Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about nonprofit organizations and their impact

“Most donors don’t think their way into giving to charity.” So writes Al Cantor, a smart guy and a veteran of the nonprofit world. “I give from my heart – and my observation is that most other donors do the same thing,” he goes on to say. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.” Sorry, Al, …

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The onslaught began last week. “Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday,” said the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “One week until #GivingTuesday,” said SHOFCO. Triple your gift! Double your impact! An estimated 35,000 nonprofits participate, according to New York’s 92nd St Y, which launched Giving Tuesday in 2012. Does #GivingTuesday do good? That’s …

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Nonprofits often talk about inequality. Rarely do they talk about inequality in the nonprofit sector. But it’s a problem. Scale begets scale in the nonprofit world. Big nonprofits, with their brand names and hefty marketing budgets, grow faster than small ones, even when the smaller ones are demonstrably more effective. The rich get richer; the rest …

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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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We don’t have comprehensive ratings or rankings of the best nonprofits, and we probably never will. You can’t compare Harvard to Carnegie Hall to the DC Central Kitchen in a meaningful way. But, by using evidence, it is possible to identify nonprofits that have a positive impact at a reasonable cost. That’s what the Center …

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Advertising changes behavior. Why else would brands pay as much as $5 million for a 30-second spot on the Super Bowl? But measuring the impact of advertising, particularly in traditional media, is an inexact science at best. (“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted,” retailer John Wanamaker famously said. “I just don’t know …

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Funny, how timing is everything. Peter Singer, the Princeton professor, ethicist and author who has been called the world’s most influential living philosopher, laid out the principles of what is now known as Effective Altruism in a succinct 1972 essay called Famine, Affluence and Morality. “If it is in our power to prevent something very bad …

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