At a Crossroads, Nonprofits Shape Up

Mark Murphy is a big picture sort of guy who learned about policy making from a pro, none other than Senator Ted Kennedy. When Murphy moved to Boston to be a bicycle delivery boy, being a policy advisor to a senator was probably not on his radar, even though he had in hand a 1980 bachelor’s degree in international relations from University of California-Berkeley. Yet the story of how he got the Washington job, even though it includes the element of being at the right place at the right time, reveals a little about what Murphy is like.

By pure chance, one of the guys Murphy used to deliver to on his bike was a leading Africanist at Boston University. Murphy himself had studied foreign policy regarding sub-Saharan Africa, which he describes as "a pretty highly specialized area." The coincidence was the beginning of a relationship in which Murphy eventually asked to do a private reading program with him, and the professor agreed. "We met regularly to talk about African affairs," says Murphy. "I was in his office one day when he got a call from Senator Kennedy’s office. The Kennedy aide said to the professor, `We need someone to work on foreign aid issues, with an African background if possible, really cheap, and right away.’" A week later Murphy moved to Washington.

Murphy appears as a panelist at "New Jersey Non-Profits at the Crossroads" on Thursday, September 21, at 8 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jamesburg. The event is sponsored by the Center for Non-Profit Organizations. Cost: $110. For more information, call 732-227-0800, visit www.njnonprofits.org or E-mail (workshops@njnonprofits.org).

Having worked on foreign aid and refugee issues for Kennedy, Murphy left in the early 1980s to create a nonprofit in his area of expertise, the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees. Following this first nonprofit venture, he has worked at the Ford Foundation and as a policy advisor to the Commissioner of Human Services in New Jersey. In 1987 he received a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University. Murphy is also the founding past president of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, a statewide organization of foundations and corporate giving programs.

Murphy has been working since 1982 on nonprofit advocacy issues, which he defines as "how nonprofits should appropriately be informing public policy, both in terms of research and analysis and of being centers for social innovation that can demonstrate new ways of addressing social issues."

Murphy is the president of the Fund for New Jersey, a private grant-making foundation that gives out $4 million a year in New Jersey to promote public policies that make government more responsive to the needs of the people. The fund focuses on tax and budgetary policy, inner-city poverty, and urban education.

Murphy is also one of the founders of the statewide Center for Nonprofit Corporations, this event’s sponsor. This meeting, he says, is designed to help prepare for the first national Nonprofit Congress in Washington on Monday and Tuesday, October 16 and 17. That event is being organized by the National Council of Nonprofit Associations. "They have held conferences and town hall meetings around the country to ascertain issues, challenges, and what is a common platform around which we can organize and chart a common future," says Murphy. The delegates to the national meeting, including Murphy, will share the results of the New Jersey conference at the national congress.

Murphy says there is broad acknowledgement of the challenges facing the nonprofit sector, and he lists these, in no particular order:

The nonprofit sector needs to better document and communicate its impact. "People are looking for measurable things that the nonprofit sector is doing to ameliorate poverty and broaden educational outcomes," says Murphy. "We need to be better at data collection and program design to document and communicate our successes."

The nonprofit sector faces intrusions and restrictions being proposed and imposed by the federal government. Murphy mentions two that are very troubling. The first is the government’s use of lists of organizations and individuals that limit nonprofits’ latitude of association.

A year and a half ago the State Department put out a list of individuals and organizations and asked the philanthropic sector to avoid contact with anyone on the list, based on possible terrorist affiliations. "It had over 1,500 names and was so poorly put together that it inadvertently included the name of the mayor of Miami, Florida," according to Murphy, who says he is concerned about both the existence of the lists and the extremely sloppy way they were compiled.

The second area he mentions is the Internal Revenue Service’s intrusions into nonprofits’ freedom of speech. He tells of a celebrated case, brought during the 2004 election campaign, against a Los Angeles minister who encouraged his congregants to get out and vote without mentioning any specific candidate.

"Almost immediately the church received a letter from the IRS threatening to revoke its nonprofit status," says Murphy, "because it was in violation of bans on electioneering." Murphy finds this particularly troublesome on many counts, including the fact that there was no electioneering, that the letter was not an act of intimidation, and that, in his opinion, the church was threatened for political reasons.

The nature of nonprofit donors and their expectations are changing. The investment sector has fueled the rise of social innovation funds and other pooled vehicles that allow donors to focus on the outcomes they want to see. This is another reason it has become so important for the nonprofit sector to be able to document and communicate its impact, says Murphy.

"We have a much more discerning and more skeptical donor," he says, adding that trust in this country is at an all-time low. The nonprofit sector, in tandem with the for-profit sector, has seen high level fraud and abuse. He gives Bill Aramony, the head of the United Way, who, in 1995, was sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted of diverting $1.2 million of the non-profit’s funds for his own use, as an example. "We need to come together and create industry standards of ethical behavior that not only meet the exact terms of the law but go further to establish high principles of ethical conduct," he says.

The lines between the traditional sectors of capital, government, and social services are blurring. "It used to be clear what was government, for-profit, and nonprofit," says Murphy. "Now we have nonprofits starting businesses, governments that traditionally would deliver services themselves now contracting for them, and for-profits saying, `We could run your prison system much better.’"

Because the three sectors are vying for the same contracts, critical questions arise: Who is more competent to do what? Who can do it better on a cost-effective basis? What are the services a government should not contract for? Where does a for-profit work better than a nonprofit?

The democratization of information technologies has meant a revolution in the nonprofit sector. Citing the issues of human rights, the global environment, women’s rights, and women’s economic independence, Murphy says, "They are all now international movements that would have been unthinkable without the Internet for fundraising, issue organizing, and advocacy."

Issues like banning the use of land mines in guerrilla warfare, cleaning up the millions of land mines placed, and never detected, and ending child labor, he says, "went from obscurity as issues to the creation of international sanctions that have been very effective over the course of a few years. You never would have seen that with"

In New Jersey nonprofits have their own problems as a result of demographic, economic, and social shifts. "We are becoming an older population of white suburbanites and a younger population more heavily influenced by new immigrants and unskilled labor," says Murphy. "Those demographic realities shape everything from employment to tax revenues – all issues that nonprofits will have to address." Unless the economy and employment pick up, says Murphy, continued state budget deficits in New Jersey will also mean fewer dollars in the government grants and contracts that nonprofits have traditionally relied on for the bulk of their operations. The result? "We are in ever more need of diversifying that funding base," he says.

In response to the many challenges facing nonprofits, the effected organizations are truly "getting their acts together," in the sense of thinking nationally and strategically about what the coming years will bring," says Murphy. As nonprofits pull together to alleviate the many problems facing our country, he expresses the hope that "in unity lies strength."

– Michele Alperin

Biomedical Ethics For Professionals

As a theologian and associate professor of Christian ethics at the Princeton Theological Seminary, Nancy Duff thought she had escaped the family business – her father was a physician, her mother an RN, her sister a nurse practitioner, her uncle an anesthesiologist, and her sister a biologist. But perhaps genes have had their say as she chose the most biological of theological paths – bioethics. Her resume lists "Issues in Biomedical Ethics" first in a roster of courses most frequently taught, and Duff has written articles on cloning, homosexuality, medical ethics, life support, and genetic research.

A native of Tyler, Texas, Duff graduated in 1973 from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, with a major in English and a minor in religious studies. She was ordained as a minister in 1977, receiving an M. Div. from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. After two years as a campus minister at her alma mater, she went for a Ph.D. in systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Duff wrote her dissertation on ethicist Paul Lehmann, a central figure in the field of bioethics, whom she knew personally.

Duff teaches "Issues in Biomedical Ethics" to both seminary students and professionals in the ministry, chaplaincy, healthcare, law, research sciences, and social services beginning on Monday, September 25, at 6:30 p.m. in the Cooper Conference Room in Erdman Hall. The course covers reproductive health, cloning, stem cell research, mental health, and end-of-life issues as well as human and animal experimentation, abortion, and the distribution of healthcare. For more information or to register, contact the Center of Continuing Education at 609-497-7990 or visit www.ptsem.edu/ce

Issues of biomedical ethics has the potential to affect everyone. It could become an urgent issue for any couple considering having a child through in vitro fertilization, any relative of a terminally ill person in great pain at the end of his life, and any voter deciding how high to rank a candidate’s embrace of – or opposition to – abortion, stem cell research, and the distribution of contraceptives to teen-agers. While individuals may struggle with pros and cons of a situation involving biomedical ethics, so do many industries and companies. Among pharmaceutical companies bioethical issues, and in particular cloning and human and animal experimentation, are front and center.

Research with human subjects. Drugs must jump through numerous hoops, including both animal and human testing, before achieving approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Research with human subjects is a risky but necessary part of the process, and today one of the primary ethical issues involves informed consent: How much knowledge do the experimenters have to give to the subjects about the safety of a drug, including potential, if rare, side effects? If there is slight chance that a drug could lead to horrendous consequences, how much do you tell the research subjects? What if the physicians or scientists have one understanding and patients have a more limited one?

Should prisoners be allowed to volunteer as human subjects? Ethicists ask, on the one hand, whether it is appropriate to take away that right, which has been abused in the past, and on the other, can prisoners be free to make that choice, or is there always an element of coercion?

The issue of coercion also comes up with experimentation on people from other cultures in other countries, for example, research on children with AIDS in Africa.

"There is so much authority in Western experts, physicians, and scientists when dealing with people from a poor country with little education," says Duff. When these western men are talking to vulnerable African mothers, is it fair to say they are truly informed?

On the other hand, some people argue that standards should be lessened when experimenting on people in poorer countries for altruistic reasons. They claim that poor people could potentially get medical care as part of the research. Yet, says Duff, people used as human research subjects could never afford the kinds of treatments involving the research being done, so even if the drugs are successful, the people would never get the treatment. To further complicate matters, some governments argue that they should have the freedom to set standards in their own countries.

The United States has a glaring example of experimentation without informed consent. "Experiments involving human beings have a bad history," says Duff. She points to the Tuskegee research project, in which researchers for the United States Public Health Service lied to the African-American men used as subjects for 40 years, between 1932 and 1972. The men were told they were getting treatment for syphilis, but instead of dosing them with penicillin, the experimenters were plotting the course of the disease.

African-Americans remain reluctant to volunteer due to the residual mistrust from that project. This is particularly unfortunate, says Duff, since a need exists for more experimentation with ethnic minorities and women, where diseases present differently.

Things are much safer today, and research institutions have institutional review boards to protect human subjects. Yet there are still ethical issues. What happens, for example, in a drug trial, when half the subjects are taking a placebo and half the drug, and the drug appears to be incredibly effective? Even though knocking out the control group ends the experiment, Duff says that "sometimes they stop early so that those taking the placebos can get the real things."

Animal research. Animal experiments have a tremendous history of abuses, some of which have been addressed and made better. Today protocols for animal experiments must be approved by an IACUC, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. Experimenters must show that the animals experience the least possible suffering, and if suffering is necessary, they must show that it will contribute greatly to knowledge. Finally, animals must be put down humanely at the end of the experiments.

"We have come quite far," says Duff. "I personally agree that animals should be used in as limited use as possible, and we have to be diligent so that they don’t suffer." On the other hand – and with ethical decisions there is always an other hand – sometimes, with good intentions, people have pushed regulations helping animals too far. "The regulations become bureaucratic," says Duff, "and in some cases increase the suffering."

Duff admires Peter Singer, who she says is sometimes unfairly maligned or misrepresented. She says that his philosophy – that you have to treat animals being fully cognizant of the fact that they do suffer – has propelled the animal rights movement. "I don’t agree with all Singer says," says Duff, "but I credit him with the idea that you can’t responsibly allow any being to suffer without being called to give account for that."

Cloning. Cloning is a less clear-cut issue, tied as it is to people’s beliefs about abortion. "I’m opposed to cloning for reproductive purposes," says Duff, "because it doesn’t address a serious need that can’t be addressed in another way." She is, however, in favor of cloning for therapeutic purposes, which is basically what occurs in stem cell research. Her reasoning is that such cloning can potentially address diseases and conditions responsible for an enormous number of human problems.

"Stem cells that can be harvested are called `totipotent,’ all powerful, and can become any cell in the human body," says Duff. She describes a stem cell as a fertilized egg that is a few days old, somewhere between a blastocyst and an embryo, but not yet an embryo. In the human body, it is pre-implantation.

"At that early stage, if I have to make a choice of making someone with Alzheimer’s well or addressing a few-day-old pre-embryo, I would choose to heal the person with Alzheimer’s," she says. "I wouldn’t say that of a certain stage of pregnancy, or of an infant, but at this stage, where some percentage of fertilized eggs are naturally miscarried, it is not the equivalent of a human being. But it is nascent human life, and we must treat it respectfully."

Ethics is based very much on personal values. Although more people seem to favor stem cell research than favor abortion, Duff points out that "anyone who believes that full personhood and an individual human being begin at conception cannot be in favor of stem cell research." Keeping in mind that opinions will vary and that part of the conversation will indeed be adversarial, she tries in class to present both sides.

Because Duff is a Christian ethicist, she will present a specific theological perspective, but she will also invite people from other traditions to share their perspectives. But more generally her approach is to urge her students to look at these ethical problems as a team, not leaving these decisions solely only on the shoulders of the physicians.

"I want this to be a genuine give and take, not demonizing," she says. "People can state an opinion, but I want it to be done out of sense of understanding what the other person does, and why, and of fostering support for one another." – Michele Alperin

Profitable Innovation

Henry Chesbrough, executive director of the Center for Open Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley, is the keynote speaker at the "Open Innovation Conference" on Wednesday, September 27, at 7 a.m. at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Rothman Institute, Lenfell Hall, Madison. For full details call 973-443-8842.

Chesbrough is the author of "Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology." In an interview with Optimize (www.optimizemag.com), an online technology magazine, he said that "developing innovative technology solely for your company’s internal use is over." A Silicon Valley veteran whose resume includes a seven-year stint at Quantum, a disk drive development firm, he told Optimize that he realized the importance of innovation while working at that company.

"I am a recovering disk-drive industry retread," he said. "I worked in the computer industry in the 1980s, primarily with (disk-drive vendor) Quantum.

"The second thing that happened was I saw that while IBM created so much of the fundamental technology for our industry, the company seemed to have a hard time capturing value from all the research it was doing. "

"Innovation, by contrast, is applying knowledge to a real problem and taking an idea to market. There may not be any customer in mind during a process of discovery and invention, but a customer is critical to the process of innovation."

"The basic idea is that in closed innovation, the model is one of discovering things yourself, then transferring them into development, production, distribution, service, and support within the four walls of your company," he said.

"But the idea behind open innovation is that there are too many good ideas held by people who don’t work for you to ignore. Even the best companies with the most extensive internal capabilities have to take external knowledge and ideas into account when they think about innovation. "

Closed innovation may not work well now, but that wasn’t always the case. According to Chesbrough, it "did work very well for a long time and in a number of industries.

"Many people still consider Bell Laboratories to be the pre-eminent industrial research center in the world, and certainly in its heyday it won an enormous number of Nobel Prizes and other scientific achievements.The reason that worked very well is that AT&T had a monopoly: It didn’t have any effective competition that could pilfer ideas from Bell Labs and take them to market. The competition would essentially wait until the technologies were already out of the laboratories to go into the market.

"Of course, the scientists doing this work really didn’t have many other places they could go to ply their craft. So the whole thing was a virtuous circle: As more technology came out, new products and services would be created; those would go to the market and create new revenues and new profits, which could be reinvested. So whether it was General Motors in the automotive industry, DuPont in the chemical industry, or AT&T or IBM in the computer industry, the companies that did the most research had the highest market share, the highest profits, and were able to reinvest and keep it going. It really did work very well for a long time.

"A few things changed. I’m not sure about the rank order of these, but one of the biggest ones is that people’s mobility increased a great deal. People started jumping from job to job, rather than working for one company their whole career. Venture capital became a huge deal, and that helped fuel people’s departure. Then, the university system got a lot better, in terms of the research and the relevance of the research. More and more useful ideas were coming out of universities directly, as opposed to R&D laboratories only.

These things gave rise to distributing knowledge very widely, to organizations large and small. As a result, now there is a lot of good knowledge all over the place, and no company has a monopoly on useful knowledge the way AT&T did in communications or IBM did in the computer industry."

Chesbrough’s thesis is that research has to change. It has to become more externally focused, or, as he told Optimize, it’s "doomed."

So That A New YMCA Can Rise

The Greater Trenton YMCA will celebrate its 150th anniversary this month, a celebration not just of its past, but of its continuing presence in a city that has changed dramatically in recent decades, says executive director Melvin Hill. To emphasize its continuing presence in the community, the anniversary celebration comes at a time when the Y is planning a major expansion of its facility.

The anniversary dinner takes place on Wednesday, September 27, at 6 p.m., at the Trenton Marriott at Lafayette Yard. Cost: $75. For reservations and information call 609-989-9622.

"A major reason for this celebration is to highlight the long history of the YMCA in Trenton and to increase its visibility in the community," says Hill. The Trenton Y was founded in the same year that the program was started in Boston and Montreal.

A video presentation during the dinner focuses on "what has been done at the Y in the past, what we are doing, and what we will do," he says.The facility is currently housed at 439 Broad Street. The newest expansion is slated to occupy the former Apex Lumber property at 641 Broad Street.

The $18.2 million expansion will include space for what Hill calls, "the five jewels of the Trenton Y: preschool progams, after school programs, day camp, youth sports, and health, wellness, and fitness programs. It will include a gymnastics area, aquatics, a fitness center for teens and adults, a preschool education center, and locker rooms and meeting space.

It has taken several years for the dream of expanding the Y to come close to reality. While the capital campaign officially kicked off in January, 2004, the program was in "the concept stages long before that, but the board was having difficulty getting it off the ground," says Hill.

Hill grew up outside of Pittsburgh, where his father was a steelworker. He recalls swimming at his local YMCA when he was a child, and first began working for a YMCA in 1970 in Lower Bucks County soon after graduating from Penn State (Class of 1968).

"I had to work in education and coaching, but I found it wasn’t the right place for me," he says. "I was working part-time at the Y when the director retired and I was offered the job."

Each YMCA is community-based. The Trenton YMCA draws people not only from the city but from Ewing and Lawrence Townships as well. Because of that autonomy each YMCA can decide which programs are most important in the community it serves.

While there are membership fees, all YMCAs are "truly charitable organizations," says Hill. "They are based on the basic founding principle that we are all one. The YMCA is open to all with no prohibitions for race, creed, color, or ability to pay."

At the upcoming anniversary dinner Hill will be announcing a $300,000 donation by the Kearney Foundation, an organization founded by the former owners of the Trenton Times. In addition, Hill hopes to make "an announcement about some community partnerships."

The Trenton YMCA is now two-thirds of the way to its $18.2 million goal. The campaign is far enough along that Hill can say with certainty that groundbreaking will begin in early 2007. It will take approximately a year-and-a-half to complete the construction.

This large fundraising campaign has taken good planning, and cooperation on the part of both volunteers and staff. Here are some of its key elements:

Hire assistance. The first step in any major campaign is to hire a fundraising company to assist with advice and planning, says Hill. The Trenton YMCA has used TTP Enterprises. Finding a company isn’t difficult, Hill says. "As soon as the announcement of a capital campaign is made the companies are knocking on your door." He chose TTP because the company is local, has a good track record of running capital campaigns like the one he is heading, and "came highly recommended."

The role of the fundraising company is to help set up the campaign and suggest prospects, but "90 percent of the work is up to the volunteers and the board," says Hill. "

Develop a plan. The staff and volunteers must work to constantly review the plan and to develop prospective contributors. "They need to be trained in how to ask for the donation," says Hill. Then they make a list of all the prospects and begin to work from the top, the "six figure contributors," on down to individual contributions.

Hill says that his YMCA will begin its individual contribution drive within the next few months, and that it will include direct mail, face-to-face meetings, cable television, and the organization’s website.

Make connections. Only after all of the plans are made clear to volunteers and staff can the process of contacting prospective donors begin. It takes a lot of time to get to this point, says Hill.

It can be difficult to get appointments with the decision makers who control the funds. "You need meet the person and explain the program before expecting money to be donated," says Hill. Having volunteers, board members, and staff who can make those appointments to talk with the decision makers is crucial to the success of any fundraising campaign.

The real key to any fundraising campaign, he says, is the ability of the staff and the volunteers to form relationships with potential contributors.

A major fundraising campaign is difficult in any setting, but can be particularly challenging in a city like Trenton, which does not have a large upper middle class population and is home to very few large corporations. Hill is pleased that the Trenton YMCA’s fundraising efforts are poised to bear fruit in the form of a facility that promises to be an unvaluable home away from home for thousands of city children – and a social, athletic, and recreational hub for the whole city and for its immediate suburban neighbors.

– Karen Hodges Miller

Health Watch

In a talk that focuses on the hazards found in common household cleaning products, Deirdre Imus, above, will present "Greening the Cleaning" at Mercer County Community College on Thursday, September 28, at noon. The free lecture is part of Mercer’s Distinguished Lecture Series and will be held at the college’s West Windsor campus in the Communications Building, CM110. Call 609-574-3324 for more information.

Imus is the president and founder of the Deirdre Imus

Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC), and also serves as the co-founder and co-director, with her husband, radio talk show host Don Imus, of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer in New Mexico.

She will discuss the hazardous effects of the chemicals in many common household products on health as well as her efforts to replace toxic cleaning products with non-toxic alternatives.

The HUMC Environmental Center is the first hospital-based program whose mission is to identify, control, and ultimately prevent exposures to environmental factors that may cause cancers and other health problems, especially in children.

The center developed the award-winning "Greening the Cleaning" program.

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