Monday, April 27, 2009

Nonprofit Policy News

The National Council of Nonprofits provided the following Nonprofit Policy News for April.

President signs Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act
On April 21, President Obama signed into law the Serve America Act (PL 11-013) (HR 1388), a milestone for the national service movement and the largest expansion of civilian service since the Depression. It will dramatically expand national and community service programs and strengthen the infrastructure for volunteerism within the nonprofit community. It includes the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program championed by the National Council of Nonprofits and Senators Baucus (MT-D) and Grassley (IA-R). In his signing address, President Obama said: "We need your service, right now, at this moment in history." Read more.

Federal Legislative and Regulatory Developments
"Sense of the Senate" Expressed on Charitable Deductions
During debate on the Serve America Act, the Senate included Senator Baucus' (MT-D) "sense of the Senate" amendment expressing support for preserving the tax deductibility of charitable contributions and for "additional ways to encourage charitable giving." Learn more about the Senate action. For more information, analysis, and commentary about the controversy visit our website and read our Special Report.

With Budget Resolution, Congress Re-opens Debate on Estate Tax and Healthcare Reform Process
The House and Senate passed their differing FY 2010 budget resolutions before the April recess and are now actively in conference to reconcile the two. Read more.

Tax Certainty and Relief Act of 2009 (S 722) Introduced
It's all about "certainty in uncertain times." Elements of the proposal include: permanent protection for more than 20 million Americans from the alternative minimum tax; a measure to make permanent the 10, 25, and 28 percent individual tax rates; permanence of the income eligibility threshold for the child tax credit; and permanence of the estate tax at levels already in effect this year. Read more about the bill.

Representative McDermott (WA-D) Introduces Estate Tax Bill
The Sensible Estate Tax Act of 2009 (HR 2023) would strengthen the estate tax beyond the current 2009 levels and beyond what President Obama has proposed. Read more.
Senators Introduce Flat Rate Excise Tax for Private Foundations

Senators Schumer (NY-D), Levin (MI-D), and Stabenow (MI-D) introduced legislation (S 676) that would simplify the tax code for private foundations to increase charitable giving. The bill would remove the current two-tiered excise tax imposed on private foundations and replace it with one flat rate, which is to be set between 1 and 2 percent. Read more.

Newspaper Revitalization Act Would Allow Newspapers To Operate As Nonprofits
The Act (S 673) proposes 501(c)(3) educational newspapers and would make tax-exempt all advertising and subscription revenue, while making contributions tax deductible for qualified newspaper corporations. Read more.

Unfunded Federal Mandate on Residential Programs for Teens Passed in House
The House passed its version of the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2009 (HR 911), which now moves to the Senate for consideration. It would set minimum standards for covered nonprofit programs that include residential wilderness or outdoor experiences, expeditions or interventions; boot camp experiences; therapeutic boarding schools; or behavioral modification programs. Read more.

Census Bureau To Conduct Minority Outreach Program for 2010 Count
To ensure the most accurate census ever, the Census Bureau plans a new minority outreach effort to help target historically hard-to-reach communities for the 2010 census. Read more on our website or the full GAO report.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Foundation Center survey finds two-thirds will reduce grants in 2009

A new research advisory from Foundation Center shows foundation giving is expected to decrease in 2009, in a range of high single digits to low double digits; nearly two-thirds of respondents predict reductions in the number and/or size of their grants in 2009. Still, about 80% of respondents expect to maintain their current program areas, while a small handful (3%) anticipate increasing the number of areas they support.

Only 14% of all respondents report launching special initiatives in direct response to the current economic climate. However, community foundations are particularly focused on responding to the downturn; 35% say they are engaging in special initiatives to help communities cope with the fallout from a deteriorating economy.

As funders’ resources have diminished, many plan to participate in non-grantmaking activities. Two-thirds of funders expect to engage in more collaborations and partnerships, while one-third anticipate initiating more convenings. Other non-grantmaking responses include providing for more technical assistance, offering more bridge/emergency financing, and engaging in more advocacy.

While most funders plan to use investment income to meet their grantmaking budgets (88%), about 39% expect to use their endowment principal to make grants. This is particularly notable given the asset declines most funders experienced in 2008 and continue to experience in 2009.

The Foundation Center surveyed 5,000 large and mid-size foundations in January 2009 about their outlook for giving in 2009 and 2010, and about how they plan to respond to the economic downturn. Approximately 1,200 foundations responded.

Post provided by the Minnesota Council of Foundations.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Expanded NYS Government Accountability Website

Sunlight 2.0, expanded and revamped, is the government accountability Website by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office. The new Website — — is more comprehensive than its predecessor, including adding information about state authorities and campaign contributions.

Each search offers the following categories to explore:
  • NYS Campaign Finance
  • Lobbyist State Corporations
  • Member Items
  • Charities
  • State Contracts

New Study: Nonprofit Leadership Gap Widening During Recession

CNBC related a newly released Bridgespan Group survey of U.S. nonprofit executive directors shows that a leadership deficit forecast in 2006 may have widened last year. Meanwhile, in 2009, despite tightening budgets, nonprofits already foresee a need to fill 24,000 vacant or new roles in areas like finance and fundraising, amid increasing management complexity and baby boomer retirements. Developing leaders within the sector remains critical. In addition, three quarters of respondents saw value in "bridging" talent in from outside the sector to fill the gap, but underscored the need for cultural adaptation. Study findings will be presented at the American Express Nonprofit Leadership Academy taking place from April 27th-May 1st in New York.

American Express commissioned Bridgespan to conduct the survey in order to determine the nature and dimensions of the evolving nonprofit leadership deficit, the training and development needs within the sector, and to look at how managerial skills from the business sector can boost leadership capacity among nonprofits. The leadership vacancy anticipated so far for 2009 includes 24,000 managerial slots. Respondents reported that actual senior job openings in 2008 were running at 77,000, or 43% above a leadership gap forecast in Bridgespan's 2006 study "The Nonprofit Sector's Leadership Deficit." Twenty-five percent of nonprofit leadership vacancies in the past 18 months were filled through career progression, 41% through in-sector hiring, and 21% via bridging talent in from the corporate sector. Survey respondents highlighted that there is strong competition for the same in-sector talent pool and a lack of resources to find or cultivate new leaders from within nonprofit organizations.

Read more about the study's findings or download it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Museums work to deal with recession

The Times Union featured the following article about how local cultural organizations are being impacted by the recession and working to respond.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society is running monthly operating deficits of $20,000, fueled in part by the $6,000 utility bill it has to spend to preserve its collections.

With the downtown cultural icon staring at closing, Rachel Tooker, the society's transition executive, doesn't intend to blink when it comes to finding a way out of the financial quicksand.

The historical society survived the first quarter only after supporters paid pledges early and the group found extra cash to keep its museum operating, Tooker said.

"We're back in the soup for May. We're looking at all alternatives,'' Tooker said.

Museums around the state face similar struggles as the recession grinds up their budgets, said Anne Ackerson, director of the Museum Association of New York.

"They're struggling,'' Ackerson said about the association's 250 member institutions. "Every revenue stream is being nibbled at. There's nothing sacred at all.''

Budget cuts of 10 percent to 30 percent are common, Ackerson said. With the spending reductions come staff cuts.

Museums that expanded their facilities in the last decade often have the most difficult financial times. But because of the depth of the recession, "everybody is vulnerable to a lesser or greater degree,'' Ackerson said.

The first change at the historical society is developing a business plan, including finding new funding sources, as a way out of its fiscal condition. Tooker was the chief operating officer for the Ohio Historical Society before coming to Troy. At RCHS, Tooker said she changed the title from executive director to interim executive so there would be no ego issues if the society must merge.

The article also examines the state of the Albany Institute of History & Art. Read more here.