Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

The giving season is almost upon us, and so millions of Americans soon will turn to Charity Navigator or GuideStar for help in vetting nonprofits. Unfortunately, neither is entirely up to the job. 
 That once again became clear to me when I began looking into a charity called Alley Cat Allies that, by coincidence, …

Continue reading

Until recently, Al Cantor and I had never met. We connected on Twitter,  traded emails, talked by phone and enjoyed our interchanges. Al has spent more than three decades in the nonprofit world, as executive director of an agency helping at-risk New Hampshire boys, as an executive at a community foundation, and as vice president …

Continue reading

Thousands of donors visited Charity Navigator in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, looking for charities to support. They got some help, but not enough–the Harvey page of the Charity Navigator website lists about 50 organizations, the Irma page another 25 or so. They include the American Kidney Fund, to help dialysis patients in …

Continue reading

AmazonSmile brings to mind the observation of late great media critic A.J. Liebling about The New York Times’ fundraising campaigns on behalf of its Neediest Cases.  “Readers are invited to send in money,” Liebling wrote, “while the newspaper generously agrees to accept the thanks of the beneficiaries.” AmazonSmile is bit like that. The website, created by Amazon.com in 2013, offers …

Continue reading

Dan Pallotta’s powerful TED talk, called The way we think about charity is dead wrong, has been viewed nearly four million times since 2013. More important, his argument — that charities should be rewarded for their big goals and big accomplishments, and not punished for spending on overhead, marketing and salaries — has helped change …

Continue reading

Slow progress is better than no progress. So GuideStar’s Platinum designation, which encourages nonprofits to share their results in an important new way, deserves a round of polite applause, if not three cheers. It’s a step in the right direction, as well as a reminder of the long road that lies ahead–if the destination is, as …

Continue reading

This month, a Silicon Valley startup called Frank that aims to serve nonprofit groups and their donors paid these expenses: $24,514 to nine people for product development and design, $3,124 to the VLP Law Group for patent work, $3,271 to Trinet for HR services, $99 to Dropbox, $54 to Google and $7 to Github. Its bank …

Continue reading