Thursday, July 25, 2013

Policy Update & Call to Action

Policy Update & Call to Action:
Inform Our State's Senators, Charitable Giving Incentives Matter to Nonprofits 
Capitol BuildingOn June 27, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a  letter informing senators that the Committee will start consideration of a tax reform package with a "blank slate," meaning that it contains no deductions or credits, so Senators will have to fight to get their favored tax provisions re-inserted into the bill that is being drafted.

The Committee leaders stressed that the legislation they are drafting on a bi-partisan basis will restore only those deductions, exclusions, credits, and other tax expenditures that:
  • Help grow the economy
  • Make tax laws fairer
  • Effectively promote other policy objectives
They've asked Senators to submit recommendations for provisions that meet these standards by July 26.   
We are hearing that Senators are responding to the request for input with mixed views. Some may be submitting a list of priority tax provisions; others will likely provide a set of guiding principles for the Committee to follow; and still others apparently are refusing to send in anything out of fear that their submission will be made public.

Virtually every lobbyist and interest group is clamoring for the attention of Finance Committee leaders, members, and staff. Some efforts to get their attention include submitting a sign-on letter and sending letters making the case for tax provision that affect their operations.

NYCON has also taken steps in writing a letter to submit to the Senate Finance Committee for this "Blank Slate."

We encourage members and nonprofits statewide to
  • write your own letters to inform the Senate Finance Committee. Please feel free to use our letter as a template to model your own or weigh in as constituentsabout your work and the importance of the charitable giving incentive to your ability to solve problems in their communities
Your stories will help us make clear to federal policy makers that the charitable giving incentive is unique from other tax deductions and credits and must be preserved in tax reform
As always, thank you for your continued involvement with NYCON and for the tremendous work you are doing to make our communities strong and vibrant places to live and work. We truly appreciate your dedication and commitment. If you have any questions about this or any other public policy issue, please feel free to contact me. We look forward to working with you on these important issues.


 Doug's Signature
            Doug Sauer, CEO
            New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc.

The Charitable Giving Incentive  
Federal tax law currently encourages individuals to give to charitable organizations whose missions they support by providing an itemized deduction. Policymakers in Washington are focusing on how to reduce the federal budget deficit through spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and changes to the tax code.

The President, Senators, Representatives, bi-partisan commissions, and think tanks have all put forward plans to address these issues, and many propose changing the charitable giving incentive in one way or another. No one knows the true impact that any of these proposals will have on the ability of charitable nonprofits to raise the resources needed to provide the programs and services that fulfill their missions.

It is imperative that Congress make no changes to the charitable deduction that threatens the ability of nonprofit organizations to serve those most in need and to continue to strengthen our communities.

Proud Member of
 the National Council of Nonprofits
national council of nonprofits

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Honor an Outstanding Board Member

2013 Michael H. Urbach, CPA, Community Builders Award Now Accepting Nominations
Submission Accepted through August 23rd, 2013 Sponsored by the New York Council of Nonprofits (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA)
Berardi Award 2012
Left to right: Doug Sauer, NYCON CEO; Allen Fetterman, CPA; William F. Berardi, CPA, 2012 Urbach Award Recipient; Ellen Kotlow, NYCON Board President
The New York Council of Nonprofits, Inc. (NYCON) and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) are pleased to announce this call for nominations.
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. This award is 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.  

Award Criteria & Submission 
Candidates must:

  1. Be a CPA in good standing and a member of NYSSCPA
  1. Have served as an Officer on at least 3 different charitable 501c(3) community-based nonprofits with service as President/Chair at least once
  1. 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
  1. Preference will be given to nominees whose board leadership accomplishments have been with community-based charities
 Nominations addressing the candidate's qualifications must be received by August 23rd, 2013.  Nominators are strongly encouraged to address the qualifications related to the four (4) criteria mentioned above and to include at least three (3) letters of support from the charities who have benefited from the candidate's volunteer leadership. 

To Nominate a CPA: 
Email your submission to Melissa Currado at or mail two (2) packets of nomination materials to: Urbach Community Builders Award Committee, NYCON, 272 Broadway, Albany NY 12204.

For more information, visit NYCON on the web at or contact us via phone at (800) 515-5012.

Announcement & Presentation 
Craig Sickler, CPA receives the Urbach Community Builder Award
Craig Sickler, CPA receives the Urbach Community Builders Award at the 2006 Annual Meeting
The 2013 award will be formally presented at the Annual Member Meeting of NYCON slated for the afternoon of October 10th, 2013at 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, skill and strategy sessions for nonprofit staff and volunteer leaders. 
In honor of the late Harold Mandel, a CPA who worked for Urbach, Kahn & Werlin in Albany, NY and retired in West Palm Beach, FL, the 2013 Urbach Honoree has the privilege to award one (1) nonprofit executive of their choice a Camp Finance scholarship in Hal's name.  In 2009, Mr. Mandel's family accepted a posthumous Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award in his honor.
Thank You to Our Supporters!

NYCON and NYSSCPA would like to recognize The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Regionfor their grant contribution towards the Michael H. Urbach, CPA Community Builders Award.

Past Urbach Award Honorees
Lewis Kramer, Urbach Award Recipient and Doug Sauer, CEO, NYCON
Lew Kramer, CPA and Doug Sauer, 
William F. Berardi, CPA

Thomas D. Weddell, CPA; Newburgh

Edward S. Mucenski, CPA; Potsdam   


Lewis "Lew" Kramer, CPA; Chappaqua   


Mel Zachter, CPA; Staten Island      
Eugene H. Fleishman, CPA; Poughkeepsie

Craig Sickler, CPA

Paul Battaglia
CPA, Batavia

Co-sponsored by
The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants  


National Council of Nonprofits: Nonprofit Advocacy Matters

Nonprofit Advocacy Matters banner

Federal Tax Reform Invitation Draws Mixed Responses from Senators
The first deadline for influencing comprehensive tax reform is looming and Senators are reportedly mixed in their views of how to respond. On June 27, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter informing Senators that the Committee will start consideration of a tax reform package with a "blank slate," meaning that it contains no deductions or credits. As a result, Senators will have to fight to get their favored tax provisions re-inserted into the bill that is being drafted. The Committee leaders stressed that the legislation they are drafting on a bi-partisan basis will restore only those deductions, exclusions, credits, and other tax expenditures that (1) help grow the economy, (2) make tax laws fairer, and (3) effectively promote other policy objectives. Some Senators may be submitting a list of priority tax provisions; others have indicated they are likely to provide a set of guiding principles for the Committee to follow; and still others apparently are refusing to send in anything out of concern that their submission will be made public. Predictably, lobbyists and interest groups are submitting multipoint proposals to lawmakers seeking to make the case for their own special tax breaks. Unless nonprofits speak up, their concerns for those they serve will get ignored. Individual charitable nonprofits have the opportunity to weigh in as constituents to inform their Senators about their work and the importance of the charitable giving incentive to their ability to solve problems in their communities.
Impact of Sequestration: Myth or Reality?
The answer to whether the severe negative consequences of the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration have been overblown or are real depends on who is answering. A recent Washington Post article suggested that the cuts have not been as dire as predicted, asserting that Congress and federal agencies have taken mitigating actions to prevent “widespread breakdowns in crucial government services.” The focus of that article and some federal policymakers, however, has been primarily on federal staffing and direct government services, and many have failed to recognize the severity of the arbitrary cuts on individuals and communities outside the Beltway. For instance, in the last week alone, Head Start program operators in Napa and Solano, California have begun partially or completely closingsix classrooms, the Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District acknowledged that it must cut 12,400 meals for homebound seniors, and TOUCH, a nonprofit in Congers, New York dedicated to helping people with chronic illnesses, is owed $120,000 from the federal government andmay have to begin cutting programsShare stories of cuts to your nonprofit and the effects on people in your community andread others, from every state, at These stories will help policymakers understand the costs of sequestration as major decisions approach about appropriations, the continuing resolution, and whether to continue these arbitrary cuts. 

States Consider Nonprofit Giving Incentives and Tax Exemptions as Sessions End
State treatment of the charitable giving incentive and tax exemptions are at the center of tax reform debates across the country as legislatures rush to complete action before the end of their legislative sessions. On July 2, Hawai’i Governor Abercrombie signed legislation that exempts the State’s charitable deduction from the overall cap on itemized deductions. North Carolina made similar progress in exempting the charitable deduction from changes when the Senate approved an amendedtax reform plan with several improvements for nonprofits. Although the plan retains provisions that cap sales tax refunds for some nonprofits, require nonprofit arts groups to charge sales tax on admission, and eliminate the non-itemizer credit for charitable contributions, the bill carves out the charitable giving incentive from a $15,000 cap on other itemized deductions. Prior to adjourning, the Oregon Senate failed to pass a budget and tax bill, an earlier version of which would have capped all itemized deductions except for charitable donations. Oregon’s Governor may call a special session of the Legislature in September to continue consideration of the budget and tax bill. Bucking the trend in support of the work of charitable nonprofits, Maine policymakers enacted a FY 2014-2015 biennial budget that, among other things, caps all itemized deductions, including the charitable giving incentive, at $27,500 retroactive to January 1, 2013. 

Rhode Island Legislature Mandates “Voluntary” Agreement, or Else!
Rhode Island Governor Chafee signed legislation that allows the City of Smithfield to charge Bryant University for public-safety service fees if the University fails to reach an agreement for expanded payments in lieu of taxes. Bryant is considering litigation to block the new law that only applies to the university, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, unwarranted, and needlessly divisive. University officials said in a statement that it contributes more than $800,000 annually to the City in addition to already paying for fire, police, and rescue services through existing PILOT agreements. "This heavy-handed legislation comes after several months of good-faith discussions with the town of Smithfield and is not in the best interests of any of the parties involved," the University said.

Other Taxes, Fees, PILOTs Stories

Government-Nonprofit Contracting News
New York’s Executive Order 38 Survives First Challenge
New York Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Health were within their authority to establish caps on executive compensation and limit the amount of administrative costs that can be paid using government funds, a court recently ruled. Concerned Home Care Providers, Inc. sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Executive Order 38 from taking effect on July 1, 2013. Regulations implementing the Executive Order, which applies to all state agencies making authorized payments to service providers, limits total compensation to executives of covered nonprofit and for-profit organizations to no more than $199,000 per year, among other criteria. The regulations limit not only how much can be paid for executive compensation using government funds, but all funds. Administrative costs are also capped for contractors at a declining rate until April 1, 2015, at which point they must not exceed 15 percent.

Government Innovation: Collaboration with Nonprofits
Denver’s Office of Strategic Partnerships (DOSP) is the subject of praise in a recent article about creating a culture of innovation in government. The Office has been building collaborative efforts between government and nonprofits in the city, including a recent overhaul of the current contracting system to alleviate cumbersome, confusing, and inconsistent contracting practices to create streamlined, consistent practices across City departments with a focus on outcomes. DOSP is headed by Dace West, a member of the new National Government-Nonprofit Contracting Reform Task Force that the National Council of Nonprofits established to bring together national experts to identify and promote proven solutions across the United States that streamline contracting policies, improve outcomes, and save taxpayers money, all while maintaining or even increasing accountability.

Demonstrating Nonprofit Social and Economic Impact
The YMCA of Greater New York knows how important it is to measure its impact for funders and the public; it has moved beyond simply assessing the effectiveness of its programs to also calculating its economic impact on Greater New York.  

Among the findings made in a new study, the YMCA announced that it employs the full-time equivalent of 3,240 New Yorkers, pays more than $113 million annually in wages, and contributes more than $191 million annually to the city's economy. The study also found that the Y supported the business community, because 1,800 parents in need of childcare were able to go to work because of the YMCA's after-school program.

The YMCA reports that its decision to measure the organization’s economic impact on its surrounding community is intended to augment its other program-based metrics, such as the measure of students’ math and reading improvements after they participate in YMCA classes. “Our ultimate goal is to improve people's quality of life," Jack Lund, Greater New York City CEO, said. "And with this study we are showing that we are."

See more on how the New York City Y tracks its benefit to the community.


Federal Issues
  • Tax Reform
  • Sequestration Spotlight
  • Federal Workforce Giving
State Issues
  • Charitable Giving Incentives: HI, ME, NC, OR
  • Taxes, Fees, PILOTs: NJ, RI, TX
  • Government-Nonprofit Contracting: CO, NY
  • Parks Funding: NY
  • Music Funding: NY
Advocacy in Action

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Nonprofit VOTE Webinar
Laws on the Ballot: Ballot Measure Advocacy for Nonprofits
July 25 at 2:00 pm Eastern
Learn about the important lawful roles that nonprofits can play in ballot measure elections.Register now.

Free Webinar
Health Insurance under the Affordable Care Act
Does your nonprofit have the information it needs to make decisions about providing health insurance for your employees under the new Affordable Care Act? Can your nonprofit answer your employees' questions about health insurance? Join the webinar What Small Nonprofits Need to Know about Health Insurance under the Affordable Care Act on July 30 at 3:30 p.m. Guest speakers from the federal government will explain how implementation of health care reform will impact small nonprofits. Register now. This webinar is available free to all nonprofits thanks to the generous support of ReadyTalk.

Affordable Care Act Resources
The National Council of Nonprofits has updated our website resources:
Worth Reading
Cities and Symphonies: Will the Music Stop?,” Tod Newcombe,Governing, July 5, 2013, reporting on how the financial struggles of orchestras, large and small, are bad for cities, and providing keen insights into the positive impact of the arts on local economies and well-being.

Why the Federal Budget Crisis Won't be Solved in Washington,” Mark Funkhouser, Governing, July 1, 2013, making the case for solutions at the local and state levels to fix federal budget problems.
© Copyright 2013 National Council of Nonprofits. All rights reserved 
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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Poughkeepsie Journal: 30 Arts Projects Awarded $48,000 in Grants

Meredith Heuer of Beacon, a photographer, walks up to receive her grant as the Dutchess County Arts Council presents grants Monday at the Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center in the City of Poughkeepsie. / Karl Rabe/Poughkeepsie Journal

2013 Grants

Community-based projects: Beacon Independent Film Festival, Beacon Open Studios, La Guelaguetza, Half Moon Theatre’s New Play Festival, Millbrook Free Library’s “Around the World in Three Nights,” New Year’s Eve Millbrook, Art the Market (Millerton farmers market), R.E.A.L. Skills Hip-Hop Theater, Somos la Llave’s “La Kermes de la Cosecha” (Harvest Festival), La Voz Magazine, The Wassaic Project Summer Arts Education Workshops, Amenia Free Dance Program, Tivoli Street Painting Festival, Catskill Ballet Theatre, Ellenville Public Library’s “Building Community Through the Arts,” Kingston Teen Art Lab at Kingston Library, Olive Free Library, Rosendale Theatre Collective’s “Sunday Silents,” Saugerties Artist Studio Tour, Stone Ridge Library, Ulster Ballet Company, the 10th annual Wall Street Jazz Festival and the Tangent Theatre's

Arts Education Grants support in-school residencies by artists and/or cultural organizations, and focus on sequential, skill based knowledge. Four projects were approved for funding for the fall of 2013. Artists/Organizations funded are: Jelena Vadanjel Doukas at Alden Place Elementary School, Millbrook; Esopus Chamber Orchestra at Marbletown Elementary School; Brian Schorn, at Netherwood Elementary School; and The Wassaic Project at Webutuck Elementary School.

Individual Artist Tier grant: Meredith Heuer's "Beacon Portrait Project"

Funds for these grants come from the Decentralization Program a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the Dutchess County Arts Council. The Arts Council has administered Dutchess County Project Grants since 1979 and the Ulster County Decentralization program since 1988. The grant guidelines and applications for FY2014 will be posted mid-July, and will available for projects occurring in Dutchess, Ulster and Orange Counties during 2014.

About Dutchess County Arts Council

The Dutchess County Arts Council, founded in 1964, is a non-profit arts service organization dedicated to providing vision and leadership to support thriving and diverse arts in the Mid-Hudson Valley. During 2013 our name will change to Arts Mid-Hudson, to reflect our regional service area.

Programs and activities include: grants to established organizations, community based projects and Arts in Education programs; folk arts research and presentation; technical assistance, professional development, and cultural community networking opportunities; awareness and advocacy; and regional fundraising efforts for the arts. Programs are funded by the County of Dutchess, County of Ulster, the New York State Council on the Arts, and private donors.
Dutchess County Arts Council

Linda Marston-Reid
phone: 845-454-3222

Eve Madalengoitia
Director of Programs and Arts Services
phone: 845-454-3222
Arts education grants: Jelena Vadanjel Doukas at Alden Place Elementary School, Millbrook; Esopus Chamber Orchestra at Marbletown Elementary School; Brian Schorn at Netherwood Elementary School; and The Wassaic Project at Webutuck Elementary School
Individual Artist Tier grant: Meredith Heuer


Visit for video from the event.
Video: 30 Arts Projects Awarded $48,000 in Grants
Grants awarded by the nonprofit Dutchess County Arts Council will help recognize “values and treasures” in different Hudson Valley neighborhoods by bringing funding to local art projects, council President Linda Marston-Reid said.
Thirty projects in Dutchess and Ulster counties were given $48,000 during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center in the City of Poughkeepsie.
Of the 30 projects, 25 are community programs, which represent a wide variety of mediums such as dance, theater and visual art. They should reach an estimated 22,000 people, Marston-Reid said.
Grants are through the Decentralization Program, a “regrant” program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered by the Dutchess County Arts Council.
“They believe our region should decide how to use them,” Marston-Reid said.
Projects are awarded with grants after being chosen by a community panel, which then recommends them to the arts council board, said Eve Madalengoitia, director of programs and arts services.
Meredith Heuer of Beacon was awarded the individual artist tier grant for $2,500 to continue working on the “Beacon Portrait Project.”
She’s taken 99 portraits of Beacon residents in their homes since she started working on the project four years ago.
“One person I take a portrait of will recommend another person,” Heuer said. “I think the method is good ... when we’re working we’ll be talking about what we like about Beacon.”
She said she hopes a gallery exhibit of her work in October will bring her subjects together.
Marston-Reid said that’s an example of how the projects bring the community together.
“Meredith’s project makes us recognize that there are all different people in our community and there’s a rich tapestry,” Marston-Reid said. “We are very pleased that the governor (Andrew Cuomo) sees value in the arts because it brings people to the region and it keeps them here.”
This year, the council’s name will officially change to Arts Mid-Hudson, the organization announced.
It will expand from covering Dutchess and Ulster counties to begin working in Orange County in 2014.
Nina Schutzman:, 845-451-4518 Twitter: @pojonschutzman

Via the Poughkeepsie Journal (link)