Sunday, March 29, 2009

Nearly a Third of Charities Had Operating Deficits Last Year, Study Finds

The Chronicle of Philanthropy related that the recession is undermining the financial health of nonprofit groups, and nearly a third ended last year with a deficit. This is according to a new survey by the Nonprofit Finance Fund, which found that sixty-two percent of charities have less than three months’ worth of cash on hand to cover costs, and just 16 percent expect to be able to pay for their expenses this year and next. Read more here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nonprofit Coverage in the Media

The Minnesota Council of Foundations offers the following roundup of how media outlets are covering the world of philanthropy and nonprofits.

How the Recession Affects Donors’ Decisions on Giving
The Chronicle of Philanthropy: More than 52 percent of people who support charities say they will give the same amount this year as they did in 2008, while just 17.5 percent plan to give less.

Foundations oppose Obama tax plan for deductions
Wall Street Journal: Private foundations plan to oppose Obama’s proposed cap on itemized deductions for top earners, and will ask lawmakers to overhaul other tax policies that affect big grant makers.

Staff cuts loom for non-profits
Philantrophy Journal: More than one in four nonprofits say they plan to downsize or lay off staff next year, compared to the 7.6 percent than foresaw reductions last year.

Public education in U.S. falls short, Obama says
Los Angeles Times: President Barack Obama strongly condemned the state of public education Tuesday, calling for more charter schools, higher salaries for effective teachers and the faster firing of bad ones.

Newly Jobless Swell Volunteer Ranks at Charities
The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Nonprofit organizations are seeing a tide of new volunteers from the ranks of recently laid-off white-collar workers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nonprofit Policy News

This Nonprofit Policy News is offered by the National Council of Nonprofits and New York Council of Nonprofits.

Senator Baucus Introduces the Nonprofit Capacity Building Act of 2009
On March 17, the National Council's efforts over the last five years to strengthen small and midsize nonprofits cleared another hurdle when Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (MT-D) introduced the Nonprofit Capacity Building Act of 2009 (S 609). The bill would create an innovative $25 million fund for matching grants to intermediary nonprofit training and technical assistance entities. Read more.

Federal Legislative and Regulatory Developments
Serve America Act Moves Rapidly from the House to a Senate Floor Vote Next Week
National service legislation is moving rapidly through Congress on a bipartisan basis. The legislation would more than triple the number of AmeriCorps volunteers and include a Volunteer Generation Fund to help organizations recruit and manage volunteers; a Social Innovation Fund to increase private and public investment in nonprofits to replicate and expand successful programs; expand the National Civilian Conservation Corps; and much more. The Senate is planning to consider the bill early next week. Read more on our website and visit the Service Nation website to learn more.

2009 Omnibus Appropriations Passed and Signed
On March 11, President Obama signed the $410 billion FY 2009 omnibus bill (HR 1105) comprised of nine appropriations bills not passed last fall. Funding went up eight percent over the prior fiscal year, providing more funds for block grant programs but decreasing funding for the Compassion Capital Fund. Read more.

FY 2010 Proposed Federal Budget Generates Controversy over Charitable Deductions
President Obama's proposed FY 2010 budget suggests making a downpayment on health care reform by reducing high income earners' tax deductions - including deductions for charitable contributions. For more information, analysis, and commentary about the controversy visit our website and read our Special Report.

IRA Rollover Legislation Re-Introduced
The Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2009 (HR 1250) would permit tax-free distributions from IRAs for charitable purposes on a permanent basis and remove the current dollar limit on donations per year. Read more.

Obama Turns Back Clock on Some Bush Midnight Rules
To learn more about how the Obama Administration is taking action to reverse controversial regulations finalized in the closing days of the Bush Administration, visit the OMB Watch website.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New York State Council on the Arts Funding Update

The New York State Council on the Arts provided the following bulletin that addresses:
  • Federal Recovery Act – Overview
  • Allocation for State Arts Agencies
  • NEA Competitive Grants
  • Additional Opportunities

1. Federal Recovery Act - Overview

As you may know, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, 2009. The Recovery Act includes a $50 million allocation for the National Endowment for the Arts to be administered in two ways:

  • 60% of the allocation will be available directly through the NEA as one-time grants to eligible arts and cultural organizations (see “NEA Competitive Grants” below).
  • 40% of the allocation will be administered by State Arts Agencies, including NYSCA, through subgranting programs to eligible nonprofit organizations projects that focus on the preservation of jobs in the arts.

Organizations may apply for federal stimulus funds to as many agencies and organizations as they are eligible (NEA, NYSCA, designated regional funders, etc.). However, organizations may receive funding from only one source.

Detailed information about funding from the NEA follows. Please review the information carefully, particularly information about NEA competitive grants, which are due APRIL 2, 2009.

Click here to learn more about the Recovery Act.

2. Allocation for State Arts Agencies
The Federal Recovery Act includes an allocation to State Arts Agencies for subgranting programs to eligible nonprofit organizations projects that focus on the preservation of jobs in the arts. The NEA has announced that funded projects must address two areas: salary support and contractual fees.

It is projected that NYSCA will receive approximately $400,000. NYSCA is currently developing a process for the distribution of these funds, which must first be approved by the NEA. NYSCA expects to announce guidelines in April with a grant deadline of late May. These guidelines will be posted on NYSCA's website and eblast as soon as they are available.

3. NEA Competitive Grants
All applicants must be previous NEA award recipients from the past four years. All grants are non-matching and will be awarded for the amount requested. Organizations may request a grant amount of $25,000 or $50,000. Each organization is limited to one application. More information can be found at

Organizations are required to submit their applications electronically through, the federal government's online application system. The system must receive your application no later than 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on April 2, 2009.

The NEA strongly recommends that you submit at least 10 days in advance of the deadline to give yourself ample time to resolve any problems that you might encounter.

4. Additional Opportunities
New York State Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet

To manage the development of State and local infrastructure projects financed through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Governor Paterson has created the New York State Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet. The home page for the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Cabinet ( contains valuable information about how the American Recovery and Reinvestment act will impact New York State.

NYSCA strongly encourages interested organizations to utilize the online tools available on the Economic Recovery homepage, including the Submit Proposals section. Click here or visit to learn more. You can also join the Economic Recovery mailing list by clicking on “Get Updates”.

Federal Grant Opportunities
Other federal agencies, including the National Park Service, Housing and Urban Development, and others, are expected to announce funding opportunities in the days and weeks ahead for which arts and cultural organizations may be eligible. Interested organizations should visit for a directory of recently announced opportunities and up to date informational about recovery act opportunities.

All applications for federal grants, including NEA competitive grants, are processed though

Friday, March 13, 2009

Troubled Times Present an Opportunity to Focus

The recent news that The Metropolitan Museum of Art is eliminating 74 jobs from its merchandising staff is probably not a surprise to many. With the downturn in the economy, spending on the Met's gift shop wares obviously was impacted significantly. The Met's success in retail based on their amazing collections has long been touted as a model for others in the museum sector. What kind of signal does this send to other museums as they search for sources of revenue to replace declines in every area? Is this a natural readjusting of museum operations that had ballooned based on the consumerism bubble that popped recently? With this news, museums need to rethink their mix of revenue generating activities. Tourism and merchandising will always be fundamental activities, but for now, a much smaller piece of the puzzle. Now museums need to look to other activities that may not have been areas of focus. What are these other areas? Possible suggestions could be: community building and engagement; collaboration with other nonprofits (which are all being impacted); or focusing more efforts online. Share your own suggestions. This is a time of opportunity, to refocus, and strive to do what nonprofits do best.

Museum Legislative Update

The following info is provided by the American Association of Museums.

Congress Finalizes FY09 Funding Levels
On Wednesday, March 11, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 1105, finalizing the funding levels for federal agencies for the fiscal year 2009, which began October 1, 2008. The $410 billion measure represents the culmination of more than a year of work on 9 annual spending bills that fund nearly all areas of the government. Several of these spending bills were held up by political wrangling and in the fall, Congress passed a temporary measure to level fund most of the government until this bill could be finalized.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services' (IMLS) Office of Museum Services - which supports our nation's 17,500 museums through a variety of competitive grant programs - will get a $3.7 million increase over FY08 levels.

Here are the levels that will go into effect for the remainder of the fiscal year 2009:
IMLS' Office of Museum Services: $35 million, a $3.7 million increase over the previous year.
  • National Endowment for the Humanities: $155 million, a $10 million increase over the previous year.
  • National Endowment for the Arts: $155 million, a $10 million increase over the previous year.
  • Arts in Education programs at the Department of Education: $38.16 million, a $660,000 increase over the previous year.
  • Teaching American History grants at the Department of Education: $118.9 million, a $1 million increase over the previous year.
  • National Science Foundation educational programs: $845.26 million. These funds support informal learning experiences designed to increase interest and engagement in the understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
  • National Park Service's Historic Preservation Fund: $69.5 million, including $20 million for Save America's Treasures. These funds support the preservation of nationally significant sites, structures, and artifacts.

You can read the complete text of the bill HERE.

House Votes to Protect Historic Battlefields
On March 3, the House passed two bills to protect historic battlefields. The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act (H.R. 146), introduced by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), would establish a battlefield acquisition grant program for the acquisition and protection of nationally significant battlefields and associated sites of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 548), introduced by Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), would assist citizens, public and private institutions, and governments at all levels in planning, interpreting and protecting sites where historic battles were fought on American soil during the armed conflicts that shaped the growth and development of the United States. Both bills passed the House by an overwhelming margin.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Institute for Conservation Leadership: Hard Times Toolkit

The Environmental Support Center and The Institute for Conservation Leadership created this publication, which provides best practices and tools for managers of environmental and conservation nonprofits in our challenging economic times. Learn how to track your finances, recognize danger signals, assess your options, and, make tough decisions fairly with the best interests of the organization in mind. Downloads are free here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

National Endowment for the Arts Allocation

The following is a message from the New York State Council on the Arts:

As you may know, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama on February 17th, 2009. The Recovery Act includes a $50 million allocation for the National Endowment for the Arts, 40% of which will be awarded to state arts agencies for projects that focus on the preservation of jobs in the arts. The NEA has announced that funded projects must address two areas: salary support and contractual fees.

It is projected that NYSCA will receive approximately $400,000. NYSCA is working diligently to develop a fair and transparent process for the distribution of any funds received as a result of the Recovery Act. NYSCA’s proposal for further redistribution of federal stimulus funds must first be approved by the NEA and NYSCA will be sharing additional information about this process as it becomes available.

If you would like to know more about the Recovery Act and how it impacts the arts, the NEA has set up a useful portal on their website which provides links to the Recovery Act text as well as information about applying directly to the NEA for grants. Click here or visit to learn more.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Grantmakers Describe the Impact of the Economic Crisis on Their Giving

The Foundation Center has made an examination of plans for foundation and corporate support in response to the current economic crisis. It is part of an ongoing Foundation Center research series intended to shed light on the impact of the economic downturn on the nonprofit sector. Read more about grantmakers describing the impact of the economic crisis on their giving. Specific information is provided, called In Their Own Words: 2009 Foundation Giving Forecast, which shows giving plans for a number of major foundations.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Online Learning Center Offers Fundraising Resources

Looking for fundraising information and assistance? Check our For Impact, a partner of the New York Council of Nonprofits (formerly CCSNYS), and their Online Learning Center. Their resource offers a mix of documents, mp3s, and videos. You can use this information to train, supplement, or change your approach to fundraising.

Want to hear more about For Impact? Come to Money for Mission V: New Perspectives on Raising Money, Visibility & our Voice! set for June 23rd at The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center in Albany, NY. Click here for info on the conference speakers like For Impact and more.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Summit attendees see economic crisis as opportunity for volunteerism

The current economic crisis is an opportunity for volunteers from all sectors of the American public to work together to help their neighbors in need and even plant the seed for a national movement. That was the view of participants at "A Nation of Neighbors Helping Neighbors: A Summit on Volunteerism as a Response to the Economic Crisis" sponsored Feb. 27 in New York by the Knights of Columbus and Fairfield University. Read more here.

With the value of volunteer time at $19.51 per hour (according to the Independent Sector), could this be an option for nonprofits to look more closely at? Is your nonprofit recruiting more volunteers? Share your thoughts.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Arts Input About Cultural Blueprints Available

Miss the New York State Council on the Arts Cultural Blueprints session held last fall? Visit their blog and learn about this statewide series of public forums initiated by the New York State Council on the Arts to identify regional and statewide strategies and opportunities for the arts to serve as a catalyst for cultural, economic and community development. A session was held in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and the notes outline the discussions that took place. Participants explored five themes: Infrastructure, Intellectual Capital and Workforce Development, International and Global Thinking, Investment and Financial Models, and Image and Identity. Explore the key themes of these breakout sessions as well as some of the potential action steps proposed by participants.