Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Tools For Measuring Impact!

The Foundation Center, the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, has launched an online database of proven approaches to measuring and analyzing the impact of social investments. As philanthropists and the nonprofit community shift towards more strategic approaches to get a "social return," evaluation activities must also operate at a higher level. TRASI ("Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact") addresses these growing needs by offering tools and methodologies that place a premium on evidence and metrics in tracking progress.

"Measuring the effectiveness of social programs has always been a challenge because it's not just about the numbers. TRASI helps organizations meet that challenge and go beyond simply determining whether projected outcomes were achieved," said Lawrence T. McGill, the Foundation Center's vice president for research. "The organizations that have generously shared their own strategic methods for measuring impact will greatly help others to find a solution that is a good fit for them."

Developed in partnership with McKinsey & Co., the assessment approaches in TRASI were authored by a range of organizations, including social investors, foundations, NGOs, and microfinance institutions. The Better Business Bureau, USAID, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Center for Effective Philanthropy are among them. The resources in the database range from off-the-shelf tools and concrete methodologies to generalized best practices and are complemented by multimedia features and social networking tools.

Each approach has been carefully indexed against a common set of key elements and presented in a way that makes it easy to compare their relative merits. The key elements include: who the approach applies to, what kind of organization or evaluation the approach is best suited for, and the costs and techniques involved in its implementation. Each approach was thoroughly reviewed by an Expert Review Panel convened by the New York University Stern School of Business.

Online Kick-off Event
The Center is hosting an online event to kick-off the TRASI launch. Beginning at 2:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, September 22, 2010, a live chat with some of the individuals from the Expert Review Panel will be held. Anyone interested in learning more about impact assessment and the TRASI platform is invited to attend by visiting http://trasicommunity.ning.com/.

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, connecting nonprofits and the grantmakers supporting them to tools they can use and information they can trust. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit http://www.foundationcenter.org/ or call (212) 620-4230.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Board of Regents Ending Injunction Against Museums’ Art Sales

The NY Time reported that in a surprise development in the battle over whether museums should be allowed to sell art to cover operating costs, the New York State Board of Regents on Tuesday approved the expiration of emergency regulations regarding such “deaccessioning” on Oct. 8.

Those rules, which enjoined such sales, have been in effect since 2008. After hearing views from museums statewide, “there was no consensus on the efficacy of those emergency regulations,” David Steiner, the state’s education commissioner, said in a statement. Thus, “those regulations will be allowed to expire, allowing the prior regulations regarding museum collections to once again take effect.”

Last month the board indicated it planned to make the emergency regulations permanent, in part because a bill to prohibit cultural institutions from selling pieces from their collections to pay for expenses had stalled in the Legislature. “This removes a substantial obstacle to the monetization of art held in the public trust and to the transfer of art from public hands to private hands,” said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, who led the drafting of the bill. The education department also said it was developing an advisory group to inform the Regents’ future decisions on collections and other museum matters.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Governor Paterson Names Advisory Committee to Help Health Care Reform Cabinet

Governor David A. Paterson today named 37 organizations to the Health Care Reform Advisory Committee, which will provide input to the Governor's Health Care Reform Cabinet on the implementation of federal health care reform in New York State. The Advisory Committee includes organizations representing health care providers, consumers, businesses, organized labor, local governments, health plans and health insurers, and health policy experts.

"Federal health care reform will have a significantly positive impact for New York's residents, families, small business owners and the 2.5 million New Yorkers who are currently uninsured," Governor Paterson said. "It is essential that we get health reform right, making the most of this opportunity to improve access to health care while reducing cost. Our broad advisory group will help us achieve this goal."

The Advisory Committee will advise the Cabinet on reform provisions and ensure stakeholder and public engagement in all aspects of federal health care reform. It will support the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. In addition, Advisory Committee Workgroups will be created to focus on specific issues and additional organizations with expertise will be asked to join those work groups. A series of public forums across the State will also be held to provide opportunities for further stakeholder input.

Wendy Saunders, Deputy Secretary for Health, Medicaid and Oversight and Chair of the Health Care Reform Cabinet, said: "I commend Governor Paterson for his dedication to health care reform and for his efforts to expand access to quality health care for all New Yorkers. Implementing federal health care reform is a complex task, and many decisions must be made by the end of this year. We need public participation and input to help make reform a success and the Advisory Committee is an essential part of that input."

The Health Care Reform Cabinet is responsible for:

• Identifying deadlines for the completion of interim or final steps necessary or desired to comply with the provisions of federal health care reform;

• Determining those provisions of federal health care reform with which the State must comply and those that are optional, and evaluating whether participation in optional programs is appropriate;

• Assessing the State's capacity to carry out those provisions of federal health care reform that affect or potentially affect the State;

• Identifying any changes needed to State statute, regulation, policy or procedure in order to implement such provisions, and facilitating the achievement of such changes as necessary;

• Communicating with the federal government, local governments, other states, health care providers, and other stakeholders as advisable or necessary; and

• Providing public outreach to educate individuals on the implementation of the reforms as necessary.

Under Governor Paterson's leadership, New York State has become a national leader in expanding access to quality health care for children and adults through its public health insurance programs, including Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus, Healthy New York and Medicaid, while implementing efficiencies to ensure that funds are used in the most cost-effective manner. New York is the only state in the nation with both open enrollment and pure community rating and has been a leader in efforts to guarantee access to private health insurance coverage.

Organizations participating in the Governor's Health Care Reform Advisory Committee include:

• 1199 SEIU
• Business and Labor Coalition of New York
• Business Council of New York State
• Centerstate CEO
• Chamber Alliance of New York State
• Children's Defense Fund
• Coalition of New York State Public Health Plans
• Community Health Care Association of New York State
• Community Service Society
• Consumer Directed Choices
• Empire Justice Center
• Family Planning Advocates
• Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency
• Greater New York Hospital Association
• Health Care for All New York
• Healthcare Association of New York State
• Hispanic Federation
• Medicaid Matters
• Medical Society of the State of New York
• Medicare Rights Center
• National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS
• New York Health Plan Association
• New York Immigration Coalition
• New York State Association of Counties
• New York State Association of Health Underwriters
• New York State Conference of Blue Cross Plans
• New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
• New York State Health Foundation
• New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage
• Office of the Mayor of New York City
• P2 Collaborative of Western New York
• Partnership for New York City
• Project CHARGE
• United Hospital Fund
• Visiting Nurse Service of New York
• Young Invincibles

For additional information on health care reform implementation in New York State, please visit: www.HealthCareReform.ny.gov.

Congressional Charities Pulling In Corporate Cash

The NY Times related that Representative Joe Baca has achieved near celebrity status in his suburban Los Angeles district, as much for his record of giveaways — Thanksgiving turkeys, college scholarships, spare boots for firefighters — as for anything he has done in Congress.

That generosity is made possible by the Joe Baca Foundation, a charity his family set up three years ago to aid local organizations. It provides another benefit, too: helping the Democratic congressman run something akin to a permanent political campaign.

Joe Baca T-shirts and caps are given out at the charity’s events, where banners display his name. Local newspapers mention the charity’s donations, and cable stations show appearances by Mr. Baca and his family at functions his foundation supports.

“It’s great,” said Laura Goodloe, 36, as she watched her 8-year-old son, Jordan, play at the arena in San Bernardino, Calif., where the Baca Foundation offered a free basketball clinic last month. “He is giving back to the community.”

But unlike most private foundations, Mr. Baca’s gets little of its money from its founders’ pockets. Instead, local companies and major corporations that have often turned to Mr. Baca’s Washington office for help, and usually succeed in getting it, are the chief donors.

A review by The New York Times of federal tax records and House and Senate disclosure reports found at least two dozen charities that lawmakers or their families helped create or run that routinely accept donations from businesses seeking to influence them. The sponsors — AT&T, Chevron, General Dynamics, Morgan Stanley, Eli Lilly and dozens of others — contribute millions of dollars annually in gifts ranging from token amounts to a check for $5 million.

Since 2009, businesses have sent lobbyists and executives to the plush Boulders resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., for a fund-raiser for the scholarship fund of Representative Steve Buyer, Republican of Indiana; sponsored a skeet shooting competition in Florida to help the favorite food bank of Representative Allen Boyd, Democrat of Florida; and subsidized a spa and speedway outing in Las Vegas to aid the charity of Senator John Ensign, Republican of Nevada.

Just last month, they touted their largess with flags bearing their names near the tees at a golf tournament benefiting the foundation of Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina.

Despite rules imposed in 2007 to curb the influence of special interests in Congress, corporate donations to lawmakers’ charities have continued, thanks to a provision that allows businesses to make unlimited gifts to them. And while business executives say they want to give to a good cause, their pattern of spending — contributions that often are not disclosed, in apparent violation of ethics rules — suggests another reason. Read more here.