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Nonprofits First Earns the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Friday, July 22, 2016

Nonprofits First earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. By sharing these metrics, we’re helping the sector move beyond simplistic financial ratios to assess nonprofit progress. We chose to display quantitative metrics such as 87 accredited nonprofit organizations, 38 nonprofit organizations participating in Nonprofits First managed capacity-building program, and 543 users receiving technical support services in 2015, to represent how hard Nonprofits First is working toward achieving our mission.

We’re proud to use GuideStar Platinum to share our full and complete story with the world. To reach the Platinum level, we added extensive information to our Nonprofit Profile: basic contact and organizational information; in-depth financial information; quantitative information about goals, strategies, and progress toward our mission.

We encourage other nonprofits to take advantage of GuideStar Platinum to share key metrics with the world and highlight the changes you’re making. Updating is free. To learn more about GuideStar Platinum, click here, or go to To learn more about GuideStar, watch their short video.

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Think Giving to Groups That Support Nonprofits Is a Waste? You’re Wrong.

Posted By Debora Kerr, Monday, July 18, 2016

America’s nonprofits are the envy of the world for their strength and diversity. Yet as these organizations grow in scale and complexity — and as the problems they seek to solve become more urgent — the nonprofit world lacks sufficient investment in research, training, and other tools to help them grow stronger.

"Like a body without a backbone, a sector without a strong infrastructure will crumble," wrote Cynthia Gibson, a philanthropic adviser and former Carnegie Corporation program officer, in a 2008 special issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly dedicated to infrastructure. Eight years later, with the level of investment in infrastructure essentially flat, we — along with more than 20 other nonprofit leaders — are issuing a renewed call for foundations to invest in strengthening how charitable organizations work.

We need the data systems and technology platforms that fuel communication and learning. We need training programs that support the growth of staff and volunteers. We need research to understand what works and what doesn’t. We need organizations devoted to building a more diverse nonprofit work force, especially at the leadership level. We need advocacy for policies that support our work and help us reach new levels of excellence.

Without greater investment in all those areas, nonprofits and grant makers won’t be as nimble and effective as they need to be to tackle challenges like curbing climate change, fighting poverty, curing diseases, and dealing with national and international disasters.

To be sure, foundations and other donors have given money to some efforts that bolster nonprofits. But the money does not match the scale of the challenges ahead. That’s why the organizations we lead, GuideStar and the Center for Effective Philanthropy, joined an effort unveiled in May to formally call on foundations to dedicate at least 1 percent of their grant-making budgets to work that strengthens the entire nonprofit world.

The groups joining with us represent a diverse coalition that includes the Council on Foundations, BoardSource, Foundation Center, VolunteerMatch, and 18 other organizations.

All of us are very grateful to the handful of grant makers that have made significant investments in "infrastructure" organizations.

But as Lindsay Louie, a program officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, noted last year (citing Foundation Center data): "Philanthropy is growing, but infrastructure funding isn’t keeping pace." (Disclosure: Hewlett has supported both our organizations and one of us, Jacob Harold, used to work there.)

That needs to change. As our coalition argues in a letter sent to all U.S. foundations making more than $2.5 million in grants annually, "civil society needs infrastructure to ensure that nonprofits and foundations can act with integrity and impact."

Furthermore, "we waste hundreds of millions of dollars in a fundraising process that is full of duplication and confusion," the letter states. "Nonprofits struggle to find the right staff with the right skills. The power imbalance between foundations and nonprofits dampens the honest conversations that are so critical to any partnership. Too often nonprofit leaders do not reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. Too few organizations admit failure; and, thus, few learn from it."

None of our organizations focus on every one of those issues, but collectively we’re working on all of them. And while nonprofits have done much good, we believe they can do much better. Simply importing frameworks from business or government doesn’t work. We need people waking up every morning focused on the unique challenges facing nonprofits and grant makers.

We are not the first to call for this kind of support. A group of foundation presidents made a similar plea to their colleagues more than a decade ago. Why hasn’t more progress been made? We don’t know — but we do know foundations often hesitate to fund infrastructure organizations because they see such grants as coming at the expense of the "core work" of their programs. Indeed, we have heard that case made since our letter was released.

That’s a false choice. Take the contributions of VolunteerMatch, which has connected more than 10 million individuals to volunteering opportunities, providing nonprofits with crucial resources to help them achieve their goals. Or BoardSource, which has helped thousands of organizations improve their governance. These groups provide resources and insight that nonprofits need and can’t find elsewhere.

We have come together not to make the case for specific, individual organizations, but rather to seek a stronger network of organizations that, working individually and collectively, can help bolster the nonprofit world. We don’t speak for anyone but ourselves. But we know many people at groups across the country would agree on the need to put more dollars into institutions that can exponentially increase the effectiveness of the charitable groups Americans count on.

Ultimately, each foundation will make its own choices about what strategies to fund. Some will support campaigns to promote greater racial equity in philanthropy. Others will focus on efforts to strengthen nonprofit governance. Still others will fund organizations that advocate for greater general operating support.

We’re not just calling on grant makers to do more. Those of us who lead organizations that focus on improving nonprofits can do a better job assessing and improving our own performance. We know we need to collaborate more than we have in the past. While we reject Dan Pallotta’s recent call in the Harvard Business Review for organizations like ours to merge into a single entity — such centralization could stifle innovation and silence marginalized voices — we do know there are opportunities for us to work together more productively. We pledge to seek them out.

We’re asking foundations to support those organizations focused on multiplying the good that nonprofits do for our communities. An investment in the right infrastructure is an investment in impact.

Jacob Harold is the CEO of GuideStar. Phil Buchanan is the president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

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Emotional Storytelling Using Immersive Communications (BLAB)

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
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Kaire & Heffernan Community Scholarships for Florida Students

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2016

Kaire & Heffernan, LLC is proud to offer two very special educational scholarship opportunities to students in The Sunshine State and beyond.

First, the Kaire & Heffernan, LLC Community Scholarship for Florida High School & College Students is available to promising young students in the state of Florida whose involvement in their communities reflects the values that we cherish at Kaire & Heffernan, LLC.

We are also proud to offer a similar scholarship, the Kaire & Heffernan, LLC Community Scholarship for Law School Applicants, to students living anywhere in the United States who hope to expand their educational horizons by applying to an accredited law school and ultimately serve their communities as practitioners of the law.

Through both these opportunities, we hope to recognize students who are actively engaged in trying to make the world a better, safer, and more charitable place. In particular, the scholarship will be awarded to students with a history of volunteering for non-profit organizations in their communities.

As an added bonus to the scholarship winner’s dedication, Kaire & Heffernan will be donating $500 to the Non-profit where they spent time volunteering.

As Miami personal injury attorneys, we understand that community service is no mere gesture. On the contrary, it has a real and measurable impact on our neighbors, loved ones, and friends.

Our business is predicated on helping other people. From auto accident and medical malpractice victims, to the parents of children who have suffered catastrophic injuries. We spend our days pursuing justice.

We see first hand the real price of careless behavior, and we believe that young people can make a valuable contribution to the safety and wellness of their communities.

We also recognize the very high costs of higher education in this country. Having benefitted from higher education ourselves, we hope to see more bright students enjoy access to all that America’s places of learning have to offer.

Ultimately, we hope to inspire young Floridians and Americans to invest themselves in the outside world and, perhaps, even consider the practice of law as their own professional endeavor.

Scholarship Details

Each scholarship will award one student with the following:

  • A check in the amount of $1,000.00, made payable to the recipient’s chosen educational institution, to be used solely for the purposes of tuition and related expenses
  • A check in the amount of $500.00, made payable as a donation to the local non-profit organization where the winning student volunteered his or her time

We will choose one eligible high school senior or college student and one eligible law school applicant during each year in which the scholarships are offered (currently only the 2015 – 2016 school year, including applicants for programs that would commence no later than the Fall 2016 semester).

NOTE: Each recipient is expected to submit receipts in accordance with IRS regulations.

Eligibility guidelines and application instructions are outlined below.

Eligibility for the Kaire & Heffernan, LLC Community Scholarship for Florida High School & College Students

To apply for the Kaire & Heffernan, LLC Community Scholarship for Florida High School & College Students, you must first meet all of the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Enrolled as a senior in a Florida high school or accepted or enrolled in an accredited 4-year college or university program
  • Legal resident of the State of Florida and the United States of America, or a legal resident of the United States who permanently resides in a state outside of Florida but is enrolled as a full-time student in an eligible Florida institution of learning.
  • Applicant must have volunteered time at a local Florida 501©(3) non-profit.
  • Full list of Undergraduate Scholarship requirements

Eligibility for the Kaire & Heffernan, LLC Community Scholarship for Law School Applicants

To apply for the Kaire & Heffernan, LLC Community Scholarship for Law School Applicants, you must first meet all of the following eligibility guidelines:

  • Graduate of an accredited 4-year college or university program or currently enrolled in the final year of study at the same
  • Current applicant to any accredited U.S. law school or recently accepted for enrollment in the same
  • Legal resident of the United States of America
  • Applicant must have volunteered time at a 501©(3) non-profit.
  • Full list of Law School Scholarship requirements

Note: Applicants for the Kaire & Heffernan, LLC Community Scholarship for Law School Applicants are not required to study or reside in Florida.

Students who are already enrolled in a post-graduate law school program are not eligible.

How to Apply

Eligible students who would like to be considered for the scholarship should submit a short essay (1 to 3 pages) describing his or her experiences while volunteering or otherwise working with a non-profit organization in the student’s local community. The essay should describe how the experience has helped to define the student’s values or impacted the student’s education and life.

We are happy to consider a wide range of non-profit organizations and volunteer activities. It is not necessary for the organization/activity to have been legal in nature or related to the practice of law.

Each application must include the following:

  • The filled out application for the scholarship you are applying
  •  typed essay, as described above (1-3 pages)
  • An official and complete copy of the transcript from the applicant’s current or most recent educational institution (high school, college, or university)
  • Proof of legal residency in the United States (i.e. birth certificate, passport, permanent resident card, etc.)
  • Proof of enrollment in, acceptance to, and/or application to the relevant educational institution(s) for the selected scholarship
  • Letter of recommendation from 501©(3) non-profit where you volunteered your time (optional, but encouraged).

Please submit completed applications to

The application deadline for both scholarships is August 1, 2016. The award winners will be announced on or about August 15, 2016.

Questions about the scholarship should be sent to Please do not call the firm with questions regarding the scholarship.

We Applaud Volunteerism

We are proud of the many bright minds and caring hearts we find in the schools, colleges, and universities throughout Florida and across America.

Thank you for this opportunity to shine a spotlight on the good work you are doing in your own communities. We can’t wait to hear all about it.
We extend our best wishes to anyone and everyone who might apply.

Read about Kaire & Heffernan’s previous scholarship recipient.

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Develop Your Own Self

Posted By Shari Jennings, Monday, July 11, 2016
Updated: Thursday, July 7, 2016

Finding funds for professional development can be a challenge in nonprofit organizations.  We often work with limited resources to accomplish a seemingly unlimited number of tasks.  For the mid-level professional, this becomes a barrier to getting the professional development needed to move to the next level.  This is why you need to develop yourself.  One way to do this is to volunteer.  Nonprofits like FREE anything, but especially free labor.  Seek volunteer opportunities outside of your organization.  Volunteering and doing a good job demonstrates your leadership skills and makes you more marketable.

Volunteering is a form of networking, which is also important when developing yourself.  Join professional groups and organizations, become a board member, and/or join a peer networking group.  Seek opportunities to form relationships with likeminded professionals.  Develop genuine relationships where information is shared.  Don’t just reach out to people when you need something.  Share information, send an article.  These relationships create connections, increase confidence, and generate referrals.  

Remember that you are responsible for your career.  Sometimes the opportunity to grow comes knocking at your door, but when it does not, you have to develop your own self!

Here at Nonprofits First, we offer development opportunities to new and experienced professionals who have that desire to move to the next level in their career. For more information, visit our Education & Professional Development page.

Tags:  Network  Professional Development  Volunteer 

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