Advancing Urban Policy:
Nonprofit Management  
March, 2014 


This edition of Advancing Urban Policy, the monthly e-newsletter of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, features research and thought leadership from across the country related to Nonprofit Management. It highlights articles on nonprofits and public policy, developing and strengthening leadership, executive compensation, evidence-based management, 2014 trends, game-changing strategies, online learning, storytelling, and more... Please take a moment, too, to note three special announcements from the Levin College at the end of this newsletter. Future editions of Advancing Urban Policy will feature topics related to City Management (April), Environmental Policy (May), and Public Finance & Budgeting (June). Your ideas and submissions are welcome. They may be sent to:


Edward (Ned) W. Hill, Ph.D., Dean  



Nonprofits & Public Policy


2014 Public Policy Agenda  


The National Council of Nonprofits serves as the national voice for its nonprofit members before Congress and within the Administration, promoting the interests of the nonprofit community and ensuring a seat at the table on all policy initiatives that impact the sector.  For 2014, the Council offers policy recommendations aimed to empower communities and promote job growth and economic development policies through support of the nonprofit sector. Recommended policies involve issues of tax policies, incentives, and exemptions. The Council also addresses the issues of spending, volunteerism, transparency, and fiscal growth. 





Strengthening the Next Generation: A Multifaceted Program to Develop Leadership Capacity in Emerging Nonprofit Leaders


Nonprofits face a leadership crisis in the decade to come as senior leaders are expected to retire in record numbers and as emerging leaders fail to get the development they need to grow their skills. Identifying and preparing the next generation of leaders to develop and eventually move into senior leadership roles is important.


In one United States community, this need is being met through the development of cohorts of emerging leaders participating in an eight-month leadership development program that includes distinctive features such as individual coaching, strong peer learning, involvement of exemplary senior leaders, and alumni engagement. This article shares the design and outcomes of the first four years of this initiative for other communities to customize and build upon to meet their own unique circumstances.  



Nonprofit Management


Evidence-Based Management: Implications for Nonprofit Organizations


This article focuses on strategic decision making in nonprofit organizations. The author argues that since all managers make decisions based on evidence, managers of nonprofits should consider improving the quality of such evidence through the use of evidence-based management (EBMgmt).


EBMgmt is the systematic, evidence-informed practice of management, incorporating scientific knowledge in the content and process of making decisions. Instead of deciding on an organizational intervention and seeking to find evidence to support an intervention, the EBMgmt process starts with a management challenge that is translated by stake holders into an answerable question. There are six EBMgmt steps for managers to consider in the progress of making a well-informed decision: (1) framing the question behind the decision, (2) finding the sources of information, (3) assessing the accuracy of information, (4) assessing the applicability of information, (5) assessing the action ability of information, and (6) determining whether the information is adequate. EBMgmt is not commonly used by nonprofits, leading the authors to pose the question: If evidence-based management facilitates better decision making, why don't nonprofit managers use it? Several reasons are offered, including cost, time, training, and resistance to new methods. 


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Lessons from Resource Dependence Theory for Contemporary Public and Nonprofit Management


Public and nonprofit managers continue to look for new strategies to address challenges associated with limited resources. Resource dependence theory provides valuable guidance for managers who want to understand the considerations and consequences relevant to different types of inter-organizational partnering. In this article, the theory's core ideas are described, along with three common strategies or tactics that organizations use to obtain critical resources from the environment: merging, forming alliances, and co-opting. For each strategy, the authors derive a set of practical lessons for busy public and nonprofit managers. 


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The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands


Branding is mostly affiliated with for-profit businesses, and is often inseparable from their operations. The ability for individuals to quickly understand the core mission of a particular organization through branding is vital to an organization's success. Authors of The Brand IDEA: Managing Nonprofit Brands with Integrity, Democracy, and Affinity present a strategic, sector-based branding approach that is based on mission, values, and key partnerships, and also plays a role in internal organizational cohesion.


The authors say that brands have less to do with competitive advantage, and more to do with clarifying positioning, which can help collaboration and partnerships that enable the organization to implement its mission and maximize impact. Compare this to the old paradigm, which defines an organization through a logo, or communicates by a one-way projection of a specific image. Probably the best takeaway sounds like a mantra: "Knowing who you are, what you do, and why this matters can help nonprofits gain the clarity and focus that translates into effective action."  



Executives, CEOs, Administration


Understanding the Compensation of Nonprofit Executive Directors: Examining the Influence of Performance and Organizational Characteristics


Because of the tremendous diversity that characterizes the nonprofit sector, it can be difficult for nonprofit organizations to establish compensation for their executive directors. However, with compensation costs accounting for, on average, 65 percent to 70 percent of the total costs in the U.S., this is a topic of substantial importance. At a very basic level, a nonprofit's compensation philosophy reflects a reasoned strategy on the part of organizational decision makers as to how vigorously that  organization is going to compete within an increasingly competitive and continually shifting marketplace.


Although nonprofit organizations are legally prohibited from paying wages deemed to be excessive, they must also be wary of the potential negative consequences of offering pay levels that are too low to attract or retain highly qualified and high performing personnel. This article identifies significant differences in executive compensation between apparently similar organizations. It attempts to explain variations in executive compensation, and to examine compensation across the nonprofit sector. Factors such as organizational size, market region, subsector, organizational type, staffing level, and organizational performance are examined in order to predict executive compensation in nonprofit organizations. Additional models explain compensation within six subcategories, such as human services organizations or hospitals, in order to assess whether a single model can adequately explain compensation for all nonprofit organizations. 


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Nonprofit CEOs with Excessive Pay Are in Minority, National Research Group Says


Top executives of mid-to-large-sized charities in Midwestern states like Ohio earn far less than CEOs in some other parts of the U.S., a national research study shows. Some of the biggest paychecks went to nine chief executive officers of large charities in other regions of the country, including the South, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southwest. Those executives were paid more than $1 million in 2011, according to the latest study by Charity Navigator on CEO charity compensation. The report looked at nearly 4,000 agencies in its Charity Navigator 2013 Charity CEO Compensation Study.


Nationally, CEOs of large and midsize charities earned a median salary of $125,942 in 2011. The median salary for nonprofit CEOs was highest in the Northeast ($149,523) and mid-Atlantic ($147,474) regions at organizations with total expenses of more than $13.5 million ($244,209). Along with the Midwest, the lowest median salary is in the Mountain West ($108,893), the South ($114,138), Southwest ($119,393) and Pacific West ($122,667). As for the biggest paychecks mentioned in the survey, the CEO of Boys & Girls Club of America earned $1,848,593 in 2011, followed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children with a salary of $1,178,174.


According to the study, many donors continue to be concerned by what they believe to be excessive charity CEO pay. Many assume that charity leaders work for free or minimal pay and are shocked to see that they can earn six-figure salaries. But well-meaning donors fail to consider that these CEOs are typically running multimillion dollar operations that endeavor to change the world. The social mission of nonprofits often requires the highest levels of leader skills and performance. Many of these CEOs, who to some have outsized salaries, have the business credentials to earn more in the for-profit sector but they truly believe in what they're doing.



Do We Have a Nonprofit Overhead Movement?


Concerns about the nonprofits sector's treatment of overhead-the much-maligned but critical types of indirect spending that enable delivery of programs, such as general management, information technology, performance measurement, and fundraising-recently fueled the convening of two influential groups in the nonprofit sector. Both sought to spur concrete actions that would address the issue of overhead and the impediments it imposes to the growth and performance of nonprofit organizations. Participants made solid progress in the crucial first step of clarifying what the underlying issues really are. It is clear there are three distinct aspects to the overhead problem, each of which warrants dedicated attention:


1.     The tendency of many funders to use overhead figures-typically overhead costs as a percent of total costs-as an indicator of a program's or organization's effectiveness when selecting recipients. The result: significant funding inevitably goes to programs or organizations that have low overhead but may not be best positioned to produce high impact.


2.     The reluctance of many funders to pay the full cost of associated overhead in addition to program expenses. This reluctance, too, is understandable to the extent that funders have doubts about their ability to determine how well specific nonprofits are managing their overhead. Refusing to support these costs, however, or imposing arbitrary limitations not linked to reality, prevents even the most effective nonprofits from doing what they must to deliver great results and to improve over time.


3.     Recognition by nonprofits that they are equally critical to solutions. Funders decide who gets money and what activities receive support. But nonprofits are responsible for what actually creates social value: designing and implementing programs that can transform people's lives, tracking and applying data to optimize program performance, and literally serving those in need.


Fortunately, there appears to be growing consensus for action across all aspects of the problem. Both of these conferences generated thoughtful and substantive observations and next steps. 



Innovation & Trends


Game Changers Win by Embracing Bold Strategy


This article features interviews of several nonprofit leaders who have taken the plunge to learn what distinguishes nonprofits and foundations that have proven themselves as game-changers. A game-changing strategy impacts an organization's work at every level, entails a healthy dose of risk, and marks a definitive turning point for the organization that alters its trajectory. Successful strategies were born at the confluence of shifting circumstances, opportunity identification, and execution. Game-changer organizations tend to embody a set of skills, competencies, and behaviors that touch on each of these areas - three in particular:


1.     Market awareness: Staff and volunteer leadership draw from a combination of intuitive knowledge and empirical data to inform change. This means that they are attuned to the market and can recognize when conditions are ripe for a radical new endeavor.


2.     Openness, creativity, and risk tolerance: Organizations that have successfully implemented game-changing strategies are also willing to re-examine and revise their purpose in light of new factors or a changing environment. This means challenging sacred cows, thinking bigger than usual, and taking risks. Creativity is critical to these kinds of organizations; they are committed to having generative conversations with internal and external stakeholders that open the door to big, bold ideas.


3.     An "improvisational mindset": Whether they know it or not, leaders who successfully execute game-changing strategies display an improvisational mindset. They say yes to the mess, accepting the current situation in all its complexity and uncertainty; perform and experiment simultaneously, embracing their mistakes as opportunities for learning; are comfortable with emergence, treading the edge between order and chaos; and learn to play both solo and support roles, balancing autonomy and interdependence.



2014 Nonprofit Trends to Watch


In 2014, the vast majority of charitable nonprofits will continue to be squeezed for financial resources. At the same time, the dramatic decline in government funding often increases demand for services, as communities and individuals continue to struggle and look to nonprofits to provide basic services. In 2013, more than half of nonprofits surveyed by the Nonprofit Finance Fund reported they did not expect to have enough resources to meet increased community needs. The upward spiral of need for basic services is likely only to increase in 2014.  


The significance of the first two trends heightens the need for all nonprofits to advance their missions through advocacy. A study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy reveals that foundation executives (76 percent of those surveyed) recognize that the greatest barriers to their ability to make progress are the government policy environment and the economic environment. If nonprofits and funders are serious about bringing things "to scale," advocacy is how to achieve it. Other trends discussed include increased scrutiny, transparency about outcomes, burst of the overhead myth, storytelling with pictures, online giving, new financing structures, and more. 


Knight Foundation Launches Fund for Nonprofit News Innovation


Harvard's Neiman Journalism Lab reports that the Knight Foundation has launched a new $1 million fund to support innovation in nonprofit and public media organizations. The new INNovation Fund is a collaboration between Knight and the Investigative News Network, designed to grant small amounts of money to help media organizations try out new ideas in business, technology, or operations.


The $1 million will fund some 30 projects over the next two years, with most grants in the $25,000 to $35,000 range. They are available to any online news nonprofit or public media organization in the US; INN will oversee the program and choose the winners. This program is geared toward helping nonprofit news outlets with long-term sustainability, in particular to help established organizations diversify their revenue streams, develop new technology, and find new ways to reach out to audiences.


The small grants program was designed to help nonprofit news companies experiment with ideas they might not otherwise have the money or resources to do, with the realization that some of them will ultimately not succeed. INN will receive $500,000 to help nonprofit news outlets with technical assistance, legal consultations, and business training.


Impact Investing Requires Foundations to Think and Act in New Ways


Impact investing is spreading widely in the nonprofit world, including to an increasing number of community foundations. The foundations are primarily making low-interest loans to both charities and socially conscious for-profit companies. The loans are assisting community health centers as they prepare to serve more patients under the Affordable Care Act, helping food companies open stores in areas declared "food deserts," and renovating or building low-cost housing in urban areas. Some grantmakers are going a step further by making equity investments in companies whose business plans match up well with their mission. But impact investing is in many ways more complicated than grantmaking. It can require cooperation among program officers and investment managers-two sides of the foundation that often operate in silos. Foundation boards have a tough time evaluating the effectiveness of impact investing. Among their questions: How much "social return" do you need to compensate for a lower financial return?


The complexity of impact investing is giving rise to new consultants to help construct social-impact bonds and other "pay-for-performance" structures. As social-impact bonds struggle to gain a footing, some foundations are experimenting with other pay-for-performance investments, including several financial structures that reduce the interest rate on a loan if the charity is able to meet operating goals that both it and the foundation have agreed upon. Fueling the growth of impact investing are reports suggesting that foundations can expect high rates of repayment on the loans they make. But that doesn't take into account the fact that the goal of such loans is typically to help charities and socially conscious businesses that might be rejected by banks for such borrowing, or charged exorbitant interest rates, so by definition the loans are riskier.   



Does Size Really Matter? Organizational Size and Innovations in Nonprofit Organizations


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between size and innovation in a sample of nonprofit organizations. The author employed a number of size estimates (personnel and financial) and assessed administrative and technological innovations. The results showed that although the personnel size estimates were important predictors by themselves, their significance disappeared when contextual variables were introduced. In addition, board size and organization age were significant predictors of administrative innovations. Board size was the only significant predictor of technological innovations, as well as of a total number of innovations. 


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Focus on Culture


To make innovation and sustainability accessible and commonplace throughout the nonprofit sector, it is essential to establish a nonprofit organizational culture. Organizational culture is the amalgamation of an institution's habits and structures over a period of time. Whether established consciously or subconsciously, organizational culture exists and has a profound impact on organizational successes and challenges. According to the 2013 State of the American Workplace by Gallup, 70 percent of American employees are disengaged, unenthusiastic, or not committed to their work. With many nonprofits working at the edge of their capacity, the focus on resource maximization is critical. How do we maximize employee potential? By focusing on culture.


Sustainability is not only an economic ideal, but rather a cultural value that includes sustainable business practices that allow for the health and wellness of employees, constituents, and revenues. When nonprofit employees to feel nourished, engaged, and supported, institutions will get better results.


To have a true paradigm shift in organizational culture in the nonprofit sector, nonprofit leaders need to:

  • Establish cultural values and make them visible.
  • Create space for dialogue.
  • Be intentional and accountable.
  • Make sure employees know that they are important to the organization. 



What Works & What Doesn't 


Resolutions for Everyone: Let's Make 2014 the Year of "What Works"


In 2013, great progress was made on multiple fronts relating to the funding of programs and approaches with actual evidence of results. The White House and federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) continued to amplify the importance of evidence and formal evaluation. Congress continued funding for the major "tiered-evidence" programs, including $42 million for the Social Innovation Fund and $75 million for proven teen pregnancy prevention programs. Various public and private parties came together to structure and fund concrete "pay for success" deals. Seventy-five percent of private foundations surveyed by the Center for Effective Philanthropy profess the importance of supporting grantees' efforts to collect performance data. And visibility of evidence-related issues appears to have increased, at least as judged by the number of articles and conference sessions on topics such as evaluation and performance management. Despite this progress, 2013 saw little or no improvement in the poverty rate, number of long-term unemployed, and average wages.


In 2014, nonprofits must work to increase the impact of investments addressing societal needs. Will 2014 be the year for nonprofits to actually turn the corner on the widespread, large-scale use of evidence to drive funding of social initiatives? This article proposes four resolutions for key players in the public and social sectors. 



What Nonprofits Should Start Doing in 2014


This article features advice and ideas from nonprofit leaders for 2014.


1. Keep an eye on the numbers: To improve performance, nonprofits should pick out key pieces of data from each of their departments and review them regularly at staff meetings. Looking at important data regularly helps organizations stop making decisions based on hunches and identify potential problems early.


2. Think about the second gift: Instead of putting so much time and energy into winning new donors, charities need to do a better job getting gifts from the supporters they already have. Nonprofits should start reviewing exactly what happens after someone makes a first gift to determine areas that need improvement.


3. Experiment with raising money from the crowd: Campaigns to raise money for specific projects are a great way for nonprofits to attract young donors.


4. Step up efforts to show impact: Too often donor stewardship is an afterthought, and it shows. Nonprofits need to start thinking about how they will thank donors and show them the impact of their gifts when they are planning their fundraising campaigns.


5. Think multigenerational: To tap into the growing number of donors who want to involve their children and grandchildren in their philanthropy, charities need to develop more opportunities for people of different ages to volunteer and learn about their work.


6. Take visuals seriously: Making a good impression is critical, so charities need to get more professional about the way they present themselves visually. Instead of using stock photos, experts recommend that nonprofits train employees to take photographs of their programs in action. 



What Nonprofits Should Stop Doing in 2014


The Chronicle of Philanthropy provides expert advice regarding practices that nonprofits should stop doing.


1. Ignoring people who make medium-size gifts: People who give $500 to $10,000 annually fall through the cracks at far too many charities. These donors often aren't big enough to attract the attention of major-gift fundraisers. But because they give generously, nonprofits often take them off direct-mail and email lists out of fear of offending them with too many solicitations. To do a better job, organizations need to give at least one person in the fundraising department responsibility for concentrating on those donors.


2. Using social media indiscriminately: Nonprofits that jump onto every new online platform that comes along are spreading themselves too thin. Figuring out where donors, volunteers, and other supporters are is a much smarter plan.


3. Hoarding information: A year is too long to wait to tell donors how their gifts made a difference. Instead of saving up information about the group's activities for the annual report, charities should communicate to donors one important point about the impact of their contributions each month.


4. Using generic language: Instead of using "fuzzy" words, nonprofits should be specific about their mission and outcomes.


5. Fearing mobile technology: Organizations need to do a better job of adapting their content for mobile technology. The best place for groups to get started is to make sure that website pages people use to make donations, subscribe to advocacy alerts, or sign up to volunteer are easy to navigate on a mobile phone's small screen. The same goes for email messages.


6. Shying away from risks: Organizations need to be more thoughtful in the way they experiment with new ideas, defining how they will measure success and planning how they will pivot if the project doesn't work. 





Fundraising: There Are Risks to Know About the Process


Fundraising is such an integral part of nonprofit work that nonprofit managers often forget to heed warnings about the pitfalls. Yes, it's necessary, but yes, there is a common-sense approach to this vital activity.


There are three main ways in which nonprofits fail in terms of risk management:

  • Failure to anticipate donor trends. This falls into two main areas: Recognizing the changing donor engagement model and getting to know an organization's donors. The first means keeping donors in the loop with constant communication, and the second means understanding what stakeholders expect from the organization.
  • Falling prey to viral fundraising pitfalls. To avoid this: respond to donors' negative comments, and engage donors with entertainment. Donors don't have to hack into the system to exert control over viral fundraising. A bad-mouthing Twitter campaign can spell ruin, and failing to respond allows rumors and accusations to grow. Donors are willing to have fun, even when it comes with fundraising.
  • Improper use of restricted gifts. This needs two protections: establish a gift acceptance policy and only accept gifts that principally benefit the nonprofit. Formalize policies, and beware the gifts that support the donor more than the nonprofit.   



Most Charities Fail at Online Fundraising Basics


Eighty-four percent of nonprofits, including many of the nation's largest charities, haven't made their donation websites easy to read on mobile devices, one of several flaws that can cost them significant contributions, according to experts who studied 150 charities and other organizations. Included in the group of 151 organizations surveyed were 100 charities big enough to appear on The Chronicle's Philanthropy 400, the annual list of groups that raise the most from private sources.  


According to this study, charities aren't doing enough to persuade supporters to sign up for their emails, and the emails don't give enough direction: They don't suggest what action the recipients should take, such as donating or signing a petition. The groups take too long to ask for money, and they make it too hard to give online. As a result, according to the researchers, those nonprofits may be missing out on billions of dollars in online gifts 





Giving Up 4.9%, With Online Shrinking as a Percentage


Americans gave 4.9 percent more to charity during 2013 compared to 2012 but, surprisingly, online giving was a smaller percentage of the whole pie. Online giving was 6.4 percent compared to 7 percent in the previous year, although online did gain as a standalone category.


Though online giving as a percentage of total giving was down, overall it increased 13.5 percent year-over-year. The inclusion of faith-based organizations in the online giving numbers for the first time had an appreciable effect on online fundraising as a percentage of the total.  



Giving in the Midst of a Polarized Economy


The annual Giving USA report for 2012 revealed that charitable giving, which fell by 15 percent in 2008 and 2009, had partially rebounded, but that growth has slowed significantly in the past two years. Added to that, individual giving patterns are changing. As giving changes, nonprofits must also change. This article presents an overview of ideas for analysis in 2014, including growth of the philanthropic spectrum, incentives, strategic philanthropy, access, and the overhead myth.


Nonprofits and Those Who Support Them Should Talk Openly About Finance


When nonprofit leaders and funders get together to discuss grant opportunities, often they discuss the programs and services that support the grantee organization's mission, but they seldom talk about financial health. In Nonprofit Finance Fund's annual State of the Sector Survey, nonprofit leaders were asked which aspects of finance they are comfortable discussing with their funders (both individual and institutional). Sixty percent of 2013 survey respondents reported having an open dialogue about program expansion. The next most popular topics were a distant second and third: securing funding for facility needs (34 percent) and financial reserves (30 percent). Nonprofit leaders reported even more limited dialogue about liquidity issues, and 17 percent of respondents reported that they could not have an open dialogue with funders on any of those topics. Without space for candid discussions about finance, opportunity to structure funding in ways that support organizational health and resiliency, and therefore efforts to advance mission over the long term is missed. This article provides principles to be considered by both nonprofit leaders and funders.        



Story Telling


Why Nonprofit Storytelling Won't Be Enough in 2014


In 2014, nonprofits will need to move beyond storytelling to win donors. Fundraising has always been a tough beast to tame. Moreover, with new oversight laws and the growing wealth disparity, organizations must convince donors how their services are producing sustainable results.


Crowdfunding and social media have taught nonprofit staffs how to convey great stories to pull donors' heartstrings to open wallets and purses. However, the information age also yields more vigilant contributors who want to be reassured that their money is making an impact. So, how do nonprofits push pass storytelling? Here are five key factors nonprofits can include in their long-term strategies:


1. Transparency: Be honest. Donors want to know about successes and also, failures. More importantly, people want to understand how organizations learn from their mistakes and move forward.


2. Mobile Engagement: With today's technology, connecting with others is much easier, whether it's by phone or iPad. By using apps and text messaging, organizations can now have people donate money, set up volunteer time, or even volunteer virtually.


3. Donor Incentives: Ensure your donors feel appreciated. Of course, a thank you card would work. But what about a Facebook shout-out? Or post a volunteer's picture on a Wall of Service board. It's time to merge traditional ways of showing appreciation with really cool perks.


4. Collaborations: Nonprofits should partner with one another to reach a variety of donors. Collaborations can promote a positive image to the community and can show camaraderie for multiple causes.


5. Performance: Keep donors updated about the organization's progress. Data combined with personal anecdotes can show individuals the community impact. When donors see and understand the accomplishments, they will be encouraged to continue their support.


Ultimately, nonprofits want to bring value to their missions. Avoid the just storytelling trap. Focus on the above factors to increase your nonprofit's effectiveness to engage donors.  




8 Social Media Predictions for Nonprofits in 2014


Last year saw fantastic coverage of humanitarian work around the globe on social media. Nonprofits and NGOs kept supporters, donors, the press, and fellow humanitarians abreast of first-hand accounts of the tragedy in the Philippines and subsequent aid relief as well as humanitarian efforts from medical care to food distribution that kept people alive in Syria, the Central African Republic, as well as South Sudan. 


While social media played a pivotal role in sharing stories across the web last year, 2014 will dictate that those stories become even more shareable and engaging to make an impact. This article offers nonprofit social media predictions for 2014, including an increase of collaborations; visual storytelling; and the use of Snapchat, Spotify, and Flipboards to grow engage supporters.        



Online Learning: A New Source of Talent and Ideas: 3 Ways Organizations Can Tap into the Rich Resource of Online Learning Environments


It's no secret that companies and nonprofits are struggling to find the help they need. The challenge extends across fields and borders: A recent report shows that pervasive skills shortages across all industries contributed to tens of millions of unfilled vacancies, including both entry-level and experienced positions, across 30 countries in early 2013.


Online learning environments, including massive open online courses (MOOCs), may offer one solution. These communities of lifelong learners-people with diverse perspectives who actively pursue voluntary learning opportunities-are powerful, untapped sources of creative solutions and human capital. Early explorations of such partnerships, which promise to enrich student learning while providing organizations with added brainpower, have shown returns for organizations that build mutually beneficial collaborations with students. Here are three ways that companies and nonprofits benefit:

  • Sourcing innovative ideas from a diverse, global audience
  • Connecting with talent for advice and recruiting
  • Working with individuals of different cultures and perspectives

Online education will continue to provide opportunities for both students and for professionals hoping to collaborate with them and learn something along the way. For social sector organizations seeking to identify and develop talent and creativity, it's a great place to start.  


5 Nonprofit Technology Trends to Watch in 2014


2014 will be an exciting year for nonprofit technology. Numerous communications and fundraising trends are on the verge of going mainstream, and nonprofits committed to early adoption have a number of new tools and strategies to pioneer this year. Social media will remain a top priority for nonprofits in 2014, but 2013 helped solidify social media as a mandatory set of communication tools. It's no longer cutting-edge, but rather an integral component of a successful online communications and fundraising strategy similar to website and email communications.


1) Mass Adoption of Responsive and Flat Design: Nonprofits that have not yet mobilized their online communications and fundraising campaigns will start to pay the price literally in lost donations in 2014.  Websites, blogs, and e-newsletters that are responsively designed will become more common place in 2014 and will incorporate elements of flat design for optimal mobile browsing.


2) Integration of Digital Wallets into Social Networks: Facebook recently selected 18 of their favorite nonprofits and embedded a "Donate Now" on their Facebook Pages and, while that was nice of them to do, it's not useful to the other million plus nonprofits (in the United States alone) that would like access to the service. The application process is exceptionally vague and noncommittal which is telling on how limited Facebook's short-term plans are for the service.


3) Live Reporting during TV Events: As social media becomes more integrated into TV, nonprofits would be wise to master the art of live reporting this year. It will require new media managers to be more flexible, but with the possibility of increasing your nonprofit's exposure to millions of TV viewers, early adopter nonprofits should prioritize being active on social media during news conferences and special events.


4) Maturation of Mobile Fundraising Apps: In 2013, a new suite of mobile fundraising apps launched that have staying power, and more will likely follow in 2014-the early adopter nonprofits should watch and pioneer the trend.


5) Increased Employment Opportunities in New Media: In 2013, the number of nonprofits that increased their social media budgets quadrupled, and this is a trend that will continue throughout 2014. The reality is that mobile and social media require time to use effectively. The number of social networks as well as the quality of content that nonprofits create for social media campaigns is directly correlated to the amount of staff time that nonprofits invest in new media. The good news is that most nonprofits are starting to realize this and are adjusting their budgets accordingly as proven by the number of new media jobs in the nonprofit sector available online.   

Government and Nonprofits


Doing Business with the Government: Administrative Challenges Faced by Nonprofits


For nonprofit recipients of federal funds through grants or contracts, government agencies require highly specific reporting and accountability structures to avoid fraud, waste, and abuse. Adhering to these government requirements can generate significant challenges and increased administrative burdens. Challenges of cost accounting standards, cost charting, sub-recipient monitoring, timekeeping, and budget limitations are discussed along with strategies to mitigate them. 


Contracts and Grants between Nonprofits and Government


This report discusses the results of the 2013 National Survey of Nonprofit-Government Contracts and Grants. Expanding on the 2010 study of human service nonprofits, the authors examine most types of nonprofits with expenses of $100,000 or more. The report documents the size and scope of government financing, administration of contracts and grants, and nonprofit perceptions of problems and improvements in these processes and reports on the financial status of nonprofits in 2012. The study also examines how human service nonprofits have managed since the recession ended and how their relationships with government agencies have changed since 2009. 


Four Ways Foundations Find Themselves in Trouble


Private and family foundations are subject to more stringent tax laws and regulations than ever before. Understanding the nuances of private foundation laws is especially important now, given increased scrutiny of tax-exempt organizations by Congress and the Internal Revenue Service. As private foundations transition to successive generations of leadership, the challenges will become even more complicated. This article addresses four areas from which complications and issues often arise: self-dealing, compensation for personal services, excess business holdings, and grants to charities that lobbies.  



Announcements from the Levin College


The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs is proud to again be ranked by
U.S. News & World Report's Best Grad Schools as No. 2 in the nation for the specialty of City Management and Urban Policy and No. 12 for the specialty of Nonprofit Management. Our rankings underscore the commitment of our faculty and the Urban Research Centers to engaging with Cleveland, Northeast Ohio, and the state to solve real-world problems.




The Urban Center and Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice at the Levin College will host a conference for scholars and others with an interest in utilizing the Voinovich Archives* to present a limited number of invited papers in August, 2014. Papers that consider the role of nonprofit organizations in Public Private Partnership endeavors and the informing of public and private policy will be considered for publication in a special issue of Nonprofit Policy Forum by De Gruyter publishers. An edited, juried volume of the conference proceedings will also be proposed for publication.


In preparation for the conference, the College is soliciting the interest of scholars on the topics described. One page proposals will be reviewed, and a select group will be accepted for the conference. Small stipends are available. Two broad themes are sought: First, research is sought of documented efforts to bring expertise to government executives using public private partnerships in places like Cleveland, Ohio. We are interested in processes, practices, and policies that stimulate the formation of PPPs. Second, research is sought that evaluates specific public and private sector policies or administration particularly from the perspective of nonprofit intermediaries, civic mutual benefit organizations such as chambers of commerce or philanthropic institutions.These may discuss best practices in the work of the boards of large nonprofit institutions such as universities, hospitals, cultural institutions, social service delivery agencies; for-profit business endeavors; and small grassroots nonprofits that are largely funded by government. 


For more information: 


*The Voinovich Collections consist of archival documents and other historical artifacts generated during George V. Voinovich's public service as: Mayor of Cleveland, Governor of Ohio, and United States Senator. A fourth collection includes documents from his political campaigns.



Levin College Assistant Dean Stuart Mendel, Ph.D., director of The Urban Center and the Center for Nonprofit Policy & Practice, has accepted an invitation to serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership (JNEL). The editorial board helps ensure quality submissions and reviews, provides ongoing input, and assists with strategy development and other activities to help grow and develop the journal.       

Advancing Urban Policy: Nonprofit Management was created with counsel from Stuart Mendel, Ph.D.; compiled by Jessica Murphy, graduate assistant; edited by Roslyn Miller, consultant. Inclusion in Advancing Urban Policy is for informational purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs or Cleveland State University. 


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