on his experience at WRAG’s Fundamentals of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Two-Day Workshop in 2016 and shares why the workshop was valuable for his work with his clinic. (Daily, 3/23)

Related: Learn how to strengthen relationships with existing corporate funders and attract the attention of future corporate partners at WRAG’s Fundamentals of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Two-Day Workshop. Register here

PHILANTHROPY | This week foundation leaders met with members of Congress during Foundations on the Hill, an annual event sponsored by the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the Alliance for Charitable Reform, and the Council on Foundations. The topics discussed included the Johnson Amendment and recent proposed budget cuts. (Chronicle, 3/22 – Subscription needed)

LGBTQ/AGINGAdvocates fear erasure of LGBTQ seniors from national elder survey (MetroWeekly, 3/20)

REGION | Both Loudoun County and DC saw the most population growth in our region. (WTOP, 3/23)

GENDER EQUITY | Women in the District and Maryland most likely will have equal pay by 2065, but nationally, women of color might have to wait about 200 more years according to new research by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (Citylab, 3/22)

MENTAL HEALTH | NPR explores how a ‘scarcity mindset‘ can make problems worse and how to deal with it. (WAMU, 3/23)

Related: Last year’s Brightest Minds speaker Eldar Shafir, Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, discussed how scarcity impacted individuals living in poverty. Read about the session here.


Would you have guessed the right letter?

– Kendra

Anti-LGBTQ attacks are up across the US

LGBTQ | Casa Ruby, a DC bilingual and multicultural LGBTQ organization, was vandalized this past Sunday and one of the staff was attacked. These incidents are on the rise in the context of state and federal policy shifts that discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. (NBC News, 3/13)

This is the third time in just two weeks that men have come to Casa Ruby to harass and attack the transgender women that meet there for support and companionship. And D.C. is not the only city to see its local LGBTQ community center hit by violence or vandalism in recent weeks.

In February and March, a spate of hate incidents occurred at LGBTQ community centers and similar venues across the nation, in a trend that has gone underreported.

YOUTH/RACE | There has been a number of Black and Latinx teens reported missing in the District recently. A national magazine asks why more media outlets aren’t reporting on them. (Teen Vogue, 3/13)

PHILANTHROPY | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, in partnership with the Meyer Foundation, has created a Resilience Fund to support the needs of nonprofits working to protect the region’s vulnerable communities as a result of changes in federal policy. Read more.

ARTS & HUMANITIES | What is the role of museums during times of political unrest? Some believe the institutions should engage, while others believe they should remain neutral. (NYT, 3/13)

ECONOMY | This economist warns that the new administration’s budget cuts could cause a recession in the DC region. (Washingtonian, 3/13)

REGION | DC Policy Center explains the intersecting borders of our region and how we should work together to tackle social issues. (GGW, 3/13)

ENVIRONMENT | More DC schools are installing solar panels to lower the cost of energy bills, in addition to teaching students about solar energy. (WTOP, 3/14)


The many ways we’re ruining cherry blossoms for future generations…

– Kendra

Houses of worship step up to protect immigrants in DC

IMMIGRATION | The District is a sanctuary city, which means it welcomes refugees and undocumented immigrants, and law enforcement does not coordinate with ICE. Many organizations and individuals in the city are taking protection to another level, especially houses of worship. Congregations and church leaders are having “know your rights” sessions for immigrants, hosting those in danger of deportation and teaching others how to be good allies. (WCP, 3/2)

Houses of worship in D.C. have done this kind of work before. In the 1980s, several provided sanctuary for Central American refugees fleeing civil war. Right now, nearly 100,000 immigrants live in the District, and more than 11 million live in the U.S.

In D.C., Temple Sinai is among the first congregations to publicly offer sanctuary. “We declare ourselves to be a Sanctuary Congregation willing to host in our building temple employees, their families, and certain other members of our community who might need temporary protection as they seek to address their immigration status,” reads a letter signed by Rabbi Jonathan Roos and posted to the temple’s Facebook page. Far from the city’s Latin American enclave, Temple Sinai’s board voted Feb. 15 on the measure, which is meant to include immigrants connected to the temple’s many service programs.

HOMELESSNESSAdvocates And Critics Of D.C.’s Planned New Homeless Shelters Go Head To Head At Zoning Marathon (WAMU, 3/2)

HOUSING | A Montgomery County-commissioned rental housing study found the county needs 20,000 affordable rental homes to meet the demand. (Bethesda Beat, 3/2)

CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY | Marc DeCourcey, senior vice president of U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, discusses why the Institute for CSR is valuable for CSR professionals. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 3/2)

Related: Registration deadline for the 2017 Institute for CSR extended to March 8. Click here to learn more or to download an application.

RACIAL EQUITY/WORKFORCE | A new report, Still Looking for Work: Unemployment in DC Highlights Racial Inequity, by the DC Fiscal Policy Institute found that Black DC residents are the only racial/ethnic group whose unemployment rate is higher than it was pre-recession. (DCFPI, 3/2)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE | People caught with a small amount of marijuana will not be provided a court appointed lawyer, according to a new Arlington County policy. (ARLnow, 3/2)

TRANSGENDER RIGHTS | Column: Williams: Transgender youths need support against discrimination (Richmond Times, 3/2)

NONPROFITNational Council of Nonprofits Launches Coalition Campaign to Oppose Repeal of Johnson Amendment (NPQ, 3/2)


Social Sector Job Openings 

Executive Director | International Association for Volunteer Effort– New!
Executive Director | Catalogue for Philanthropy
Part-time Accountant | Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers
Donor Services Associate, District of Columbia | The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region
Senior Accountant | Arabella Advisors
Nonprofit Project Accountant | Arabella Advisors
Human Resources Manager | Arabella Advisors
Executive Assistant to the President (P/T) | ABFE – A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities
Associate Director, Policy & Communications | Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers 
Administrative Associate
| Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers 
Manager, Operations & Programming
| Walker’s Legacy Foundation
Senior Associate, Engagement – Mid-Atlantic and Retail and Direct Bank markets
| Capital One
Executive Director
| Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia

Hiring? Post your job on WRAG’s job board and get it included in the Daily! Free for members; $60/60 days for non-members. Details here.


Community Calendar
To add an event to WRAG’s community calendar, email Rebekah Seder. Click the image below to access the calendar.


Can you name 5 artists who are women?

– Kendra

A new campaign features the faces of need in Loudoun County

LOUDOUN | Loudoun County has the highest median household income in the U.S. yet its average household charitable giving is just 1.98% – a full 1% behind the national average and nearly 2% behind neighboring Montgomery County, MD. Yesterday, the Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties launched a new campaign to raise awareness of county needs and foster increased giving among county residents. Faces of Loudoun features the stories of real Loudoun residents who’ve struggled with the lack of basic resources. (Loudoun Tribune, 3/1) WRAG is proud to have been the catalyst for this work!

Loudoun’s giving is “lackluster” said [Community Foundation of Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties] Executive Director Amy Owen, in large part because many of Loudoun’s most disadvantaged go unnoticed in the county with the highest median household income. That’s why the Community Foundation partnered with a steering committee of business, community, education, faith and government leaders to put together a profile of giving in Loudoun.

That helped develop Faces of Loudoun, which will feature a web site, social media engagement and a traveling display highlighting stories of Loudoun residents that benefited from charitable giving and services. Along with an increase of volunteer hours, Owen said the program’s aim is to put Loudoun’s giving percentages in line with other jurisdictions. If Loudoun raises its current donation rates of 1.98 percent of discretionary income to the national average of 3 percent, Owen said Loudoun charitable groups will see an annual increase of $70 million dollars.

HEALTHMaryland governor declares state of emergency for opioid crisis (WaPo, 3/1)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ANTISEMITISM | After two Jewish elementary schools in Maryland received bomb threats earlier this week, community members came together to support them in a rally called “Bagels Not Bombs.” (WTOP, 3/1)

ECONOMIC SECURITY | Northern Virginia Novant Health workers will soon receive raises as the company moves to implement a new living wage policy. (WBJ, 3/1)

ARTS & HUMANITIES | DC’s Arena Stage theater received a $2.5 million gift to support its Power Plays project, which will include stories about power and politics from various perspectives. (WaPo, 2/27)

HOUSING | Mayor Bowser orders review of all properties operated by controversial D.C. landlord (WaPo, 3/1)

NONPROFIT 
– A class action lawsuit has been filed against PayPal’s Giving Platform. The charges allege that donations made were not directed to the correct charities. (Nonprofit Quarterly, 3/1)

– New Twitter App Transforms Anger into Instant Social Good (Nonprofit Quarterly, 3/1)

EVENT | Board Match, an event that provides an opportunity for nonprofits to connect with prospective board members, will be held on Thursday, May 11th. The deadline for nonprofit registration is March 8th.


Cherry blossoms are already (kind of) here.

– Kendra