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Arts and Humanities Local News

Report: Charities Not Faring Better Than Last Year

Despite recent reports of an improving economy, a recent survey says charities faced many difficulties fundraising this holiday season. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The news comes in the latest Philanthropic Giving Index, a report prepared by the Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University. The report is comparable to the Consumer Confidence Index.

Nonprofits in the survey say they are not faring better than they were a year ago although their expectations that they will do better with future fundraising has increased somewhat.

Adrienne Davis is with the Center for Philanthropy.

“Nonprofits’ overall confidence in the charitable giving climate has risen slightly,” she says, “but is still at record lows for the 11-year history of this study.”

The study also indicates that most fundraisers for nonprofits say they have made changes to how they do business in the past year.

“A majority [of nonprofits] reported that they have put more focus on stewardship and on communicating with their donors,” Davis says. “And they’ve also put greater emphasis on setting organizational priorities and making tough budget decisions.”

Davis says these changes are ones that many donors have requested of nonprofits, especially during the recession.

Over the past two years, several Louisville nonprofits have used many tactics to reduce their budgets, including sharing resources with other organizations.

Davis says attitudes about future fundraising efforts vary according to the type of nonprofit concerned.

“Educational fundraisers and those were more optimistic than most of the rest of their peers and other nonprofit organizations,” she says. “Fundraisers for human services organizations were the least optimistic.”

During this recession human service organizations have seen an increase in demand for their services, putting greater expectations on their staff members and their need for funding.

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Local News

Cabbage Patch Completes Expansion

Photo Courtesy Cabbage PatchThe Cabbage Patch Settlement House in Old Louisville has completed a multi-year expansion project.

Cabbage Patch, which provides various services for at-risk children, has renovated 10 thousand square feet of its Old Louisville headquarters and has added an additional 19 thousand square feet. The extra space includes a common area and theater.

“I’m tired of seeing the kids try to do a play in the gymnasium where nobody can hear them,” says Executive Director Tracy Holladay. “We’ve got a little theatre, so to speak, a large room, and we’ve got a fellowship hall kind of space. It’s space we have needed, literally, for decades.”

The project cost seven-and-a-half million dollars, and the organization still needs to raise two million dollars.  Holladay says he hopes that will happen before next summer.

“We do not want to do long-term debt service,” he says. “We believe that will hamper our operating budget and cause really challenging times in terms of programming. So we really would like to get these dollars raised in the next six months or so.”

Holladay says Cabbage Patch currently serves about 100 children. He expects that number to reach 125 with the new facilities.

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Arts and Humanities Local News

Study on "Why People Give" Surprises Researchers

A new study from Indiana University’s Center for Philanthropy aims to help nonprofits perform better at fundraising by indentifying why people donate. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

IU researchers collected data from more than 10,000 households and found that reasons for giving correlated with education levels and income, no matter the region.

The study challenges earlier research that states people in different regions throughout the country give for different reasons relating to shared regional values.

The center’s Melissa Brown says people with incomes more than $100,000 say they give to improve their communities, while different reasons were behind responses from households earning the median income of $50,000.

“People with that median income level and lower, responded that ‘meeting basic needs’ and ‘helping the poor help themselves’ — those were the kinds of things that mattered to them in their giving,” she says. “Those were their top motivations.”

Brown is the center’s associate director of research.

The study comes during a deep recession and aims to help nonprofits perform better at fundraising.

“We’re very interested in helping nonprofits generate the revenue that they need to do the work that they want to undertake,” Brown says. “And we started this study thinking and expected to find strong regional differences in part because of that history of other people’s work that talked about culture heritage and we found that it’s not there.

Brown says the center is now working on another study that seeks to pinpoint the feelings that cause people to make charitable donations.

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Local News

Volunteerism Grows; Americorps Seeks Input

A new report from the Corporation for National and Community Service shows that the number of volunteers nationwide has held relatively steady over the past couple of years and even increased last year.  That matters to organizations serving community needs, who have had to rely more and more on volunteers as their budgets tighten.  Training officer for the Kentucky commission on community volunteerism and service Melissa Newton says Kentucky’s Americorps program will be able to step up efforts to meet those needs.

“We’re also seeing people heed the call to help out.  More people are applying to become Americorps members and more nonprofits are looking to host Americorps members at their organizations to help meet the increase in needs,” says Newton.

Newton says she’ll be holding community forums across Kentucky over the coming months to gather input from those interested in volunteering as well as nonprofits that could use the help.

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Local News

Reading For Blind And Dyslexic Studio Closing

The Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic studio in Louisville will close this month as the charity attempts to restructure itself.

RFB and D has studios across the country where volunteers record textbooks for impaired students. On April 30th, Louisville’s studio, which employees three people and uses dozens of volunteers, will close. Several other studios will also shut down.

RFB and D Midwestern director Janet Milkovich says it’s become too expensive to produce its recordings, so the company will downsize, update its technology and rely more on philanthropy.

“It costs a school $350 to be a member of RFB&D and get 25 recorded textbooks. But the cost of recording the textbook and distributing the textbook and the technology behind that is a lot more than the $350,” she says. “The primary way to make studios self-sustaining is to raise, in the local community, the necessary funds to operate the studio”

362 students in Kentucky use RFB and D materials. Milkovich says they will not be affected. She plans to meet with Louisville’s volunteers this summer to discuss how they can continue to help the organization.

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Metro United Way Says Campaign is On Target

Metro United Way’s annual campaign is in its final phase and could meet its fundraising goal. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer has more.

Metro United Way’s 2007 fund raising campaign fell short of its goal to raise more than $30 million. For the current campaign, the agency set a goal of raising just over the $29.2 million it raised last time.

So far, the campaign has raised about $27 million. United Way president, and CEO Joe Tolan says this makes him optimistic.

“We think we have a reasonable shot at reaching last year’s total and maybe exceeding it a tiny bit and that would be terrific because social services and human services have taken enormous cuts and are really in tough shape,” Tolan says.

Tolan says he sees signs that make him think the goal is within reach.

“We’re seeing a lot of double-didget increases from smaller companies,” he says. “And we think that when human need is in the news everyday, every hour, it makes us more alert to it and folks more alert to it, their inclination is to help out if they can.”

Metro United Way supports more than 90 health and human service organizations in seven counties in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

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Givers, Nonprofits Feel Pinch of Financial Turmoil

The turmoil on Wall Street has more than banks and businesses on alert. Foundations and nonprofits here in Louisville are bracing themselves for the fallout. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

It was just days after Lehman Brothers filed for the biggest bankruptcy case in U.S. history when the Association of Small Foundations held its annual conference.

The association’s Tim Walter took a survey of the attendees.

“Ninety-four percent of them said that they felt that the recent turmoil was more serious than previous shocks such as the collapse of Enron, the bursting of the dot-com bubble or the decline following the nine eleven attacks,” Walter says. “And actually eighty-four percent of the respondents said that their endowments were down this year, some dramatically.”

Louisville’s foundations are considered small, but, each year, they give away millions of dollars to local nonprofit organizations.

The current financial crisis has local foundations thinking about their investments and how nonprofits they support will weather the storm.

Mason Rummel is paying close attention. She’s with the area’s largest foundation, the James Graham Brown Foundation.

“We’re going to sit and watch it and we’re going to keep talking to our managers about their strategies and why they’re staying where they are,” Rummel.

Rummel and other local foundation leaders say these days they have conservative and highly diversified investment portfolios they hope can counter market shocks. But they point out that any sharp downturn will surely affect future grants.

The news comes at a time when many arts and social service organizations are already dealing with substantial cuts in government funding. The Humana Foundation’s Virginia Judd says that has implications for foundations.

“There’s been a reduction in state funding and national resources are more limited and so I think there’s an expectation that foundations need to step up to the plate,” Judd says.

So, how much money do local foundations give away? In 2007, the Brown Foundation gave more then $20 million, and The Humana Foundation gave more than $8 million. Actors Theatre of Louisville and Brooklawn Child & Family Services both got money.

Brooklawn has programs for emotionally troubled boys, and here Humana Foundation money underwrites drumming classes. Staff member Dennis Roach.

“It helps teach discipline and they enjoy coming in and doing it,” Roach says. “And so they work hard and they work on that level of working on themselves.”

Brooklawn’s president, David Graves, says that the agency has had to scale back because of cuts in government funding and it’s been a clarion call.

“We’ve got to be more efficient,” Graves says. “We’ve got to combine our resources to meet the growing needs. So, we will be in dialogue with other agencies, a way of sharing operations, a way to collaborate.”

In recent years, Brooklawn and other nonprofits have merged staff and programs. It’s a strategy local foundations find encouraging, says the Brown Foundation’s Mason Rummel.

“The pressure’s on now and so the nonprofits are going to have to get very creative, because, while we recognize what’s happened in the whole philanthropic world, we can’t make up for it, even as large as we are,” Rummel says.

Leaders of local foundations and arts and social services say they will be working to tap into that creativity to deal with any future decreases in government and foundation funding that could cut into the bone of their core missions.