YouTube and two marketing companies are collecting data about how people interact with nonprofit videos online.
YouTube is working with See3 Communications, a company that advises charities on creating videos and other materials, and the Edelman public-relations firm to conduct a survey to measure the success rates of videos in North America. The results of that survey will be combined with data from YouTube’s nonprofit program to create a report expected for publication this May, according to See3.
That report will include information on nonprofits’ video budgets, how they distribute videos, and how effective videos are as a marketing tool.
The survey is available online now, and participants will be entered to win a $ 400 donation to their organization and other prizes. All survey results will be anonymous in the final report.
What questions do you have about video use in the nonprofit world?Social Philanthropy
Giving in 2013 is expected to rise only 1.6 percent from last year, according to a new report, making it one of the worst fundraising years in five decades, projects the Atlas for Giving, an independent forecasting service.
Among the reasons for the gloom: The stock market is likely to tumble, the unemployment rate will remain stubbornly high, health-insurance costs will surge, and the 2-percent payroll-tax increase that took effect in 2013 will make people stingier, the Atlas’s analysis believe.
“The less people take home, the less they have to give,” says Rob Mitchell, chief executive of Atlas of Giving.
The forecast doesn’t take into account the still-looming threat that Congress could limit or abolish breaks donors get for charity gifts, which would have a “devastating impact” on charities, he adds. “That could make 2013 worse.”
This is in stark contrast to 2012, when the Atlas says giving rose 6.7 percent.
Atlas of Giving is one of the newest players in producing philanthropy research. It seeks to provide faster forecasts than “Giving USA,” which produces one of the most widely used measures of how much is donated annually.
Atlas’s projections are not based on surveys of nonprofits but on an algorithm that involves 70 measures, such as the state of the economy, demographic data, joblessness rates, political election results, and the state of consumer confidence. It says that when it tested its algorithm to estimate giving each year going back to 1968, it was 99.5 percent accurate compared with what happened in each of those years.
Much of last year’s rosy picture resulted from strong stock-market performance, an improved economy, and large contributions from Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and other rich people, the Atlas report says.
Environmental charities fared the best last year, increasing donations by 10.9 percent. Other groups with the strongest growth were those focused on education and human services, which rose 8.8 percent. Superstorm Sandy was a key reason that giving to social services rose so fast, says the report.
Also strong was a category that includes donor-advised funds and a range of other charitable causes, where saw giving grow 9 percent.
Mr. Mitchell says he believes that environmental charities benefited from sophisticated fundraising appeals focused on college-educated donors and all the attention climate change got in the news media. Meanwhile, colleges and other education groups did well because they court many donors who probably fared well in the buoyant stock market.
Giving to religious causes in 2012 didn’t grow as much as other segments of the nonprofit world, with only a 4.2 percent bump, according to the study.
In 2013, Atlas expects giving to rise by 5.9 percent for environmental groups, 4.9 percent for human services, and 2.6 percent for education.
The complete report is free but requires registration.
Send an e-mail to Raymund Flandez.Prospecting
Independent Sector and eight other groups asked a powerful Congressional committee Tuesday to preserve discount postage rates for nonprofits as it drafts legislation to change how the U.S. Postal Service works.
The Postal Reform Act of 2011 had proposed eliminating the nonprofit discount, which cost the postal service about $ 1.3-billion in 2011. The provision was removed last year during Congressional negotiations, but the comprehensive postal bill died. It is expected to be considered again this year by the new Congress.
Independent Sector’s letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, aims to make sure new legislation picks up where last year’s measure left off and keeps the discount in place. Mr. Issa was a key player in removing the threat to the discount.
“We have no reason to believe that [Mr. Issa] has changed his position,” said Geoffrey Plague, vice president for public policy at Independent Sector. “We wanted to send a friendly reminder of where the discussion had ended at the end of the last Congress.”
Mr. Issa’s spokesman said no schedule had been set on what steps Congress would take this year on postal issues.
The letter was signed by eight Independent Sector members: American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Easter Seals, Feeding America, League of American Orchestras, Older Women’s League, and YMCA of the USA.
The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, which represents 300 nonprofits on the issue, led the lobbying effort last year against eliminating what amounts to a 26-percent discount on standard mail for nonprofits. The executive director of the alliance, Anthony Conway, said no lawmaker has made any new proposal affecting the discount.
“There’s no threat at this point that I’m aware of,” said Mr. Conway.
Nonetheless, Mr. Plague said, nonprofits would rather begin the debate in 2013 with a bill that preserves the discount from the start. Removing a proposal from legislation is a difficult political process and one nonprofits already successfully waged last year.
“Getting something out is infinitely harder than keeping something in,” Mr. Plague said.Government & Politics Watch
What can you do when donors don’t give because your charity works on painful, unpleasant, or controversial issues?
One solution is to change people’s perception of the work you do. Samaritans, a Boston charity that helps prevent suicide, took that approach and is already attracting more corporate aid as a result.
Instead of talking about death and the depression associated with suicide, Samaritans is focusing on the opposite—life and happiness—in a publicity campaign called Happier Boston.
The idea came from Hill Holliday, an advertising company that donated its services to come up with the campaign. The goal: changing people’s view of the charity and thus improving its ability to recruit corporate donors.
Instead of print ads or radio spots, the campaign features people who reach out to strangers in subway stations, city streets, and other public spaces with gestures designed to bring a smile to their face and encourage acts of kindness. For example, some volunteers have handed out oranges bearing stickers that say, “Peel stress away” or “Orange you happy,” while others hold up signs with messages like “Have a great day!”
The campaign also features HappierBoston.org, a site where visitors can post photos and thoughts about places and things in Boston that make them happy.
At first, says Roberta Hurtig, the charity’s executive director, Samaritans was concerned about the campaign appearing to make light of a serious and painful issue. But, she says, she and her colleagues ultimately realized “this is really a better way of saying what we do. We make our community better and happier and touch people in a profound way.”
The campaign, Ms. Hurtig says, also “underscores how important it is to be present for someone when they are troubled.” The goal, she says, is for people to “react with enthusiasm to an issue normally characterized by isolation and shame.”
Judging from its response so far, the campaign is a big hit after getting under way in earnest last month. The Boston Globe and other news outlets have written about the campaign, and it has also drawn three new corporate donors, each one giving $ 1,000 or more.
That may not seem like a lot of money, but Ms. Hurtig says it’s significant for her small, local organization, which has an annual budget of $ 1.4-million.
And she’s cautiously optimistic of a bigger increase in corporate support just around the corner. As part of the campaign, the president of Hill Holliday, who also chairs the local Chamber of Commerce, is sending a letter next week to more than 900 corporations in the area to encourage them give to Samaritans.
Read The Chronicle’s article about how other charities attract money to work on controversial or tough issues that turn many donors off.
Send an e-mail to Holly Hall.Prospecting
Rep. Charles Boustany—a Louisiana Republican who started holding a series of hearings on nonprofit issues last year—has been reappointed chairman of the House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee.
The announcement was made today by Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees tax-exempt organizations.
Mr. Boustany was re-elected to Congress after winning a runoff election last month that was required by state law because no candidate had won a majority of votes in the November contest.
Mr. Boustany told The Chronicle last year he was concerned that the IRS had not been aggressive enough in monitoring charity abuses.
Send an e-mail to Suzanne Perry.
Government & Politics Watch
Benjamin Jealous, chief executive of the NAACP, says advocacy organizations too often ignore young people—missing an opportunity to inspire the very supporters who might become most active in promoting a cause.
But Mr. Jealous says his organization has decided to make young people a priority, in part by asking them what they are most passionate about changing in the world and showing them how they can channel frustration about what’s wrong into positive action.
“Listen to them first, find out what they are really angry about, and then say, ‘This is how we turn it outward, and we actually overcome that issue,’” Mr. Jealous says.
In this video, Mr. Jealous talks about how his organization has mobilized young people to protest criminal-justice policies that focus on putting people in prison and explains how other groups can borrow techniques that have helped the NAACP increase its number of young members.Government & Politics Watch
Columbia University raised $ 6.9-million, most of it online and in 24 hours, by running a contest to see which of its 16 schools could produce the most money for the institution’s annual fund.
Giving Day, held in October, was the brainchild of CloEve Demmer, director of Columbia’s annual fund. Ms. Demmer says she got the idea from a daylong online drive in Minnesota called Give to the Max day, which started in 2009.
The university recruited 14 alumni volunteers to train as leaders and assigned them to work with specific schools to help promote the contest.
The volunteers and Columbia staff member drummed up interest by asking people to start giving early to show their support for Giving Day and get some buzz about the event started in alumni and donor circles. By the time Giving Day officially started, it had raised $ 1-million and recruited about 100 volunteers.
They sent out e-mails, made phone calls, and reached out to alumni on social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to publicize the daylong campaign. They also encouraged donors to visit the contest’s Web site, where university officials posted videos and real-time updates about fundraising returns.
University board members also got into the game, providing $ 400,000 in donations to match contributions made on Giving Day.
Schools got a percentage of that matching money based on how much their donors contributed, with additional incentives for the schools that attracted the biggest share of alumni to give and those with the largest number of international donors.
It’s not yet clear whether Columbia, which is midway into its fiscal year, will lift its annual-fund result for 2013 because of the competition, but Ms. Demmer says Giving Day has already proven its value on one important measure: recruiting new donors. About 23 percent of the people who gave to the contest were first-time donors to Columbia. Another 17 percent were people who had not given in a long time.
“In all of our direct marketing,” Ms. Demmer says. “this kind of acquisition and reactivation success is unprecedented.”
Dig deeper: Read a Chronicle article about how to create giving days.
Send an e-mail to Holly Hall.
The tax provisions adopted by Congress to avert the year-end “fiscal cliff” will increase charitable giving by an estimated 1.3 percent, or $ 3.3-billion, in 2013, according to a new Urban Institute analysis.
The boost will come mainly from the decision to increase the top tax bracket from 35 percent to 39.6 percent on income above $ 400,000 for individuals ($ 450,000 for married couples), the institute said.
Because the charitable deduction is tied to a person’s tax bracket, those donors will now save $ 39.60 in taxes for every $ 100 they give to charity. In other words, their gift will cost them only $ 60.40, down from $ 65 under the 35-percent rate.
People in the top 1 percent of income distribution will provide almost all of the higher giving, increasing their donations by an estimated 6.2 percent, the analysis found.
The study also took into account the decision to raise the capital-gains tax from 15 percent to 20 percent. That provides an additional incentive for people to donate stock or other property that has risen sharply in value. Not only will they escape the higher capital-gains tax, they will also get the bigger 39.6-percent tax savings on their gift.
The new so-called Pease limitation—which cuts itemized deductions by a complicated formula that in effect imposes a surtax on high earners—will have “negligible effects” on charitable giving, the analysis concluded.
Send an e-mail to Suzanne Perry.
Government & Politics Watch