JVA’s News You Can Use, 3/10

Welcome to News You Can Use! Each week (or thereabouts!), we will share with you the latest news in the nonprofit sector, as well as interesting headlines that affect the world we live and work in.

Education Week, 3/10
No longer content with the patchwork quilt of assessments used to measure states’ K-12 performance, top policy groups are pushing states toward international benchmarking as a way to better prepare students for a competitive global economy. The National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the standards-advocacy group Achieve are working both independently and together to examine how well states are doing compared with other countries and to weigh which yardsticks would prove most useful.

JVA: This is interesting; will we one day have federal standardized tests for students rather than assess them by each state’s standards?

New York Times, 3/6
Addiction specialists and organizations for the elderly anticipate a tidal wave of baby boomers needing help for addictions, often for different substances and with different attitudes toward treatment than the generation that came before them. Federal data shows the shifting demographics: In 2005, 184,400 Americans who were admitted to drug treatment programs — roughly 10 percent of the total — were over 50, up from 143,000, or 8 percent of the total, in 2001. Among patients over 65, 76 percent abuse alcohol; many have allowed social drinking to get out of hand after the isolation of retirement or loss of a spouse. In the 50-to-54 age group, by contrast, 55 percent cite alcohol, followed by opiates, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines. Prescription drug abuse is climbing in both groups, led by anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and pain-killers like Oxycontin.

JVA: Ah, the times they are a changing. How can agencies prepare to deal with these different types of addictions coming from the older population?

Philanthropy News Digest, 3/4
Although a diverse pool of committed young people would like to be nonprofit executive directors in the future, many of them say there are significant barriers to realizing that ambition, a new report from the Meyer Foundation finds. Based on a national survey of nearly six thousand “next generation” leaders — the largest such survey to date — the report, Ready to Lead: Next Generation Leaders Speak Out, found that young nonprofit staff are concerned that challenges such as work- life balance, insufficient lifelong earning potential, a lack of mentorship, and overwhelming fundraising responsibilities may prevent them from becoming nonprofit executives.

JVA: This is something the sector needs to address, and soon, before young people bail for other professions.

Philanthropy Journal, 3/4
Nonprofits are still attracting recent college graduates but are having trouble keeping them, The Washington Post reported. Low salaries, long hours and a lack of career progression discourage many young employees, says a new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, CompassPoint Nonprofit Services and Idealist.org.

JVA: Same as above!

Philanthropy Journal, 3/4
For the third consecutive year, 52 percent of respondents in Thrivent Financial for Lutherans’ annual survey say their money is easier to give away than their time. The survey of 1,000 adults in the U.S. says only three in 10 people prefer to give time over money, and fewer than two in 10 say both are equally easy. Responses vary according to age, income, and education level, however. Giving money is favored by nearly six in 10 people age 65 or older, and slightly more than half of people age 55 to 64, compared to fewer than half those age 18 to 24. Young adults also are three times as likely as seniors, and twice as likely as pre-retirees, to say volunteering time was easier.

JVA: This just goes to show that NPOs must remember that a big part of their volunteer base will be youth!

Philanthropy Journal, 2/28
The largest U.S. foundations gave a total of $19.1 billion to charity in 2006, up 16 percent from 2005, with support growing across the range of causes, a new report says. For the first time, health organizations garnered 23 percent of grant dollars more than any other group, while education organizations received 22.5 percent.

JVA: It’s a mixed bag: Foundation support is up (yea!) bit a recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics study states that volunteering is down. (And Americans apparently prefer not to–see above!)

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