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ATL Business Chronicle Maria's Metro

Column: Atlanta YWCA, Georgia Women for a Change to join forces

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on June 20, 2014

A merger between two Atlanta nonprofits dedicated to the advancement of women and girls will create a stronger and more impactful organization in the future, according to leaders of both organizations.

The board of the YWCA of Greater Atlanta on June 17 approved joining forces with Georgia Women for a Change, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization.

Under the merger, Georgia Women for a Change will become the policy advocacy program of the YWCA, working on legislative and public policy issues of vital importance to women and girls in the state.

The merger will take place on June 30 when Stephanie Davis, longtime executive director of Georgia Women for a Change, is scheduled to retire.

“We have had a long and successful track record of getting legislation passed that benefits women and girls, but we needed a home with a culture and a philosophy that would take us in and embrace our mission and carry on our work,” Davis said. “The YWCA is that organization with its long history and loyal base of support, its thought leadership and its empowered constituency.”

The YWCA of Greater Atlanta was founded in 1902 by a diverse group of women whose purpose was to provide education and job opportunities to under-skilled women in Atlanta. It has an annual operating budget of $3 million and is an affiliate of the YWCA USA. The mission of the YWCA is to eliminate racism and empower women.

“While the YWCA advocates for freedom, peace, and justice for all, it has not had a presence at the state Capitol and has not been directly involved in public policy work at the local level,” said Emily Ellison, CEO of the YWCA of Atlanta. “By merging with Georgia Women for a Change, we are able to build on the great work that organization has done for more than 20 years.”

Ellison said that the YWCA’s work on empowering women and children has focused on educational programs and direct human services.

“But having the most profound and lasting impact on the underserved so often starts through legislation,” she said. “Joining forces with Georgia Women for a Change, and building on their foundation, gives the YWCA a jump-start on its commitment to advocating on issues that are faced daily by the most vulnerable, including domestic violence, human trafficking, quality education and health care, equal pay and affordable housing.”

Georgia Women for a Change, with an annual budget of about $150,000, previously was known as the Women’s Policy Group and has been involved in economic security for low-income women, family-friendly workplace policy and reproductive health care for 26 years.

In the past five years, it has taken the lead on legislation around human trafficking and has been successful in passing several bills with strong bi-partisan support.

It also has coordinated the Georgia Women’s Policy Institute (GWPI), which will also migrate to the YWCA. GWPI is a training program for 16 women a year who do a deep dive into the policy-making process on the state level and create legislative proposals that benefit women’s health care and the rights of senior women.

Under the agreement, three board members of Georgia Women for a Change will join the YWCA’s board — Davis; Natosha Reid Rice, an associate general counsel at Habitat for Humanity International; and Angela Payne James, who is head of diversity at Alston & Bird.

Ellison summed up the merger this way: “It’s a partnership that eliminates redundancy of services. Why should two agencies be doing similar work when the two together can more efficiently address community needs and have greater impact?”

Corporate giving is down

The annual study of charitable giving in the United States released on June 17 by the Giving USA Foundation showed an uptick in 2013 to $335.17 billion, up 4.4 percent from 2012.

But according to David King, president of the Atlanta-based fundraising firm Alexander Haas & Martin, corporate giving is down to its lowest level in 35 years.

Giving by corporations decreased by 1.9 percent in 2013. Corporate giving as a percentage of pre-tax profits was at 0.8 percent in 2013. The last time it was that low was in 1979.

The high-water mark was in 1986 when corporations gave away 2 percent of their pre-tax profits, and it has steadily declined ever since.

King said that 65 percent of all corporate giving is in non-cash donations — and 21 percent of that giving is pharmaceuticals. So the actual giving of charitable dollars by corporations is much lower than the 0.8 percent.

Another key point to the study is the continued decline of giving to religion. In 1987, 53 percent of all charitable donations were to religious institutions, and now that has dropped to just 31 percent. But religion is still the largest recipient of charitable giving.

The sector that increased the most in 2013 was education. Between 2009 and 2013, giving to education is up 37 percent. Giving to the arts, environment/animal and health organizations also showed strong increases in 2013.

King attributed the growth in those areas to the fact that charitable dollars had shifted toward human services during the Great Recession, and now that the economy had improved, charitable giving was returning to sectors that contribute to a community’s quality of life.

The annual Giving USA report is done in conjunction with Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

ADL names new director

Mark J. Moskowitz, a veteran Jewish community professional, has joined The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as the new director of its Southeast regional office in Atlanta.

“Mark brings to ADL decades of relevant nonprofit experience in the Jewish community and has across-the-board experiences in development and strategic organizational work in this region,” said Miles Alexander, chair of ADL’s Southeast region. “He is a proven leader who has a full grasp of the scope of ADL issues, and we are confident that his past experiences in this arena will be fitting in his role in carrying out the League’s mission.”

Moskowitz joins ADL with extensive experience in the nonprofit sector. Most recently, he served as president of the Friends of ELNET – European Leadership Network, where he managed day-to-day operations. He previously was director of development for the Israel on Campus Coalition in Washington, D.C. From 1987 to 2007, he was regional director of the Southeast office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“We are thrilled to have Mark lead our Southeast regional office,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL’s national director. “His remarkable professional background and passion for Jewish communal and Israel-related issues are tremendous assets.”

Moskowitz holds a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.


Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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