The Great Financial Divide

So many in the nonprofit sector toil to bridge the ever widening chasm that divides the rich as they get richer and the middle and lower classes as they get poorer.  We work to level the playing fields for everyone and to ensure equal access to those things that make life livable, such as affordable health care, arts and culture and a healthy environment.  Yet the very sector in which we work is experiencing that same divide.

View image | gettyimages.com

The Wall Street Journal recently reported Read more

The Most Deserving List

This is the time of year for lists – top 10 movies of the year, top 10 retweets, top 10 pictures of dogs dressed as reindeer. That’s one way of collecting data.

View image | gettyimages.com

Every semester, I start off one of my graduate classes by asking the students to explore the various sources of data on nonprofits. I give them starting sources, such as the National Center for Charitable Statistics, Giving USA and the Foundation Center, making it clear that they are by no means Read more

Playing the numbers

The Center on Philanthropy just released its Giving USA 2012 report.  To announce the findings, they take their dog and pony show on the road and included Philadelphia for the first time. .

In case you have missed the high level summary of the results, here it is.  (I’ll leave you to decide whether the news is good, bad or indifferent.)

Giving by individuals, 81% of all gifts given in 2011, rose almost 4% in 2011, but only .8% in inflation adjusted dollars.
Adding up individual giving, from Read more

June 21st, 2012 0 Comment

The Power of Numbers. Or Not.

I believe in the power of statistics. But I also believe that statistics can be manipulated. They can be manipulated by the method of their collection and by the method of their presentation. And while both bother me tremendously, it is the latter that worries me the most, as the naïve reader/listener may be easily duped. And once duped, bad decisions may follow.Take, for example, the following. Ted Hart has been tracking online giving since 2001, when a mere $550 million dollars was given Read more

Zero Sum Game

Two new data points give with one piece of news and take away with the other.

According to Giving USA 2008, the news appears all glowing. In 2007, over $306 billion was given to charities by foundations, corporations and individuals, an increase of 3.9%. And, good news or better news, depending upon how your organization’s planned giving skills are, bequest giving rose 6.9%, after what is referred to as a “steep decline” in 2006. The conclusion Read more