Archive for August, 2011

A Wedding of Hope: NYC Homeless Invited as Guests of Honor

Formerly Homeless Bride Invites NYC Homeless to Dress Up, Celebrate, and Regain Sense of Self

Nearly every bride and groom consider their wedding to be “their day” and enjoy being the center of attention for friends and family.
Not so for soon to be newlyweds Diamond Jones, 32, and her fiancé, Michael Thomas, 28.  The couple  look forward to sharing their big day, on Saturday, September 10, 2011, with some very special Guests of Honor that they are inviting: homeless men and women from across New York City.
This heartfelt  invitation is neither a grand gesture nor a random act of kindness. After losing both of her parents by age 25, Diamond found herself homeless in Manhattan — literally sleeping on the street, and even surviving for weeks at a time on just a single bag of potato chips a day.  The closest thing she had to a shower was the bathroom sink in various coffee shops, where foaming hand soap and paper towels were a luxury.
Like Diamond, many of the homeless in the city do not have family and may have never had the opportunity to attend a wedding or other formal event. Many of them have also not had a haircut or shower in months, and may have never had a manicure, or owned a tailored suit or dress.  The couple’s hope is to provide these small but significant “luxuries” to their homeless guests through donations and gifts-in-kind from across the country for the big day.
“This is our vision for our Dream Wedding,” says Diamond, “We want to restore dignity and hope back in to each individual life. We want our guests to feel like the Guests of Honor that they truly are.”
Diamond, who graduated from Virginia Tech before she became homeless, now works in full-time Christian Ministry.  Additionally, she spends most of her free time as an active volunteer with several organizations that provide services to the homeless, including The Bowery Mission, Don’t Walk By, Coalition for the Homeless, and New York Cares. Michael is an employee of the City of New York, and has also spent countless hours volunteering with The Bowery Mission, New York City Relief, The Father’s Heart, and Coalition for the Homeless.  The homeless guests will include a number of men and women the couple have come to know over their many years of volunteering.
The couple is now actively soliciting donations of formal clothing, grooming services, and other amenities for these special guests.  Thus far the flowers for the ceremony and reception have been donated by the well known celebrity florist, Belle Fleur, on 5th Avenue.
Please let me know if you would like more information or would like to set up an interview with Diamond or Michael. In the meantime, we invite you to visit www.weddingofhope.com to learn more about the couple, the event, and ways to get involved.

So for this event to be a success, the couple is still in need of donations of all types – clothing, food, toiletries, and skilled professionals to do makeup, haircuts, and manicures. Monetary donations can also help in providing the extra items that the couple may need in the planning process.  And if you personally don’t know how you might be able to help, we welcome your prayers as they are equally as important for this wedding to bring the hope and salvation to the many Guests that may not know their Heavenly Father and may have never felt His love for them.  

As a last thought, the Lord gave me a revelation about His heart and how much this wedding means to Him. He showed me that just as Jesus preformed his first miracle of providing wine at a wedding…wine that was not necessary, but it was an act to reveal His glory…so too is this couple providing an opportunity that many may see as unnecessary–which I have experienced from a few media outlets who question what “real” impact this wedding will have in changing the Guest’s lives and getting them out of homelessness–but to those that are touched and uplifted, they will see this event as a miracle in their lives and will understand this act as God’s glory and love for them. Jesus provided the BESTwine when it probably would have not made a big difference in the outcome of the wedding had they gotten more wine or not…but the Bible says in John 2:11 “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” So His provision isn’t just limited to the basic needs in life, in some cases it will be in ways that are seemingly “unnecessary” simply for Him to REVEAL Himself so others will put their faith in Him. This wedding is a huge opportunity to REVEAL God to the Guests who might (or might not) believe in Him, and have never SEEN HIS GLORY. It is my prayer that this wedding be a reason that many decide to put their faith in Him and in doing so, are able to find the hope and the strength to believe they deserve better than to live on the streets, and they can trust that God will help them out of it.
The “real” impact of this wedding is TRUE CHANGE from the inside out…the kind of change that only comes from knowing and receiving God’s love.

Fresh Air Is Changing Lives – One Week Left

The Summer of 2011 is almost over and there is only one week left
to help 200 Fresh Air children find a loving host family!

We are looking for families in the following areas to host before this summer ends:

hostmap

If you or someone you know is able to host, please sign up now. In 2010, The Fresh Air Fund’s Volunteer Host Family program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes up to two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

Thanks to host families who open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air experiences.

More than 65% of all children are reinvited to stay with their host family, year after year.

FreshAir is changing lives, visit them here: http://freshairfundhost.org

No Changes To Charitable Deduction In Debt Deal

You may remember that we wrote a while back that nonprofit executive were urging Congress and the administration not to reduce the charitable deduction in their negotiations to raise the debt ceiling.  Now that President Obama has put his signature on the so-called debt deal, nonprofits will be happy to know that charitable deduction is safe--for now.

In an article on The Huffington Post, we learn that although the initial deal didn't produce any changes, nonprofits are not out of the woods yet.  The "Super Congress," created by the deal to find additional deficit reduction measures, may turn their sights on charitable tax breaks yet again.  The President has continued to say that he believes these tax breaks are unfair, and nonprofits are working under the assumption that reductions to the charitable deduction will continue to be on the table.

On the other side of the debate, Huffington Post cites a piece from The ETF Daily News that says reducing charitable deductions would help shrink the budget by $50 million.  That same article also claims that it would help middle class families that don't usually itemize their deductions.  Hopefully the debt ceiling drama didn't tire you out, because it looks like we are in for another political battle once the Super Congress reports back in November.

Read the full article on the debt deal by visiting The Huffington Post.

Special Note From The Editor Of The NonProfit Times

I’m Paul Clolery, editorial director of The NonProfit Times. First, thanks for being a loyal reader. As such, you know that we do plenty of original research. I want to bring your attention, via this email, to a special research report we have been working on. It's called The Best Nonprofits to Work For.

This is an important benchmarking study that we share with all of our subscribers in exploring some of the best practices for managing manage internal and external relationships.

The real benefit for you participating is the knowledge gained in what makes an organization a viable and attractive place to work. We look at retention strategies on how employees look at their organization, what techniques and policies they find effective and also how managers perceive their own work and style.

The annual study needs your help to continue this important work. We have an independent company evaluate the study results and select what they think is the best managed nonprofits, recognizing the size of the organization and it's resources. But the real work is in the results that make all of us better nonprofit practitioners.

Simply click on the link http://www.bestnonprofitstoworkfor.com/ to start the process. We will publish the results in our April, 2012 issue and I will make sure you get an executive summary as a thank you for your time and knowledge contribution.

Thanks again.

Paul Clolery
Editorial Director
The NonProfit Times

Brooklyn Nonprofit Mystery

Why are 196 nonprofits registered to one Brooklyn home?  That's what investigators want to find out.

In a story in Monday's New York Post, it was reported that 196 New York nonprofits are registered to a Brooklyn house without the owners being aware of it.  As if this wasn't strange enough, some of these organizations have ties to a group of rabbis involved in money laundering and child molestation.  It sort of sounds like the plot to a bad movie.  A really bad movie.

As investigators work to figure out this mystery, the Post managed to find out some interesting tidbits.  A dozen of the registrations were traced back to a tax lawyer named Joseph Schubin.  He claimed that the multiple registrations were a mistake by the IRS.  Schubin worked at a dozen of these charities, and he explained that the IRS mistakenly put the address of this Brooklyn home, where he used to work, instead of the organizations official address.  Keep in mind that the IRS nonprofit application requires a charity register its own address.

This is a very odd story, no question about it.  It actually brings to mind a story NPT wrote recently about a man who was registered to 2,300 nonprofits out of one office building in Nevada.  Will there be any other similarities to that story?  We'll have to wait and see.  In the mean time, get the full scoop on this story at The New York Post.

Breaking News: Jerry Lewis Out As MDA Chairman And Host

In a stunning turn of events, The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) has announced that legendary comedian Jerry Lewis will be stepping down as chairman of the organization.  He will also no longer be appearing on the organization's annual Labor Day Telethon.  It was announced less than three months ago that Lewis would be making one more appearance on the telethon before retiring as host.  He was still to maintain his chairmanship, however.

What changed between now and then is anybody's guess.  Speculation has ranged from Lewis's deteriorating health, to a strange recent appearance at the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour last week.  Several published reports indicated that he said it was "None of your business" when asked about his involvement with the telethon, and that he went on a rant against reality television. 

Regardless of the reason for his departure, it clearly marks the end of an era.  Lewis had hosted the annual telethon since it first ran in 1953 (when he co-hosted with Dean Martin).  The telethon raised nearly $60 million dollars with Lewis at the helm, about a third of the MDA's $180 million in annual revenue.  Although his behavior may have become slightly erratic over the years, it will certainly be strange not seeing Jerry Lewis crooning out "You'll Never Walk Along" at the end of the telethon.  To read the full story on his departure, head on over to The NonProfit Times.  The story will be updated if we get any further information.

A Story of Re-Branding

Re-Branding is done for a variety of different reasons.  Sometimes an organization wants to move away from some controversial events that had soiled their previous brand.  Other times, its just the result of an evolution in the organization's thinking.  In the case of Good360 and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), it was clearly an effort to "refresh" their brand.  In the newest issue of The NonProfit Times, the story behind the re-branding of these two nonprofits is discussed:

When Gifts In Kind International (GIKI) changed its name earlier this year, it wasn’t just some tweaks at the edges or a few nips and tucks to its logo. The Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit unveiled its new name, Good360, this past spring, in the midst of revamping its business model in a sort of mashup of Kiva, eBay and DonorsChoose.org.


And, it’s not done yet: Phase II will launch by the end of the summer, integrating its two websites and rolling out an online catalog where individuals can become “microphilanthropists” by underwriting the shipping and handling costs of product donations. Charities often must consider when to transition image and brand, which might have grown from a small, fledgling effort into a nationally recognized organization. It’s not uncommon for nonprofit managers to think about whether the brand needs to be revamped with age or whether to retain the equity in a name it’s had for so long.


For Good360, it turned out to be a new name, web portal and business model, leaving behind a name, and more, that it had for almost 30 years. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), also some 30 years old, didn’t want to lose its established name and brand, so a new logo was characterized as a “refresh” of the brand.

(read the full article here)

The article goes on to paint a fascinating story of the process behind the rebranding of these two organizations.  There comes a time in the life of any nonprofit where major changes have to be made in order to ensure continuing success.  Change can be difficult but, as you can see with Good360 and MADD, they can ultimately be for the better.  Has your organization ever had to undergo changes like these?  Please feel free to share your stories with us in the comment section.

Erie Gives Day Rakes In The Cash

A couple of years back, we wrote a story about Giving Days in a number of states.  Those events were met with a great deal of success, and now it appears Erie, Pennsylvania is experiencing the benefits of online philanthropy.

GoErie.com reported today that Erie Gives Day raised $690,513 for the 223 nonprofits that were involved in the event.  Considering that the number stood at $582,038 with only two hours left, the amount raised is staggering.  Community leaders said that the cash raised will significantly boost the nonprofit sector.  The cash comes with additional meaning since organizations are expecting large reductions in state funding later in the year.  The nonprofits involved will receive their donations on August 12th at the Erie Community Foundation.

This story is not only an example of the extraordinary generosity of citizens in this country, but also of the power of online fundraising.  More and more, we are seeing that this medium can be used to great effect.  One of the more recent examples of this came in the case of Reel Grrls's spat with Comcast.

You can read more about Erie Gives Day by visiting GoErie.com.

Erie Gives Day Rakes In The Cash

A couple of years back, we wrote a story about Giving Days in a number of states.  Those events were met with a great deal of success, and now it appears Erie, Pennsylvania is experiencing the benefits of online philanthropy.

GoErie.com reported today that Erie Gives Day raised $690,513 for the 223 nonprofits that were involved in the event.  Considering that the number stood at $582,038 with only two hours left, the amount raised is staggering.  Community leaders said that the cash raised will significantly boost the nonprofit sector.  The cash comes with additional meaning since organizations are expecting large reductions in state funding later in the year.  The nonprofits involved will receive their donations on August 12th at the Erie Community Foundation.

This story is not only an example of the extraordinary generosity of citizens in this country, but also of the power of online fundraising.  More and more, we are seeing that this medium can be used to great effect.  One of the more recent examples of this came in the case of Reel Grrls's spat with Comcast.

You can read more about Erie Gives Day by visiting GoErie.com.

Seven Business Turnaround Tips from ‘Bar Rescue’

A recent episode of the new Spike-TV series offers a road map for saving a sinking business.