Sunday, December 26, 2010

Many nonprofits see year-end gains

Crain's NY Business reported that more than half of 181 nonprofits surveyed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy said they've raised more this November and December than the same time a year ago.

Although they aren’t raising as much money as they did before the recession, many nonprofits report that donations are up from last year. More than half, 53%, of 181 nonprofits surveyed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy say they have raised more so far this November and December than the same time a year ago. One in five said their donations had jumped by at least 20%.

The NYC Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association raised $1.1 million for its Memory Walk this year, up 7% from the previous year. And revenue from its Forget-Me-Not gala jumped 17%.

UJA-Federation of New York’s Wall Street & Financial Services Division raised a whopping $19.5 million at its gala dinner earlier this month, more than it has in the last three years and close to the event’s record of $21 million from before the financial crisis.

And Gods Love We Deliver, which like many charities raises more than 25% of its annual revenue in December, has seen the size of its average direct-mail gift increase to $57 this holiday season, from $51 last year.

“We’re very encouraged by the early results,” said David Ludwigson, chief development officer for Gods Love. “We were more targeted in our mailing so we mailed 20% fewer pieces, but we’ve gotten more gifts in.”

Not everyone is enjoying the holiday cheer however, and in some cases it’s lacking for those who need it most.

City Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to the homebound elderly, is down $132,000, or 5%, so far in its direct-mail campaign. That loss translates into about 20,000 fewer meals that the charity can serve.

“This is the first year in my 29-year history here that this has happened,” said Marcia Stein, executive director of City Meals.

Ms. Stein said she doesn’t have a reason for the decline, but that perhaps people have donor fatigue.

“In the depth of the recession, I was astounded by how many people gave us eye-popping amounts,” she said. “It could be that people are now spending their money on personal purchases that they had delayed, and less on helping those who are more needy."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dyson Foundation buys Children's Museum building for $1.4 million

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum sold its North Water Street property to the Dyson Foundation for $1.4 million and has entered into a long-term lease that enables the family-centered nonprofit to maintain its base of operations at the waterfront location.

Leaders from the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum and the Dyson Foundation described the transaction as an innovative partnership that will benefit the Children’s Museum while helping to secure the stability of the Poughkeepsie waterfront, which is facing increased development pressures following the success of the Walkway Over the Hudson and new projects slated for the area. All proceeds from the sale went to retire the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum’s entire mortgage debt on the property.

“We believe this partnership is in the best interests of the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, our many members, and the nearly 60,000 children and parents that are enlightened by our work each year,” said Tracy Cass MacKenzie, President of the Museum’s Board of Directors. “We anticipate continuing operations at the 75 North Water Street property for a long time.”

Monday, December 20, 2010

How Will the New Tax Law Affect Your Nonprofit, Your Employees, and the People You Serve?

Yesterday Congress passed the $857 billion tax package negotiated by President Obama and congressional Republicans. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation today.

The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act (H.R. 4853) has numerous components of interest and concern to nonprofits – as employers and as mission-based organizations involved in local communities. This list presents portions of interest to most nonprofits, nonprofit employees, and the people they serve:
  • Tax Rates Maintained: All of the individual tax rates put in effect in 2001 and 2003 are maintained through 2012, including those for upper-income tax brackets. Most immediately, this means that nonprofit and other employers will not have to adjust employee withholdings for income taxes.
  • Individual Payroll Taxes Reduced: Employees receive a two percent reduction in the Social Security tax they pay. For 2011, nonprofit and other employers will need to reduce the individual's share of payroll withholding from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent. To illustrate what this change means, an individual earning $50,000 will see $1,000 in tax savings.
  • Estate Tax: The bill restores and reduces the federal estate tax at a rate of 35 percent and increases the exemption level to $5 million, two changes that many fear will eliminate previous incentives for the wealthy to give.
  • Charitable Giving Incentives: The IRA rollover and other expired charitable giving incentives (promoting donations of food, land, computers, and books) are restored for the remainder of 2010 and through the end of 2011, which should help promote giving.
  • Unemployment Benefits: The legislation extends the enhanced program of 99-weeks of unemployment benefits through 2011. This allowance may prevent additional strain that would have hit many nonprofits that provide services to those with no income.
  • Alternative Minimum Tax: Middle-income taxpayers will not be subject to the alternative minimum tax in 2010 and 2011 because the bill renews a "patch" that limits the application of the AMT to approximately four million upper-income individuals. Without this patch, many taxpayers would have seen an automatic increase in their tax rates.
The following link will take readers to a 12-page summary that provides greater detail about the bill, including provisions that might be of interest to particular nonprofits (e.g., those providing child care, adoption assistance, certain education): Summary of the Reid-McConnell Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.
Also, the IRS just released instructions to help employers implement the 2011 cut in payroll taxes, along with new income-tax withholding tables that employers will use during 2011. See Notice 1036.
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How to Change the World…

…Whatever the size of your wallet. These ideas, with budgets from $20 to $20,000, can help better the lives of others—and your own.

Got any plans for next week? Perhaps you could begin changing the world.

Yes, household budgets remain tight. But you don't have to be a lottery winner to make a difference in your community or halfway around the globe. People who are winding down first or primary careers and looking for new directions are discovering that for the cost of a weekend getaway, they can help change the world. Or start to.

Bob and Jo Link, for instance, retirees in Portland, Ore., serve on a nonprofit board that awards scholarships in Belize. Mr. Link, age 69, also troubleshoots computer problems for African refugees. This after the couple spent two years in the Peace Corps, helped with Hurricane Katrina cleanup, assembled computers for schools in Guatemala and worked with deaf orphans in Peru.

The cost to them? A few plane tickets, some scholarship donations and sweat equity.

"When you do this kind of stuff, you get back more than you really expect," Mr. Link says. "A lot of people wouldn't, or couldn't, put two years into the Peace Corps, but they could afford to spend a week in Peru."

We decided to look for ways that people, whatever the size of their savings, can change the lives of others—and their own. So go ahead: Pick one of the following budgets and write it on your calendar: "CTW."

$100 and Under

SERVICE PROGRAMS: In some cases, you actually can get paid while you're helping to make a difference.

The Links, for instance, earned $300 apiece each month in the Peace Corps, where about 7% of the organization's volunteers last year were age 50-plus. Closer to home, AmeriCorps, one of the largest national-service programs, is aiming for 10% of its 85,000 participants to be at least 55 years old—up from 4% in fiscal 2009.

AmeriCorps volunteers receive federal stipends averaging $11,800 for a commitment of 10 months to a year. They can also receive education grants of as much as $5,350, which, starting this year, they can transfer to their grandchildren, says Patrick Corvington, chief executive of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency that runs AmeriCorps. Work varies from part-time service in a volunteer's own community to full-time opportunities across the country. Options include helping to rebuild communities on the Gulf Coast and installing solar-electric systems in low-income California neighborhoods.

BECOME A LENDER: For what you spend today on lunch, "microfinance" allows you to play a big role in jump-starting modest entrepreneurial undertakings around the world—whether it's boosting inventory at a produce stand in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, or providing additional nets to fishermen in Cambodia.

f you're interested in lending to an individual entrepreneur overseas, lets you choose the borrower on its website. If the loans are paid back, you can fund another loan, donate the proceeds to Kiva or get your money back., where you can pick a classroom project to fund with as little as $1, sifts proposals by cost, school poverty level and subject. Requests might include $140 for dry-erase markers or $2,000 for camcorders and laptops for budding filmmakers.

Heifer International, through which $20 buys a flock of chickens or $5,000 delivers an "ark" of animals to a family or village in Asia or Africa, finds that many people age 50-plus seek out the cause around holidays. Then, as they learn more about it, many wind up joining study tours to the communities raising the animals, coordinating fund-raising efforts in the U.S., or working at several Heifer learning centers, says Steve Stirling, executive vice president for marketing in Little Rock, Ark.

$300 to $4,000

GIVING CIRCLES: One way to get more bang for your charity buck is to join a so-called giving circle, a group with a common interest that pools its resources and collectively decides where to put its combined money to work.

In the 1960s, Sally Bookman studied social anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Now she leads a Dining for Women chapter with two dozen women, many of them retirees, attending monthly dinners in Santa Cruz, Calif. At each meeting, they eat a potluck dinner and chip in about $30 each to support women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

The national Dining for Women group, based in Greenville, S.C., picks the cause du jour and sends educational materials to local chapters. But the members' life experience gives the gatherings their flavor, says Ms. Bookman, 67. "At one meeting we were learning about women in a remote village in the jungle in Peru, and one of our members had been to that village for three days with her husband," she says.

If you join a giving circle, you can choose simply to write checks, or take a more active role researching where the circle's money might have the most impact.

"VOLUNTOURISM": Trips on which people do volunteer work, typically overseas, have exploded in number and type in recent years.

How do you choose among the estimated 10,000 trips out there? Ask how the work you do will fit into the overall scope of the on-the-ground project, says Alexia Nestora, founder of, an industry blog. If you're working with children, ask how what you do will build on what the previous volunteer did. (You don't want to be the 20th volunteer to teach them to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" in English, for example.) Also make sure the operator provides emergency medical insurance and has an employee living in the country who speaks English in case of political upheaval or a natural disaster.

Mark Sanger, a 58-year-old retired transportation engineer in La Grande, Ore., has taken several weeklong trips with Globe Aware, a Dallas nonprofit that coordinates volunteer travel work. In a tiny Costa Rican village, his crew slept in A-frame cabins and helped villagers build housing in hopes of drawing national-park tourists and generating additional income. He also spent time eating meals in local families' homes, where you could "see how they interact with their kids, what pictures they have on their walls." He enjoyed his next trip even more, teaching English to children in Cambodia.

"It was like a whole other world opened up to me," he says. "There's a sense of adventure…without your life in danger every day. It's a nice balance of doing something interesting, exciting, different and incredibly rewarding."

Your room, board and airfare in some cases are tax-deductible if you travel with a nonprofit. Vincent Mirrione, 69, of Newman, Calif., has taken seven trips with Cross-Cultural Solutions, a nonprofit operator in New Rochelle, N.Y., for six to eight weeks at a time. His work at a Guatemala soup kitchen and orphanage, Russian senior centers and a project that Mother Teresa started in India have wound up costing about $300 a week after the tax break, he says.

BACK TO SCHOOL: Retraining, as a classroom teacher, for instance, can jump-start a second career as well as benefit others.

"Green," of course, is hot. Clover Park Technical College, Lakewood, Wash., offers a number of environmental-sustainability programs, which include classroom study and hands-on field work. The programs last 12 weeks to two years, depending on an individual's goals.

Pam Kirchhofer, 49, enrolled there in a 15-month sustainable-building program after she was laid off as a personal-finance counselor. The attraction: "You're helping people save money by conserving energy and resources, and…you're being a good steward of the Earth," she says. The tough part: "I haven't had a math class in 28 years, and we just did an energy audit of this woman's house using algebraic equations."

$5,000 to $10,000

JOIN A BOARD: A director on a board? You? Why not?

"Almost half of all nonprofit board seats never get filled. Nonprofits would love to have more qualified candidates, but they don't know how to tap into really talented people in the community," says David Simms, a partner with Bridgespan Group in Boston, which advises nonprofits. (One new resource for a board-seat search: The websites where nonprofits place want-ads for volunteers also are starting to post vacant board seats.)

Bonnie R. Harrison, 61, a retired Corning Inc. executive, became involved with Southern Tier Hospice in Corning, N.Y., after serving as her father's caregiver while he was also receiving hospice services. To join the board, Ms. Harrison asked her father's hospice nurse to write a recommendation. Shortly after Ms. Harrison retired last year, the hospice board's chairwoman stepped down, and Ms. Harrison was asked to take her place.

"The challenge of working along with the board, the staff and different organizations has been a great help in making the transition away from a high-pressured job," she says.

BECOME A BENEFACTOR: So, you like the idea of having a charitable vehicle to help others, but you aren't Bill Gates. Consider a donor-advised fund, a good tool for people who want to give away amounts starting at about $5,000 a year.

Such funds can be set up through big financial-service companies, like Fidelity Investments, as well as university, religious and community foundations. The fund will invest your assets and make grants based on your guidance. Typically, you become eligible for an immediate tax deduction.

"It might be a little more than you can handle doing on your own, yet you don't want to set up the superstructure of a foundation," says John Gomperts, the recently named director of AmeriCorps. "You might go to a community foundation and say, 'I want to give this money away, and I care about the humane care of animals, so please give me some suggestions and administer this for me.' "

$20,000 and Up

START A NONPROFIT: You have a cause you're passionate about, and nobody seems to be tackling it. So you dream of starting a nonprofit to that end. Expect to spend at least $10,000 to $20,000 on start-up costs, including the legal expenses involved in creating an organization and asking the government to grant you a tax exemption, called 501(c)3 status.

First question: Are you sure there are no similar efforts? The U.S. has about 1.5 million nonprofits, and "many of them are doing phenomenal work," says Mr. Simms in Boston.

If your idea truly is unique, try to find a community foundation to "incubate your effort so that you can worry about the service you want to provide" instead of setting up the business end, says Christopher Stone, faculty director of the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

Elaine Santore is the 59-year-old co-founder of Umbrella of the Capital District, a Schenectady, N.Y., organization that helps older adults, in part by matching them with retirees-turned-handymen. She and her partner jump-started the program before receiving their not-for-profit status. "I would clean houses if need be, and he would mow yards," she says. "It's good to be hands-on at first so you know what it's like."

ENDOW A SCHOLARSHIP: What if you win the lottery, or your stock options go through the roof? The sky's the limit: You could fund scientists trying to cure cancer, build a new stage for your local symphony, or even start your own university and town, as did Domino's Pizza founder and philanthropist Tom Monaghan.

One of the more popular big-ticket items, though, is creating your own college scholarship. With $1 million, you could set up an endowment that should last for decades, says Becky Sharpe, president of International Scholarship & Tuition Services Inc., Nashville, Tenn., which administers privately and publicly funded scholarships.

Joe Scarlett, retired chairman and chief executive of Tractor Supply Co., Brentwood, Tenn., started a family foundation in 2005 with $2.5 million to provide college scholarships to business students from middle Tennessee, and he hired Ms. Sharpe's company to run the award program.

"We generate way too few business leaders in our country, so we wanted to focus our scholarship money on business," says Mr. Scarlett, 67. The foundation now has a balance of approximately $24 million, thanks to additional gifts from the Scarletts and growth in its value, and is expanding its efforts, supporting students in high schools and even preschools.

Original Article by Kelly Greene from

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SBA, Microsoft create technology guide, online course

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today announced a new technology resource is available for small business owners.

The SBA and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft Corp. have teamed up to create "Business Technology Simplified," a free guidebook that offers tips on how to use technology and innovation to make businesses work more efficiently, the SBA said in a news release.
The guidebook includes material on simplifying work tasks, do-it-yourself marketing, time management, and finding and cultivating customers.

"Business Technology Simplified" is available in a printed format at the SBA Syracuse district office. Computer users can also access the guidebook online at the Microsoft website.
It's also available as a free distance-learning course, according to the SBA.

The course is available at

Winners and losers among NY's top nonprofits

Crain's annual list of the largest nonprofits shows some surprising results.

The recession didn't hurt all nonprofits last year.

The Institute of International Education, a 91-year-old nonprofit that creates international study and training programs, and manages the renowned Fulbright Program for the U.S. government, actually increased its operating budget a whopping 18.4% in fiscal year 2010 to $342.4 million.

Executives at the IIE attributed their success last year to having a wide range of international donors.

“The IIE is fortunate to have a diverse set of program sponsors and donors, including some government and private sector funders outside the United States and in sectors that were less affected by the economy,” said Peggy Blumenthal, chief operating officer of the nonprofit.

In addition, the IIE administers programs for private foundations and corporations that expanded their international training initiatives last year, Ms. Blumenthal said.

The increase bumped the IIE up to third place from fifth on Crain's annual ranking of the 25 largest nonprofits in the New York area, which was released Monday.

[Learn more by downloading the full Crain's list.]

The Top 5 nonprofits on Crain's list also include the United States Fund for UNICEF & Affiliate, the New York Blood Center Inc., the International Rescue Committee Inc., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The IRC, which helps refugees around the world, also grew its operating budget last year to $312.9 million from $287.8 million the previous year. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF slightly cut its budget to $433.8 million from $483.6 million; and the budget for the New York Blood Center remained the same.

The Met suffered more than other institutions during the economic downturn. Because of a drop in donations and losses in its endowment, the museum was forced to cut its operating budget to $289.2 million for fiscal 2010, which ended June 30, from $309.5 million the previous year. The cuts pushed the museum down to fifth place on the list from third the previous year.

Thomas Campbell, the museum's director, said despite the budget cuts, the museum managed to sustain its full exhibition and educational program and keep all of its galleries open.

“While the ongoing financial challenges call for rigor and discipline in expenditures and programmatic priorities, the museum is fundamentally sound,” Mr. Campbell said. “With its outstanding collections, talented staff, and devoted supporters, the Met will weather the economic challenges, just as it has weathered previous challenges in its 139-year existence.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Charitable Nordstrom store slated for NYC

Crain's New York reported that the retailer to donate earnings from its downtown location to charity; mix of merchandise has yet to be determined ahead of fall 2011 opening.

Nordstrom has signed on for a downtown location. The Seattle-based department store has inked a long-term lease for more than 11,100 square feet at 350 W. Broadway, a new building between Grand and Broome streets. The retailer plans to open what it bills as a “unique” concept store at that address in the fall of next year. All earnings at the new store will be donated to nonprofits. Earlier this year, the retailer opened a Rack discount store in Union Square.

“Nordstrom chose 350 W. Broadway as an ideal venue because it is a one-of-a-kind property in a cutting edge, highly trafficked neighborhood that appealed to the company for this new concept,” said Oliver Katcher, senior vice president of landlord RFR Realty, in a statement. Details of the lease, including the duration and asking rent, were not disclosed. However, asking rents for the building were $175 per square foot for the ground floor, and $45 per square foot for the second level, according to brokers.

The name of the new concept store has yet to be determined, but will not contain the name Nordstrom, according to the company.

“It's a unique, philanthropic-based store concept,” said Pamela Lopez, a Nordstrom spokeswoman. “All profits will go to nonprofit organizations.” It is not yet decided if the outpost will feature exclusive merchandise. The West Broadway shop will be the sole national outpost of its kind. Ms. Lopez added that, while Nordstrom would love to have a flagship in New York someday, the company has nothing to announce yet.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Donations To Nonprofits Decline Significantly

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported that donations to the country's 400 biggest charities plunged last year by 11 percent, the worst decline since the Chronicle of Philanthropy started ranking the fundraising organizations two decades ago.

The Chronicle's Philanthropy 400 rankings show six of the top 10 charities reported declines in donations, including the United Way Worldwide and the Salvation Army.

In all, the 400 charities raised about $68.6 billion in 2009, according to the Chronicle. The median amount decreased from $105 million in 2008 to $98.8 million in 2009.

"Food for the Poor (No. 6) saw contributions fall by more than 27 percent, while donations to the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (No. 7) plunged by 40.3 percent, largely because it relies heavily on stock gifts, which were not very popular last year," a report from the Chronicle states.

But some charities enjoyed stronger donations. Catholic Charities USA had a 66 percent increase in donations, and the AmeriCares Foundation saw an 18.1 percent rise in giving, mostly in food, medicine, and other donated goods, according to the Chronicle. Feed the Children and Habitat for Humanity also grew by more than $1 billion.

The Philanthropy 400 list ranks charities that raise the most from private sources, The Chronicle said. Government funds are not counted. Read more here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Foundation Center Offers "Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact"

The Foundation Center, the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, has launched an online database of proven approaches to measuring and analyzing the impact of social investments. As philanthropists and the nonprofit community shift towards more strategic approaches to get a "social return," evaluation activities must also operate at a higher level. TRASI ("Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact") addresses these growing needs by offering tools and methodologies that place a premium on evidence and metrics in tracking progress.

"Measuring the effectiveness of social programs has always been a challenge because it's not just about the numbers. TRASI helps organizations meet that challenge and go beyond simply determining whether projected outcomes were achieved," said Lawrence T. McGill, the Foundation Center's vice president for research. "The organizations that have generously shared their own strategic methods for measuring impact will greatly help others to find a solution that is a good fit for them."

Developed in partnership with McKinsey & Co., the assessment approaches in TRASI were authored by a range of organizations, including social investors, foundations, NGOs, and microfinance institutions. The Better Business Bureau, USAID, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the Center for Effective Philanthropy are among them. The resources in the database range from off-the-shelf tools and concrete methodologies to generalized best practices and are complemented by multimedia features and social networking tools.

Each approach has been carefully indexed against a common set of key elements and presented in a way that makes it easy to compare their relative merits. The key elements include: who the approach applies to, what kind of organization or evaluation the approach is best suited for, and the costs and techniques involved in its implementation. Each approach was thoroughly reviewed by an Expert Review Panel convened by the New York University Stern School of Business.

Online Kick-off Event
The Center is hosting an online event to kick-off the TRASI launch. Beginning at 2:00 pm EDT on Wednesday, September 22, 2010, a live chat with some of the individuals from the Expert Review Panel will be held. Anyone interested in learning more about impact assessment and the TRASI platform is invited to attend by visiting

About the Foundation Center
Established in 1956 and today supported by close to 550 foundations, the Foundation Center is the nation's leading authority on philanthropy, connecting nonprofits and the grantmakers supporting them to tools they can use and information they can trust. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit the Center's web site each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and beyond. For more information, please visit or call (212) 620-4230.

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Eye of the Future Conference in NYC September 28th

For Nonprofit Executives, Board Members, Marketing Managers, Fundraisers & Students

Join us for a unique, one-day educational event for nonprofit professionals on Tuesday, September 28th from 8:30am to 4:30pm at the Down Town Association Club.

An Eye of the Future will feature three panels of corporate and nonprofit experts as they explore cutting-edge strategies in Marketing, Board Leadership and Fundraising to help nonprofits sustain their organizations in today's uncertain economy.

Speakers include:

-Anu Gandhi, Director of Consumer Marketing for American Heart Association's Go Red Campaign, will discuss how to make your nonprofit stand out in a crowd of worthy causes

-Beth Stellato, VP, Goldman Sachs and Manager of the company's partner placement program, will discuss recruiting young professionals

-Rob Carter, Vice Chairman of Changing Our World and a global fundraising strategist, will discuss how to go from predicament to partnership when funding your cause

-Scott Roen, VP of American Express OPEN Forum and Steve Rubel, VP of Digital Insights, Edelman PR, will discuss social media techniques to promote your brand and cause online

-Asif Talukdar, Director of Business Development for GuideStar, will address how to position your nonprofit as a viable organization

And more! To register, email: or call: 866.287.3937

This event is open to ALL nonprofit organizations.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nonprofit Knowledge You Need: Independent Contractors and Consultants

NYCON's national association, The National Council of Nonprofits, offers Nonprofit Knowledge Matters and a look at Contractors and Consultants:

You’ve just hired an independent contractor or consultant to work on a special project. Did you first evaluate whether the worker should be treated as an employee instead? Does it matter?

Yes, it matters because the government makes a distinction between the two classifications of workers (independent contractor/consultant versus employee) and requires nonprofits to treat them differently for payroll and withholding purposes. Also, insurance issues will surface when the consultant is injured and tries to file a claim for workers’ compensation. Is she covered? It depends on whether she is a consultant – or not.

Federal and state governments have regulations that define who is an independent contractor/consultant and who is an employee. If a nonprofit misclassifies a worker, the nonprofit is at significant risk. There are serious penalties and back taxes owed when a nonprofit incorrectly treats someone as an independent contractor/ consultant, when in fact the worker should have been classified and treated as an employee.

Additionally there are risks to misclassifying a worker as an exempt employee, when s/he should be classified as non-exempt. For tips and tools for avoiding misclassifying workers, read more about this topic from the resources available on the National Council’s website.

IRS guidance provides that someone is properly classified as an independent contractor/consultant “when the nonprofit has the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by an independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result.” We hope you feel comfortable with the distinction between independent contractors/consultants and employees. If you are not sure, here are some resources to help you classify workers correctly and avoid associated risks:

Spread the word: Deadline extended to October 15th for nonprofits to file their 990s.
Please join the State Association network of the National Council of Nonprofits, the IRS, and others to spread the word – to small nonprofits in particular – that they need to file with the IRS annually. Most urgently, many small nonprofits will lose their tax-exempt status if they have not filed in the past 3 years and fail to file by October 15th of this year. The IRS has announced a one-time relief program for nonprofits required to file the 990-N or 990-EZ that missed their deadline earlier this year.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Some Pork Projects Survive

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that Gov. David Paterson's veto pen has yet to end spending for legislative earmarks, state records show.

The state in July signed off on $12.5 million in member items for lawmakers' hometown projects — including $438,000 for a senior center in Queens, $100,000 for a group opposed to a major power line in central New York and $7,500 for the Rochester crime stoppers program.

In all, 609 member items were signed off by the state Comptroller's Office in July, a review by the Journal's Albany bureau found. An additional 57 projects totaling nearly $1 million were approved in just the first few days of August.

The spending comes even after Paterson held marathon sessions last month to personally sign 6,709 vetoes of lawmakers' pork-barrel projects approved in last year's budget, a total of about $190 million. But the vetoes haven't shut off the spending spigot quite yet.

State law allows the money from last year's budget to flow until Sept. 15. So nonprofits and local governments, who were banking on the money before Paterson's surprising vetoes, are making a dash for the cash before it's too late.

"We're hearing from groups all over that they are scrambling right now to get all their vouchers in and work completed," said Ron Deutsch, who heads New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, a group that works with non-profits. "Everyone's in scramble mode right now."

The stakes are high from some groups that rely on the member items to fund programs and, in some cases, to stay in business.

Assemblyman Marc Molinaro, R-Red Hook, said he doesn't oppose Paterson's vetoes of the member items, but the governor should have done it last year — before the groups were counting on the money.

"I have a concern about the governor vetoing dollars that have been awarded and, at the very least, were in the process of being contracted," he said.

Some groups said they have been waiting for reimbursements from member items pledged for their projects last year. Read more here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Legislators Get Back Pay! How About You?

The New York Nonprofit Press offered this relevant perspective now that the NYS Budget has been passed:

After finally completing passage of New York State’s FY2010-2011 budget – 125 days late -- New York State legislators have received checks covering back pay averaging $26,500. How about your agency?

According to an article in today’s City Hall, salaries and other monies owed to Assembly Members and State Senators – a total of $7 million – were paid out in full on August 3rd – the day they voted on the final budget bills. Legislators, according to the article, are now catching up on their mortgages and paying off other loans – if not simply dropping the cash into their savings accounts.

By contrast, there are widespread reports that New York State had taken no action to make payments to nonprofit contractors for services provides since April 1st when the new fiscal year began – even when there were existing contracts and, therefore a legal obligation to make payment.

Last week, NYNP reported on several agencies who were already owed as much as $1 million for services provided during this fiscal year. A Division of Budget spokesperson indicated that cash flow problems were standing in the way.

Now that the budget has been passed, when will payments under existing contracts be made to providers? And, how quickly can the state act to process and register new contracts to provide payment for critical services?

Nonprofits have mortgages and loans to pay off too – not to mention the salaries of staff who never stop providing services, budget or no budget.

What’s happening at your agency? Email your comments to

Thursday, July 29, 2010

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: 2010 Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builder's Award

Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)

In recognition of the important role, talents and leadership that a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in New York State can provide as a board member for community-based charities, NYCON and NYSSCPA are pleased to announce the 7th Annual Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builder's Award.

The award is named in honor of the late Michael H. Urbach, CPA, former partner of Urbach, Kahn and Werlin, former NYS Commissioner of Tax and Finance and Chair of the State Employees federated Appeal, and board leader of a number of charities.

Award Criteria & Submission
Candidates must:
  • Be a CPA in good standing and a member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants;
  • Have served as an Officer on at least 3 different charitable 501(c)(3) community-based nonprofits with service as President/Chair at least once;
  • Have demonstrated exemplary board leadership resulting in significant and positive organizational impact including, but not limited to, financial turn-around, growth, and/or organizational re-structuring; and
  • Preference will be given to nominees whose board leadership accomplishments have been with community-based charities.

Deadline - August 30th, 2010
Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be submitted in writing and received by August 30th, 2010. Nominators are strongly encouraged to include letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership.

Send six (6) packets of nomination materials to:
Urbach Community Builder's Award Committee
New York Council of Nonprofits
272 Broadway
Albany NY 12204

Announcement & Presentation
The 2010 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of September 30th at Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz, New York.

The Luncheon will take place during CAMP FINANCE, a two-day retreat that provides the very best in knowledge and skill development sessions for fiscal and management staff, as well as board members. New this year, it has expanded to include the popular "Money for Mission" tracks that will focus on fundraising, marketing, social media, grant making (both government and philanthropic) and more!

In honor of the late Harold Mandel, a certified public accountant who worked for Urbach, Kahn & Werlin in Albany, NY and retired in West Palm Beach, FL, the 2010 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award three (3) nonprofit executives of their choice Camp Finance scholarships in Hal's name. In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builder's Award in his tribute.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Security and Risk Management Training for Cultural Organizations

Theft of historical documents plagues records repositories. With careful planning, awareness of warning signs and proactive security solutions, organizations can reduce the window of opportunity for historical record theft. Archival security expert Mimi Bowling will provide an interactive curriculum on archival security, preparing participants to take immediate action to strengthen their local security programs. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion. There is no cost.

Topics include risk awareness; insider theft; facility design and security technology; security of information systems; working with vendors and contractors; research room management and design; developing institutional security policies; procedures and post-theft response; additional topics as requested by participants.

Representatives of NY¹s historical records community, including archives, governments, libraries, museums, historical societies, schools and non-profits will be given first priority. Additional seats are available for security personnel and law enforcement representatives working with these organizations. Out-of-state representatives and others interested in the
topic are also encouraged to register.

September 13, 2010 (Monday)
Ontario County Safety Training Center
Canandaigua, Ontario, NY

September 14, 2010 (Tuesday)
Erie 1 BOCES
West Seneca, Erie, NY

October 4, 2010 (Monday)
Utica Public Library
Utica, Oneida, NY

October 5, 2010 (Tuesday)
Roberson Museum and Science Center
Binghamton, Broome, NY

March 7, 2011 (Monday)
Historic Huguenot Street
New Paltz, Ulster, NY

April 11, 2011 (Monday)
Crandall Public Library
Glens Falls, Warren, NY

April 18, 2011 (Monday)
Town of Massena
Massena, St. Lawrence, NY

Metro NYC Region and
Long Island Region
Spring 2011

To register, please email or call 518-473-0130. Early registration is encouraged and appreciated; only 25 seats available.

Workshop have been made possible by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the New York State Historical Records Advisory Board, and the New York State Archives.

Brittany Turner
Project Assistant
"Lessons from a Theft: Bringing Security Tools and Knowledge to New York's
Historical Records Community"

NYS Archives
CEC, Room 9D58
Albany, NY 12230
(PH) 518-473-0130\
(FX) 518-486-1647

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nonprofit Salaries Draw Scrutiny from States and Federal Government

The NY Times reported that State and federal officials are starting to take their knives to the pay of leaders of nonprofit groups they do business with to help share the pain of tighter budgets.

A provision in New Jersey’s recently passed budget, for example, includes a limit on what nonprofit groups can pay their chief executives if they are providing social services under state contracts. The cap, based on a formula that also applies to for-profits providing such services on behalf of the state, is part of a broader effort by Gov. Chris Christie to rein in salaries on state workers.

In New Hampshire, Attorney General Michael A. Delaney is investigating compensation among nonprofit hospital executives. And Vermont legislators are trying various ways of curbing salaries paid by nonprofit groups that have contracts with the state.

On Capitol Hill, four senators this spring refused to approve a $425 million package of federal grants for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America after staff members looked at the organization’s tax forms as part of a routine vetting process and were surprised to learn that the organization paid its chief executive almost $1 million in 2008 — $510,774 in salary and bonus and $477,817 in retirement and other benefits.

“A nearly $1 million salary and benefit package for a nonprofit executive is not only questionable on its face but also raises questions about how the organization manages its finances in other areas,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma.

Another senator, Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, has told Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner that he is concerned that the Internal Revenue Service is not tough enough in policing pay in the nonprofit sector and that regulations governing compensation are too weak.

“I’ve asked him to review these regulations to see how they can be made effective,” Mr. Grassley said. “What’s there now doesn’t seem to be working.”

Mr. Grassley, who has used his seat on the Finance Committee to scrutinize a wide variety of nonprofit practices, noted that pay had been a “major issue” in his reviews over the last several years of universities, charitable hospitals and the Smithsonian Institution.

Compensation has long been a point of controversy among donors to nonprofits. By far the biggest category of complaints posted on the Web site of Charity Navigator, which offers research and analysis of nonprofit groups, involves complaints about pay. Read more here, especially for the other perspective offered by some nonprofit EDs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Abilities First to cut outpatient rehab services

Abilities First to cut outpatient rehab services
Sarah Bradshaw
Poughkeepsie Journal

A Poughkeepsie nonprofit that provides rehabilitation therapy for people with disabilities is cutting outpatient services next month due to a lack of government aid.

Abilities First Inc.'s Medical Rehabilitation Clinic is a New York state-approved diagnostic and treatment center, however the clinic will surrender its state Department of Health operating certificate as a designated Article 28 facility come Aug. 30.

In essence, Abilities First is giving up the certification that allows it to receive Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements from the state at a special rate. The clinic's about 150 outpatients served in 2009 could be referred to other facilities for their occupational, physical and speech therapy needs, as well as wheelchair assessment and custom-fitted brace services...


Friday, July 16, 2010

The Clark Foundation and Nonprofit Finance Fund Establish $6 Million Working Capital Loan Fund for Nonprofits

The Clark Foundation has allocated $2 million from its endowment to the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) to establish a working capital loan fund for its grantee partners. The Foundation has partnered with NFF, through a program-related investment (PRI), to establish this new working capital loan fund. NFF will make an additional $4 million available to Clark grantees and will administer the loans to qualified grantees.

This program-related investment is notable because it comes from the Foundation's endowment, not funds traditionally reserved for grantmaking. As the nonprofit sector continues to struggle amid economic uncertainty, leveraging foundations' dollars from their endowments could substantively increase the availability and impact of philanthropic dollars.

According to Jane Forbes Clark, President of The Clark Foundation, "The Directors of the Foundation wanted to respond to an issue that is seriously affecting nonprofits during these uncertain economic times." Doug Bauer, Executive Director of the Foundation, explained that there is an increased need for working capital due to the long gaps between when a nonprofit provider delivers services and when it gets reimbursed, mostly from government contracts. "The creation of this working capital loan fund can help alleviate the operational strain that many of our grantees are facing. They are attempting to meet an increased demand for their services while watching cash flow slow to a trickle due to delayed payments. Providing a loan from our endowment makes sense, as it allows us to make an immediate positive impact on our grantees while preserving our core assets for continued philanthropic use," Mr. Bauer said.

The Clark Foundation will realize a modest return on its investment into the loan fund that is similar to other conservative investment strategies, all while providing new access to needed capital for grantees delivering vital services to many communities in New York City.

"Nonprofits operate on razor-thin margins, and even strong organizations struggle to access the working capital necessary to grow and thrive," said Clara Miller, President and CEO of NFF. "Cracking the corpus represents a sea change in terms of how philanthropy functions to support social impact, and holds tremendous promise as we increasingly look to the nonprofit sector to meet critical and ongoing community needs."

NFF will begin making loans to The Clark Foundation's grantees during summer 2010.

About The Clark Foundation
The Clark Foundation supports nonprofit organizations that help people out of poverty and lead independent lives in New York City. The Foundation also supports an array of educational, medical and cultural programs and organizations in and around Cooperstown, NY. Founded in 1931, it now ranks among the largest foundations in terms of assets and grants awarded in New York State and the country.

About Nonprofit Finance Fund
A national leader in social sector finance, Nonprofit Finance Fund connects money to mission success through consulting, innovation, and direct investment. Founded in 1980, NFF ( provides services that build the capacity and durability of nonprofits. A leading community development financial institution with over $80 million in assets, NFF has provided over $200 million in loans and access to additional financing via grants, tax credits and capital in support of over $1 billion in projects for nonprofit clients nationwide. NFF has a staff of more than 75 serving nonprofits nationally from offices in New York City, Philadelphia, Newark, Boston, Detroit, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Advocacy Call for Charitable Deduction Issue

NYCON has added it's voice to those of other nonprofit leaders taking a stand against the proposed change to charitable deductions for high income individuals in New York State.

The proposal would result in a 50% decrease in the deductibility of charitable gifts from higher income donors. Already, earners of $1 million or more can only claim 50% of their contribution as a deduction. This proposal would allow donors earning $10 million or more to claim just 25% of their contribution. NYCON is also concerned that this may potentially be the start of eroding charitable deductions in general.

We are urging our members to learn more about this proposal by reading the following articles by the New York Nonprofit Press, The Daily News, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Then, please join us in adding your voice to the memo of opposition by contacting us via email or calling Doug Sauer, CEO at (800) 515-5012 ext. 103.

Contact NYCON and sign onto the Memo of Opposition.
Contact your Senator. Click here for a searchable database of representatives.

Monday, July 5, 2010

City’s Adopted Budget Cuts $60 Million from Human Services

The NY Nonprofit Press reported that City’s Adopted Budget Cuts $60 Million from Human Services

It is an indication of how bad things are that there appears to be a sense of relief that New York City’s adopted budget for FY2010-2011 features only $60 million or so in cuts to human services. Depending upon who is doing the counting, human services providers had been on the block for as much as $200 million in potential cuts as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s Executive Budget. That feeling of relief is wearing off quickly, however, as providers and advocates begin to take stock of what this budget means for programs and funding streams which have been cut substantially – or in certain cases eliminated entirely.

“While we faced nearly $150 million in cuts to human services, we appreciate that the City Council and Mayor have come together to make some crucial restorations to core services,” says Susan Stamler, Director of Policy and Advocacy for United Neighborhood Houses (UNH). “Unfortunately we will still see over $50 million cut from child care, after school, senior services, adult literacy and mental health services. New Yorkers will feel pain from this budget. The City as well as the State and Federal governments must do more to meet the needs of our communities.”

“The capacity of the not-for-profit human services sector is being really hard hit with multiple rounds of budget cuts at a time when demand for services from the hundreds of thousands of jobless New Yorkers continues to rise,” said Bich Ha Pham, Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA). “Many organizations are forced to lay off staff and close entire programs because of the significant reduction of their government contracts.”

The magnitude of funding loss can be seen in a review of budget priorities based on the advocacy of the Human Services Council (HSC) and UNH. These umbrella organizations had requested funding restoration of budget cuts totaling $164 million across a range of human service sectors. Budget negotiations between the Mayor and City Council ultimately restored $103 million, leaving a gaping hole of $60 million, 37% of the restoration advocates had been seeking.

And, this represents only the sector’s top budget priorities – not an all encompassing catalogue of human service budget cuts which would likely raise the total funding loss substantially.

The severity of budget cuts and the relative extent of funding restorations varied markedly by service sector and from one program to another. Here is a brief overview, along with some reactions from providers and advocates.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Thoughts about board resignation

Board Cafe • By Jan Masaoka • June 18, 2010
At some point you may resign from a nonprofit board before your term is up. You might be angry, disappointed, or just too busy. Don't botch your resignation: do it right.

Most often as board members we stick out our term limits and leave the board feeling good about what we''ve contributed. But there are also times when you resign before your term is up. Maybe you've missed a lot of meetings or maybe you're moving to another city. Maybe you're uneasy with the direction the organization is taking, or maybe you feel that as a board member you are treated like a "mushroom": kept in the dark and fed manure (!).

Regardless of your reason, you can just walk away quietly, or make a weak excuse, or you can use the moment to give meaning to your resignation, both to you and to the board.

Following are some ways to make significance out of your resignation: Read more here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

NY ranks last in volunteering

The Albany Business Review reported that New Yorkers are not very beneficent when it comes to giving their time. Not at all.

In fact, the Empire State ranks 51st out of 50 states and Washington D.C. when it comes to volunteering, according to the annual Volunteering in America report.

Nationally, however, about 1.6 million more volunteers served in 2009 than in 2008, making this the largest single-year increase in the number of volunteers since 2003, when data was first collected for the study. The report is produced by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a government-sponsored nonprofit. Higher unemployment rates also increase volunteerism.

Nationwide, a total of 63.4 million volunteers contributed 8.1 billion hours of service in 2009, an estimated dollar value $169 billion. Overall, the volunteering rate increased in 2009 to 26.8 percent, up from 26.4 percent in 2008.

Volunteering data used in the annual report is gathered through the Current Population Survey, conducted monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Volunteers are defined as individuals ages 16 and over who perform unpaid activities for or through an organization.

The study showed that 2.9 million, or 19 percent, of New York residents volunteered in 2007-2009, compared with the national average of 26.8 percent. The Capital Region fared better, but still placed in the lower half of the rankings. It ranked 44th out of the 75 mid-sized cities that were studied for the report, with 27.1 percent, or 200,000, of its residents volunteering.

Compared with other mid-sized cities in New York, the Capital Region placed behind Binghamton, ranked 30th, and Poughkeepsie, ranked 41st, and ahead of 71st-ranked Syracuse. Nationally, Provo, Utah, ranked first among mid-sized cities and El Paso, Texas, was last. Utah was the top state for volunteerism.

Volunteers in New York contributed 405.5 million hours, or $8.5 billion worth in service from 2007-2009.

Read more: New York dead-last in volunteerism - The Business Review (Albany)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nonprofits struggle without payments due to late state budget

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that nonprofits that contract with the state are not getting paid because of the late budget, which is forcing some groups to consider suspending services temporarily or closing altogether, according to a new report from the state comptroller.

Aside from the late budget, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that the state's track record of approving contracts on time has worsened. They were approved late 82 percent of the time in 2009, compared to 63 percent of the time the previous year.

The mid-Hudson region, which includes Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, Rockland and Westchester counties, had 591 late contracts in 2009 — the third largest number in the state. Only the New York City and Albany regions has had more late state contracts.

In Dutchess County, 68 state contracts were late in 2009, ranging from five days to 905 days late. In Ulster County, 53 contracts were late in 2009, according to the state Comptroller's Office.

Contracts worth $50,000 or more were approved late nearly 93 percent of the time, DiNapoli's report said. Of 6,318 such contracts, state agencies approved 5,844 of them an average of 152 days late in 2009. Their total value was $4.2 billion.

State agencies paid about $176,000 in interest to nonprofits for delays in processing contracts, an increase of 18 percent over 2008, DiNapoli's report found.

"The budget crisis is causing a financial crisis for not-for-profits. It's a double shot of trouble," DiNapoli said in a statement. "Contracts for services are being held up and organizations can't get reimbursed for services they have already provided. It's wrong to expect organizations that operate on shoe-string budgets to float the state." Read more here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

NYCON CEO speaks at Forum on Strategic Alliances & Partnerships

The blog, Done by People, by Joe Brown, Principal and Founder of Slope Resources, LLC, offered the following recap of the "A Conversation with NYS Comptroller Thomas P. Di Napoli and Panel Discussion on Strategic Alliances & Partnerships."

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend a highly informative and engaging forum which brought together government and nonprofit representatives to discuss the topic of strategic alliances and partnerships among nonprofit organizations. While the discussion focused on New York State’s nonprofit sector, the challenges, considerations, and ideas discussed are applicable to organizations nationwide. In the absence of a video or audio recording of the session, I wanted to share this detailed recap and my impressions of the session.

The event was sponsored by the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and held at the headquarters of New York State United Teachers (very nice digs, by the way) in Latham, New York, a few miles northeast of Albany.

Karen Bilowith, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, presided over the session. The approximately 75 attendees included representatives of various nonprofits, including arts, cultural, health, and human services organizations, as well as a number of funders and consultants (including yours truly). Following Ms. Bilowith’s welcoming comments, New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez provided brief opening remarks. Ms. Cortés-Vázquez assured the attendees that “most in government” recognize the importance of the nonprofit sector and rules and regulations pertaining to the sector should not be so onerous as to provide disincentives for staff, board members, and volunteers to participate.

I’m from the government, and…
Ms. Cortés-Vázquez then introduced the session’s keynote speaker, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. The Office of the State Comptroller has responsibility for the review, approval, and payment of the state’s contracts with nonprofit organizations. Mr. DiNapoli noted the importance of the nonprofit sector to the state and its economy, citing 2006 statistics that the state’s approximately 24,000 nonprofits reported revenue of $133 billion and employed nearly 1.2 million people, or 17% of the state’s workforce. He quantified the state’s contractual bonds with the sector as consisting of nearly 31,000 active contracts totaling $14.6 billion, as of June 2009. Read more here.

The balance of the session was devoted to presentations and discussion by a panel consisting of:
■Doug Sauer, who has served as Chief Executive Officer of New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) since 1980. NYCON’s membership represents approximately 1,600 charitable nonprofit organizations across New York State.
■Cristine Cioffi, who is a partner in the law firm of Cioffi • Slezak • Wildgrube P.C., but spoke primarily in her role as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Ellis Medicine, an organization which resulted from the recent merger of three nonprofit hospitals in Schenectady County.
■David W. Palmquist, who as Manager of the New York State Museum’s Chartering Program, oversees the chartering of museums, historical societies, and similar cultural organizations with educational purposes across the state.
The panelists responded to questions posed by Ms. Bilowith, as well as several questions from audience members.

Doug Sauer
While all three of the panelists presented interesting perspectives on the potential of various collaborative models for nonprofit organizations, I was particularly impressed by Mr. Sauer’s insight and candor on a number of fronts. Early in his presentation, he discussed the recent proliferation of nonprofits, describing the creation of thousands of new organizations each year, many of which are not active, and the resultant saturated environment. (I was reminded of a recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which noted that the number of nonprofit organizations nationwide has increased by 90% to 1.2 million since 1996). Read more here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

NYCON Featured on NPR's All Things Considered

NPR story, Amid Red Ink, Tax-Exempts Asked To Add To Coffers, features NYCON CEO Doug Sauer.

State and local governments, eager to close their budget gaps, are increasingly going after charities and other tax-exempt groups. Government officials are proposing new fees on nonprofits to help pay for services. They're also challenging the exemptions these groups get from sales and property taxes.

In Concord, Mass., for example, the Board of Selectmen sent a letter to the town's nonprofits earlier this year. It said that local property taxes were so high they were driving residents away. The board asked the town's private schools, hospitals, charities and churches if they could start paying their fair share.

"I guess we're just hoping that in times where people are economically really stretched, that to the extent that they're able, they can contribute," says board member Virginia McIntyre.

But the initial response was not what the board had hoped. One arts group offered to contribute $1,000 to the town, but most of the nonprofits responded — politely — that they contributed to Concord in many nonmonetary ways.

'A Slippery Slope'

Kathi Anderson is executive director of the Walden Woods Project in Concord. It preserves property including Walden Pond, made famous by Henry David Thoreau — who, she notes, went to jail rather than pay a tax he opposed.

"The land that is now protected is a wonderful resource, not only for people who live in the community, but for people who visit the community," Anderson says.

She says she feels the town's pain but that her group is hurting financially, too. She says it would be hard-pressed to come up with the $89,000 Concord says the Walden Woods Project would owe if it weren't tax-exempt. Even a "donation" to the town would send the wrong message, Anderson says.

"This is a slippery slope because if indeed a donation is made, then it implies that one supports the notion of having charities essentially pay taxes," Anderson says.

And that would fly in the face of the long-time relationship between government and charity — the idea that nonprofits fill a valuable community role and should be exempt from tax.

But increasingly that relationship is being challenged. Boston wants its universities, hospitals and nonprofits to pay 25 percent of what they'd owe if they weren't tax-exempt. Philadelphia is talking to its universities about similar payments. Kansas and Hawaii considered repealing tax exemptions for nonprofits as part of their budget debates. And Minneapolis has imposed a "streetlight fee" on nonprofits to help pay for electricity and bulbs.

Tim Delaney, president of the National Council of Nonprofits, says these moves couldn't come at a worse time.

"Corporate donations are down significantly. Individual giving is down. Foundation giving is down substantially," even though demand for charitable services is up, he says. Delaney says adding more costs will only hurt taxpayers in the long run because there's high demand for the types of services — such as health care and food pantries — that many nonprofits provide.

"When we can't [provide them], then there's greater needs in the community. And when the needs get so severe, then we're going to find people demanding that government step in. That is going to cost a whole lot more," he says.

Albany's Experience

But Frank Commisso, a council member in Albany, N.Y., says cities like his have little choice. More than half of Albany's property is tax-exempt because the city is home to so many state offices, hospitals and universities. But he says these institutions still rely on city services. Read more and listen to the story here.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Arts Groups See Mayor’s Budget Plan and Shudder

The NY Times reported that It has become a New York version of Washington’s cherry blossoms: the springtime tussle over the city’s culture budget. The mayor puts forward his plan for the coming fiscal year, as he did on May 6; arts institutions insist they will be ruined by the cuts to their allocations; and the City Council puts in additional funds — sometimes more than the mayor has taken out — to ease the pain.

This year, however, the doomsayers may have legitimate reason to fear the worst. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s $63 billion budget for fiscal year 2011, which starts July 1, calls for a 31 percent reduction in financing for arts groups and a 25 percent cut for libraries — steeper than any such measures he has proposed at this stage of the budget cycle in the last eight years. And the City Council will most likely have to draw from a smaller pool of funds to help make up the difference than it has in the past.

“I don’t think I can remember a more difficult time for cultural institutions in New York City,” said Ellen V. Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History, which she said would see its city financing decline under the mayor’s proposal to about $6 million from about $12 million in fiscal year 2008, when the appropriation to the Department of Cultural Affairs was at its highest point in the last decade. “Many are experiencing record attendance at the same time that funding from the city has been drastically reduced.”

The budget will not become final until its details are hashed out between the mayor and the council between now and the end of June. But institutions are already steeling themselves to make do with much less. The New York Public Library says that if the mayor’s proposed cut of $37 million — the harshest in the library’s history — goes through, it will have to close 10 branches, cut service across the system to four days from six, reduce staff by 36 percent and offer 25,300 fewer programs and classes for children and adults. Read more here.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Special Event: "A Conversation with NYS Comptroller Thomas P. Di Napoli And Panel Discusscion on Strategic Alliances & Partnerships

Presented by The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region and the New York Council of Nonprofits.

May 10, 2010
8:30am - 11:30am
NYSUT Headquarters
800 Troy Schenectady Rd
Latham, NY

Welcoming remarks from Secretary of State Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez
Doug Sauer, CEO: New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.
Cristine Cioffi, Partner: Cioffi, Slezak, Wildgrube; Chair: Ellis Medicine Board of Trustees
David W. Palmquist, Head: Museum Chartering, NY State Museum
Jason R. Lilien, Bureau Chief: Charities Bureau (invited)

Potential Topics of Discussion:
  • Ways in which state agencies can work to assist the not-for-profit sector as it faces today's complex challenges
  • Aspects of the current economic environment that may compel not-for-profit organizations to consider strategic affiliations, shared services, and possible mergers
  • Trends, models, and best practices for strategic alliances & partnerships
  • How funders and regulatory agencies can encourage and support responsible affiliations

Continental Breakfast Sponsored by NYSUT

Please respond to to reserve your seat.

Friday, April 23, 2010

400,000 Nonprofits Tax Exemption at Risk

The NY Times reported that As many as 400,000 nonprofit organizations are weeks away from a doomsday.

At midnight on May 15, an estimated one-fifth to one-quarter of some 1.6 million charities, trade associations and membership groups will lose their tax exemptions, thanks to a provision buried in a 2006 federal bill aimed at pension reform.

“It’s going to be an unholy mess once these organizations realize what’s happened to them,” said Diana Aviv, president of the Independent Sector, a nonprofit trade group.

The federal legislation passed in 2006 required all nonprofits to file tax forms the following year. Previously, only organizations with revenues of $25,000 or more — or the vast majority of nonprofit groups — had to file.

The new law, embedded in the 393 pages of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, also directed the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax exemptions of groups that failed to file for three consecutive years. Three years have passed, and thus the deadline looms.

Read more here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Nonprofit Legislative Issues

The following Spring Legislative Agenda information is provided by NYCON's national affiliate the National Council of Nonprofits

With only six weeks remaining until Memorial Day recess, legislators have perhaps their last and best chance to reach bi-partisan agreement on major bills before the election season is fully upon them. The following provides a synopsis of key bills we are following:

Financial Regulatory Reform and Consumer Protection: The Senate is expected to take up a bill to overhaul regulation of the financial services sector, but all 41 Republican Senators signed a letter expressing opposition to the measure as currently written. This stalemate could change, however, due to a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission against Goldman Sachs alleging fraud in transactions at the root of the market collapse. The consumer protection components of the bill are of interest to many nonprofits.

Federal Budget for FY 2011: The Senate and House Budget Committees are finalizing their budget resolutions in preparation for floor action scheduled for the coming weeks. The odds are that Congress will not be successful in adopting a formal budget, which is frequently the case in election years. The debate is still worth following because leaders use the document to establish priorities, and rank-and-file members frequently seek to force votes on controversial issues, such as advocacy rights and the estate tax.

American Workers, State and Business Relief Act of 2010: This bill, which includes extension of the IRA Rollover and provides pension funding relief and $28 billion in additional funds to help the states balance their budgets, passed the Senate in March and must be reconciled with a House-passed bill. There is bi-partisan support for each of the initiatives, but legislators must come up with around $30 billion in additional revenues to pay for the bill.

Estate Tax: The tax expired at the end of 2009, but will return to higher 2001 levels next year. The President has proposed restoring the tax at 2009 levels - exemptions of $3.5 million/individual and a tax rate of 45%; Senators Lincoln (D-AR) and Kyl (R-AZ) are calling for weakening the estate tax by raising the exemption to $5 million/individual and lowering the tax rate to 35%. A weaker estate tax would generate nearly $100 billion less to the U.S. Treasury and provide less of an incentive for charitable giving.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Conversation with New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York
invites you to

A Conversation with New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli
Co-sponsored by the Human Services Council of New York City, the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, and the United Way of New York City.

Thursday, April 15, 2010
9:30 AM to 11:30 AM

The Interchurch Center, Sockman Lounge
475 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10027
between 119th and 120th Street, enter at 61 Claremont Avenue

Monday, March 8, 2010

Greater Hudson Heritage Network: Executive Director Job


THE ORGANIZATION: Greater Hudson Heritage Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit membership organization, provides services to the museum and cultural heritage community designed to advance professional standards and practices, build the capacity of organizations to meet their missions, and create a network of effective, skilled stewards of regional history and culture. GHHN provides regional and statewide programming in partnership with private foundations, state and federal agencies. GHHN is committed to management through best practices and highest ethical standards. Greater Hudson is located in Westchester County, NY, and has an annual operating budget of c. $300,000.

POSITION OPENING: The Executive Director provides leadership, vision and direction for the organization. S/he reports to and works with the Board of Trustees to articulate strategies that will advance GHHN’s mission, growth and financial stability. The Executive Director implements policy approved by the Board, manages operations and programs, and supervises a small staff. S/he represents Greater Hudson Heritage Network as an advocate for museum professionalism to funders, members, participants, partners and associated constituents, and fosters partnerships that support innovative organizational growth and financial sustainability for the field.


Candidate should have:

-- 4-5 years successful non-profit management experience with proven leadership in organizational development, strategic thinking, and fund raising

-- Familiarity with the issues facing the museum and history field in the Hudson Valley National Heritage Area, in New York State, and nationally

-- Skills to recognize and build on marketing and communications trends, partnerships and leadership opportunities in the field

-- Strong connections with individual professionals, historical and cultural organizations in the region

-- A proven ability to maintain existing and to establish new relationships with individuals, members, funding agencies, elected officials and collaborative partner organizations

-- The ability to integrate evolving technologies and communication advances into daily operations in ways that enhance the capabilities of the organization

--Exceptional oral and written communication skills

-- B.A. in a relevant field required, Master’s degree preferred

This is a full-time position with limited benefits. Regular work week with occasional weekends or evenings as required. Some travel is required for regional conferences, workshops, etc.

Salary and benefits: $35,000-$40,000
Position to be filled by September 1st, 2010

Please respond by e-mailing a letter of interest and an attached resume to the GHHN Search Committee at, no later than June 1st, 2010.

Greater Hudson Heritage Network is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bumpy ride for corporate giving amid recession

Reuters reported that giving by U.S. companies endured the worst recession in decades with mixed results as some pared back philanthropy in the face of tough times, others increased budgets and most predicted a steady 2010.

The economic downturn sparked some changes in giving priorities as well, with several companies placing more importance on basic needs such as fighting hunger and homelessness and others focusing more in their local communities.

"This is not just giving money anymore. It's solving problems. These are social issues that we're addressing," said Charles Moore, executive director of the nonprofit Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.

"Companies continue to examine their priorities. Very few are taking on new kinds of causes, and they are tending to reallocate the funds they do have," he said. "There's great expectation on the part of communities and (employees) on companies -- they expect more."

Reuters spoke to 10 companies whose philanthropic arms are ranked by the Foundation Center among the top U.S. foundations. Four said the dollar value of their giving increased in 2009, two said it remained steady, and four said it dropped. Read more here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

BBB Charities Symposium IV Set for Feb 23rd

Presents Charity Effectiveness Symposium IV:
TRANSFORMING OURSELVES: Building Effective Leaders, Organizations, and Communities

How can nonprofit leaders make an even greater impact?
Find out on February 23, 2010, from 8:00 a.m. - Noon

Keynote Address:
Leading the Transformation Process

Keynote Speaker:
Victor De Luca
President, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and
Mayor of Maplewood, New Jersey

Developing Ourselves as
Leaders for Tough Times

Panel Moderator:
Iris Chen
President and CEO
I Have a Dream Foundation

Leading the Arts

Panel Moderator:
Cheryl Green Rosario
Director, Philanthropy
American Express

Protecting Your Nonprofit's Money In the Post-Madoff Era

Workshop Leaders:
Jeffrey S. Tenenbaum, William H. Devaney and Rory M. Cohen
Partners, Venable LLP

Evaluation Milestones

Our prior programs were total sell-outs!

Program fee:
Hosted by:
Baruch College School of Public Affairs
Newman Vertical Campus Conference Center,
55 Lexington Avenue and 24th Street, 14th Floor

Sponsored with generous support from:
Special workshop sponsorship by:
(list in formation)

Program Committee: American Express; The Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs; The New York Community Trust; Philanthropy New York; United Way of New York City; BBB Education and Research Foundation.

Event Supporters: Association of Development Officers; Association of Fundraising Professionals-Greater New York Chapter; The Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management at the Baruch College School of Public Affairs; The Foundation Center; Long Island Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Adelphi University; New York Council of Nonprofits; Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, Inc.;; Philanthropy New York; Staten Island Not-For-Profit Association; United Way of New York City; Women In Development, New York; Young Nonprofit Professionals Network-NYC.

For event details, please contact Luana Lewis, or 212.358.2842

Stimulus Grant App Process Announced

Application and Funding Details Announced for NYCON’s Federal ARRA Grant Designed to Strengthen NYC Nonprofits

The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) received a nationally competitive $1M, two-year stimulus grant from the Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF), created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. NYCON will award $600K of the grant to community-based nonprofits Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx who are providing services that are vital to the economic recovery efforts. See the overview below for specific program eligibility.

NYCON’s Strengthening Communities Fund (SCF) Program is comprised of two components.
  • Component #1: Training and Education. NYCON will provide access to and scholarships for free training, access to an online learning community, and consulting support to 80 community and faith-based organizations. These organizations will be known as “Program Participants.” NYCON is collaborating with three Nonprofit Training Partners including the Women’s Center for Education and Career Advancement, the Support Center for Nonprofit Management and the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York. The SCF program will offer an extraordinarily comprehensive range of free training opportunities to meet the needs, interests, and goals of eligible secular and faith-based organizations who participate in this program.
  • Component #2: Funding and Technical Assistance. Program Participants will be able to compete to receive a grant ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 and receive 50 hours of free technical assistance. Both the funding awards and technical assistance are designed to build organizational capacity. Approximately 30 community and faith-based organizations will be awarded financial and technical assistance and these organizations will be known as “Project Partners.”

Applications will be accepted during two competitive funding rounds that will take place in the Spring and late Winter of 2010. A total of $600,000 in Financial Assistance will be available. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

FREE Webinars Offered on IRS Filing Requirements for the 990

The NY Council of Nonprofits' national partner, the National Council of Nonprofits, is offering two FREE webinars for you and your board members!

Get Ready, Get Set, Go! IRS Filing Requirements for Charitable Nonprofits
Two national webinars: February 23 and March 23, 2010

Register Now

Are you prepared for this year's tax filing deadline? Did you know that tax-exempt organizations could have their status revoked for not filing the annual Form 990? The National Council of Nonprofits will host two free webinars presented by the IRS for nonprofit organizations to learn about the resources available and answer questions about filing your IRS Form 990.

These webinars will include:
  • Critical steps to take now in order to protect and preserve your tax exemption.
  • Review of the filing requirements for nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations, and the consequences of not filing (or filing an incomplete) Form 990-series return. Tax-exempt organizations now stand to lose their tax-exempt status if they do not file the Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-N (e-postcard) for three consecutive years-these revocations will begin in 2010).

"Learn from the Experts: What Forms Must Nonprofit, Tax-Exempt Organizations File to Meet IRS Requirements and Preserve Tax Exempt Status?"

Tuesday, February 23
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm Eastern

  • What forms are tax-exempt organizations required to file with the IRS annually?
  • What information is required to be reported on the forms?
  • Why your organization may need to file NOW, so that it won't lose its tax-exempt status
  • How to file complete, accurate returns to avoid IRS penalties.

There is no charge for nonprofit organizations or their board members for these webinars. Advance registration is required by February 22, 2010.

"Hear from the IRS: What The IRS Has Learned After One Year With the Redesigned Form 990"

Tuesday, March 23
3:30 pm - 4:30pm Eastern

  • What trends has the IRS observed in the first season of redesigned Form 990 filing?
  • What mistakes are most commonly being made by nonprofits on the redesigned Form 990?
  • What can a nonprofit do to streamline the filing process?
  • What are the answers to frequently asked questions about completing the 990?

There is no charge for nonprofit organizations or their board members for these webinars. Advance registration is required by March 22, 2010.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Central Hudson offers energy-saving workshop

The Poughkeepsie Journal reported that to show business owners how to use rebates and incentives for energy-efficiency upgrades, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. has partnered with the New York State Small Business Development Center and local chambers of commerce to host Business Energy Savings Workshops.

The next session will be 8-9:30 a.m. Feb. 23 at Central Hudson’s office, 284 South Ave., Poughkeepsie.

This free 90-minute workshop is for business owners and those with responsibility for the electric bill at retail stores, manufacturing facilities, office buildings, 8schools, places of worship, municipalities, nonprofit facilities and other organizations. Coffee and a light continental breakfast will be provided.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Free Board Training Opportunity in Long Island!

State Board Training Consortium: Achieving Excellence in Governance
Participating State Agencies
NYS Department of Health AIDS Institute and Center for Community Health * NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services * NYS Office of Mental Health * NYS Office of Children and Family Services * NYS Office of Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities

The State Board Training Consortium (SBTC) is a collaborative effort between five state agencies to improve governance of state–funded non-profits by providing a comprehensive series of trainings to board members of these organizations. SBTC trainings are conducted by the New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) NYCON offers 12 different trainings tailored to meet the unique needs of board members. Topics covered include: duties and responsibilities of board members; legal obligations; fiscal accountability; nonprofit accounting basics; human resource issues; quality assurance; board recruitment and retention; strategic planning; and ethics.

SBTC is pleased to announce that NYCON will offer
the following workshops in Long Island.

February 9th, 2010
Duties and Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards
1:00pm to 4:00pm

The New Form 990: A Focus on Board Governance

February 10th, 2010
Developing a Fiscally Accountable Nonprofit Board
9:00am to 12:00pm

Doing the Right Thing: Board Members as Ethical Leaders & Decision Makers
1:00pm to 4:00pm

Holiday Inn Plainview, 215 Sunnyside Blvd., Plainview NY 11803
To register:
Please visit and click on the “State Board Training” logo on the homepage.
Please email
Please note you must complete a pre-survey before attending. All information will be emailed to you upon registration.
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