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3/23/2017 12:00 AM

Charter’s philanthropy is focused on providing education and resources and financial support to help Americans live in safe and healthy homes.

OVERVIEW

Charter is a leading broadband communications company and the second-largest cable operator in the United States. Charter provides a full range of advanced broadband services, including phone, video entertainment programming and high-speed internet access. Its business segment provides services such as business-to-business internet access, data networking, business telephone, video and music entertainment services, and wireless backhaul. It has about 17 million video subscribers and 19 million broadband customers, along with about 500,000 commercial clients. In 2015, the company reported sales of about $9.7 billion and employed roughly 23,800 workers.

GIVING

Charter’s corporate giving program is dubbed Charter our Community, which is focused on providing education, resources and financial support to ensure more Americans are able to live in safe and healthy homes. The program has a goal of improving 25,000 unsafe and unhealthy homes across Charter’s service footprint by 2020.

The company provides a mix of cash and employee volunteer support, working with several nonprofit partners throughout the country, including:

  • Rebuilding Together. Rebuilding Together strengthens the lives of vulnerable communities by providing low-income homeowners with critical home repairs, accessibility modifications and energy-efficient upgrades. Charter our Community and Rebuilding Together partner on home renovations, homeowner education initiatives and distribution of needed home health and safety supports. Since 2014, more than 1,100 Charter volunteers have donated 5,400 hours of their time and improved nearly 1,100 homes under this partnership.
  • The Weather Channel. The Weather Channel television network is the leader in severe weather coverage, providing the most comprehensive coverage of any media outlet. The Weather Channel and Charter our Community collaborate through Connect With Weather, The Weather Channel’s safety and preparedness program. Content includes severe weather preparatory information, seasonal homeowner tips and an emergency plan development tool.
  • HGTV. HGTV is a leader in home and lifestyle programming, distributed to more than 99 million U.S. households and one of cable’s top-rated networks. Charter our Community and HGTV are teaming up to create an ongoing series of tips—available online—to help homeowners maintain safe and healthy homes.
  • ION Television. ION is a leading general entertainment network reaching over 100 million U.S. households. ION is providing materials for Charter our Community home rebuilds as well as supporting another partner, Rebuilding Together, through initiatives like Give Hope, which gives the public the ability to share inspirational messages and coordinate community service and volunteer events.

Visit the company’s website for additional information.

3/9/2017 12:00 AM

Yakima’s giving is directed to organizations that promote and enhance outdoor recreation and ensure future generations have opportunities to enjoy the outdoors too.

OVERVIEW

Yakima designs, manufactures and supplies a wide array of cargo and gear racks that enable consumers to bring their favorite toys wherever they go. The company offers cargo boxes, baskets and bags; truck racks; bike hitch racks; trailers; and related accessories for mounting and transporting equipment for cycling, kayaking, surfing, camping, boating, hunting, fishing, skiing and snowboarding activities. It sells its products in the United States through local and online retailers, as well as internationally through dealers in Canada, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Yakima is a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Kemflo International.

GIVING

Yakima’s philanthropy is directed to organizations that promote and enhance outdoor recreation and efforts to ensure future generations have opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as well. To that end, the company provides a mix of cash and product donations to numerous national and local nonprofit charities, including:

  • The National Park Foundation, which works in partnership with the National Park Service to enrich America’s national parks and programs.
  • Outdoor Afro, a leading, cutting-edge network that celebrates and inspires African-American connections and leadership in nature.
  • Protect Our Winters, a leading climate advocacy group for the snow-sports community, working to build a movement against climate change.
  • The Conservation Alliance, which engages businesses to fund and partner with organizations that protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values.
  • The Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition, which provides advocacy, education and resources for women in the outdoor, bike and snow-sports industries.
  • American Whitewater, a national nonprofit organization with a mission “to conserve and restore America’s whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.”
  • The Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors, a nonprofit education association dedicated to promoting the sports of skiing and snowboarding through instruction.
  • The National Ski Patrol, which serves the public and outdoor recreation industry by providing education and credentialing to emergency care and safety services providers.
  • PeopleForBikes, which works to improve bicycling in the United States by collaborating with millions of individual riders, businesses, community leaders and elected officials.
  • The National Interscholastic Cycling Association, which develops high school mountain biking programs for student-athletes across the United States and provides leadership, services and governance for local leagues to produce quality mountain bike events.

Visit the company’s website for further information.

3/2/2017 12:00 AM

Using the metric of overhead cost ratios to assess a nonprofit’s effectiveness is unreliable, at best, and may be harmful to the sector as a whole, research shows.

While corporate giving officers rightly seek to support those nonprofits that are effective and efficient with grant funds, using the common metric of overhead cost ratios to assess their effectiveness is unreliable, at best, and may be harmful to the sector as a whole, according to researchers at Texas A&M University.

In a study published in IZA World of Labor, associate professor of economics Jonathan Meer found that relying on overhead ratios causes nonprofits to spend less on administrative expenses—most notably, staff salaries and benefits.

This is a problem because paying wages that are low relative to similar jobs in the private sector means that the most talented workers are unlikely to choose to work for charities, Meer found. While lower pay might be offset for some nonprofit staff by way of a feeling of “doing good” and contributing to a cause they believe in, that only goes so far in limiting the talent drain, Meer said, because it generally only applies to those on the front lines—the case workers and others directly involved in providing services to constituents. Other employees—such as the organization’s IT workers, or HR and accounting staff—tend not to experience the same level of personal satisfaction from helping the less fortunate. The result of this, Meer said, is that the nonprofit sector is often stuck with lower-quality workers in important support positions.

The solution, many argue, is for donors to allow for higher percentages of their donations to go to overhead, and to eschew overhead ratios generally as a way of selecting nonprofits to support.

Another approach would be for funders to specifically allocate grants to the kinds of administrative and back-office functions that nonprofits need but are leery of spending much on due to their impacts on overhead. For example, directing funds to professional accounting and auditing services, and training employees throughout the organization on sound financial management and oversight practices, would be a wise investment, not just in terms of helping charities pursue their missions, but also in avoiding the kind of fraud and financial blunders that have hobbled several high-profile nonprofits in recent years.

According to Adam Cole, co-leader of the Nonprofit & Education Practice at accounting firm BDO, instituting some sound accounting and management practices is key to avoiding both financial mismanagement and fraud.

“Good governance and hiring competent auditors can avoid most of these problems,” Cole said.

Cole and his firm have seen firsthand the impacts of poor financial controls in a nonprofit. Whether it’s small-dollar theft of a few hundred bucks—likely to go unnoticed in an organization with a budget that runs in the millions—or a sudden liquidity crisis that brings to light mismanagement on a much larger scale, nonprofits of all stripes are vulnerable, he said.

The impact goes far beyond just the dollars involved, due to the hit on an organization’s reputation.

“Even the small-dollar examples can be quite embarrassing and harmful to the organization,” Cole said. It might be only a few hundred bucks but if it makes it into the papers, that’s what people see—the group’s name tied to a scandal.

Of course, the best way to deal with such scenarios is to avoid them in the first place. For that, Cole says following good financial management principles is critical.

Some relatively simple steps include dividing fiscal responsibilities between multiple staff members—so that one can be a check on the other—and ensuring that there is adequate oversight for anyone responsible for cutting checks and keeping books, whether that’s the executive director or the board itself.

Another thing to keep in mind is what’s called the fraud triangle—opportunity, justification and pressure—that is often at the center of fraud cases. Where someone sees opportunity, and can rationalize breaking the law, all that’s left is pressure—usually in the form of financial woes that the organization might have seen coming via a background check prior to hire, something Cole highly recommends.

Further, investing in a good financial accounting and auditing firm can catch any goings-on quickly and keep the financial and reputational costs to a minimum.

All of these things cost money, yet don’t impact the number of constituents served—thus pushing up the dreaded administrative cost ratio and making it appear on paper that the organization is less efficient than another charity without such controls in place.

But funders that can look past that will see the value of an organization expending the resources needed to ensure sound financial management—and the wisdom of funding it directly.

News Briefs
3/22/2017 12:00 AM

MasterCard and George Soros announced plans to team up on creating a social enterprise to apply commercial strategies to deliver a positive impact on society.

MasterCard and George Soros announced plans to team up on creating a social enterprise to apply commercial strategies to deliver a positive impact on society. Called Humanity Ventures, the enterprise could catalyze and accelerate economic and social development for vulnerable communities around the world, especially refugees and migrants. Pervasive joblessness, lack of access to health care, inadequate education and financial exclusion afflict people in both developed and emerging economies. Despite billions of dollars of humanitarian and development assistance every year, millions of people remain marginalized. MasterCard and George Soros believe that private-sector capabilities coupled with strategic, long-term investments can spur development and transform life for the underserved.

News Briefs
3/19/2017 12:00 AM

Merck & Co. has committed $10 million to the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child to improve maternal and child health.

Merck & Co. has committed $10 million to the Global Financing Facility in support of Every Woman Every Child to improve maternal and child health in low- and lower-middle-income countries worldwide through its MSD for Mothers initiative. Through the GFF — a multistakeholder partnership hosted by the World Bank Group — countries are aiming to make a much greater impact on the lives of their most vulnerable citizens, with the goal of preventing an estimated 3.8 million maternal deaths, 101 million child deaths and 21 million stillbirths by 2030. The $10 million contribution to the GFF Trust Fund will be used for innovative financing and public-private partnerships to scale up high-impact interventions to help women and children to survive and thrive through critical periods of life: birth, the early years and adolescence. The commitment is part of the company’s 10-year, $500 million global initiative, dubbed MSD for Mothers, aimed at ending the tragedy of women dying from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.

News Briefs
3/15/2017 12:00 AM

Charitable giving in the United States is predicted to grow by 3.6 percent in 2017 and by 3.8 percent in 2018, according to The Philanthropy Outlook 2017 & 2018.

Charitable giving in the United States is predicted to grow by 3.6 percent in 2017 and by an additional 3.8 percent in 2018, according to The Philanthropy Outlook 2017 & 2018, a new report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. According to the school, the report generates predictions for year-to-year growth rates in overall giving; giving by type of donor; and giving to education, health and public-society benefit nonprofit organizations. Projected rates of change in the new report use 2016 as the base year and are reported in 2015 inflation-adjusted dollars. Changes in total giving for the years 2017 and 2018 are predicted to exceed the most recent 10-year annualized average increase in giving of 0.5 percent but will be below the most recent 25-year and 40-year annualized averages, the report said. In general, increases in the U.S. economy, as reflected in the value of stocks, gross domestic product and household income, will lead to a rise in philanthropic giving in 2017 and 2018.

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  • Meet the Editor

    Nicholas King
    Editor

    Nicholas King has served as editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report since 2007, and he continues to be impressed with the philanthropic efforts of the nation’s business sector.

    Drawing on an educational background in English and environmental policy, Nicholas began his journalism career in 2000 when he was brought on as editor of Environmental Laboratory Washington Report, a niche-market subscription-based newsletter serving the environmental testing industry. After seven years of honing his craft, Nicholas expanded his writing/editing portfolio to an entirely new field of interest - corporate philanthropy. As editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report, he stays abreast of the latest developments affecting corporate giving—and the charitable/nonprofit sector more broadly—providing his readers the “need to know” information vital for making the best use of their limited charitable dollars.

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