Elsewhere online
July 05, 2016

New Arrival Fuels Debate: Has Boston Reached Peak Nonprofit?

The Boston Globe looks at whether its home region has become saturated with nonprofits offering similar services and spreading donation dollars too thin. The article focuses on the arrival of OneGoal, a Chicago-based college-readiness group that has secured significant backing from Boston’s financial sector.

At least one prominent local grant maker, the Lynch Family Foundation, declined to fund OneGoal’s programs to help disadvantaged students complete college. “We found the market to be pretty saturated,” said Katie Everett, Lynch’s executive director. Other nonprofit executives, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they feared the new group would siphon support from established organizations providing similar programs.

The situation reflects a broader debate in the region’s nonprofit community, the Globe writes. Massachusetts has roughly 20,000 active nonprofits, more than in many other states with comparable populations. “One thing I see over and over again is duplication of effort — so many small organizations that are doing the same work or very similar work,” said Marla Felcher, founder of Philanthropy Connection, a Cambridge, Mass., group that promotes giving by women.

Some major area grant makers, including the Barr and State Street foundations, are funding OneGoal. Most of its Boston support has come from Strategic Grant Partners, a venture-philanthropy group backed by several Boston finance heavyweights and led by Joanna Jacobson, a former corporate executive whose husband runs a hedge fund. She said OneGoal targets a population — low-income students who are underperforming academically — that other groups neglect, adding, “We never bring something unless it’s wanted.”