Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

To a casual observer, Alley Cat Allies would seem to be a model charity. A Bethesda, MD-based nonprofit that calls itself “the global engine of change for cats,” Alley Cat Allies has been given a coveted Platinum seal by GuideStar, which has the “the most complete, up-to-date nonprofit data available.” For its part, Charity Navigator has bestowed a four-star rating on …

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What’s going on at Alley Cat Allies? And why aren’t the so-called charity watchdogs paying attention? Alley Cat Allies is a $10-million charity that calls itself the “global engine of change for cats.” It’s got issues–poor governance practices, a board that failed to meet for nearly a year and a disgruntled workforce with high turnover, …

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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, …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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