A free roundup of the most important news, opinion, tools, and resources of the week. Delivered every Saturday.
From: Marilyn Dickey
Subject: Government Shutdown Looms; and a Q&A With Dan Pallotta on the ‘Overhead Myth’
We're sorry. Something went wrong.
We are unable to fully display the content of this page.
The most likely cause of this is a content blocker on your computer or network.
If you continue to experience issues, please contact us at 202-466-1032 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If the government shuts down on October 1, as seems likely, nonprofits that are already strained will be pummeled, as 4 million federal workers will go unpaid and nonprofit contracts will not be renewed or awarded.
Hard hit will be groups like D.C.’s Capital Area Food Bank, which has already been providing a projected 50 million meals’ worth of groceries this year, far up from the 30 million it was providing before it lost pandemic-era food benefits in March.
In the event of a shutdown, the Women Infants Children program will stop providing food and support to almost 7 million people, 10,000 children will lose access to education services, and health clinics and domestic-violence programs will lose funding.
Says the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s Annie Chang: “It’s a severe stressor for organizations, who don’t know what’s going to happen or how they’re going to get through this period.”
Here’s what else you need to know:
Ten years ago, Dan Pallotta stood in front of an audience at a TED Talk and declared that nonprofits should be measured by their ambitions, not by how much they spend on basic expenses like salaries and rent.
That provocative talk, which has been viewed millions of times, stirred a debate that still rages today and turned Pallotta into a polarizing figure in philanthropy.
Now Pallotta is back in the news, bringing his message to the public with the movie Uncharitable. When Sara Herschander recently spoke with him for a Q&A, Pallotta told her that the “overhead myth” — that charities should keep their overhead expenses low — is still too prevalent and that nonprofits themselves are partly to blame.
“We keep showing the overhead pies on our websites,” he said, “And we keep putting seals of approval from organizations that demand low overhead.”
Not everyone is sold on his vision, as Sara notes — some see in Pallotta’s arguments a desire to bring approaches more appropriate to the business world into nonprofits. But it’s clear that his arguments have struck a chord, and his movie has sparked a new round of conversation.
Nearly 80 percent of charities use it for online fundraising, reports Sara Herschander, and some use it to help kids with homework, train volunteer crisis counselors, help disaster victims find shelter, and a wide variety of other purposes.
Much of A.I. is still free, affordable, or already available through existing systems, so even small nonprofits have access. ChatGPT, for example, can partially fill out lengthy grant applications, and Canva can help create infographics.
Experts advise to start small and experiment, and be aware of the downsides of A.I., including its inaccuracies and biases.
The center raised $55 million, much of it soon after George Floyd’s murder in the summer of 2020, writes Eboo Patel, president of Interfaith America and a regular Chronicle columnist. Three years later, it’s laying off staff and has little to show for its efforts.
Reflecting on his own experience with funders — some of whom have given him tough feedback — Patel writes, “Shouldn’t the sophisticated grant makers whose job was to help build an antiracism institution have ensured that a sound plan and proper benchmarks for meeting goals were in place? It’s possible that some of this did happen with CAR, but it’s also safe to assume that whatever calls were made or meetings held weren’t nearly enough.”
— Marilyn Dickey, Senior editor for copy
More News, Advice, and Opinion
OpinionGarrett Neiman was taught that leading and controlling institutions was the best way for a privileged man like him to have an impact. The social sector has taught him otherwise.
Diversity, Equity, and InclusionFour philanthropies will spend more than $11 million to attract diverse talent to leadership roles in art museums.
Grants RoundupAlso, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave $244 million to support maternal and pediatric health in low- and middle-income countries, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation promised $30 million over three years to advance opportunities for Haitian children, families, and communities.
Research and DataSixty-two percent of education grant makers said they were changing how they spend money to help parents and their families cope with stress and other challenges.
Special ReportNew pooled funds seek grants from foundations or individuals, aggregate the money, and give it away. The efforts aim to drive fundamental change by building Black nonprofits’ public-policy muscle.
Gifts RoundupPlus, Stetson University received a $15.4 million bequest from a longtime supporter for scholarships and to endow its music school, and four other nonprofits received multimillion dollar donations.
AdvocacyOutside the General Assembly this week, throughout New York City, civil-society groups, big philanthropies, and others attend cocktail parties, meetings, and protests to make their voices heard and chart new paths forward.
The Face of PhilanthropyOver Orbis International’s 40-year history, volunteer medical professionals have performed more than 500,000 eye surgeries and trained thousands of doctors, nurses, and other health workers.
TransitionsAlso, the Meyer Memorial Trust has named its first vice president of impact, and Carole Rothman, founder and artistic director of Second Stage, is departing after 45 years.
WHAT WE’RE READING ELSEWHERE
The looming government shutdown would directly imperil food aid to millions of Americans and hamper many nonprofits’ ability to help their clients.
- Millions of Americans Will Lose Food Assistance If the Government Shuts Down (NPR)
- Mass. Nonprofits Reliant on Federal Funding Brace for Government Shutdown (NBC Boston)
- Possible Government Shutdown Could Impact Local Nonprofits That Depend on Federal Funding (WPSD)
Tales of dysfunction and disappointment continue to come out of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research as its founder defends his vision for the troubled organization.
- What I Saw While Working at Ibram Kendi’s Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University (Daily Beast)
- I Headed the BU Center for Antiracist Research. Here’s What I Learned. (Boston Globe)
- Ibram X. Kendi, Head of Center for Antiracist Research at BU, Defends Layoffs and Restructuring (Boston Globe)
- Ibram X. Kendi and the Problem of Celebrity Fundraising (New York Times)
Six young people in Portugal are suing 32 European governments, arguing that the governments’ failure to adequately address climate change violates their human rights.
The Open Society Foundations is planning a revamp that will cut its staff by at least 40 percent under the new leadership of founder George Soros’s son Alex. (Bloomberg)
The launch of the first federal office on gun safety is the culmination of years of lobbying by activists for focused attention on the issue. (Politico)
Inflation, government cutbacks, and multiplying crises, including the war in Ukraine, have created aid shortages and a humanitarian catastrophe in sub-Saharan Africa. Wall Street Journal — subscription)
The Hawaii Community Foundation has raised more than $120 million to help Maui recover from the August wildfires. (Hawaii Public Radio)
Three women in Texas, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., have made it their mission to restore local African-American burial grounds, tens of thousands of which lie in ruins across the country. (New York Times)
A federal judge allowed a grant program run by Atlanta’s Fearless Fund for Black women entrepreneurs to continue while a case against the fund proceeds in court. (Washington Post)
Seeking to save an industry in crisis, the Professional Non-Profit Theater Coalition is lobbying Congress to create a five-year $500 million grant program. (Los Angeles Times)
NEW GRANT OPPORTUNITIES
Your Chronicle subscription includes free access to GrantStation’s database of grant opportunities.
Lead-based paint. The Department of Housing and Urban Development supports research to gain knowledge on improving the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of methods for evaluation and control of residential lead-based paint hazards and housing-related health and safety hazards. The program is particularly focused on children’s health. The application deadline is October 30.
Energy. The Department of Agriculture seeks to lower energy costs for families and individuals in areas with extremely high per-household energy costs. The program supports the implementation of efforts such as energy-efficiency improvements and conservation measures (i.e. weatherization of residences and community facilities), programs encouraging the use of energy-saving appliances and devices, and programs aimed at improving the quality and cost of energy service. The application deadline is October 31.