Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Questions to Ask a Nonprofit Before Investing in It

GuideStar analyzes charities for investors and donors offers this advice.

Thinking of donating to a nonprofit? Here are some suggested questions to ask nonprofit organizations before investing in them. The answers can help you determine which charities to give to and evaluate the performance of the philanthropies you already support.

1.How are you collaborating with similar organizations on a local, regional, or national level?

2.What are the main obstacles that inhibit the fulfillment of your mission? How are you planning to overcome them?

3.What are your annual goals, needs, and results? How do they compare to similar organizations in your community?

4.How much turnover have you experienced of employees and board members in the last two years?

5.To what degree have you attracted new people and new ideas to your organization and board?

6.How well have you utilized your funding? Describe how efficiently you have fulfilled your goals of recent years in relationship to the amount of funds you have raised.

7.Most for-profit organizations have recently restructured themselves in recent years to become more efficient and productive. How, if at all, are you considering (or have you implemented) some version of this approach?

8.How efficiently is your organization run? To what degree have you assigned day-to-day management responsibilities to a tightly run executive committee instead of relying upon your full board?

9.Who are your main competitors and how do your results in recent years compare to theirs?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Childhood Dreams

November 12, 2009

When I was 9 years old, more than 45 years ago, I wanted to be Hugh Campbell – a receiver for the glorious Saskatchewan Roughriders. Gluey Hughie had just joined the Riders and was my favourite player (along with George Reed and Ronnie Lancaster). I dreamed about running on to Taylor Field wearing the green and white and hearing the crowd cheer. I imagined catching a long bomb, in the final seconds, for the winning touchdown. Growing up in a working class family in Regina, I didn’t have much to worry about. There was always home cooked meals, clean (sometimes patched) clothes, and plenty of time to play and plenty of time to dream. My mom was a schoolteacher so grades and homework were important but not so important that it caused me much stress.

Today I find myself working to improve the lives of kids in Calgary, many no older than I was in 1963. I am sure my parents never had to make the decision whether to feed the kids or pay the rent but there are thousands of families faced with that choice every month. While I dreamed of juggling the winning pass, many kids worry that their parents won’t be able to juggle the bills this month. While I arrived home hungry from a day dreaming about tomorrow, many children in Calgary don’t know when their next next meal will be. They worry about their family, think about food and hope that none of their friends discover their circumstances. They don’t have the energy or stamina to do well in school, their attendance and attention suffers and their health is at risk. With these kind of stresses, it is difficult to dream the dreams of children or imagine a better future.

My folks taught me to help my friends and neighbours in any way that I could. They often delivered casseroles to an older lady down the street or got my sisters and I to shovel the sidewalk of the old gentleman across the lane. I remember them saying “we don’t have much to give but sometimes a little can go a long way”. A little can still go a long way and make a big difference. Every day thousands of kids in Calgary go to school without having breakfast and without taking a lunch.

Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids (BB4CK) has been serving Calgary children and youth since 2002. In 2005, BB4CK came to an agreement with both Calgary school boards to provide nutritious lunches to children and youth who would otherwise go without. Beginning in 4 schools, we have expanded to provide nutrition to nearly 2000 children every day, in 85 schools. In addition, we have partnered with 17 organizations and community groups who are providing an additional 1000 breakfasts, lunches or healthy snacks each day.From January to June 2009, we experienced a 20% increase in demand and have added 8 schools since September. The impact of the economic downturn are now being felt across our city and more children are suffering from food insecurity.

We will continue to meet the demand with a completely nutritious lunch prepared in our downtown kitchen by volunteers (2000 volunteers through the 2008/09 school year) and delivered to schools throughout the city. In addition, BB4CK continues to explore community based solutions with churches, schools, caring parents and businesses. In total, BB4CK expects that almost 1 million meals will be served to children and youth during the 2009/10 school year. You can help make a difference in a child's life. A monthly donation of $25 provides a nutritious lunch to one child every school day. A special Christmas donation of $250 will feed 15 children for the month of January. For just $5000, a business or group can adopt a school and feed 20 children for the entire year. A little can still go a long way. You can help improve a child in Calgary's health, academic performance, and attention and maybe allow her to dream the as yet unimagined dreams of a child.

Bob McInnis
Executive Director
Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids (BB4CK)
223 12th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB
T2R 0G9
403.264.7979 (office)
403.874-7970 (mobile)
866-298-7278 (fax)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Mountain Meadows Food Processing Solves Big Problem

Almost 3 years ago BB4CK was advised by school partners that we could no longer delivery lunches that included any peanut products. This eliminated an important source of nutrition and some popular items on our menu. We have searched for alternatives that offered the same kind of nutrition and that would be received well by the kids that we serve.

Mountain Meadows produces a one of a kind product known as NoNuts Golden Peabutter. The best tasting alternative to peanut butter! No Nuts Pea Butter is completely gluten, nut and peanut free! It is also high in protein, an excellent and nutritious spread, and is ideal for school lunches (especially for schools restricting peanut and tree nut products).

Produced in a totally nut free facility
No Trans Fats
Gluten Free
Cholesterol Free
Low in Saturated Fats
No Salt Added
A source of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
Excellent Shelf Life
Tasty and Nutritious

With the generous assistance of Norm and Caryll Carruthers, the owners of Mountain Meadows, we ran a pilot program in May and June 2009. Everything about the product was perfect. Volunteers found it easy to use, schools accepted the nut free product and most importantly the kids loved it. We received rave reviews from all the participating schools and have decided to add peabutter and jam andwiches and peabutter snacks to our menu for the upcoming school year.
We are grateful to Mountain Meadows for their assistance and look forward to a long partnership feeding kids.