JVA’s News You Can Use, 4/21

Ed Week, 4/14
New research into what is commonly called the black-white “achievement gap” suggests that the students who lose the most ground academically in U.S. public schools may be the brightest African American children. As black students move through elementary and middle school, these studies show that the test-score gaps that separate them from their better-performing white counterparts grow fastest among the most able students and the most slowly for those who start out with below-average academic skills. Disconcerting, but not surprising, said researchers who have studied achievement gaps. Studies have long shown, for instance, that African American students are underrepresented among the top scorers on standardized tests, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Fewer studies, though, have traced the growth of those gaps among high and low achievers.

JVA: Do we have any speculation as to why these gaps are wider at the upper end?

Philanthropy Journal, 4/11
Revenue growth among nonprofits has slowed and donor numbers are on the decline, a new report says. Revenue grew a median of 1.5 percent last year at the 70 organizations in the Target Analytics index, compared with 2.8 percent the previous year and a historical average of 4 percent, according to analytic firm’s national fundraising performance index. The report shows donor numbers declined a median of 1 percent among nonprofits in the index. These numbers have declined steadily since the third quarter of 2005, after Katrina relief efforts created a spike in donor totals.The total decline since 2004 exceeds 3 percent.

JVA: We knew the economy would start to take its toll on the sector; let’s hope the effects don’t loom too large.

Philanthropy Journal, 4/10
Percentage-based commissions for fundraisers top the list of unethical behavior in a recent survey. The survey, conducted by the Glenview, Ill.-based Giving Institute, polled 445 professionals working with or in the nonprofit sector. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed believed confidence in the fundraising profession has been damaged, particularly by media reporting of instances of unethical behavior.

JVA: Do you think the media has had a large role in overplaying this, or do we really need to examine ethics in the sector more closely?

Philanthropy Journal, 4/8
Nonprofit fundraising growth has slowed in recent months, according to the annual State of Fundraising Survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. While 23 percent of respondents said they had seen revenue increases of more than 50 percent in 2006, only 9 percent said they had seen increases at that level in 2007. The economy was overwhelmingly cited as the top fundraising challenge for charities in 2007. Fifty-eight percent of charities believe they will raise more this year than in 2007, the study says, down from 67 percent last year that expected an increase.

JVA: Again, the economy brings hardship to fundraising. At JVA, we will be looking at this closely in the coming year to help local organizations overcome this hurdle.

Philanthropy Journal, 4/3
Nonprofit ethics standards are declining, catching up to the troubling levels already seen in the business and government sectors, a new study says. The National Nonprofit Ethics Survey is part of a larger project that released a business ethics survey in November 2007 and its government counterpart this January. The results of the three surveys show an almost exact correlation in the percentages of employees who reported witnessing one or more acts of misconduct in the past year: 55 percent at nonprofits, 56 percent at businesses and 57 percent in government. A significantly larger number of nonprofit employees, however, said their organization had become less ethical in the past five years, with 19 percent reporting a weakening ethical culture, compared with 7 percent of business employees and 11 percent of public employees.

JVA: Ouch! The sector is really taking a beating in the ethics area lately. Our NPO friends: Do you have any speculation as to why this is happening? What are you doing to stop this trend?

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