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Monday, October 4, 2010

Oregon Nonprofit Groups are Smart Investments

Report: OR Nonprofit Groups are Smart Investments

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR
September 30, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - Nonprofit groups can have a tough time raising money in any economy, but a new report says they are worth every penny of the donation dollars they receive from charitable foundations for the causes they support. The study of 20 nonprofit groups in the Northwest included seven in Oregon, working on advocacy issues ranging from farm workers' and renters' rights to criminal justice reform. It tracked all the foundation money they received and how it was used.

Aaron Dorfman, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, says the results were impressive.

"When foundations invest in advocacy and community organizing and civic engagement, does it matter - does it make a difference? What we found was an incredible return on investment of 150-to-1."

The report says Oregon groups' efforts helped stop construction of a $1 billion prison, defeated anti-immigrant ballot initiatives and promoted domestic partnership rights for same-sex couples. Report co-author Lisa Ranghelli says they were also able to keep state funding for children's programs and work for tax fairness.

"These are all the more impressive given that the recession has hit and that many states are struggling - and organizations are still able to make the case for why these investments are important for their state."

The immigrants' rights coalition CAUSA, the Rural Organizing Project and the Partnership for Safety and Justice were among those that agreed to be part of the study.

Individual donors can take a hint from the report, too, Dorfman says: To make donation dollars work harder, choose groups that are working on long-term solutions to community problems.

The full report is available at

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