Make-A-Wish and the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is well-known across the United States for its mission: to provide incredible experiences to young people facing life-threatening conditions. Even so, the scope of the organization goes far beyond what many know about it, including offices in 45 countries outside of the United States. Coupled with a wide variety of external buy-in from celebrities and organizations, and Make-A-Wish starts to look less like a nonprofit and more like a social movement.

 

We at the Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation are no strangers to the good that the Make-A-Wish Foundation can do. In fact, our organization was presented with the Philanthropist of the Year award at Make-A-Wish’s America conference in 2017. Presented by Southern Florida board chair Shareef Malnik, the award was a representation of a long-term partnership between the two Foundations.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation both sponsored the Intercontinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball and provided a $6 million pledge—the largest in Southern Florida’s history. The donation went toward Make-A-Wish’s endowment and capital campaign as well as the organization’s future Wish House.

 

But Southern Florida is just one branch of a vast and highly successful organization. In fact, the Foundation saw its start in Arizona in 1980. At the time, Chris Grecius was being treated to leukemia while holding onto his dream of becoming a police officer. Family friend Tommy Austin looked into ways to give Chris some comfort in the days to come, not anticipating the impact that his story would have.

 

The Arizona Department of Public Safety learned of his wish and arranged for a day in which Chris flew in a police helicopter, received a custom-tailored police uniform, and became Arizona’s first and only honorary DPS officer. He even earned his motorcycle officer’s wings, given to him while in the hospital.

 

Though Chris passed soon after that, his story became the start of something larger. Arizona DPS officers convened with the intent of creating similarly enjoyable experiences for children. From humble donations, the Make-A-Wish Foundation grew into what it is now—with numerous celebrities stepping up to pitch in and make a difference in the lives of children.

 

Far from once-and-done events, wishes can inspire a community to further action, drive awareness and medical research, or give the children the strength needed to carry on through difficult treatments.
Visit wish.org to explore some of the Foundation’s stories, connect with a chapter in your area, or make a donation of your own.

How The Police Officer Assistance Trust Does Philanthropy Right

Every nonprofit needs a cause—and the cause of the Police Officer Assistance Trust (POAT) is simple: Serve those who serve.

 

For the Miami-Dade area, police strive to keep the area happy and protected. However, the line of duty isn’t always safe; and tragedies can affect officers and their families. One such incident—the killing of a police officer in Detroit—set off a chain of events that would lead to the formation of POAT.

 

The death of the Detroit officer led his friend, William M. Packer, to create the 100 Club—in which he encouraged 100 friends and family to donate to a fund for the fallen officer. After an overwhelming success that allowed the officer’s widow to recover from the tragedy, the club grew, starting chapters all across the nation. Eventually, it evolved into the 200 Club, which became the first major donor for POAT.

 

Since its formation, the organization has been a positive presence in officers’ lives. In the wake of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, POAT helped officers rebuild and dedicate more of their time to helping others in need. For injuries or for those that make the ultimate sacrifice, the nonprofit assists with counseling, medical, and funeral expenses.

 

The beauty of POAT is that it addresses a previously-unaddressed need. For officers going through difficult times, the lack of support can often be difficult, even with financial assistance. Having a community to both give extra and provide resources for the families of officers is imperative in mitigating hardship.

 

It’s a nonprofit that knows what it is. By keeping the organization local and centered around a single task, POAT has not lost sight of its mission or the families that it serves. As a result of its dedication, it has provided over $6 million to families in need through private and corporate donations, payroll donations, and fundraisers. Some events, including the recent Cops Ride For Kids, are intended to both generate funding and brings members of the community together, including those whose lives have been touched by POAT.

 

And it helps bridge a difficult gap—according to Miami-Dade Police Director and POAT President Juan Perez, many officers have trouble asking for help. Through the organization, officers always know that they have a support circle to turn to in times of hardship.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, in keeping with our mission of community engagement, is an ardent supporter of the Police Officer Assistance Trust. We’re proud to assist our Florida officers and support the work that they do in keeping the area safe. Visit poat.org for more information on how you can donate to this worthy organization.

The Imagine Gala and His House

Taking place on November 3, the Imagine Charity Gala brought together His House Children’s Home (HHCH) and its supporters to celebrate the organization’s past accomplishments and look toward the future. The event featured musical performances, a live auction, and a presentation on HHCH’s “Forever Home” project. Forever Home is a new campus slated to be completed in 2020, featuring brand-new facilities intended to enhance the lives of children in the organization’s care. It includes residential and recreational facilities as well as administrative buildings and a school.

 

“Expansion into the new facility is part of His House’s commitment to increasing capacity to keeping sibling groups together,” said Executive Director Silvia Smith-Torres on the new campus.

 

The Gala also featured stories from some of the individuals affected by the care of HHCH. Usa Rodriguez spoke on the impact that the organization had made on him and his brothers. Though the foster care system was difficult for them, they fondly recall the efforts of HHCH to keep them together and happy during those trying times. Now, all of the brothers are employed and continue to work toward improving themselves and others.

 

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation was proud to sponsor this event. Our organization, dedicated to the cause of children’s welfare, has supported other homes in the past as they provide safe environments and education for their residents. The Foundation is proud to see the progress made by His House and is excited to support their future initiatives.

 

Since 1989, His House Children’s Home has been dedicated to the cause of ensuring a happy upbringing for children. All children deserve the chance to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, and HHCH provides the resources necessary to be a pillar of the foster care system. Based in Miami, this faith-based organization specializes in caring for children in state custody.

 

HHCH also provides programs for teen mothers, ensuring that they have a safe environment to raise their child. The program includes education for new mothers as well as social services and private lodging for them and their children. Initiatives like these are how His House adapts to the community’s wide variety of care needs.

 

At-risk children deserve a place to grow, and His House Children’s Home is proud to create a productive environment for them. We at the Finker-Frenkel Family foundation look forward to seeing what the future holds for this incredible organization.

 

The Value (And Challenge) Of Microgrants

In the philanthropy world, much of the attention is given to larger grants—leaving many smaller nonprofits searching for their big break in the form of a generous donor. However, smaller grants can fill a niche for organizations to supplement their other sources of funding. Additionally, nonprofits that are just starting out can find value in little donations.

 

The unfortunate side of microgrants is that, while they are easy to raise and solicit from donors, they are often tightly restricted. Reporting on these donations can also eat up time and overhead better spent putting funds to good use. However, savvy nonprofits can learn to implement them to the best of their ability and come out ahead.

 

The easy acquisition of microgrants allows for more niche nonprofits to arise. These organizations might deal with a very specific community issue or assist in underserved populations without having to worry “making it big” with sizable donations.

 

One such example is the Sparkgrants program, which provides microgrants to individuals working toward social and community change in Pierce County, Tacoma. The brainchild of a 2011 community gathering, Sparkgrants focuses on individual funding but can often lead to early-stage nonprofits getting off of the ground. These sorts of initiatives can be valuable not only for the actual money but for introducing small-scale philanthropic efforts to larger communities.

 

For smaller nonprofits, microgrants can help organizations expand their reach and scale in a manageable way. Oftentimes, these programs can expose like-minded philanthropists to each other and foster the creation of joint efforts that can better serve specific interests. Nonprofit alliances, though not often discussed, are a great way to circumvent the competitive environment of the industry. Though many organizations fight for the attention of donors, using microgrants to build these connections can allow for all to reach a wider audience and to address weak points in the scope of partners.

 

Microgrants can also be leveraged to help a specific mission, given to organizations and businesses that contribute. For instance, a food waste initiative promoted by the New York Department of Sanitation offered funds and other incentives to businesses that addressed this specific problem. This approach is beneficial in that it allows for direct change on part of those that can make the most impact without the need for the “middleman” of a nonprofit.

 

Even so, don’t expect nonprofits to go away when it comes to providing direct support. And microgrants can serve as a way to fill in the niche needs of nonprofits and cause the rise of new organizations for which there is a need. While it can be challenging for nonprofits to survive solely on microgrants, they provide a strategic need that any savvy professional in the industry should recognize.

How A Local Nonprofit Can Scale

Lazar Finker—How A Local Nonprofit Can Scale

Expanding your nonprofit can be an exciting process. Of course, there are certainly challenges that accompany the prospect as well. Depending on your needs and goals, your nonprofit can scale in different ways. Below are a few areas to consider when scaling your nonprofit.

 

Goals

From the time you started your nonprofit to its current standing, it is safe to say that many things have changed. Whether your overall mission had shifted its focus or the intricacies of your objectives have deviated, taking time to reconsider the purpose of your nonprofit is a great idea.

Scaling your organization by rewriting bylaws and other doctrines as well as conducting meetings with community members to address new or worsening concerns could be productive. This is also a great time to broaden your perspective and extend your ideas to a larger audience.

 

Leadership

As your nonprofit has grown, chances are your needs for strong leadership have grown, too. Whether you scale by hiring additional leaders to manage the operations and staff of your organization or by striving to improve the effectiveness of your current leadership through educational opportunities, change is essential for growth. Leaders directly impact the productivity and success of an organization and ensure that progress continues beyond their own efforts.

 

Finances

Perhaps the most obvious choice is to scale your nonprofit financially. With the additional money collected from donations, fundraising, or other means, you will be able to organize events, rent (or buy) a larger space, and acquire better equipment or supplies for your organization. In scaling your nonprofit financially, you may also consider devoting time to financial education, so as to provide your volunteers and employees with an ongoing education of proper budgeting, strong financial management, and a better understanding of your organization’s expenses.

 

Community

Cultivating healthy relationships and creating a strong network are essential parts of establishing and growing an organization. When you decide you want to scale your nonprofit, consider taking additional steps toward increased community outreach. This course of action could include posting advertisements, providing more opportunities for engagement and education, connecting with other nonprofits (both new and old!), or hiring more staff.

All of these steps can help advance your nonprofit’s reputation while expanding your community network and allowing your work to reach more people.

 

Scaling a nonprofit can be challenging and costly, but identifying which areas will be the most beneficial and productive for your organization can help you limit the stress of undertaking this process of growth and development.

The Growth of Sustainable Philanthropy

Philanthropy has become a significant field in today’s society and has not shown any signs of slowing down. In 2012 alone, Americans donated a total of $316.23 billion to charitable efforts around the country, indicating their passion for helping those around them. In recent years, a significant amount of donations have begun to support sustainability.

 

It is not difficult to understand why this has slowly moved to the forefront of many people’s minds, with growing concern about how much humans continue to harm the environment. As a result of this concern, more nonprofit organizations and philanthropy efforts are dedicated to developing more sustainable practices. With this in mind, I’d like to recognize some of the organizations that are dedicated to sustainability.

 

Sierra Club

The Sierra Club has been responsible for spearheading some of the largest Acts to protect the environment. The Acts that Sierra Club helped pass include the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act, to name a few. Sierra Club is currently focused on finding a renewable source of energy that can replace coal plants for good.

 

The Environmental Defense Fund

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is another organization that focuses on issues that continue to plague our environment. They focus on issues that range from pollution and climate change to creating sustainable food production. In addition, the EDF is working to create cleaner energy in an effort to reduce the amount of waste that non-renewable energy has on the environment. These efforts can include solar energy and wind energy.

 

The World Resources Institute

The World Resources Institute (WRI) focuses primarily on preserving the natural resources that humans have been using. By having a stronger understanding of how many resources we use and its effect on the planet, WRI can work to create more sustainable practices moving forward. Some of their initiatives focus on finding clean energy sources, reducing the amount of waste generated by humans, and creating plans to help preserve and protect forests and bodies of water. Like Sierra Club and the Environmental Defense Fund, WRI is actively working to find renewable forms of energy in an effort to preserve the world’s natural resources.

 

Each of the organizations that were discussed is actively working to find more sustainable practices in order to reduce long-term environmental damage. While sustainability is not a worldwide initiative right now, with the help of organizations like the ones we discussed, we can become a more sustainable population.

 

What Crowdfunding Means For Philanthropy

Lazar Finker—Crowdfunding and Philanthropy

Whether it’s for medical expenses or to produce an aspiring artist’s new album, the impact of crowdfunding cannot be ignored. The “traditional” avenues of philanthropy—soliciting donations and support through a nonprofit—seem far less effective when individuals can easily set up a page on a site such as GoFundMe and immediately reach an audience. Nonprofits have worked to not only help individuals but the causes of issues that affect them as well, whereas crowdfunding gives interested donors an avenue directly to an individual.

 

It’s certainly noteworthy, but to what extent will these new platforms change existing charitable efforts?

 

I believe that, rather than supplanting traditional philanthropy, crowdfunding fills a distinct niche that can coexist alongside nonprofits. It’s not hard to see why crowdfunding is popular. For decades, nonprofits have struggled to reach potential donors and make them inclined to donate, with initiatives that have sometimes come across as tone-deaf or condescending. Overall, it’s not just about selling the idea of a noble cause, but about the stories that make the cause worth contributing to.

 

Humanizing the people that benefit from philanthropy has become especially important in recent years, something that crowdfunding platforms do well. Nothing is more authentic than an individual personally coming forward to tell their story and request assistance. Add in the power of social media and an instant audience in the form of online connections, and we have a formula that has already raised billions of dollars.

 

With nonprofits, missions don’t always include provisions for individual support. These initiatives are highly impactful, but leave some people seeking other options. Crowdfunding turns this on its head, giving the beneficiaries the oversight over where the money goes and changes the narrative about what donations can accomplish. However, nonprofits aren’t experiencing fewer donations; the numbers have more or less stayed the same. This is a pain point for many of these organizations given that the industry as a whole has not made significant gains in recent years, despite a recent surge of funding.

 

The question of impact also characterizes the differences between these two approaches. Donors, particularly younger donors, display a desire to see the immediate impact that their funds make. This is far more pronounced with crowdfunding, particularly when donation goals can illustrate the collective accomplishments of donors. Savvy nonprofits will take note of these changes and find ways to demonstrate the value of a contribution to their audience.

 

Crowdfunding has also called into question whether these donations should be considered tax deductible. Some people believe that this makes donating more appealing, as any funds will not be filtered through a charity’s ecosystem before being put to use. Others believe that the lack of rules around crowdfunding opens the door for fraud.

 

Whatever the case, the instant support network created by crowdfunding provides a new type of philanthropy, one centered around grassroots movements and the notion that people should give back to their neighbors. This coming at a time when nonprofits try to reinvent themselves indicates that, perhaps, these organizations should focus on their stories—as well as providing transparency about where their funds go. There’s still a place for nonprofits, but this dichotomy of giving may only become more pronounced as time goes on.

 

Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation Partners With Bascom Palmer

The Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, based out of the University of Miami Health System, is an organization dedicated to furthering ophthalmic care, research, and education. The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation, through its partnership with Bascom Palmer, looks to further the Institute’s medical research.

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation is considered part of the Norton Society for its continued support. The vision research conducted with their assistance involves the study and analysis of the eye-brain signatures of the retina. Through this work, Bascom Palmer hopes to improve patient outcomes by detecting Alzheimer’s years before diagnosis.

“We are proud to partner with Bascom Palmer,” says Eugene Frenkel. “Our family-run foundation is committed to funding the research, treatment and eventual eradication of neurological diseases. What better way to accomplish our family’s mission than to help give the gift of sight?”

The Finker-Frenkel Family Foundation is a family-run non-profit that strives to bring together like-minded philanthropists to promote giving across generations. The Foundation is also dedicated to helping causes such as children’s welfare, religious development, and education.

Learn more about the Foundation at legacyf.com, or read the Bascom-Palmer newsletter below!

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Corporate Philanthropy: It’s Not For Your Business, But It Certainly Doesn’t Hurt

The modern corporation is not just a faceless entity any more. Business leaders are expected to mold their companies into global citizens, forces for good in addition to benefitting their own interests. Part of a company’s brand is its charitable efforts, and corporate decision making should be made with this in mind. For many hardline businesspeople, it can be hard to justify spending that does not quantifiably affect a business’s revenue. However, philanthropy doesn’t just do good for others; it has the potential to elevate value in a variety of ways.

Building a Community

It is up to corporations to not only coexist with a community, but to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Investing in community outreach programs can be a great way to foster goodwill and build relationships for the future. Employees volunteering their time at local organizations is one great way to do this. Outreach is especially important if the business gains some of their revenue from the surrounding community, taking “giving back” to its most literal. Projects that benefit an area’s overall economic success can not only be positive with public relations, but create new markets with individuals that have been won over by a company’s efforts.

Strong Branding

Of course, a business’s efforts shouldn’t just be motivated by the potential to open up a new market. Philanthropy should be, as I’ve mentioned before, authentic, and this is something that matters to talent figuring out where to work. Philanthropic efforts should be deeply tied to company values and a way for an organization to prove that it practices what it preaches. These values should be maintained internally as well. And ignoring social responsibility can be harmful for corporations; it shouldn’t just be something done to look good, but an authentic part of a company. With increased access to information, the public will know if a company is not committed to their stated values.

Happier Employees

Plus, employees want to know that they’re working for a company committed to good social values. There are plenty of ways to improve job satisfaction, but getting employees involved in the good work that a company does is one of the less obvious ways to improve faith in the workplace. In this case, they’re not just hearing about a company’s values, they’re living them, something that can improve morale and reduce churn rates.

Networking

Part of building out a strong business isn’t just doing well, it’s about who a leader knows that can boost their bid for success. Corporate philanthropy is a great way to connect with other companies that share values and build trust between organizations. It’s no coincidence that many of the most prominent business leaders are also famed for their philanthropy; working to benefit others builds bridges and gets people noticed for their hard work.

Conclusion

Investing in a community or other philanthropic causes can seem like a drain on money and time for a business. However, the modern culture of giving back is now a central part of how any savvy business leader should conduct their operations. It’s no longer about ROI, it’s about being cognizant of the ways that a corporation has the power to make a difference in an authentic manner.

Don’t Give More, Give Smarter

Philanthropy is often seen as a pastime of the wealthy, with benefactors giving millions of dollars to causes of their choice with the intent to make a difference. From the outside, it can be easy to praise this sort of behavior—after all, with that much money being donated, some kind of difference is being made, right?

Well, yes and no. Despite good intentions, the fact remains that managing massive amounts of money is a logistically difficult process. Leaks in the system cause a large portion of funds to fall by the wayside with things like consulting and management. Often, just a donation is not enough; a more specific effort is required.

And even that can go wrong. An essay on effective altruism cites the Playpump, a carousel-like device intended to pump water while children play, as an example of philanthropy gone wrong. The Playpump was lauded and widely supported by celebrities and subsequently built in poor communities. However, the effort required by the pump took what would otherwise be a piece of playground equipment and unwittingly turned it into a device that necessitated manual labor. In addition, the water it produced was nowhere near enough to provide for an entire village. The Playpump is a cautionary tale in wasted resources, and illustrates the need to determine what any philanthropic effort will cost.

This problem stems from a lack of research on the part of individuals that attempt to give back. While financial decisions are often made with regard to ROI, this kind of thinking is often abandoned when engaging in philanthropy. To many, it’s less about the tangible impact and more about the amount given.

The first step is for donors to figure out what cause their money would best serve. It can be difficult to assess this with our own cognitive biases in place; a cause that may seem relevant to a donor may, in practice, do less good than one that they had not previously considered. Part of it is a matter of what is readily visible; the vast majority of large philanthropic donations go toward developed countries. This leads to missed opportunities in countries that actively require assistance. Part of the problem is that there is little research on the efficacy of different causes. While many charities have been scrutinized for their use of funds, I believe that an approach that goes beyond this to assess impact would be valuable to educate future donors.

Caroline Fiennes is a firm believer in establishing a scientific approach to philanthropy. Fiennes conducting a decade-long analysis with surprising findings about philanthropic impact, including the discovery that success of donation efforts did not hinge on the size of the donation, with the implication that managing funds is more important than spending a lot of money. For instance, Oprah Winfrey’s efforts to open a $4 million school in South Africa are certainly laudable, but the amount of money spent could be used to open hundreds of schools in other countries. It’s not just about the size of the donation, it’s about making the most difference possible.

It is my firm belief that philanthropic efforts should be treated the same way as business efforts in that any initiative is thoroughly analyzed from start to finish, tracking metrics about the extent to which funding meets goals. Budgeting is also crucial to measure how much of a donation is spent on activities unrelated to these end goals.

Research on philanthropic projects seems in of itself an unrelated use of resources, but in the long term, it can ensure that money and time does not go to waste. Many charitable programs cause little to no effect on the causes that they ostensibly support, but the better programs, as evidenced by this study on participation in impoverished schools, can produce 10 times the average impact.

Until this research can be conducted, it is up to donors to evaluate their own methods of giving. All philanthropists have the responsibility to turn a critical eye to their own efforts, and focus on not only making donations, but applying knowledge of causes and financial practices in a smart way.