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Finance & Fundraising

Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 dec 2019

According to nseinfobase.com, CSR spends of Indian corporates have increased 17.2% to Rs. 11867.2 crore in FY19 from Rs. 10128.3 in FY18. This is the highest spend since FY15 (Rs. 6552.5 crore), when the CSR spend was made mandatory through Companies Act 2013. It is observed that corporates are increasingly using their CSR spends on charitable contributions. The highest amount of Rs. 4406 crore were for schedule VII (II) that focuses on education. The next big spend was Rs. 3206.5 crore under VII (I) for eradicating hunger, poverty, malnutrition and promoting health and hygiene. Rural development got Rs. 1319 crore and remaining went for projects that include environment protection, benefits to the armed forces, disaster management etc. From geographical point of view Maharashtra and Gujarat were at the top to get contributions while Bihar and North-East states got the least CSR funds. Experts say that large spends have also seemed to have prompted closer attention to how the money is spent. Amit Tandon, founder and MD of Institutional Investor Advisory Services India (IiAS), says, 'There are more and more companies who are doing impact assessment...people recognise the need to do it.' Pranav Haldea, MD at Prime Database, says, 'Low CSR budget could act as a constraint for some companies to adopt monitoring mechanisms. It may only make sense for firms with very large budgets. Smaller companies may find it too expensive to employ an agency for external audits on a regular basis.' Read on...

Business Standard: Companies spent Rs 11,867 cr on CSR activities in FY19; highest so far
Author: Sachin P. Mampatta


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 dec 2019

Social enterprises can become an important pillar of Indian economy just like corporations and businesses. India has more than two million social enterprises that include nonprofits, for-profits and hybrid models. According to a McKinsey study, 'impact investors' in India poured a total of US$ 5.2 billion between 2010 and 2016, with substantial focus on sectors like financial inclusion and clean energy. A survey conducted by Brookings India found that 57% of the social enterprises identify access to debt and equity as a barrier to growth and sustainability. In the budget Indian government proposed a social stock exchange (SSE) to list social enterprises and voluntary organisations. Suresh K. Krishna, MD and CEO, and Geet Kalra, portfolio associate, at Yunus Social Business Fund, explain what benefits this social stock exchange will bring to the social enterprise ecosystem and suggest that careful planning is needed in designing it. They explain, 'SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India) set up its working committee on SSEs on September 19, however, many experts have already proposed distilling learnings from those of other countries. Some of these exchanges are either information sites, like in the case of the London Stock Exchange, or list nonprofit projects only. Canada's Social Venture Connexion (SVC) and Singapore's Impact Investment exchange are more advanced in terms of accreditation, valuation and monitoring, whereas the Brazilian model didn't use such valuations at all. While formulating a similar product for India, we need to have an extensive as well as 'cautious' approach. There is no consensus in the wider social impact community about what is and isn't a social enterprise, therefore the definition itself first needs more objectivity...Once we have a shared frame of reference in place, we can design impact valuation parameters for social enterprises based on social and environmental mission, target beneficiaries, service delivery, stakeholder involvement, and impact measurement.' SSE listing will provide visibility to social enterprises and assist in attracting funds in the form of private equity and debt. Listing debt products on the SSE would encourage banks, NBFCs (Non-Banking Financial Company) and other investors to participate in the growth of social enterprises and enhancing their impact. Moreover, SSE impact valuation will encourage development of more innovative financial products. SME exchanges operated by BSE and NSE can also provide valuable learning in effectively designing SSE. Mr. Krishna and Mr. Kalra suggest, 'For a social stock exchange to meet its intended objectives, we need to take measures such as: educating market participants about the valuation metrics weighing both on social and financial returns; amplifying the efforts of creating and supporting social businesses; bringing policy and regulatory reforms to support investors, and facilitating research and development for small social enterprises.' Read on...

The Hindu: A social stock exchange will help in raising capital
Authors: Suresh K. Krishna, Geet Kalra


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 nov 2019

Philanthropy is a huge industry and technology is enabling it's transformation. It's contribution to the U.S. economy is significant. According to The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report (2019), authored by Lester M. Salamon and Chelsea L. Newhouse of the Center for Civil Society Studies at Johns Hopkins University, nonprofits account for roughly one in 10 jobs in the U.S. private workforce, with total employees numbering 12.3 million in 2016. Over the decade since 2007, nonprofit jobs grew almost four times faster than the for-profit ones. Madeline Duva, CEO of Fluxx, provides insights into technological transformation of philanthropy and the positive impact it has on overall growth of nonprofit sector. She says, ' The philanthropic space has begun to adopt new technologies in earnest in order to increase capacity, improve employee job satisfaction and accelerate long-lasting impact. This transformation is further helped by the tech industry entering the space both as a funder of nonprofits and provider of improved tool sets. The innovations that made Amazon a world leader in supply chain optimization are now being repurposed to help nonprofit organizations work more efficiently and collaboratively with their own data, ultimately driving more dollars and hours toward solving long-entrenched societal and systemic issues in the U.S. and beyond.' Philanthropy is on rise and tech industry and their employees are major contributors. According to 'Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018', researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, in 2018 Americans gave nearly US$ 428 billion to charity, with US$ 76 billion of that coming from foundations and another US$ 20 billion coming from corporations. Tech industry's interest in philanthropy and nonprofit sector is seeing increase in specifically designed tech solutions. Ms. Duva explains, 'I've seen a steady increase (but slower industry adoption) in solutions that help foundations leverage data and efficiency and manage teams, all while scaling their work. Grantmakers (both public and private) and grantseekers (nonprofits and charities) have begun to streamline their operations through SaaS solutions, using data and workflow best practices to create more efficient processes and free up time and resources.' For tech companies seeking to work and design solutions for the philanthropic sector, she suggests - Prioritize flexibility and usability in your solutions; Understand that most nonprofits operate on extremely thin financial margins; Recognize the huge variance in the philanthropic space. One-size-fits-all approach doesn't work this space that covers and touches so many industries. Read on...

Forbes: Technology Improves Nonprofit Sector Growth
Author: Madeline Duva


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 oct 2019

For CPAs (Certified Public Accountant) to successfully transition from the for-profit sector to the nonprofit sector requires a specific mindset and skill sets. Even though their for-profit experience will highly benefit and enhance the value of nonprofit finance department, but they would need add-on soft skills - (1) Adaptability: Understand and adapt to the new organizational culture. (2) Flexibility: Ability to multitask. With resource challenges nonprofits lack support staff and CPAs would need to handle administrative tasks. (3) Leadership and the ability to drive change: Emphasize the value of accurate financial reporting and use of latest processes and technologies for effective and efficient finance department. Explain that doing so will enhance chances of funding. Implement change through collaborative approach. Nonprofit organizations can benefit from for-profit CPA's in many ways - (1) Technology implementation: Many nonprofits are not fully equipped with latest financial and accounting technolgoies. For-profit CPAs bring the experience to do so. Implementation of online technology maximizes productivity, increases transparency, facilitates document flow and approvals, and improves accuracy and timeliness. (2) Documented policies and procedures: The implementation and maintenance of a documented accounting policies and procedures manual ensures continuing operational efficiency and governance, accuracy, and reliability of financial statements, as well as well-defined roles and responsibilities. (3) Effective and efficient internal controls: The system of internal controls is necessary to mitigate risk, increase transparency, and safeguard the organization's assets. For-profit CPAs are familiar with identifying and evaluating internal controls and aware that the process requires understanding and documenting the step-by-step processes that staff members follow to perform their jobs. (4) Audit management and oversight: CPAs with auditing background are familiar with the types of schedules and documents the auditors will request. The books and records of the finance department should be maintained throughout the year so that when the books are closed, only year-end adjustments are needed. Although CPAs spend most of their time with numbers, processing transactions, generating financial reports, and racing to meet numerous internal and external deadlines, but in nonprofits it is more than that - a mission to improve the lives of those in need and to make the world a better place. The transition to nonprofit career can be highly rewarding both professionally and personally. Read on...

The CPA Journal: Making the Transition to the Nonprofit Sector
Author: Roberta Katz


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 26 sep 2019

Utilizing technology to connect with audience & customers is effective and efficient. But, bringing the human element with personalization & customization, and engaging with them to build long-term relationships is even better. Best organizations often try to do that. Gabe Cooper, tech entrepreneur and nonprofit consultant, have suggestions for nonprofit organizations to build personalized communication strategies and making full use of automation technologies available. He says, 'When it comes to marketing software, in particular, nonprofits have long tried to make square pegs fit in round holes, getting locked into software and marketing practices that are fundamentally designed for for-profit marketing or that are based on legacy fundraising practices. This has resulted in mass marketing efforts that make your donors feel like 'sales opportunities' rather than crucial stakeholders in your cause.' Fundraising is an important activity for nonprofits and considering that they lack resources, it becomes even more crucial to be done right. He says, 'In our modern world, impersonal fundraising is a wet blanket on generosity, and that's a problem when you consider that nearly three-quarters of people who give a single gift never give again. They simply don't feel appreciated. That's where personalization through marketing automation comes in. Personalization allows each and every donor feel as though you're talking directly to them...Great personalization provides every donor with the right message at the right time based on their individual passions, capacity and relationship to your organization. Personalization, in this way, creates extreme loyalty.' He advocates a 3 point approach to apply personalization in nonprofit fundraising efforts - Know; Automate; Amplify. (1) KNOW: Gather as much information about your donors as is possible. (2) AUTOMATE: Use marketing automation software to send tailored messages - at the right time - based on what you know about each donor. (3) AMPLIFY: Use data analytics to understand what the right 'ask' should be. He also provides other ways to personalize marketing efforts: Keep the new donor campaigns running to engage them, and make them repeat donors; Use persona segmentation and apply the personalized content to connect with them; Utilize personalization technology/marketing automation that is designed specifically fo nonprofits. Mr. Cooper concludes, 'Taking a more personalized approach to your nonprofit fundraising efforts can result in more donor engagement, higher average gifts, big increases in donor loyalty, and most importantly, you donors will feel that they're part of your cause.' Read on...

Business.com: Personalization Is the Engine That Drives Today's Givers
Author: Gabe Cooper


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 jul 2019

Experts' views are divided on how non-profit hospitals benefit communities. In US, non-profit hospitals received tax-benefits valued at over US$ 24 billion annually in 2011. In exchange for tax exemptions these hospitals provide 'community benefits' like free and subsidized care, investments in public health, community-based health initiatives intended to address the social determinants of health, such as food or housing insecurity. But, many observers argue that hospitals avoid making sustained community investments in favor of counting millions of dollars of 'discounts' to low-income patients as community benefits while aggressively pursuing unpaid bills. Krisda Chaiyachati and Rachel Werner, Senior Fellows at LDI University of Pennsylvania, have recently written two research to add information to this debate. They provide detailed estimates of how much hospitals spend on different types of community benefits, whether community benefits are matched to local need, and what effects community benefits have on health outcomes. Mr. Chaiyachati and Ms. Werner analyzed IRS tax data from over 1600 non-profit hospitals. By law, hospitals report total spending on community benefits, broken out by health care-related spending (e.g. free care), community-directed spending (e.g. anti-smoking initiatives or funds for local community organizations), and research and educational activities. To standardize comparisons, the authors measured all spending as shares of total hospital expenditures. Researchers find out that hospitals still rely on discounted charity care to meet community benefits requirements. In 2014, non-profit hospitals reported that they spent an average of 8.1% (US$ 17 million) of their total expenditures on community benefits, more than 80% of which was health care-related. On average, 6.7% (US$ 11 million) of expenditures were on health care services, compared to 0.7% (US$ 1.2 million) for community-directed contributions. The remainder of community benefits were on educational and research initiatives. The results are disappointing in light of a second study from Ms. Werner and Mr. Chaiyachati, which suggests that community-directed spending could improve health outcomes, specifically, 30-day readmission rates. Readmissions rates are a useful measure of health care quality-capturing in-hospital care, discharge planning, and follow-up. Since the Affordable Care Act, hospitals have been financially penalized for high readmission rates. The evidence from research suggests that increased investment in the social determinants of health, rather than simply writing off free care, has a significant impact on measurable health outcomes. Read on...

Penn LDI Blog: How Do Non-profit Hospitals Give Back?
Author: Aaron Glickman


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jun 2019

Technology is enabling charitable and philanthropic organizations to perform better in many ways - (1) Donations have just become a click away with expanded reach through online financial payment systems. Moreover, online transactions provide anonymity to donors who prefer it. (2) Crowdfunding has become a great tool to gather funds from all kind of donors, big or small, for the causes that one suppports. Crowdfunding websites are convenient to use and make it easy to reach out to prospective donors. (3) Technology has brought transparency and accountability. Donors are now more aware about how their contributions are utilized. Moreover, financial management tools provide charity organizations ways to efficiently and effectively track their funds. (4) Social media has proven to be effective to spread a charitable cause and seek support. Read on...

CIO Applications: Technology Revamping Philanthropy
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 feb 2019

According to the most recent 'State of the Nonprofit Cloud Report' by NTEN and Microsoft, cloud technology has become routine enough that many organizations have adopted new services during the past year or are considering adding new services. Three of four respondents indicated current use of cloud services for at least three purposes. The average number of services used is about six. Nonprofits are using cloud not just to store data, but in many other ways. Emily Dalton, VP of product management at Omatic Software, says, 'The thing that people are abuzz about is AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning and how can we take all the data being generated and harness that into intelligence. It's applying more of the science of fundraising...There are patterns and insights that could be found in the data, pointing to a segment that's ripe for a major giving ask. Having your database and CRM system in the cloud, allows fundraisers to do some pretty incredible stuff. They have access to all their donor data in real time when going to a meeting or on a road trip. Instead of setting up a meeting with a donor, running a report and printing out a donor profile to bring along, fundraiser instead walks into a meeting with the most relevant data possible. They access it quicker and it's not duplicated because the cloud is faster.' Nathan Chappell, CFRE, SVP philanthropy at City of Hope, says, 'We send fundraisers to lunch with people we know have wealth...The data can help determine how best to deploy the workforce in the best way possible...We're very diligent about testing models...The starting point for any nonprofit, even a small one, is ensuring they're capturing all the data possible. The model will be only as good as the quality and consistency of data.' Rodney M. Grabowski, CFRE, VP for university advancement at the University of Buffalo, says, 'In reality, I've been using forms of AI throughout my entire career. Twenty years ago we were calling it data analytics, then machine learning, now it's AI.' Steve MacLaughlin, VP of data and analytics at Blackbaud, says, 'The technology is largely invisible. If your organization is taking online donations, then you're using the cloud. There's no way to take donations without using some cloud. For fundraising and donor management, a larger percentage of nonprofits are using the cloud than not...We're well past the tipping point. Now, it's going to be about what happens next, how does the cloud enable more effectiveness.' Eric Okimoto, COO at boodleAI, says, 'AI and cloud computing are buzz words. But at the end of the day, cloud computing is just the ability to rent capabilities rather than spend heavily on capital, people and security.' Amy Sample Ward, CEO of NTEN, says, 'Fundraisers can benefit from the same elements of efficiency and access as program or communications staff...Let the robots do the work to tell you that someone just made a donation...instead of running a report to check. Nonprofits still must use the cloud in whatever way makes strategic sense for them...What's likely to become more of an issue this year and beyond is data access, security and privacy. It's going to happen anyhow but things like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and data breaches accelerate it...What nonprofits value about cloud tools is that staff can access data and systems to do their jobs from wherever, but security is important when they evaluate such tools. When we talk to nonprofits about security, it's usually an amorphous, shadowy fear. It's not a specific security concern...Often, it's probably safer to work with a cloud vendor or partner on security than for a nonprofit to try to maintain that security on its own.' Read on...

The NonProfit Times: Cloud Is Raining Data, Flooding Fundraising With Information
Author: Mark Hrywna


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 dec 2018

Prof. Dean Karlan of Northwestern University does evidence-based research to evaluate what works and what doesn't when it comes to helping lift people out of poverty. He is the founder of the nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action and advises donors and institutions on the best use of their charitable dollars. Prof. Karlan says, '...in 2002 I started a nonprofit out of my living room, dedicated to creating high-quality randomized evaluations of global anti-poverty programs. Today, Innovations for Poverty Action has a US$ 42 million budget, most of which goes directly into research. We're now in 22 countries, but we've worked in 52 countries. We have some 500 permanent staff and have done almost 800 randomized evaluations of anti-poverty programs and initiatives. We apply rigorous economic theories and research to evaluating which global anti-poverty initiatives are working.' He suggests following tips to evaluate whether your charitable dollars are being used effectively: (1) Don't evaluate a charity based on its overhead. (2) Don't be swayed by marketing materials with moving heart-wrenching photographs. (3) Look for evidence of impact. (4) If you are wondering where your money will have the most impact, it's likely in poorer, developing countries. (5) Don't be afraid to give to large organizations. (6) Email the charity for evidence of cost effectiveness. (7) Consider giving to meta-charities. Read on...

WTTW News: It's the Season of Giving. How to Choose Charities Wisely
Author: Andrea Guthmann


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 oct 2018

Recent passing away of Microsoft's co-founder Paul Allen (b.21 jan 1953 - d.15 oct 2018) brings to the forefront his contributions, not only to technology and entrepreneurship, but also to education, arts, culture etc as part of his philanthropy. After leaving Microsoft's management in 1983, his philanthropic activities focused on the city of Seattle (US), his hometown. He endowed a separate school for computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. His investments in Seattle's South Lake Union locality has recast the city as an increasingly popular destination for young technologists. Some of his cherished contributions to the city's scene and skyline include artistic and athletic monuments to which he devoted a substantial portion of his wealth. He commissioned Frank Gehry to design a pop-culture museum. He also developed a children's center at the Seattle Public Library, funded an off-campus studio for the beloved public-radio station KEXP, and established a military-history museum outside the city. He was an ardent advocate of environmental protection, computational bioscience, and space exploration, donating millions of dollars to regional nonprofits. He invested in sports and acquired Seattle Seahawks at the time the team was planning to leave the city. In his memoir, 'Idea Man' (2011), responding to criticism that his philanthropy lacked focus, he wrote, 'At times, I cast my net too widely. But my choice of ventures wasn't arbitrary.' In 2000, the chairman of the architecture department at the University of Washington likened him to a modern Medici (an influential banking and political family of Florence, Italy). His contributions to entrepreneurship and technology are public knowledge. He recounted in his memoir regarding the initial mission of his venture with Bill Gates was, 'A computer on every desk and in every home.' Mr. Gates recently wrote, 'Paul foresaw that computers would change the world.' He influenced the technological innovations like point-and-click computing, word processing, and multi-button mouse. Mr. Allen attributed his entrepreneurial ambition and imagination to a wide-ranging autodidacticism and a natural passion for art and literature. Even though a technologist and part of a cut-throat and highly competitive industry, he understood that the products he designed were complements to preexisting lives, all of them rich and varied. He wrote in his memoir, 'That's a core element of my management philosophy. Find the best people and give them room to operate, as long as they can accept my periodic high-intensity kibitzing.' Read on...

The New Yorker: The Rare Humanism Behind Paul Allen's Technological Vision
Author: Eren Orbey


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 oct 2018

Indian corporates that fulfil the conditions of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 relating to mandatory spending of 2% of last 3 years average profit on CSR are making a difference in vulnerable communities in India. According to the latest India CSR Outlook Report published by NGOBOX, Reliance Industries, HDFC Bank, Wipro, Tata Steel, NTPC, Indian Oil Corporation & ONGC spent more than their prescribed CSR budgets in FY 2017-18. The report analyzed CSR spends of 359 companies. The prescribed CSR budget of these 359 companies was Rs 9543.51 crore whereas the actual CSR spend was Rs 8875.93 crore (3/4th of total CSR spend in India). There is an increase in the prescribed CSR from 6% to 8% in the actual CSR spend from FY 16-17 and the number of projects have also increased by 25% from the previous year. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS: Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat together received over 1/4th of India's total CSR fund. North-eastern states of Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura have received least funds; Public sector contribution is over 1/4th of the total; Oil, refinery and petrochemicals account for alsmost 1/4th of the total while healthcare and pharma contributes the least with just Rs 294 crore; CSR funding on education and skill increased by 50% from last year and is 1/3rd of the total CSR spend; Over 1/4th is spend on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) and healthcare projects. Read on...

Business Today: Corporates spend 50% CSR funds in education, skill development: Report
Author: Sonal Khetarpal

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